Athens   Travel Guide

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is january a good time to visit athens

Best Times To Visit Athens

The best times to visit Athens are between March and May and from September to November. Weather during the spring and fall months is agreeable and sunshine is pretty much a guarantee. Not to mention, crowds are thinner and hotel and airfare deals are easier to come by than in summer. But if you choose to visit between December and February (Athens's winter season), don't fret. The winters in Athens are relatively mild (with temperatures that range from the low 40s to the mid-50s), thanks in part to the country's location along the Mediterranean. June through August, meanwhile, bring stifling heat and hordes of tourists, so sightseeing can be a bit uncomfortable and quite a headache at this time.

Weather in Athens

Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center

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Popular Times to Visit Athens

Tourism volume is estimated based on in-market destination search query interest from Google and on travel.usnews.com in 2015-2016. Hotel prices are sourced from a sample of U.S. News Best Hotels rates through 2015-2016.

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Best Time of Year to Visit Athens: Months – Weather – Sightseeing

  • Last Updated on: Jan 12, 2024
  • Read Time 11 mins
  • Published: Aug 6, 2019

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Despite its reputation as an exclusive summertime destination, Athens has been lately evolving into a popular year-round destination. Which, in turn, will inevitably beg the question: when is the best time to visit Athens? To be completely candid, there is no clear answer to this question.

Ultimately, it all depends on what kind of vacation you are after and your interests. Bustling with life all year round, Athens is a great destination whether you’re looking for a short city break in the winter or a place to spend your summer vacation.

This roundup of what you should expect to find in the Greek capital each month of the year will help you decide the best time to visit Athens.

Visit Athens in January – February

While Greece is popular for its sun-soaked islands with endless sandy beaches, the Mediterranean country experiences winter, too.

In fact, in some places in Northern Greece, it even snows and temperatures drop below zero. Luckily, that isn’t the case in Athens.

During January and February, temperatures in Athens range from 10°C to 0°C, with low to no chances of snowing. A good pair of shoes, a jacket and an umbrella for those few raindrops are all you need to pack in your suitcase.

February usually marks the beginning of the Greek carnival (Apokries) which lasts for around three weeks and ends on “Clean Monday”, (Ash Monday).

Parties, parades, and festivities occur around the city during the carnival, but the biggest celebration is held on the final weekend.

Visit Athens in January - February

Travel to Athens in March – April

March signals the beginning of spring in Greece. The days get sunnier, and temperatures vary from 20°C during the day to around 10°C at night.

As it is the low season, the hordes of tourists haven’t arrived yet, making it easier to visit the city’s sites without waiting in long lines.

And as happens with every city worldwide during the low season, hotel prices are lower, and plane tickets are cheaper.

hotels in athens greece

Discover the Best Hotels in Athens: A Guide to the Best Areas to Stay

When April kicks in, the weather in Athens gets even better and the days become longer. It’s a great time of the year to visit Athens if you want to avoid the crowds and still experience the country’s sunny weather.

Keep in mind, though, that Greek Easter usually falls in April. That means that many locals leave the capital and head to the countryside and many shops and bars are closed for a few days.

Travel to Athens in March - April

But what if you were looking forward to that shopping spree you imagined in downtown Athens? There’s no reason to worry. Check out this ultimate shopping guide in Athens and ensure you will always be in the right place at the right time.

A Trip to Athens in May – June

While May is spring, it starts feeling like summer in Athens. With temperatures reaching up to 25°C, locals and tourists head to the seaside areas, also known as the Athenian Riviera, and some even dare to take the first dip of the year.

explore-athens-riviera

The Athens Riviera: A World-Class Destination for Sea, Sun, and Sights

Outdoor tables pop up in some of the capital’s hip neighborhoods, breathing new life into the city.

If you’re in Athens on the 1st of May, grab the chance to explore the city’s outdoor places and make a May Day wreath as the tradition requires.

On the other hand, if you’re visiting Athens in June, be prepared to get a taste of the Greek summer.

Temperatures are higher than in May but don’t soar above 30°C as in July and August. June’s weather is ideal for all-day sightseeing and relaxed evening walks around the historic center.

A trip to Athens in May - June

Summer’s first month also marks the beginning of the summer festival season which lasts until the end of July. The city’s cultural agenda is filled with various events, including numerous outdoor concerts.

Little known fact: Athens is actually home to tens of exciting festivals. Be it music, culture, arts, or just plain entertainment, you are sure to find a festival to suit your tastes .

Visit Athens in July – August

July and August are the hottest months in Greece and therefore most locals and tourists decide to hit one of the numerous majestic Greek islands like Mykonos, ( check here how to get there from Athens ) or Santorini ( best ways to travel from Athens to Santorini ).

A fact that makes many travelers wonder whether the two last months of the summer is a good time to visit Athens.

Well, it all depends on what you’re looking for during your trip. The first and most important is that in August most Athenians leave the city for the islands. Especially during the last half of the month, Athens feels quite empty and many bars, cafés, and restaurants are closed.

If the capital’s nightlife isn’t on your list with the reasons to visit Athens, then you’ll probably like Athens city in August. You’ll still find many places for a quick bite, a mouthwatering dinner, or an ice-chilled cocktail.

The other thing you must consider before booking your flight tickets for August is the temperature.

Visit Athens in July - August

The Greek summer might have gained a great reputation, making millions of tourists flock to the country every summer, but it isn’t all that pleasant in the city center. With the thermometer often showing 40°C and above, sightseeing in Athens can become really hard. The same goes for the last half of July. However, in July the city is still quite vibrant as most locals go only on short weekend getaways.  And here’s the best part: Athens makes it ideal for some astonishing day trips to places you’d never thought you could reach for the city.

hydra island saronic gulf

Best Day Trips From Athens To: Ancient Sites – Islands – Towns

Travel to athens in september – october.

The first autumn breeze comes in mid-September, and usually, it isn’t accompanied by the season’s typical raindrops, allowing locals to savor the year’s last summer drinks in rooftop bars and outdoor spaces. The weather is still very pleasant and warm enough to swim at the nearby beaches .

September is also a great month to catch one of the cultural events at the historic Odeon of Herodes Atticus . The summery mood still lingers in the air as most people have just returned from their vacation and a not very negligible number of tourists still roam around the city.

Travel to Athens in September - October

Life in Athens will officially get back to pace in October. And even though we’re in the heart of autumn, temperatures are still quite high, with an average of 20°C in the daytime.

During this time of the year, the number of tourists has decreased significantly so if you want to see some hidden gems or the less-touristy side of the city, a trip to Athens in October is a great idea.

Athens in October

Athens in October [Tips – Weather – Things to Do]

A trip to athens in november – december.

While in November, it gets cooler compared to September and October, it is still much warmer than in other European countries. Sunny days alternate with rainy weather this time of the year, but the temperature goes up to 15°C.

Unlike northern European cities, Athens doesn’t boast huge Christmas markets and snowy landscapes, but you’ll find many events that will put you in a festive mood.

Take a stroll around Syntagma square , or visit Ermou, the city’s pedestrianized shopping street and taste the local Christmas delicacies served in the numerous stalls, attend a theatrical play at Badminton Theater, or a performance at Megaron (Athens Concert Hall).

trip to Athens in November - December

Wondering what Christmas in Athens could look like? We’ve got you covered. Here’s everything you need to know about spending your Christmas holidays in Athens.

christmas in athens greece

Christmas in Athens: Weather – Tips – Where to Go and What to Do

Suggestions and useful tips on when is the best time to visit athens.

We will dedicate this short section to answering all the questions we assume you might have about when the best time to visit Athens is. We will try to provide useful tips and recommendations and shed some light on the issues most frequently brought up by our readers. Keep reading to make sure you make the right decision before booking that flight you have been postponing for so long.

What is the best time to visit the Acropolis?

Even though climbing up to the Acropolis is quite easy, you must remember that Athens tends to be quite hot during summertime. So, even spending a couple of hours outdoors, under the hot sun may prove to be quite exhausting. The best time of the year to visit the Acropolis is either autumn or spring when the temperatures are mild and there are fewer tourists up on the iconic hill.

What is the best time of year to go to Greece?

Don’t be fooled by the popularity of Greece and its islands during the late summer. If you want to avoid both the high season and the high prices you might want to consider booking your trip to Greece in spring or early autumn when there are no heatwaves and the most famous places are more accessible.

Is Greece warm all year round?

The mild Mediterranean climate Greece boasts means that there are no extreme temperatures during the winter months. Even though winter in the northern parts of the country tends to be quite cold and snowy, Athens and the rest of the southern country enjoy mild winters with temperatures rarely dropping below 5 °C.

How hot is Athens in summer?

Athens can be extremely hot during summertime, especially in times of heatwaves. Sometimes, temperatures can reach close to 45 °C, especially in July and August. If you’re planning some outdoor sightseeing during those months, we recommend you check the weather forecasts ahead to avoid going on long walks on days with excessive heat.

What is the coldest month in Greece?

The coldest month in Greece is January with an average temperature of 10 °C and quite high chances of rain during the daytime. So, if you plan to visit Greece in January, pack accordingly and take a raincoat with you.

What is the hottest month in Greece?

The hottest month in Greece is August with an average temperature of about 30 °C. This might sound mild, but it is not uncommon at all for temperatures to surpass 40 °C during the daytime, especially during heat waves.

Which is the peak season in Greece?

The visitors of both Greece, in general, and Athens, in particular, reach their peak numbers during summertime when the weather is hot and many international flights are arriving and departing from the capital city. The months of July and August are especially popular among travelers who spend a few days in Athens before heading towards one of the Greek islands.

What is the rainy season in Greece?

The rainy season in Greece lasts from November to February, with frequent rains and fairly high humidity. However, the winter temperatures of Greece are fairly mild, so you can easily go sightseeing and spend time outdoors with just basic winter clothing.

What is the cheapest time to go to Greece?

Regarding air flight bookings and hotel reservations, the cheapest time to go to Greece is in autumn. You’ll find that the prices of airfares and hotels are considerably lower in September and October. On the contrary, summertime is the most expensive period to travel to Greece.

How many days do you need in Athens?

Athens is an incredible destination offering countless sightseeing, arts, history, culture, nightlife, and entertainment options. We recommend spending at least 3 or 4 days in Athens to cover the most popular sights like the Acropolis and get a general feel of what life in the Greek capital is like.

So, When Is the Best Time of Year To Visit Athens?

The best times of year to visit Athens are between March and May and from September to early November. But you have to know that no matter which time of the year you choose to visit Athens, you will always find more than enough interesting things to see and do around the city.

With its historic sites, the flavorful traditional cuisine, and the bustling nightlife that makes you feel that this city never sleeps, the Greek capital is bound to enchant all year round.

attractions in athens greece

Athens Uncovered: Must-Visit Places for Every Traveler

Before determining the right time of year for your vacation, you must determine whether you prefer to experience Athens during winter or summer.

After that, follow our guide, pick the right period according to your interests, and indulge in the experiences this magical city has in store for you.

We bet you won’t be disappointed.

Reasons to Visit Athens

10 Reasons Why You Should Visit Athens [Greece]

A Quick Reminder:

Remember that Athens By Locals is here to guide you with planning the perfect trip to Athens and help you every step along the way. If you didn’t found what you’re looking for, or need any recommendations about your trip to Athens, feel free to  contact us  and we will do our best to help you. Please be as more detailed as possible regarding your subject so as to help you better.

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Best Time to Visit Athens: Month-by-Month Guide

By Alex Schultz · Last updated on April 3, 2024

While it is most known for its ancient ruins and archaeological sites, Greece’s capital Athens is also a modern, sprawling metropolis. A very vibrant place, its packed schedule of cultural events and pounding nightlife scene means there’s something to enjoy whenever you go.

Having said that, the shoulder seasons of spring and autumn are arguably the best times to visit. As well as avoiding the huge crowds, heat waves and high prices of summer, you can take boat trips to the gorgeous Greek Islands without jostling for space aboard.

While winter is the low season, moderate temperatures and the cheaper prices mean you can still have a nice time away. With so much to see and do, Athens is a great year-round destination.

What’s the Weather Like in Athens?

Lying just inland from the Aegean Sea, Athens is built across a number of hills in the Attica Basin. Surrounded on three sides by massive mountains, it has a hot Mediterranean climate with scorching summers and mild winters.

Averages of around 31 and 32°C (88 to 89°F) in July and August are also accompanied by dry weather and bright, sunny skies. Besides being a bit wetter and cooler, wintertime also sees less sunshine and fewer hours of daylight.

Due to its setting and the fact it acts as an urban heat island, Athens often has quite bad air pollution. Its constant traffic and increasingly frequent forest fires in summer also don’t help unfortunately.

Best months to visit Athens

Best Time to Visit Athens

As temperatures of around 15 to 24°C (59 to 75°F) are more manageable, both spring and late autumn are usually considered the most comfortable months to visit. You then avoid the summers’ long, hot, dry days but still enjoy plenty of sunshine and clear blue skies. Prices are also cheaper and there are fewer crowds at all its attractions.

With temperatures regularly reaching the mid-to-high 30s (95 to 100°F), July and August can almost be unbearable in Athens. Despite the heat and humidity, these are among the most popular months to visit Athens as people have holidays. Numerous festivals are also held with many taking trips to nearby beaches, islands and archaeological sites.

Athens in January

Athens Museum

After the Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations, January is quite quiet in Athens. Aside from being the coldest month of the year, the weather is rather unpredictable with sun, rain and sometimes even snow appearing on the same day! If you’re very lucky, you’ll get to see the Acropolis magically covered in a thin layer of snowfall.

While its festive lights and Christmas Factory are up until the 6th, after this there is not all that much going on around the city. Although you lose a bit of its special ambience, you can visit its main attractions and museums without any queues. You can also pick up some great deals for hotels and flights.

Athens in February

Athens in February

Very similar weatherwise to January, February is also quite cold and wet with temperatures averaging 13°C (55°F). If you wrap up warm though and pack an umbrella, you can amble about all its archaeological sites with barely anyone else around.

Flight prices and hotel rates are again much cheaper as most people wait to visit when the weather is warmer. Athens also has exciting events such as its Dance Festival to attend with three weeks of street parades, parties and concerts taking place for the Apokries Carnival.

Athens in March

Independence Day

Depending on the year, these fun festivities in the run-up to Lent may carry on into March with other huge events including its FoodExpo and Independence Day celebrations. At these, you can either try thousands of tasty local food products or watch a grand military parade commemorating the country’s founding. Although it is still the off-season, averages of 15°C (59°F) entice more people back to the capital.

With 6 hours of sunshine and 12 of daylight a day, you can spend a lot more time outdoors, wandering about. As all the hotels and archaeological sites still receive relatively few visitors, prices are cheaper and places are less crowded. Its spring flowers also look very picturesque in its parks or on the mountainsides.

Athens in April

Athens Springs

April is really when tourism takes off again in Athens. The longer, sunny, dry days are ideal for strolling about sightseeing before the summer crowds arrive. Average temperatures rise to 19°C (66°F) with cheery poppies and daisies blooming throughout the city.

Flight and hotel prices do increase though around Easter – a very important religious holiday in Greece. More regular ferries also depart for Santorini, Mykonos and Naxos if you want to visit some of its idyllic isles before they are overrun later in the year. With very few overcast days, April is one of the best months to visit Athens.

Athens in May

Athens in May

With temperatures hitting 24°C (75°F) and all kinds of interesting events taking place, May is arguably an even better month to explore Athens. A lovely, lively summer-like feel reigns over everywhere as people spend more time outside due to the dry, sunny days.

Not yet as expensive or crowded as summer, it has fantastic food and jazz festivals to enjoy as well as the month-long Athens City Festival. Celebrating spring, this sees lots of concerts, art exhibitions and sporting events held around town. May is also a good month to take day trips to nearby sites like Ancient Corinth and Epidaurus before they get too busy.

Athens in June

Athens in June

While averages of 29°C (84°F) can already get a bit much, June is the beginning of the peak season in Athens. As people pour in, prices go up with many hotels and restaurants being packed out. The Acropolis and its ancient Agora also start to get very full during this month.

With 15 hours of daylight though – the most of the year – you should have plenty of time to explore the center and enjoy sitting at its outdoor cafes. Besides sunbathing and swimming in the sea, you can also take ferries to visit some of its nearby isles. The almost three month-long Epidaurus Festival also has hundreds of dance, music and theater productions to attend, many held in the capital’s ancient theaters. Alternatively, you listen to big live acts at the Release music festival or DJ sets at Colour Day.

Athens in July

Athens in July

Along with August, July is by far the hottest month in Athens when temperatures average a scorching 32°C (89°F). With heatwaves increasingly common, particularly hot, dry summers can make sightseeing rather sticky and unpleasant. Some local shops and restaurants close for the holidays.

Despite the heat, vast crowds descend upon the city to see its sites or cool off at the nearby beaches. July also sees a number of huge events like the Rockwave and Ejekt festivals take place with rock music lovers arriving for both from all around Greece and further afield. To keep cool, you’ll want to wear light clothing, hydrate often and avoid strolling about during the hottest hours of the day.

Athens in August

Athens Crowds

As many people have holidays, August is the most expensive month to visit in terms of both flight and hotel prices. While the heat, humidity and large crowds can be off-putting, there is a very vibrant feel to its old streets and modern squares. Long queues do form though at its main tourist attractions.

Around the 15th, the city suddenly feels quite empty as many locals head off on holiday. You can still enjoy great shows and concerts though at the on-going Epidaurus Festival. When the moon is at its brightest, you can also visit its archaeological sites late at night for the August Full Moon Festival. Nearby beaches will be at their busiest, however, as Greeks relax at the coast and avoid the worst of the crowds in the capital.

Athens in September

Athens Shopping

Slightly cooler and cheaper, September is another of the best months to visit Athens. Once the school holidays are over, crowds drop considerably and a wonderful relaxed feel replaces the excited buzz of the summer months.

Although still hot, averages of 28°C (82°F) are much more pleasant for ambling around the center. Plaka’s cute cafes and artsy boutique shops will also be a lot less busy. The same is true for the ferries running from Piraeus. In addition to perusing Art Athina’s contemporary installations, you can watch thought-provoking movies at its International Film Festival.

Athens in October

Athens Rainy Day

Screenings are held into October when the prices and crowds continue to fall further. Still a very popular month to visit, it sees temperatures average 22°C (71°F) and a bit more rain starts to fall again towards the end of it. It’s well worth packing a light jacket as the evenings can get a bit nippy.

With fewer people around, this is a great time to hit up its archaeological sights and islands where you can benefit from some fantastic deals. Bear in mind though that ferries may run less frequently depending on the route. Both sunbathing and swimming are less comfortable as the weather is a bit more unpredictable.

Athens in November

Athens in November

November sees a drastic drop in tourist numbers as temperatures fall to 18°C (64°F), and there is much less sunshine and more rainfall. As wintertime opening hours apply, some museums and archaeological sites may close a bit earlier. The good news though is that prices are way cheaper and there are almost no crowds wherever you go.

As this is the off-season, ferries run less frequently and many businesses on the islands shut for the winter. While you can pick up some good deals, they do lose their allure a bit due to the shorter, drearier days. Aside from running the Athens Marathon, you can always explore the Acropolis and Agora without almost anyone around.

Athens in December

Athens Christmas

With it raining 10 days on average and temperatures dropping to 14°C (57°F), December is one of the quietest months in the capital. While there are some decorations strung up and the Christmas Factory to stop by, there isn’t quite the same ambience as in other European cities during winter.

If you want to escape the worst of the cold weather though, its mild temperatures, low hotel prices and laidback feel can make for a nice getaway. Besides celebrating Christmas and New Year’s here, there is also AthensCon to attend at the start of the month. Here you can buy games and collectibles or dress up as your favourite anime character! If you layer up and take an umbrella with you, strolling about its deserted archaeological sites alone can be quite atmospheric.

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Lonely Planet's guide to Athens

Rebecca Hall

Nov 11, 2023 • 8 min read

Here are things a traveler should know on their first trip to one of the world's most storied cities, Athens

Here are things a traveler should know on their first trip to Athens, one of the world's most storied cities © Lisa Schaetzle / Getty Images

Founded in 508 BCE, Athens is one of the oldest cities in the world and it's regularly touted as one of the Mediterranean’s best capital cities to visit. From the iconic Parthenon and the unique street art rivaling that of Berlin  to the city's glittering coastline, there’s so much to see and do in this ancient capital. 

One thing’s for sure: whether you’re into architecture, mythology, ancient sites, modern art or simply relaxing by the beach, Athens has something for everyone.

When should I go to Athens?

Greece generally attracts most people during the summer months (June to August) and Athens is no different, but we recommend visiting in the spring and autumn to avoid the heat. These shoulder seasons – March to May and September to October – offer cooler temperatures and a more comfortable travel experience overall. It’s also worth remembering that Athens is a humid place thanks to its coastline, which creates humid heat in the summer and gives the winter cold an extra chill. Consider this when packing and bring layers for all seasons.

Greek Orthodox Easter usually falls in April or May and the run-up to it, plus the event itself, is a huge celebration in the Greek calendar – even more so than Christmas. Expect street carnivals to mark the end of Lent and street processions to the various neighborhood churches on the Easter weekend, culminating in Mass and a huge meal on the Easter Sunday with a lamb on the spit. 

Restaurant prices won’t change much throughout the year, but accommodation prices do vary.  The same four-star hotel located near the Acropolis could be €140 per night in March and jump up to €320 in June for a weekend date, with Easter time seeing similar price rises.  It’s often cheaper to book directly, and hotels generally only publish their prices about two to three months in advance. 

An overhead view of historic Monastiraki Sq in Athens, Greece

How much time should I spend in Athens?

Many Europeans come to Athens for a weekend break, and long-haul travelers often use the city as as a stopover on the way to the Greek islands. 

You can get an initial taste of the city in two days, but we recommend a longer stay to truly understand the essence of this ancient capital. With four days, you can spend a day and a half at the capital’s famous sights, spend an afternoon wandering its neighborhoods , and still have time time to explore the beaches and ancient ruins of the Athenian coastline for a day or two.

Is it easy to get in and around Athens?

Located at the crossroads between Europe and the Middle East, Greece (and Athens in particular) attracts many tourists, which means the travel infrastructure is well developed and easy to use. Athens International Airport is 33km (21 miles) and a 30- to 45-minute drive – or a 45-minute metro ride – from the city center. There are also good ferry connections to Greece from Italy, with coach or rail services to and from Athens. 

Island hoppers will set out from the port of Piraeus , which is 45km (28 miles) from the airport and 10km (6 miles) from the city center. Piraeus is well linked to both the center (20 minutes by metro) and airport (a 24-hour bus service that takes about 90 minutes).

Public transport around Athens itself is easy, accessible and affordable, with a single ticket valid for a 90-minute journey and costing a mere €1.20. There is also a range of ticket deals, including  tourist passes lasting three and five days. 

The four modes of transport in Athens are:

  • the very clean metro system . Note: no food is allowed.
  • the overground train that connects the center to Piraeus port and other mainland destinations.
  • an extensive network of  buses and electric trolleys . These primarily run to urban neighborhoods beyond the touristic center. 
  • a tram service that connects the city center to the Athens coast and its beaches in about an hour.

After you’ve gotten yourself from the airport to the city center, most of Athens’s popular sights sit within a compact, walkable area. Just be aware of the traffic – cars don’t always immediately stop at red lights, and motorbikes occasionally mount the sidewalk to park.

An overhead view of a turquoise sea with people on the beach in Athens, Greece

Top things to do in Athens

Naturally, many visitors head straight to the Acropolis and the  Parthenon , Athens' most notable sights. The Acropolis has a daily visitor’s cap to avoid overcrowding and to preserve the ancient monument, so be sure to book your tickets in advance. It’s not really necessary to have a guide for the Acropolis – which can be booked on site – unless you’re very interested in dates and knowing the intricacies of ancient Greek history.

At the foot of the Acropolis lies the impressive Acropolis Museum , which showcases treasures from the Archaic to Roman periods, plus a stunning glass floor that reveals the excavated ruins underneath it. There’s also a terraced restaurant on the top floor with gorgeous views across to the monument.

Ancient artifacts crop up all over the city in random places, too; the metro stations of Monastiraki, Akropoli and Syntagma are like mini museums in their own right, and there's even ruins of a Roman tomb in a glassed-off area of the Zara clothing store on the shopping street of Ermou.

If it’s shopping you’re into, pedestrianized Ermou St is the place to go. It runs for nearly a mile from the Acropolis area up to Parliament in Syntagma Square, and features tons of fashion brands such as Mac, Desigual and the aforementioned Zara, plus a huge H&M. Greece’s main department store, Attica, is also here, and it's a great place to stock up with your holiday essentials. 

Looking for free and low-cost things to do in Athens ? Meander along the streets of Monastiraki flea market on a Sunday to peruse all the random wares for sale (everything from old drachma coins to shop mannequins), or take a stroll through the National Garden  next to the Parliament building, with its many species of plants and parrots flying freely. Witness the changing of the evzones (presidential guards) on the hour outside the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier , or make your way to  Filopappou Hill /Hill of the Muses with its pine forest – a great destination on a hot day thanks to its abundant shade. Be sure to head up here at sunset for views across to the Saronic Gulf.

My favorite thing to do in Athens

As an aficionado of street art, I love exploring the burgeoning street art scene here and getting to know the various neighborhoods where it proliferates. Take in the famous Praying Hands Mural just off Omonia Sq, for example, which depicts Jesus praying for the people down on Earth – a play on Albrecht Dürer’s Praying Hands (1508).

I also love wandering around the hidden village of Anafiotika , which sits beneath the northeast side of the Acropolis. A sub-district of Plaka, it was built in the mid-1800s when King Otto brought in workers from the Greek island of Anafi to construct his palace. Homesick, the workers set about making their neighborhood a replica of their homeland, building white, sugar-cubed houses with flat stone roofs and brightly painted wooden doors and shutters, like those found in the Cyclades. Pink and white bougainvilleas wind their way up these buildings, several of which have roof gardens. 

Anafiotika is a bit difficult to find, but worth the effort. Start at the Acropolis main entrance, and walk to your left along the path; keep the monument to your right until you reach the Church of Metamorphosis. Continue straight past the church and follow the wider path up a steep hill. The path turns right and runs into stairs – this is the start of the island village.

Women toast with glasses of white wine at a restaurant in Athens, Greece

How much money do I need for Athens?

Athens isn’t an expensive place to visit compared to other European destinations, especially outside of the high summer season when prices rise significantly.

  • Hostel dorm room: approx. €26 per night
  • Basic room for two: €36–128, depending of style of hotel and location
  • Self-catering apartment: €65 per day
  • Public transport ticket: €1.20 for a 90-minute journey, €10 from the airport, €4.10 for a day pass, €20 for a three-day pass including one airport journey, €8.10 for a five-day pass (not including airport)
  • Coffee: €2–2.50
  • Typical Greek gyros with salad and fries: €2–3
  • Dinner for two: €30 (add €2.50 for beer or wine)
  • Beer at a pub: €2.50+

What do I need to know before going to Athens?

Bring layers, no matter the season 

As Athens is located on the coast, it’s sticky in the summer and quite chilly in the spring, fall and winter evenings. Layers are always a good idea: think T-shirts, light sweaters and a jacket for the cooler months. For the really hot summer months, bring a sports cooling towel to wrap around your neck to cool off as you explore.

Be aware of your belongings on the metro

As with any capital or big city, pickpockets can take advantage of large tourist crowds, especially on crowded public transport. Avoid hanging large cameras around your neck and keep your backpack in front of you. You may also want to invest in a hanging cord for your cell phone to loop across your body so it can’t be snatched from your hands.

No flushing toilet paper!

The plumbing in Athens is antiquated and the pipes tend to be very narrow. Flushing paper down the toilet will clog things up, so you’ll always find a bin with bag inside it in the bathroom for you to place toilet paper inside. This is removed daily by housekeeping.

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The Best Time to Visit Athens

Greece › Athens › Best Time to Visit Athens Updated: February 27, 2024 By Santorini Dave

See Also • Best Places to Stay in Athens • Best Hotels in Athens • Best Hotels on the Athens Riviera • Best Family Hotels in Athens • Best Things To Do in Athens

Beach resort in Athens

If visiting from June to September the Four Seasons Astir Palace Hotel on the Athens Riviera is a wonderful choice. In spring, fall, and winter the Grande Bretagne in central Athens is best. Both are great places to stay and on our list of best hotels in Athens .

When is the Best Time to Visit Athens? My favorite time to visit Athens is during the shoulder seasons of late April to early June and late September to early November. During these months, the weather is typically warm and sunny, with fewer crowds than during the peak summer months of July and August. First-time visitors to Athens who are most concerned about outdoor sightseeing in comfortable weather will find these months the best. The shoulder seasons offer comfortable temperatures for exploring the city’s historical sites, such as the Acropolis, the Parthenon, and the Ancient Agora. Me and my son eating dinner on an outdoor patio in Athens during an April visit. In the shoulder seasons, you can expect mild temperatures, ranging from 60°F (15°C) to 80°F (27°C), and a lower likelihood of rain compared to the winter months. The weather is ideal for walking around the city, enjoying outdoor cafes, and visiting the many archaeological sites and museums. While I find the summer months of mid-June to mid-September to be very hot, they do offer the most sunshine and driest weather. That said, for most visitors the summer heat makes sightseeing less comfortable, and tourist sites can be very crowded. If you prefer a quieter and more relaxed atmosphere, consider visiting Athens during the off-season, from November to March. The weather is cooler and more unpredictable, with a higher chance of rain, but you’ll experience fewer tourists, lower prices, and a more authentic experience of the city. Athens January Weather: Cool, rainy, occasional sun. Sunshine/Rain: 120 hrs/57 mm Athens February Weather: Cool, damp, some sunny days. Sunshine/Rain: 120 hrs/47 mm Athens March Weather: Mild, less rain, more sun. Sunshine/Rain: 180 hrs/41 mm Athens April Weather: Warmer, occasional showers, sunny. Sunshine/Rain: 210 hrs/29 mm Athens May Weather: Warm, mostly sunny, little rain. Sunshine/Rain: 300 hrs/19 mm Athens June Weather: Hot, sunny, minimal rain. Sunshine/Rain: 360 hrs/10 mm Athens July Weather: Very hot, sunny, dry. Sunshine/Rain: 390 hrs/5 mm Athens August Weather: Extremely hot, sunny, dry. Sunshine/Rain: 360 hrs/6 mm Athens September Weather: Hot, sunny, little rain. Sunshine/Rain: 270 hrs/13 mm Athens October Weather: Warm, more rain, mostly sunny. Sunshine/Rain: 210 hrs/45 mm Athens November Weather: Mild, rainy, less sun. Sunshine/Rain: 155 hrs/58 mm Athens December Weather: Cool, damp, occasional sun. Sunshine/Rain: 120 hrs/65 mm The Acropolis of Athens at sunset. The best times to visit the Acropolis are late spring and early fall. If visiting Athens in summer, the best time of day is early morning or early evening (two hours before closing). When I Recommend Visiting Athens Best Time to Visit Athens for Good Weather : Athens is blazing hot (and busy) in July and August, when afternoon temperatures can rise to 40°C. A better plan for warm pleasant weather is to visit between mid-April and late June or early September through late-October when temperatures typically hover between 20°C and 25°C. March and November also have good sightseeing weather but be prepared for cool nights and some rain. (Some years Athens even gets snow in the winter.) Best Time for Sightseeing : The best time for sightseeing in Athens is when the weather is mild and there are smaller lines and fewer tourists: April through about mid-May, or October and into early November are the best times to visit the top attractions in Athens . Best Time to Visit the Acropolis : The best time to visit the Acropolis is in the early morning hours, especially in the summer months when it gets unbearably hot by late morning and early afternoon. As Athens is a major stop on Mediterranean cruise routes, tour buses will be pulling up at 8 a.m. when it opens, so you’ll need to be there and be ready to enter the minute the doors open to stay ahead of the crowds. The next best time is near the end of the day, about two hours before closing. It’s best to buy Acropolis tickets online . In terms of what months are best for visiting the Acropolis, I recommend April, early May, October, and early November when crowds are smaller but weather still enjoyable. Best Time for Beaches : Greater Athens has the longest coastline of any European capital, with 16 Blue Flag beaches. The best time to visit to experience them is from June through September. September is especially nice when the big crowds have gone but the water is a comfortable 24°C, having had all summer to warm up. Best Time to Experience Authentic Greek Celebrations : Easter is the most important celebration on the Greek calendar, with Greeks celebrating an entire seven days over Holy Week. This is a great time to visit for those looking for a local experience, with the chance to enjoy candlelit processions, fireworks, and sumptuous feasts. Note: Greek Easter usually falls on different dates than Easter in US, Canada, Australia, and Western Europe. Athens Travel Seasons High Season (Mid-June through Mid-September) : Summer in Athens is the high season, a good time to visit if you’re hoping to experience heat and a hopping nightlife. There will be an especially lively atmosphere with lots of tourists in the streets. Summer also sees the highest hotel and airfare rates. In August, many locals, including shop owners and restauranteurs, go on vacation to the mountains or beaches, which means some businesses will be closed. Shoulder Season (April through Mid-June, Mid-September through October) : Shoulder season is the time most feel is the very best for visiting Athens. From April through the end of spring and again in early fall, the weather is often pleasant with high temperatures ranging in the low to mid-20s. This is also when there are better deals for accommodation and flights, and most shops, attractions, and restaurants will be open. Low Season (November through March) : The low season is from late autumn through winter. While this time of year brings more grey days and rain, snow is rare in the city with low temperatures usually well above freezing. There’s plenty of room for sightseeing (crowds are thin and lineups rare) and discounts on both hotels and airfare are usually readily available. The downside is that Greek ferries won’t be running on a full schedule. Athens Events and Festivals Athens in January New Year’s Day/Saint Basil’s Day – A national Greek holiday, January 1st celebrates both the New Year and Saint Basil’s Day. It’s similar to Christmas Day in North America and many other places around the world, as Saint Basil is Greece’s version of Santa Claus. People exchange gifts and some make a special cake with a coin inside known as a vasilopita. The person that receives the slice with the coin inside is believed to have good luck. Many businesses and tourist attractions will be closed, though most restaurants, cafes, and bars will be open. Epiphany – January 6th is the Feast of the Epiphany, celebrated in many places across Europe, including Athens. One of the oldest Christian celebrations, it represents the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist as well as the famous visit from the Three Wise Men. In the Greek capital, visitors can experience a sight to behold, with thousands gathering for the Blessing of the Waters in Piraeus, Athens’ main port. Souvenir Expo – For five days in mid-January, the largest expo of folk art and tourism items comes to Athens. The Souvenir Expo features products inspired by Greek tradition, with outstanding masterpieces exhibited, including handmade decorative items, tourist clothing, and objects with high classical value. Athens in February Carnival – Carnivals are hosted throughout Greece with some of the biggest and best festivities enjoyed in Athens. Known locally as Apokries, it takes place three weeks before Lent. While it’s related to Christianity, its roots are in ancient festivals that honored Dionysus, the god of fertility and wine. Nightlife is bustling now with clubs and bars throwing all sorts of themed parties. On the last weekend of Carnival, there are multiple parades and outdoor celebrations. In the old quarter of Plaka, the streets will be filled with locals throwing confetti and engaging in plastic bat wars. SNFCC Ice Skating – Throughout February, part of the long canal at the Stavros Niarchos Center (SNFCC) is transformed into an ice-skating rink, open for free to the public every day from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Valentine’s Day – As one of Europe’s most romantic cities, Valentine’s Day, February 14, is celebrated in a big way in Athens. Here and throughout the country, gifts and cards are exchanged, while many restaurants offer special romantic dinners. Couples can enjoy walking in the glow of the Parthenon at night, walk hand-in-hand through the pedestrian streets of Plaka, and take in local performances. Athens in March Clean Monday – Clean Monday is one of Greece’s most important feasts. It’s celebrated on the first day of the seventh week before Easter Sunday, and marks the end of Carnival celebrations. Clean Monday is a national holiday, which means some businesses will be closed. Locals enjoy building and flying kites, consuming shellfish, and taking outdoor excursions. As noted above: Greek Easter has different dates than Easter in the West. Independence Day and the Feast of the Annunciation – March 25th marks two holidays which are celebrated at the same time, the Greek National Anniversary which celebrates the country’s victory in the war of independence against the Turks, and a major religious holiday honoring the day that Angel Gabriel announced Mary the incarnation of Christ. This is a national holiday, bringing business closures, including some tourist sites like the Acropolis, other archaeological sites, and all museums. Some streets may be blocked for parades and festivities. Saint Patrick’s Day – Pubs and bars throughout the city frequently offer special drink deals, including green beer along with Irish music and dancing for St. Patrick’s Day. The Greek-Irish Society hosts its event of the year, the annual St. Patrick’s Day Ball, on or around March 17. Athens in April Athens International Film and Video Festival – This film festival takes place over a week in mid-April. It showcases some 250 films and video, including feature-length films, narrative, short-form, and documentaries from around the world. Holy Week and Easter – Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday (in the Orthodox calendar) is Holy Week in Greece. While it sometimes falls in March, it’s usually in April. The biggest holiday of the year in Athens and throughout Greece, many shops will have limited hours and there are church services every evening. On Saturday, just before midnight, many locals arrive at church with Easter candles. The lights are switched off to represent Jesus’ death and the priest announces that “Christ Has Risen.” Afterward, there are lots of cheering, kisses, and fireworks. Easter Sunday brings family and friends together for large feasts where wine is ever-flowing, lambs are roasted on a spit and people crack red eggs against each other – the one standing with the last remaining uncracked egg will have good luck. Comicdom Con – Held for three days in mid-April, this even promotes emerging local illustrators as well as international comic artists. The Feast of Saint George – This day honors one of the most celebrated saints in Greece. Hosted on April 23 most years, while some of the most elaborate festivals are in the mountain village of Arachova, and in Skiathos and Skyros, there will be feasting, music and dancing at venues throughout Athens. Athens in May May Day/International Workers’ Day – May 1 is May Day and International Workers’ Day in Greece. A national holiday, locals often head to the countryside to enjoy picnics, and many museums, monuments, attractions and some shops will be closed, although restaurants usually remain open. Across Greece, there is generally a day-long transit strike, and in Athens, there may be protests as well as parades scheduled. Athens Jazz Festival – One of the city’s most popular festivals offers five days full of music, bringing jazz musicians from across the globe to perform on historic Lycabettus hill. Athens Epidaurus Festival – This annual arts festival is hosted in both Athens and Epidaurus starting in late May and running through the summer. One of the country’s most famous festivals, it includes theatrical, musical, and a variety of other cultural events at various venues around the city. Athens in June Mt Olymprov International Improv Festival – This event features improve shows, instructors, lots of food and fun to the city for five days in early June. Art Athina – Held for four days around the Summer Solstice, this international contemporary art fair is one of the oldest in Europe. Launched in 1993, it showcases artists, cultural institutions, and Greek and foreign art galleries. Athens Photo Festival – The leading international festival of photography and visual culture in southeastern Europe, the Athens Photo Festival features works from emerging and established artists and photographers from across the globe. European Music Day – This national event is celebrated in more than four dozen Greek cities for five days starting on June 21st each year. There are 350 events hosted at more than 200 venues, with dance groups, choirs, philharmonic and symphony orchestras, and music ensembles playing in squares, archaeological sites, parks, and gardens. Athens in July Rockwave Festival – Taking place for two weeks in July, this festival is one of the most famous in Athens, hosted just outside of the city in Malakasa. Some of the past artists have included Robbie Williams, Arctic Monkeys, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, The Black Keys, and Lana Del Rey. Ejekt Festival Athens – This long-running festival is hosted at the Plateia Nerou by the sea. It showcases some of the best electronic-based and alternative music in the world for two-days in mid-July each year, including big-name bands like The Cure. Athens in August With many locals heading to beaches, mountains and islands to cool off during their holidays, festivals are limited in the city this month. The Day of Assumption of the Virgin Mary – August 15 is a national holiday and the second most important holiday after Easter that celebrates Mary’s ascent to heaven and her reunion with Jesus. Many businesses will be closed, with processions and feasts around the country, including Athens. August Full Moon Festival – Every year in Athens and throughout Greece, the year’s most impressive full moon is celebrated with a variety of events. A series of sites and monuments will be open free of charge, and other festivities like free concerts are held in museums around the city. Athens in September Athens Book Fair – The annual Athens Book Fair takes place during the first half of September. Each year features a special theme, like 2018’s which was dedicated to poems set to music, with special evenings highlighting collaborations between poets and composers, with songs performed by well-known singers. Athens International Film Festival – This festival takes place over the second half of September. It supports independent film production, featuring films from around the world with no genre limitations. European Day of Languages Multilingual Festival – In late September each year, this festival presents songs, dance, stories and games in celebration of the European Day of Languages. Athens in October Oxi Day – On October 28 each year, Greeks around the country celebrate the day the country said no (“oxi”) to the Italians who had asked for their surrender during the Second World War with Ohi Day, also known as Oxi Day. It brings feasts, processions, folk fairs and more. In Athens, there will be a parade marching past the Parliament building. Halloween – Bars and nightclubs around Athens use Halloween as a great excuse for throwing costume parties and offering special themed menus. Trick-or-treating generally only takes place among expats who often organize special events for their kids. There is usually a Halloween Carnival held on the Athens campus of American Community Schools where children can play games and win prizes. Adults can look forward to all sorts of fun events featuring live music, ghoulish cocktails, and costume contests. Athens in November Athens Marathon – Held annually during the first half of November, according to legend, the Athens Marathon covers the very same ground Phiedippides ran when he delivered news of victory from the battlefield of Marathon. The finish line is at the birthplace of modern Olympic Games, Olympic Stadium. Anniversary of the Polytechnic Uprising, Athens – A national holiday on November 17 each year, this day remembers the 1973 student uprising at Polytechnic University in Athens. This is when tanks crashed into the gates of the university and multiple students were killed. There is a march, often followed by violent protest around the American Embassy; this area is best avoided by tourists at this time. GeMin – Held for three days in late November, this event features rock displays, minerals, fossils, crystals, gemstones and more at the Royal Olympic Hotel in Athens. Athens in December Holiday Events – A wide range of events celebrating Christmas will take place leading up to the holiday, including music shows at the Athens Concert Hall. A Christmas tree will be lit up in blue and white, the holiday colors of Greece, in Syntagma Square, there are holiday bazaars, and a Santa Claus Kingdom which offers indoor ice skating, games, rides, and fair food. Christmas Eve – On Christmas Eve, December 24, children traditionally sing Christmas carols from door to door. Christmas Day and Boxing Day – Christmas Day, December 25, and Boxing Day December 26, are national holidays throughout Greece with many businesses closed, although some restaurants will be open. Today, families follow typical western Christmas traditions. New Year’s Eve – Like many cities around the world, Athens celebrates December 31, New Year’s Eve, in a big way. There will be special events, including dinners and parties, hosted across the city, and a countdown to the New Year accompanied by fireworks. As the Greeks believe the New Year brings good luck and fortune, many spending their time playing cards with friends and family, with games lasting through early morning hours.
  • Where to Stay in Athens
  • Best Hotels in Athens
  • Best Hotels on the Athens Riviera
  • Best Hotels in Athens for Families

About Santorini Dave

Santorini Dave Author Bio.

Headout Blog

A month-by-month guide on when to visit Athens

Things to do in Athens Athens Travel Guide Best Time To Visit Athens

Athens , the capital of Greece, is home to the ruins of what was once a thriving civilization. Mainland Greece and the islands that dot the surrounding Mediterranean Sea make it a tourist hotspot. Athens certainly draws a lot of people through the year given it's proximity to numerous other sites. The city itself boasts of a myriad of museums and ruins to be explored, and each season in this ancient city has something to offer to anyone visiting.

Quick Jumplinks to Navigate the Guide

  • Best Time To Visit Athens - Know Before You Plan Your Trip

Athens Through The Year

Best season to visit athens, a month-by-month guide to visiting athens.

  • Athens 3 Day Itinerary
  • More Athens Guides

Know Before You Plan Your Trip to Athens

Best time of the year to visit athens.

The months between March and May, as well as September and November, are ideal for visiting Athens. The weather in the spring and autumn is pleasant, and sunshine is almost always prevalent. Not to forget, that there are fewer tourists and better flight and hotel prices than in the summer.

Best Time To Visit Athens For Different Kinds Of Travellers

Best Time for Sightseeing & Outdoor Activities: June and July, because the warm weather in Athens makes it perfect to take in the outdoors!

Best Time for Museum Buffs: March and November, because it is not very crowded and these months don't have many national holidays, which means attractions will be open throughout the month. Added bonus of less crowds means you can take your time to explore whatever catches your interest.

Best Time for Honeymooners: April and October, because the weather is quite pleasant and the high season crowd hasn't yet arrived in the city. The beginnings of spring and fall make the perfect time for a romantic getaway.

Best Time for Budget Travellers: February and December, because the frigid weather is unfavorable for tourists, leading to many businesses offering flight and hotel deals that would prove to be lighter on your wallet.

Best Time for Shopaholics: January and February, because the post holiday season-lull encourages businesses to offer clearance sales that you can take full advantage of.

Tourist Seasons in Athens

  • High season in Athens: Summertime in Athens is the high season, and it is a great time to visit if you want to experience the city's heat and vibrant nightlife. There will be a particularly bustling mood in the streets, as there will be a large number of tourists, and this season will also witness the highest lodging and flight charges. This is not a good time to be in Athens if you prefer to explore spots by yourself.
  • Shoulder season in Athens: Most people believe that the greatest time to visit Athens is during the shoulder season. The weather is usually good from April to the end of spring, and again in early September, with maximum temperatures in the low to mid-20s. This is also when you can get better hotel and airfare prices, and most shops, sights, and restaurants are open. This time should suit most travelers.
  • Low season in Athens: The low season lasts from late fall to the beginning of winter. While there are more cloudy days and rain at this time of year, snow is uncommon in the city, with low temperatures normally well above freezing. There is plenty of opportunity for touring as crowds are thin and lines are uncommon, and hotel and flight savings are frequently available. On the downside, transportation during this time is difficult to find.

spring in london

Athens in Spring

Athens is arguably at its best in the Spring season. The average high temperature during this time of the year hovers around the 20°C. With the blue water bodies around, the spring bloom adds another dimension to the Greek capital. Spring season is a great time to be in Athens if you prefer to travel without the throngs.

summer in london

Summer in Athens

The sweltering Greek summer is quite popular amongst the tourists. Athens receives millions of visitors from around the world during this season. The water temperature is mild during this time and the sun is out, making it the best time for watersports and sunbathing. The highs during the summer are recorded at around 34°C.

autumn in london

Athens in Autumn

Fall colors sit well in Athens. With the vegetation turning brown, orange, and amber, Athens’s average temperature falls to a very welcoming 24°C during this season. Precipitation is more likely in autumn than in summer, but it’s still infrequent enough to attract tourists. If you couldn’t make it to Athens in spring, autumn should be your next target.

winter in london

Athens in Winter

Winters in Athens are characterized by variable temperatures and unpredictable precipitation. These two factors make the Winter season quite unattractive for travelers. The winter lows in Athens can be anywhere around 7°C. Snowing is rare and unlikely in Athens during the winter.

Follow our detailed guide to pick a month for your Athens exploits.

Paris in Jan

Athens In January

Average Temperature: 7°C to 13°C

best time to visit athens

The coldest month in Athens in January, but it is nearly warm when compared to cities in Europe at this time. The weather can change at any time, producing sun, rain, wind, or snow. Even though the days are shorter in the winter, there are still over 9 hours of daylight to experience the beauty of Athens in early January. January 1st is a national Greek holiday that commemorates both the New Year and Saint Basil's Day. The Feast of the Epiphany is observed on January 6th in various parts of Europe, including Athens. The greatest fair of folk art and tourism items comes to Athens for five days in mid-January.

Athens In February

Average Temperature: 8°C to 14°C

best time to visit athens

As February progresses, expect plenty of sunlight and gradually warmer days, as well as fewer tourists and lower lodging rates. Bringing a variety of clothing is still recommended because it can seem much hotter than the thermometer says when the sun is out, and it can also get chilly late at night. Carnivals are held all over Greece, with some of the biggest and greatest celebrations taking place in Athens. It takes place 3 weeks preceding Lent and is known as Apokries in the area. During the month of February, a section of the long canal at the Stavros Niarchos Center (SNFCC) is changed into an ice rink, which is accessible to the public for free every day from 10 AM to 10 PM.

Recommended Experiences in Athens during Winters

Acropolis & Acropolis Museum: Ancient Athens Tour With Skip The Line Tickets

Athens in March

Average Temperature : 10°C to 17°C

best time to visit athens

March brings in spring, and the weather is starting to warm up. In March, there are normally more sunny days than rainy days, and the average amount of precipitation decreases. With such a minimal amount of rain, many people will visit this month and not witness much, if any, rain, obviating the need for an umbrella. One of Greece's most prominent feasts is Clean Monday. The Greek National Anniversary, which commemorates the country's triumph in the fight for independence against the Turks, falls on March 25th, as does a major religious holiday commemorating the day when Angel Gabriel announced Mary as Christ's incarnation. For St. Patrick's Day, pubs and clubs in Athens offer exceptional drink offers, including green beer, as well as Irish music and dancing.

Athens In April

Average Temperature : 12°C to 20°C

best time to visit athens

In April, the warm weather arrives for the first time. With enough sun and very little rain, this is a fantastic time to visit Athens. Attractions' hours have been extended, and days are getting longer, but lines are much shorter than in the summer, and crowds are scarce. In mid-April, the Athens International Film and Video Festival are held for a week. In Greece, Holy Week lasts from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday. It can happen in March, but it usually happens in April. In Athens and throughout Greece, this is the most important holiday of the year, thus many shops will be closed and there will be church services every evening. On April 23, the Feast of Saint George honors one of Greece's most revered saints.

Athens In May

Average Temperature : 16°C to 25°C

best time to visit athens

May is a fantastic month to visit Athens. For the most part, it will seem like the height of summer, but without the throngs of tourists. With just over four days of rain, there are essentially no concerns about rain. When it comes to packing, you may want to bring a light jacket or sweater for the cooler evenings. In Greece, May 1st is May Day and International Workers' Day. Locals generally go to the countryside for picnics on this national holiday, and many museums, monuments, attractions, and stores will be closed. One of Athens' most prominent festivals, the Athens Technopolis Jazz Festival, takes place over five days and features jazz musicians from around the country.

Recommended Experiences in Athens during Spring

Ancient Athens Pass with Skip the Line Entry to Acropolis, Parthenon, Temple of Zeus

Athens In June

Average Temperature : 21°C to 30°C

best time to visit athens

In June, the heat and tourists arrive, with the average high temperature rising five degrees from the previous month. Rain is nearly unheard of now, with only one day of rain on average in June, and nights are pleasant. With the sea temperature rising, this is the time for almost everyone to enjoy splashing at the beach. Around the Summer Solstice, Art Athina takes place for four days. This is one of Europe's oldest international contemporary art fairs. The Athens Photo Festival, southeastern Europe's biggest international photography and visual culture festival, showcases work by rising and popular artists and photographers from throughout the world. Every year on June 21st, European Music Day is commemorated in Athens for five days.

Athens In July

Average Temperature : 24°C to 33°C

best time to visit athens

Athens is experiencing some of the warmest temperatures of the year now that summer has arrived. There will be no rain, but lengthy, hot days are expected. With the sea temperature at 24°C, this month is all about spending time at the beach, so bring more than one bathing suit and lots of summer clothing to stay cool and protected from the sun. Rockwave Festival, held just outside of Athens in Malakasa for two weeks in July, is one of the most well-known in the city. Ejekt Event Athens is a long-running festival that takes place in mid-July each year and features some of the best electronic and alternative music from across the world for two days. .

Athens In August

best time to visit london

August's weather is very similar to July's, with the exception that the average high rises slightly. The city is largely deserted now that most residents are on their two-week vacations. While it is quite hot, many people find it tolerable due to the dry atmosphere, and the calmer roadways make it a little more comfortable than July. Mary's ascension to heaven and reunion with Jesus is commemorated on August 15, which is a public holiday and the second most significant festival after Easter. The August Full Moon Festival is held every year in Athens and around Greece to commemorate the year's most spectacular full moon. During this time, a number of landmarks and monuments will be open to the public for free.

Recommended Experiences in Athens during Summer

Day Cruise From Athens To Agistri, Moni and Aegina With Mediterranean-Greek Lunch

Athens In September

Average Temperature : 20°C to 29°C

best time to visit athens

While early September will be hotter than August, the weather will progressively calm down. Many people consider August to be the best month to visit Athens, especially in the second half, when the crowds drop out dramatically. Rain is still unlikely, with precipitation falling across three days on average. During the first half of September, the annual Athens Book Fair takes place. Each year's fair has a unique theme. During the second half of September, the Athens International Film Festival takes place. It promotes independent filmmaking by screening films from all throughout the world, regardless of genre. Every year in late September, a festival honors the European Day of Languages with singing, dance, tales, and activities.

Athens In October

Average Temperature : 16°C to 24°C

best time to visit athens

Though it may seem like ideal weather to many, the weather begins to chill drastically around October. It may be warm enough to swim during the first half of the month, with the sea remaining pleasant from the summer heat. The later in the month you travel, the more likely you will need a jacket or sweatshirt, but during any visit in October, it is a good idea to carry a variety of clothing. Every year on October 28, Greeks all around the country commemorate Ohi Day, the day when the country refused to surrender to the Italians during World War II. Halloween is a fantastic occasion for bars and nightclubs in Athens to hold costume parties and offer special themed menus.

Recommended Experiences in Athens during Autumn

Meteora Day Trip from Athens by Train

Athens In November

Average Temperature : 12°C to 19°C

best time to visit athens

The average high temperature in November in Athens drops another five degrees, making it feel as if someone turned on the air conditioner. The first half of the month normally has more sunlight than clouds, but the second half has more dreary days with a good probability of rain. If you are visiting Athens this month, bring layered clothing as well as a rain jacket and/or travel umbrella. The days will be shorter as well. The Athens Marathon, which takes place every year in the first half of November, is said to cover the same ground that Phiedippides traversed as he conveyed news of triumph from the Marathon battlefield. This day, which falls on November 17 each year, commemorates the 1973 student rebellion at Athens' Polytechnic University.

Athens In December

Average Temperature : 9°C to 15°C

best time to visit athens

Athens experiences some of the lowest temperatures of the year in December, but the winters are moderate. If you visit now, pack a travel umbrella and waterproof clothing because there is a lot more rain. There may even be snow on a few days, though it will most likely be a light dusting. More bright days are expected in the second part of the month. A wide selection of Christmas-themed events will take place in the run-up to the holiday, including music performances at the Athens Concert Hall. In Syntagma Square, there is a Christmas tree lit up in blue and white, the Greek holiday colors, as well as holiday bazaars and the Santa Claus Kingdom with interior ice skating, activities, attractions, and fast food.

How many days in Athens do you need?

Depends on how much of the city you want to explore, but ideally, 4 days should be enough to cover all the main sites. 

What is the hottest month in Athens?

August. Temperatures can reach upto 40 degree celsius at the time.

What is the rainiest month in Greece?

December, with an average of 97.6mm of rain.

Which is the best month to swim in the sea in Greece?

That would have to be August when the average sea temperature is 25°C. Paired with August being the hottest month, and the sea at a comfortable temperature, this would definitely be most ideal.

What is the coldest month in Athens, Greece?

The chilly weather lasts for about 4 months, from November to March, with an average daily high temperature below 62°F. The coldest month of the year in Athens is January , with an average low of 42°F and a high of 55°F.

What is the best month to go to Greece?

May, June and September would be the most ideal to visit the country, because the days are sunny, but just enough for it not to be scorching.

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Amulya Chintaluri

Amulya's love for travelling was a natural consequence of her moving around so much as a child. Throw in her love for writing into the mix, and there's no better way to spend her time. A person who collects hobbies like Infinity Stones, she loves reading, sketching, drawing, painting, dry pressing flowers, music, cooking, eating cake, watching TV and sleeping.

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The best time to visit Athens

The best time to visit Athens

The best time to schedule a visit to Athens is during the fall, winter or spring, according to AFAR, a US-based print and digital publication dedicated to experiential travel.

In a recent feature published in AFAR’s online edition, travel writer Helen Iatrou advises travelers to book their dream vacation to Greece beyond the summer months and dedicate a whole week to Athens.

“The best time to schedule a visit to the Greek capital is during the fall, winter, or spring. This is when Athens is at its prime and, more notably, when Athenians are in town. So, you’ll gain a better perspective of what life is really like in this vibrant metropolis where the ancients coexist with their contemporaries”, Iatrou writes.

Read the full article here .

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Greece In January – Weather And Best Places To Visit

Few tourists visit Greece in January. Yet, the Mediterranean country is an interesting destination to visit during winter. Here is all you need to know if you decide to take a January holiday in Greece.

Reasons to visit Greece in January

Visiting Greece in January

Few people planning a short break in January will consider going to Greece. Many visitors think that Greece is just a summer destination, and believe that everything shuts down during the off-season.

It’s true that many places in Greece, like the smaller islands, are seasonal destinations. Even the famous Mykonos and Santorini are very quiet in winter.

Anyone who chooses to visit in January will see a completely different side of the islands, without the summer crowds or the busy beach bars.

Visiting the Herodion theatre in Athens Greece in January

However, not all of Greece shuts down in January. The biggest cities, like Athens and Thessaloniki, are vibrant and lively.

Similarly, the mountain villages and ski resorts around the country are ideal for people who want to take a ski holiday, or just to enjoy the winter landscapes.

Let’s see what the weather is like in Greece in January. 

Greece weather in January

Let’s face it – January, along with February, is the coldest month of the year in Greece. Here is what the average temperatures look like at a few different areas of the country:

  • Athens: 4-13C (39-55F)
  • Thessaloniki: 2-9C (35-48F)
  • Corfu, Ionian islands: 5-14C (41-57F)
  • Rhodes, Dodecanese: 9-15C (48-59F)
  • Coastal towns in Crete: 8-16C (46-61F)
  • Kalamata, Peloponnese: 5-15C (41-59F)
  • Epirus: 0-9C (32-48F)

This is a good deal colder than the 30-35C (86-95F) temperatures in the summer months!

Wherever you go, you are also likely to get several rainy days. Athens and the Cyclades are relatively drier than Epirus, the Ionian islands, west Peloponnese and Crete.

Snow is not uncommon, especially in the north of the country and at the mountainous regions. This is an ideal time to visit a ski resort in Greece, like Parnassos or Kalavryta.

With all that said, blue skies and sunny days are actually quite common. Photos in this article have been taken in January!

Swimming in January in Greece 

You typically won’t find beach weather in Greece in January. The sea temperature is around 14-16C (57-61F) on average, and maybe a couple of degrees warmer in Southern Greece.

Greece weather can be cold in January

On most years, January has a few sunny days when the weather is pleasantly warm, known as the Halcyon days. According to traditional stories, the weather gets better to allow a bird, called the halcyon, to lay its eggs with safety.

People who are used to lower sea temperatures should be able to swim on these days. In fact, several Greeks swim during the coldest months of the year. It’s supposed to be good for you 🙂

The Epiphany celebration – Theophania

On the 6th of January, during the annual event of the Epiphany celebration , hundreds of people around the country dive to retrieve a cross that a priest has thrown in the water.

This day is a public holiday in Greece, and if the weather is nice, it’s a real bonus for participants! You can read some more info in this article about Greek celebrations .

The Epiphany celebrations in Greece

Let’s see the best places to visit in Greece in January, and what to expect.

Explore Athens Greece in January

All things considered, visiting Athens in January is a great experience. The city won’t be as packed as it is during the summer months. Instead, you will find plenty of Athenians, a buzzing atmosphere, and, incidentally,  the winter sales. 

Some of the famous ancient city’s top attractions are the Acropolis, the Ancient Agora and all ancient sites in Athens . As sunset is earlier in winter, opening hours are shorter, with the larger sites closing at 17.00.

On the positive side, tickets cost half-price, there are considerably fewer tourists compared to the peak season, and you won’t face any heatwaves. That said, avoid the occasional rainy days, as the ancient marbles can get slippery, and bring a scarf when it’s windy!

The Caryatids statues in the Acropolis Athens in January

January is a great month to visit the world class museums, galleries and other indoor attractions in Athens. The Acropolis Museum, National Archaeological Museum or Benaki Museum are among the best museums in Athens .

People on a budget can check out this list of free museums and galleries in Athens – there are many!

You will find that most shops, restaurants and cafes are open in January. You might not be able to sit outdoors on the coldest days, but you will find plenty of indoor places to eat and drink – plus, Christmas parks will still be open in the first week.

Ellinikon park in Athens in January

Here are the 30 best to do in Athens , at all seasons – after all, it’s a year round destination. And by the way, January is the beginning of the winter sales season, so it’s a good opportunity to go shopping in Athens .

Finally, the Acropolis and other ancient sites are free to visit on the first Sunday in January. Here’s some more information .

Visit Thessaloniki in January

Thessaloniki is Greece’s second largest city. It’s an incredible destination for anyone who likes Roman and Byzantine history, due to its number of historic sites.

The city is full of Roman sites, like the Roman Forum, the Galerian Complex and the Rotunda. You will also bump into several Byzantine churches, some of which are included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Thessaloniki before the winter storm

Museum lovers will thoroughly enjoy the excellent museums dedicated to Thessaloniki’s 5,000-year history. Most visitors will start with the city’s symbol, the White Tower, the Archaeological and the Byzantine Museum.

For an insight into modern and contemporary culture, allow some time for the fantastic Folk Life & Ethnological Museum and the numerous art museums in the city.

Apart from its history and culture, Thessaloniki is a wonderful place to wander around and soak the ambiance. The Upper Town, the long sea promenade and the various colorful neighbourhoods are all worth a visit.

Thessaloniki in January

Not to mention the city’s iconic nightlife, which thrives year-round. Stroll around the iconic Ladadika, but also wander off to Valaoritou and Polytechneiou streets, and explore the various tavernas and bars.

Here is my detailed guide about why Thessaloniki is totally worth visiting ! And here’s how to get from Thessaloniki Airport to the city centre .

Tip: Thessaloniki typically gets much colder than Athens. Bring some cold weather clothing, and get ready to explore!

Getting to Thessaloniki

There are several international flights arriving at Thessaloniki airport year-round. If you are in the capital, you can take a domestic flight, bus, or train to Thessaloniki from Athens .

Day trips from Thessaloniki

Thessaloniki is an excellent base from where you can explore numerous nearby places. Here are some of the best day trips from Thessaloniki .

The Greek islands in January

Generally speaking, the Greek islands receive very few tourists in January. Compared to Northern Europe, winters on the islands are fairly mild. Yet, despite the winter sun, rainy days, gray skies and strong winds are common.

Most of the coastal resorts on the Greek isles shut down in winter. Hotel, restaurant and shop owners take some time off, and do all the necessary repairs.

Fishing boats at Kefalonia island in winter

However, the biggest cities and towns, like Heraklion and Chania in Crete, or Rhodes town, remain lively year-round. So while it won’t be a beach holiday, it will be a good opportunity to experience local life in the Greece off-season.

While the winter months are probably not the best time to visit the Greek islands, you can find some bargain prices for accommodation, especially on the most expensive islands.

This is your best bet if you want to spend some quiet time at some of the most iconic destinations in Greece. Here is why you should consider visiting Santorini in winter . Bonus: did you know that sunsets are actually more colorful?

Getting to the Greek islands in January

Ferries run to the Greek islands year round. Whether you want to board any of them in winter is another matter, as the Aegean Sea is likely to be rough, more than during the meltemi season .

You will find domestic flights to many of the islands from the Athens international airport. However, there are few – if any – direct flights from European airports to the Greek islands in January.

Visiting mainland Greece in January

Despite the seasonal rains, winter is a lovely time to explore mainland Greece. You will be able to visit the ancient sites with few other tourists, and take advantage of the much lower accommodation prices in popular destinations.

Here are a few travel ideas for places to visit in January in Greece.

Ancient Delphi and Arachova

The amazing site of ancient Delphi is a popular day trip from Athens. Once considered the navel of the world, Delphi is located in a region called Sterea Ellada, in central Greece.

Delphi town, close to the ancient site, is rather non-descript. While you can find a few restaurants and hotels, a much better choice is Arachova, a charming mountain town a short ride away.

Arachova village near Delphi in winter

While retaining its traditional character, Arachova is also popular with skiers who visit the nearby Parnassos ski resort. Booking your hotel early is recommended.

Even if you are not going skiing, the average low temperature in Arachova at night is below zero, so be prepared!

Getting to Ancient Delphi and Arachova

While public buses to Delphi and Arachova run year-round, and are fairly frequent. However, renting a car will give you more freedom to explore the area. You will also need to have snow chains with you, just in case.

If driving in Greece sounds daunting, you can also take a guided tour to ancient Delphi , including a stop at Arachova.

Nafplio, Mycenae and Epidaurus: The Peloponnese in January

Peloponnese is a large region of Greece south of Athens. It’s home to amazing archaeological sites like Ancient Epidaurus , Ancient Olympia and Ancient Mycenae .

The most popular town to visit in Peloponnese is Nafplio, a lovely coastal town with stunning neoclassical architecture and an impressive Venetian castle. Visitors should also consider a trip to Kalamata , a vibrant coastal city in the south.

Visit the Peloponnese in January

If you are looking for ski resorts, check out Kalavryta, Zireia and Mainalo, attracting dozens of visitors every winter.

People visiting Peloponnese in January will be rewarded with beautiful winter landscapes, snowy peaks and some great prices for accommodation and attractions.

Getting to the Peloponnese

You can drive to Peloponnese in a hired vehicle. As an indication, driving to Nafplio from Athens will take you just under 2h. Moreover, there are numerous guided tours to the Peloponnese , combining several popular destinations.

Greece’s hidden secret: Epirus in January

Epirus is a large region in Northwestern Greece with spectacular nature, often described as Greece’s hidden secret.

Some of the highlights in Epirus include the incredible Pindos mountains, the wild Voidomatis river and Vikos gorge, said to be the deepest in the world.

Metsovo in Epirus - Greece in January

Among the winding roads, you will come across dozens of traditional mountain villages which have kept their authentic character. Papingo, Aristi, Syrrako and Zitsa are just a few of them, along with Metsovo, which is popular with skiers.

The largest city in Epirus is the lakeside Ioannina. A city full of history and legends, with lovely architecture and thriving student life, Ioannina is a worthwhile destination in its own right.

Getting to Epirus

The area is best explored by private vehicle. Driving to Ioannina from Athens will take you around 4h 30. Again, you will need to have snow chains, as snow is common in the area.

What to pack for Greece in winter

Packing for Greece in winter can be confusing, especially if you only have hand luggage, but it’s perfectly doable.

The best advice is to bring clothes that you can wear in layers. Include a few thermal sweatshirts if you are planning to spend lots of time outdoors. Don’t forget to pack comfortable, anti-slippery shoes.

This article with what to pack for Greece for any season goes into more detail.

Frequently asked questions about Greece in the winter

Visitors coming to Greece in January and the winter months often ask questions like these:

Is January a good time to go to Greece?

If you are mostly interested in history and culture, and do not mind the occasional rain or cold nights and days, January is an interesting time to go to Greece.

How hot is it in Greece in January?

Depending on where in the country you go, average temperatures in Greece in January range between 0-16C (32-61F).

Which Greek island is hottest in January?

The warmest islands in Greece in January are the ones in the south, like Crete and Rhodes. Be aware that rain is common.

Can you visit the Greek Islands in January?

It is possible to visit the Greek islands in January. However, note that there will be few (if any) direct flights from airports in Europe, and that most of the beach resorts will be shut down. The average high temperature on the islands will rarely exceed 16C (61F).

Is Mykonos open in January?

The clubs and beach bars in Mykonos will not be open in January. Most people visit Mykonos between mid spring and mid autumn. January is a good time of the year if you want to see the island without the crowds.

More travel tips about Greece

If you liked this article, take a look at these other ones:

  • Tipping in Greece
  • How to book a train in Greece
  • A guide to Greek souvenirs
  • Greece tourist attractions
  • Hottest Greek islands in October
  • Useful words and phrases in Greek
  • Athens in November

Winters in Greece can get pretty cold!

Hi, I’m Vanessa from Athens! I’m a summer person myself, but I also love sunny winter days, and snow-capped mountains! Follow my FB page for more travel advice and tips about Greece.

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Is Athens Worth Visiting? 13 Pros and Cons of Visiting Athens, Greece

  • April 22, 2023

acropolis in rays of sunset

There is a good chance that this post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through them, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you! As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. As ever, all opinions are my own.

I recently visited Athens, Greece for the first time, a city I’d been dreaming about for what felt like forever. I had high expectations .

After all, this is a city with more history and ancient ruins than you can shake a stick at and, after the eye-watering prices of the Greek Islands, I was excited to spend time in a more affordable area of Greece.

Athens… isn’t for everybody , though. Before my visit, I didn’t realise that a lot of people actually really dislike Athens. Some people even told me that Athens is not worth visiting at all!

Ella standing in front of the Parthenon in Athens

So, is Athens worth visiting? In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of visiting Athens so you can decide if it’s worth your time and money or not.

Before we get started, I’d like to remind you that the best city in the world for one person is the worst for someone else, so I can’t definitively tell you whether or not you’ll like Athens.

What I can do is tell you the reasons Athens is worth visiting, as well as the reasons why you might not like it, so you can decide for yourself. Stick around until the end, because I’ll share my honest, unfiltered opinions on Athens !

Let’s get started.

Table of Contents

Reasons Athens is Worth Visiting

1. it’s a convenient hopping off point to the islands.

Is Athens worth visiting

Athens has three ports : Piraeus, Rafina, and Lavrion. These ports make Athens an ideal transport hub as they connect the mainland to the numerous islands of Greece.

Piraeus, the largest port, offers the most extensive network of ferries to various destinations like Paros , Santorini, Naxos , and many more.

Rafina and Lavrion, on the other hand, serve the eastern coast of Attica and offer ferry services to the northern Aegean islands.

With so many different ferry companies operating out of these three ports, competition among them is fierce, resulting in competitive prices, making Athens a sensible place to begin your island-hopping adventure .

2. Athens is cheaper than the Greek Islands

Santorini cost of travel

If you’re looking for an affordable way to experience the wonders of Greece, Athens is the perfect place to start. Parts of Athens are definitely expensive, like any city, but overall it’s far cheaper than the Greek islands , which are… expensive, to say the least.

One of the main reasons Athens is cheaper than the Greek islands is thanks to the huge range of accommodation on offer. With more options comes more competition and lower prices!

Not to mention, food and drink is also much cheaper than on the Greek Islands, especially compared to the expensive island of Santorini , where I paid a whopping €13 for a Greek Salad!

In addition, attractions in Athens aren’t ~incredibly~ cheap, but they’re definitely worth it.

After all, the city is home to some of the most impressive ancient ruins and artifacts in the world, including the Acropolis, the Parthenon, and the Temple of Olympian Zeus.

Combination tickets like the Athens Combined Ticket can save you money on some of Athens’ top attractions.

All in all, Athens is ideal if you want to explore Greece on a tight budget .

3. Athens has an international airport

Located just 33 kilometres from the heart of the city , Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport is a transport hub that connects Greece with the rest of the world.

Competition between airlines keeps prices relatively low, making it cheaper to get to Athens than other areas of Greece. With a wide range of national and international flights, getting to Athens has never been easier or more affordable!

But the convenience doesn’t stop there – Athens Airport also boasts an array of domestic flights so you can effortlessly hop between destinations in the country.

Thanks to Athens’ airport you’ll probably end up here at some point in your Greek adventure. The city’s proximity to the airport makes it ideal for a layover of a couple days or two .

4. It’s easy to cover the highlights in a day or two

Parthenon ruins in Greece

Athens a city that is perfect for quick visits, as you can easily cover its highlights in just one or two days .

The city’s most famous attractions are all centred around the Acropolis, making it easy to navigate and see the top sights in a short amount of time.

A visit to the Acropolis is a must, as it offers an incredible view of Athens and its surrounding areas. The Parthenon, which is located on the Acropolis, is one of the most famous ruins in the world, and is definitely worth a visit.

The Temple of Olympian Zeus is another important attraction that can be visited in just a few hours.

5. Athens is close to some beaches

Beaches near Athens

Although city centre of Athens itself doesn’t have any beaches, there are loads that are easy to visit from the city on public transport. 

One of the closest beaches to Athens is Glyfada Beach , located just 16km from the city centre. With crystal clear waters, white sandy beaches and a charming promenade, Glyfada Beach is a popular destination for both locals and tourists alike.

It’s also home to many trendy beach bars and restaurants, making it a great place to spend a day soaking up the sun.

Another must-see beach near Athens is Edem , which is just a 20 minute drive from the city. The beach has clear turquoise waters that are ideal for swimming and enjoying water sports like windsurfing, sailing, and kite surfing.

Overall, Athens’ proximity to these fantastic beaches makes it a great destination for those looking to combine history and culture with beach relaxation .

There’s no sugar-coating it – these are hardly the best beaches in Athens, but a beach is a beach at the end of the day!

6. It’s the ideal day trip hub

Delphi day trip from Athens, Greece

As the capital city, Athens serves as a hub for day trips all over the country , making it an ideal base for travellers wanting to explore numerous areas of Greece.

One of the most popular day trips from Athens is a visit to Delphi , located just two and a half hours outside the city. Delphi was once considered the centre of the ancient world and was home to the famous Oracle of Delphi.

Today, visitors can explore the ruins of the Sanctuary of Apollo and take in the stunning views of the surrounding mountains.

Another popular day trip from is the car-free island of Hydra , known for its picturesque harbour and traditional stone houses, which is just a short ferry-ride away from Athens.

Athens’ role as a hub for day trips all over Greece makes it the ideal place to base yourself for a few days as you explore its surroundings.

7. The ancient ruins really are All That™

Parthenon in Athens, Greece

For all the history buffs out there, Athens is a dream destination. This city has been around for more than 3,000 years! Even with all the modernization that has taken place, Athens has managed to preserve the remarkable remnants of its ancient past.

Athens’ ancient ruins are probably the main reason people visit the city, and there’s just no way of arguing against it – they’re SO worth visiting.

Even if you’re not interested in history at all, the Parthenon is incredible to visit, and well worth the time and money it takes. It’s one of the most famous structures in the world for a reason!

The most noteworthy ancient ruins in Athens are, of course, the ones located on the Acropolis . This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a true architectural marvel, and the Parthenon is undoubtedly its crowning jewel.

And yes, the Parthenon looks even better in real life than in photos!

8. Athens has a good public transport system

Athens metro train pulling into platform.

Athens’ good public transportation system is another reason why the city is worth visiting for travellers. The city has an extensive network of buses, trams, and metro lines which means that getting around the city is a breeze .

The Athens Metro, in particular, is a modern and efficient system that boasts four lines covering over 85 km of track.

It connects many of the city’s major historical sites, including the Acropolis, the National Archaeological Museum, and the Temple of Olympian Zeus.

Additionally, the trains run frequently and are relatively inexpensive, making the metro accessible to budget-conscious travellers.

It’s also worth mentioning that since many of Athens’ top attractions are in the same area it’s actually really easy to walk from attraction to attraction , which will save you money.

Athens’ good public transportation system makes it so easy to explore without having to worry about renting a car or getting lost in a new place .

Reasons Athens isn’t Worth Visiting

9. athens is actually pretty ugly.

Run-down streets in Athens Greece

Honestly, Athens is a bit of a letdown in terms of its appearance. The city is pretty run down and you can see a lot of poverty and graffiti everywhere you go.

Don’t get me wrong, the city is definitely worth visiting for its ancient ruins and rich history, but if you’re looking for a picturesque destination, Athens isn’t it.

The streets are filled with dilapidated and abandoned buildings with fading paint, and while some people might find it charming, I just found it depressing.

The pollution doesn’t help, either – you’ll definitely notice the smog and the general grittiness of the city.

Of course, the graffiti is another thing altogether. It’s hard to ignore the overwhelming amount of it that covers pretty much every surface in the city. And most of it isn’t street art – it’s just random scribbles and tags.

Athens has been through a lot in recent years, so it makes sense that being “beautiful” certainly hasn’t been the city’s main priority, but if you’re heading to Athens expecting to see a beautiful city you’re going to be disappointed.

10. Tourist sites are super crowded in summer

Athens tourist overcrowding at the Acropolis

The absolute worst part of Athens in summer is the crowds , which can get totally insane at the city’s top tourist attractions.

At the Parthenon and the Acropolis Museum you’ll be shoulder to shoulder with strangers trying to catch a glimpse of ancient artifacts while also trying not to pass out from heat exhaustion. Fun times, right?

And forget about trying to get a good photo. You’ll be lucky if you can even lift your arm high enough to snap a shot without some other tourist’s head in the way.

Plus, all that jostling and shuffling takes away from the experience of actually appreciating the history and beauty of these sites.

So, unless you love being squished in with a bunch of strangers in 100-degree heat, Athens may not be worth visiting in the summer .

11. Athens didn’t feel 100% safe

View from the Acropolis over Athens

While Athens definitely has its perks, safety isn’t always one of them. Especially if you’re doing solo travel in Greece , you might want to exercise some caution when out and about in the city, especially at night.

I personally felt uneasy several times in Athens , and did not feel comfortable leaving my hostel, which was in quite a rough area, in the dark. Of course, “feeling safe” is often subjective , but I’m sharing my experience. You can check the safety stats here .

It’s not uncommon to see pickpockets and purse-snatchers in crowded areas like Monastiraki and Omonia.

Additionally, the Exarchia neighborhood has a reputation for being a bit rough around the edges, with a history of protests, demonstrations, and anarchist activity.

Of course, this isn’t to say that you should avoid Athens altogether because it’s unsafe – far from it. But it is important to be aware of your surroundings and take appropriate precautions to keep yourself safe.

Stick to well-lit areas and avoid wandering too far off the beaten path, especially if you’re on your own.

12. The beaches near Athens aren’t the best

While Athens does have some beaches nearby, let’s face it, they really aren’t anything special. Sure, there are some nice stretches of sand and the water can be clear, but these beaches are often overcrowded and have litter problems .

So while Athens might have a few nice beach options, they just don’t compare to what you can find elsewhere. Especially not the Greek islands! If you’re looking for a beach vacation, Athens isn’t it.

Instead, it’s a city break destination that has beach options. Does that make sense?

13. You can cover the highlights in just a day or two

Ancient ruins in Athens

This was listed as one of the reasons Athens is worth visiting, but to many visitors (including myself) the fact that you can see and do all of Athens’ best attractions in a day or two is a bit disappointing.

It makes it difficult to argue that Athens is worth visiting for an extended period of time.

Don’t get me wrong, the Acropolis and the Panathenaic Stadium are all impressive and well worth a visit. But I’d argue that they’re only must-see sights in the city, and you can easily fit them all into one day

When you take into account the drawbacks of spending more time in Athens – the crowds, the pollution, the lacklustre beaches, and the safety concerns – it’s hard to justify spending more than a couple of days there .

Plus, you’ll probably find that after you’ve seen the major attractions, there isn’t much else to do in Athens that couldn’t be replicated in other, more enjoyable destinations.

Final Thoughts – Is Athens Worth Visiting?

Solo female travel Athens

Okay! Here is the part when I tell you my honest opinion on whether or not Athens is worth visiting. And remember, this is my OPINION only, so don’t come for me.

The short answer is I’m glad I went to Athens, and I do think it’s worth visiting, but I don’t want to go back .

I feel like one short visit of just a day or two is plenty of time in Athens. The ugliness and sketchiness of the city outside of the super touristy areas had me wanting to leave, and glad that I was only staying for two nights.

The Acropolis makes Athens worth visiting . Even if pretty much everything else felt “meh” to me, there’s nothing that compares to the Parthenon. It’s incredible! You should visit Athens so that you can see it. That’s probably it, in my opinion.

So, while Athens is an interesting city to visit, especially if you’re a history buff or a lover of classical architecture, it’s definitely a short break kind of place rather than a destination for a longer trip.

Spend a day or two taking in the sights, then head off to the Greek Islands to round out your trip. You’ll get the best of both worlds – a taste of Athens’ ancient history, without the inconvenience of staying too long in a city that has its fair share of downsides.

is january a good time to visit athens

Ella Moore is the founder of Many More Maps. Growing up just 45 minutes away from Liverpool, Ella has spent years exploring the city inside out. In her teenage years, she was introduced to the music of The Beatles, and the rest, they say, is history! Today, she stands as a leading authority on Beatles tourism in Liverpool, helping over 40,000 people a month to plan their dream trip to the city.

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The World Was Here First

The Ultimate 2, 3 or 4 Days in Athens Itinerary

Last Updated on March 4, 2024

by Olivia Ellis

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links. That means if you click a link and make a purchase, we may make a small commission. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. For more information, see our privacy policy.

is january a good time to visit athens

Planning a 2, 3 or 4 days in Athens itinerary can sometimes seem like an afterthought when mapping out a longer trip to Greece. Although some of the main images that the word Greece inspires for travelers are Athens and the Acropolis, few people spend more than a day in the capital city or outside of the port.

For most people, Greece is synonymous with the Greek islands such as Mykonos , Milos , Corfu and Santorini with vast deep blue seas, and dream-worthy sunsets. With a few days set aside to explore Athens, you’ll manage to get to know the heart of this special country, its people, and the birthplace of democracy.

Table of Contents

How Many Days in Athens?

It can be tough to put your finger on just how many days to spend in Athens as it’s a relatively condensed city. However, there are also plenty of things to do and areas to explore outside of the heart of Athens.

In 1 day, you’ll be able to explore the main area of the center of the city and wander around the Acropolis.

With 2 days in Athens, you’ll be able to explore the city center at a much slower pace and maybe check out another museum.

Spending 3 days exploring the sites of Athens is ideal to do the city justice and get a better feel for what it is today.

And with 4 days, you’ll have the chance to get out of the city and take a day trip to one of the nearby areas rich in ancient history as well as beauty. If you have even more time, you can also go on a day trip somewhere further afield, such as to Meteora or Delphi .

View of Parthenon Temple and Odeon of Herodes Atticus on Acropolis Hill at sunset, Athens, Greece

Getting To & Around Athens

Chances are you’ll most likely be arriving in the city by plane or by ferry. While there is a train station in Athens, it’s more for local commuter routes so we’ll be skipping train transport in this article. 

If you’re arriving in the city by plane, you’ll be arriving at the Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport. The airport is 27 km from the city center and there are a few ways of reaching it.

The metro line 3 runs directly from the airport through the center, stopping at various points throughout the city. You can reach the metro from the airport by about a 3-minute walk outside the terminal.

The journey is just under 40 minutes from the airport to the city. A special airport ticket is required, so keep this in mind while purchasing!

It is possible to take a taxi to the city from the airport. But keep in mind that if you arrive after midnight, taxi costs increase to over double what you would pay earlier in the day. You can also organise a transfer in advance here .

If you’re arriving by ferry from one of the Greek islands, you’ll be arriving at the Piraeus port. Fortunately, there is a metro stop at the port making it easy to transport you onwards to your destination in the city. You can book ferries in advance here .

The center of Athens and its sites are quite small, making it a walkable city. If you’re just spending time in the more touristy part of the city, it’s pretty easy just to walk between destinations.

Otherwise, the public transportation system is great and using it can keep your Greece trip cost lower. Buses run throughout the city during the day and night making it an efficient way to manoeuvre around the city.

The metro system has 3 lines that have points throughout the city which is one of the most ideal ways to get around Athens.

Tickets for both the metro and busses can be purchased at any metro station kiosk for 90-minute tickets once validated.

From Athens, there are also quite a few solid day trip options and although there isn’t a flourishing train system, there is a good bus system. The KTEL buses are more like charter buses connecting Greece. They tend to be on time and have good routes and frequent journeys.

If you’re hoping to go onward to the Greek islands from Athens, the Piraeus port is one of the main ports in Greece making it the perfect place to begin your trip to the islands.

Port Piraeus

2, 3 or 4 Days in Athens Itinerary

From eating classic Greek home cooking, mingling with the locals, and really getting to know the character and history of this city, this itinerary is full of history, fun, and delicious food. 

Day 1 – Acropolis & Ancient Athens

Greek breakfast .

The best way to begin your time in Athens is to enjoy a classic Greek breakfast. Greek breakfast tends to be coffee of any sort, (although classic Greek coffee or “freddo” iced espresso tends to take reign) and a pie. 

Hop into any fourno (bakery) and grab the most appealing pie for you. I recommend either ham and cheese pie or bougatsa (a custard pastry!)

Acropolis Museum

As we will head to the Acropolis later today on day 1 of this itinerary for Athens, there’s no better way to begin the day than by learning about this famous Ancient landmark at the Acropolis Museum.

The Acropolis Museum is home to the majority of the archaeological findings from the Acropolis and it’s truly an impressive collection of history.

The museum is located directly below the Acropolis and offers some of the most impressive views of the Acropolis from below. You can also see the Temple of Olympian Zeus and the incredible Temple of Hephaestus nearby.

The visiting hours and ticket costs are split into seasons; summer and winter. If visiting Athens in winter , the season is from 1 November – 31 March with reduced hours and ticket fees. The summer season is from 1 April – October 31 with lengthened opening hours. 

If you plan on visiting the Acropolis and numerous other Athens landmarks and museums, then it can also be worth purchasing the Athens City Pass to save a bit of cash.

Acropolis museum

Making its first appearance in the 5th-century BCE. and the star of the show, the splendor herself, is the Acropolis. Most people think that the temple on the hill in central Athens is the Acropolis when in actuality it’s the Parthenon. 

The Acropolis is the hill rising above the city that was quite common in most towns and cities in ancient Greece. You can get an incredible view of Athens here. If you’re just spending 1 day in the Greek capital, the Acropolis is a must-see during your stay. 

The Acropolis hosts the Parthenon as well as some of the other most striking pieces of ancient Greece; the Propylaea, the Temple of Athena Nike, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, the Old Temple, and the Erechtheion among others. 

Visits to the Acropolis are also divided into seasons. The summer season from April-October allows visitors between 8 AM-8 PM with the last entry at 7:30. The winter season is from November-March and closes earlier at 5:00 with the last entry at 4:30.

You can buy skip-the-line tickets here that include an audio guide. You can also get a combined ticket here for the Acropolis and many other sites in Athens.

If you’re interested in learning more during your visit, you can organise a guided tour here . It’s such a dense area with so much information and a guide or tour can really enhance the experience.

Also, keep in mind if you’re visiting during the summer months that there is no shade once you reach the top and it can become extremely warm. Either come early in the morning or later in the evening if the direct sun is something that you struggle with. Regardless of when you visit, this is no doubt one of the best things to do in Athens.

Parthenon temple on the Acropolis

Roman Agora, Ancient Agora & Hadrian’s Library

Nearby you’ll also find a few other important pieces from Ancient Greek history and architecture. The Roman Agora, the Ancient Agora of Athens, and Hadrian’s Library (created by the Roman Emperor Hadiran) are all located near each other and are between the Plaka and Monastiraki neighborhoods.

It’s truly interesting wandering these areas of everyday Athenian life and imagining what life was like almost 2,800 years ago.

If you’re interested in visiting these sites as well, you can purchase a combined ticket which allows access to all of these sites.

Ruins inside Roman Agora

Wander Around Plaka & Anafiotika

After your dive into Ancient Greece, a great way to wind down your first day in Athens is to stroll around the classic Athenian neighborhood of Plaka. 

Sitting beneath the Acropolis, you’ll find gift shops, clothing shops, delicious taverns, and ideal spots to have a drink and do some people-watching.

Another unique neighborhood worth spending some time in is the residential area of Anafiotika. It’s quite small and pretty tricky to find, but once you’re there you’ll feel as if you’re in a village far off on a Cycladic island. 

From the winding stairs and paths to some of the most gorgeous views, I highly recommend adding Anafiotika to your Athens itinerary. It’s difficult to find, but first, make your way to Plaka and then plug Agios Georgios church at Stratonos into your GPS. You’ll then be on your way!

Plaka neighborhood

Sunset at Filopappou Hill

Looking for the best spot in Athens to watch the sun go down? Head to Filopappou Park and follow the signs and crowds to make your way up the hill looking over the city. 

Here you’ll find one of the best views of the city and the perfect spot to bring a bottle of wine and good company to watch the sunset.

Alternatively, you could head to Lycabettus Hill – the top of which can be reached by funicular – where you can view the city from the highest point in Athens.

Day 2 – Central Athens

Benaki or archaeological museum.

If classical Greek sightseeing wasn’t enough for you on day 1, you’re in luck as Athens is the place to be. A few of the other best museums are the Benaki Museum and the Archaeological Museum.

The Benaki Museum is located in the center of the city near the National Garden and is home to over 100,000 artifacts from Ancient Greece.

The Archaeological Museum is located near the Victoria metro station and is known to be one of the greatest museums in the world. This museum is also the largest in Greece with important artifacts from prehistory to late antiquity.

Hours vary depending on the time of year as well as the cost of your ticket; summer season tickets are are more expensive.

National Archaeological Museum

Psyri & Monastiraki Neighborhoods

Lively Psyri and Monastiraki are both two central neighborhoods that can’t be missed during your Athens itinerary. With 2 days in Athens, you have the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in the excitement of the city center. 

From Monastiraki station, you can wander around the markets that have a certain feel almost like Arabic markets. Then head to Ermou Street to do some shopping if you fancy. 

Afterwards head to Psyri which is full of cafes, artisanal stores, bars, and music-filled Greek taverns. Don’t forget to look around while you wander as there are some truly beautiful and interesting works of graffiti art in Psyri (among the rubbish ones).

Lunch at Lithos Tavern

As all of the walking and shopping is bound to make you hungry, it’s the perfect time to stop for some lunch. Lithos Tavern in Psyri is the perfect place to fill your classic Greek food needs and rest your feet. I recommend the Moussaka or maybe some classic Greek mixed grilled meats.

Syntagma Square & Changing of the Guard

After lunch, make your way to Syntagma Square and the Parliament Building of Greece. This is just about a 15-20 minute walk away from Psyri and many Athenians would call this the main square of the city.

At all times of the day and night, there are soldier guards standing watch on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the presidential and parliament buildings.

These soldiers wear traditional Greek uniforms inspired by what was worn during the Ottoman Period and change positions with other soldiers every hour.

During the changing of the guard, you’ll witness a uniquely coordinated and almost dance-like motion as positions are changed. It’s quite a remarkable experience to witness and a must-see.

Greek parliament building

Drink With a View at Attic Urban Rooftop

Modern-day Athens is synonymous with wonderful views as well as creative cocktail bars. A great place to enjoy a nightcap and wind down on your second day in Athens is to make your way to the Attic Urban Rooftop .

Here you’ll enjoy some of the most spectacular views of the Acropolis under the moonlight as well as a tasty drink and/or food. 

Monastiraki square

Day 3 – Explore the Food Scene, Panathenaic Stadium, National Gardens & More!

If you’re spending 3 days in Athens, you’ll have the chance to dive deeper into the food culture of the city as well as more of the unique neighborhoods the city has to offer.

Food Tour or Central Market

A food tour is a perfect way to get a better look and taste of the food scene in Athens. A guided tour with a knowledgeable local will take you to key foodie places in the city to try tasty local foods.

You’ll learn the history beyond what you taste as well as more about the history of the city. Some highly rated options include this gourmet food tour and this street food tour .

If you prefer to skip the food tour and would prefer to do something independently, I’d suggest heading to the Central Municipal Athens Market to get a taste of what food and life are like for a local Athenian. 

Panathenaic Stadium

One of the most impressive sites to visit in Athens is the Panathenaic stadium, which can be looked over by tourists due to the Acropolis!

The Panathenaic stadium is located in the Pagrati neighborhood of Athens and is the only stadium in the world built entirely of marble. 

The stadium was built primarily for the Panathenaic Games in 330 BCE with a capacity of over 50,000 seats. It hosted the opening and closing ceremonies of the first modern Olympic games in 1896 as well as multiple sports during the games and other ceremonies. 

You can just take it in from the outside or pay an admission fee to wander around inside.

Panathenaic stadium

National Gardens

Whilst the city of Athens may truly be a concrete jungle, there are a few green areas available to get away and get a breath of fresh air in nature.

The National Gardens of Athens are located about an 8-minute walk away from the Panathenaic Stadium and are comprised of around 38 acres of greenery and different flora. 

Here you’ll also find a handful of ancient ruins, statues, and different memories of Greece’s past; modern and ancient. It’s free to enter the gardens and the entry gates are open every day.

National Gardens in Athens

Explore a Different Neighborhood

If you’re looking to get to know different parts of the city and stray away from the crowds, this is the perfect time to explore deeper. Two of my favorites are Glyfada and Exarcheia.

The neighborhood of Glyfada is likely the biggest neighborhood and residential area in the southern suburbs and by the Athenian coast. Known as the home to many ex-pats, Glyfada is bursting at the seams with restaurants, cute cafes, bars, and things to do. 

This is also the perfect place to head to if you want to spend some time at the sea; whether in the water or just by walking and taking in the Greek waters and sunset. 

Glyfada can be reached by bus but the best way to reach Glyfada is by the tram system (leaving from Syntagma Square.)

Exarcheia is most well known as one of the edgiest and most alternative areas of the city. To many Exarcheia is just referred to as the “anarchist” neighborhood of Athens but there’s a lot more to explore if you dig deeper. 

Here you’ll find crowds of students, artists, intellectuals, and all those looking to experience life and the city through more of a unique lens. There’s delicious food here, jazz bars, street art and independent local finds of all sorts.

Day 4 – Cape Sounion or Marathon

If your trip to Athens consists of 4 or more days in the city, I recommend trying your best to get out of the city to one of the many nearby towns to experience a different side of Greece. I suggest different locations depending on the time of year you visit as well as your interests.  

Cape Sounion

Cape Sounion is located around 48 miles south of Athens and is the southern tip of the Attic Peninsula. While the entire area is full of idyllic views and things to see, the main attraction of Cape Sounion is the Temple of Poseidon. 

The Temple of Poseidon is a temple dedicated to the god Poseidon and is an important part of ancient Greek history. The temple looks out over the vast blue seas and standing at this southern tip of the Attic region surrounded by ancient monuments makes you feel like you’re in your own version of the Odyssey . 

There’s a cafe at the monument as well as nearby restaurants if you decide to make a longer day out of it. Visiting in the cooler months is ideal as it isn’t as crowded, and make sure to stay for sunset. The views are sublime.

To reach Cape Sounion you can either rent a car and transport yourself there or take public transport. Another option is to take part in a guided tour such as this sunset tour that will pick you up from your accommodation and return you there at the end of the day. 

The public bus system outside the city is KTEL and buses from central Athens to Sounion will depart near the Victoria metro from a bus stop across from Pedion tou Areos. The journey takes around 2 hours. You can find bus timetables here . 

Temple of Poseidon

Marathon/Schinias 

Another great option for a day trip from Athens is to visit the Ancient town of Marathon and nearby areas. We all know a “marathon” as the 26-mile race that happens all over the world, but it was actually inspired by the ancient and epic battle of Marathon. 

This battle then led to the legend of Philippides. Philippides was the Greek messenger who supposedly ran to Athens from Marathon, hence the 26-mile race today.

The town has many things to do from the Archaeological Museum of Marathon, Marathon Lake, the Marathon Run Museum, and my favorite, Schinias Beach.

Schinias Beach is a long sandy beach on the northern side of Marathon surrounded by the sea on one side and the lush pine forest of Schinias on the other.

The water is clean and warm, the environment is friendly, and it’s one of the best places to get some forest bathing and sea bathing all in one day. 

The beaches are much cleaner and better kept than those near Athens and also incredibly cheaper to visit. There are different options for restaurants and taverns on the beach, making it a solid option for a summer day trip from Athens.

To reach Marathon and Schinias from Athens, you’ll also want to take a KTEL bus. It’s about 45 minutes away from the center of Athens and you’ll take the bus from the Pedion Areos by Viktoria Station going to Marathon and get off at Marathon Beach.

From there, you’ll walk north along the coast until reaching Schinias. Tickets can be purchased when boarding the bus.

Schinias beach

Where to Stay in Athens

Athens Ivy Suites – This centrally-located hotel is an excellent choice for mid-range visitors to Athens. They have a range of lovely rooms available and there is also a bar on site and a wonderful terrace boasting views over the city.

The Modernist Athens – Those looking for luxury in the Greek capital are sure to love this beautiful 4-star hotel. Perfectly located for exploring all Athens has to offer, they have a number of luxe, modern rooms available and plenty of amenities to ensure your stay is a great one.

101 Adrianou Apartments – If you’d like the privacy and convenience of your own apartment with all the benefits of staying in a hotel, then this aparthotel is an excellent choice. There are a couple of flats to choose from – some with views of the iconic columns of the Acropolis.

City Circus Athens – For those travelling to Athens on a tight budget or solo, this hostel is a great option. Offering both dorm beds and private rooms, they have a great location and excellent common areas. They organise social events, as well.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Athens hotels!

One of the most historic cities in the world, Athens today is a unique metropolis worth visiting before or after heading to the Greek islands. Although it may have a lot of grit, you’re bound to have an exciting visit to Athens filled with great music, sites, history, and tantalizing food.

Are you planning a trip to Athens? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!

is january a good time to visit athens

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About Olivia Ellis

Olivia is a writer for The World Was Here First. Originally from Michigan, USA, she is currently living in Athens, Greece exploring Europe and filmmaking. When she’s not travelling or writing, Olivia can be found cooking delicious new recipes from around the world, reading, and spending time outdoors.

As a Greek from Athens, these are excellent recommendations. Especially the schinias day trip 😍

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is january a good time to visit athens

The Best Time to Visit Greece, According to a Local

T hink of a Mediterranean vacation, and Greece is sure to make your list of must-visit destinations. Its blend of seaside escapes, history, culture and mouthwatering cuisine make it one of the best places to travel for all types of tourists. And let's not forget its islands! They're prime honeymoon hot spots, consistently serving up some of the most romantic getaways . I can fully appreciate the draw—I loved it so much that I moved here, after all. And I'll tell you this: It pays to know the best time to visit Greece before booking your trip.

Greek vacations are more popular than ever. In fact, a recent report from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, found that Greece was one of only six member countries to receive more flights in September 2023 than it did in September 2019. In other words, Greece is bouncing back to pre-COVID-19 levels. And that means you'll have to contend with other tourists if you take a trip here.

As a local who's lived in and written about this eclectic country for more than a decade, I know from experience that it's impossible to avoid tourists entirely. It's all about timing. Whether you want to beat the crowds, bask in the best weather imaginable or travel on the cheap , here's the best time to visit Greece for the ultimate European vacation.

Get  Reader’s Digest ’s  Read Up newsletter for more travel, humor, cleaning, tech and fun facts all week long.

What is the best time of year to visit Greece?

It's hard to pinpoint a single best time to visit Greece, and that's because it all depends on your priorities and how you weigh crowdedness, cost and climate. To spend the least amount of money, you may need to visit when temps are on the cooler side. For peak sunbathing weather, you'll shell out more cash and contend with greater crowds.

If you want to avoid a Greece overrun by tourists, skip the summer months. In June, July and August, beaches are typically crowded, though it's possible to find hidden coves even during this peak season—especially if you take a small boat tour from or around some of the islands or the Athens coastline.

No matter when you land on Greek soil, you'll have to deal with some tourists. According to Bank of Greece data, 5.76 million international travelers visited the country in the first five months of 2023, proof of Greece's ever-growing popularity. Still, there are quieter times to explore the country, such as during the shoulder-season months of September and October, early November and late March through May. Whether you're discovering ancient ruins, exploring mainland destinations or bopping around little-known islands, you'll find fewer crowds, mild temps and cheaper-than-high-season prices.

For me, the best time to visit Greece is from September until the end of October. The weather on a lot of the southern islands, such as Rhodes and Crete, is still warm enough to swim, with average daytime temperatures of 75 and 73 degrees respectively. Plus, the crowds are gone, as children have headed back to school.

Springtime is also a great option, and I recommend timing your visit so you can experience Greek Orthodox Easter. It usually falls in April or May (in 2024, it occurs on May 5), and it's the most important holiday on the Greek calendar—more so than Christmas even. Expect to eat plenty of delicious lamb and join in neighborhood celebrations and street processions to the local church.

What time of year is the cheapest to visit Greece?

While a Greek getaway isn't necessarily cheap, there are ways to save money when traveling to the country. For starters, avoid the high-season summer months of June, July and August. The winter off-season sees prices drop considerably, and this tends to be the best time to find hotel deals. On Tripadvisor, for instance, the same Athens hotel costs about $52 more in April than in January—and though summer rates aren't available yet, it's safe to bet that the price will rise in June, July and August.

Traveling during the winter will serve you well when booking your flight too. The cheapest airfare from the United States tends to occur during the winter months. When I searched Expedia for flights for a two-week vacation, I found a round-trip ticket from Newark, New Jersey, to Athens in early December going for $473. A round-trip ticket from Newark to Athens in June comes in at $992.

When is the weather the best in Greece?

Best weather is subjective, depending on where you're traveling from and if you like your vacation to be hot. Without a doubt, the summer of 2023 set records. As the Guardian reported, the country had the hottest July in 50 years, with temperatures in Athens repeatedly exceeding 104 degrees. So if you're here for the Mediterranean island sunbathing, you'll need to account for these levels of heat (and maybe plan some indoor activities, just in case).

As a local, I think the best time to travel to Greece for great weather is September, when daytime temperatures are a balmy 82 degrees and sea temperatures 77 degrees, making swimming still possible. The fall months of October and early November average 64 to 72 degrees, so it's pleasant to sit outside at a cafe, sipping the staple drink of a Greek frappe (cold coffee milkshake).

December through February are the country's coldest months, with daytime temperatures averaging 54 to 57 degrees. Thanks to the Mediterranean climate, winters can be mild—but they're also wet. You may even see snow on the mainland in the mountainous areas to the north and on some of the islands, such as Crete. It creates good skiing opportunities, and while they can't compete with some of the world's more famous ski resorts, there are a handful of ski resorts in the country that locals (and in-the-know tourists) use yearly.

When packing your suitcase , think layers for all seasons. And be prepared for high humidity, which makes it feel sticky in the summer and chilly in the winter.

What is the best time of year to go to Athens?

The best time to visit Greece if you're planning to stop in the capital city is during the fall or spring shoulder seasons. In April, May, September and October, daytime and nighttime temperatures aren't uncomfortably hot or too cold. The spring and fall months offer plenty of opportunity to wander the Athenian streets, discovering the small neighborhoods. Plus, the cooler weather makes climbing up to the Acropolis a much more pleasurable experience.

It's also worth mentioning that crowds in the shoulder season and off-season are considerably smaller, so lines to enter the Acropolis are shorter. In fact, the wait to view this ancient monument gets so long in the summer that Greece had to set a cap of 20,000 visitors daily to shorten lines during the dangerous heat. By visiting in the off-season, you won't be waiting in line in the sweltering heat, and there won't be a mad rush to buy a ticket before the cap is reached.

If you're looking for even more things to do in Greece , visit on Ohi Day. The national holiday occurs on Oct. 28 and commemorates the day in 1940 when Greek Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas rejected Mussolini's ultimatum to have free passage through Greece for his Italian troops. You'll find street parades all over the country on this holiday, but the one in central Athens is particularly impressive, with its added military parade and marching band.

What is the best time to visit Santorini and the other Greek islands?

Greece is famous for its islands, especially Santorini, with its blue-domed churches and sugar cube houses, so atypical for the Cycladic island chain it's located within, and Mykonos, with its cosmopolitan atmosphere, cobbled alleyways and hidden coves. They tend to attract visitors during the summer months, but that may not be the ideal time to vacation here.

If you're looking for a beach vacation away from the crowds, my advice would be to book a trip for September. It'll still be warm enough to swim and get a nice tan, but you won't have to deal with a ton of tourists.

Don't rule out wintertime for your trip to the Greek islands. Admittedly, much shuts down in the off season, but you'll get to experience the real Greece, have frequent sunny days and still find places to eat traditional Greek food, such as souvlaki (the locals need to eat too!). The lack of crowds allows you to roam the islands at your own pace.

Besides, temps aren't too bad even in the winter. Santorini's caldera entices with morning mists floating over its surface. And with average winter temperatures of 55 degrees, it's not too chilly.

There are several flights from mainland Greece to the islands that are cheaper during the spring and fall, but my favorite way to travel is by ferry. The lack of competition on ferry routes means this method of transportation isn't cheap at any time of the year, but Greek ferries resemble mini cruise ships and offer lovely cabins on longer routes. Make it a part of the whole experience: Take a weekend break in Athens followed by a journey by ferry to the islands. Note that ferries have a reduced schedule in the spring and fall months, with more connections in the summer.

How many days in Greece is enough?

Just as you would when planning a trip to destinations like London and Hawaii , start by considering where you'll be flying out of. The ideal number of days to spend in Greece depends on where you're traveling from. If you're flying from the United States, you probably want to spend longer in the country than if you're adding a stop in Greece after visiting nearby Italy.

Also consider how much of the country you want to see and the type of tourism you're interested in. Do you want to stick to a few days in Athens exploring the ancient sites, then head to an island for some fun in the sun? Do you want to just connect in Athens before flying immediately to a Greek island, or would you rather make the city your home base for the entire trip? Or are you interested in heading to the Greek countryside to experience traditional villages?

Most trips start and end in Athens, where you can experience the city in at least three full days. Visitors then tend to hop on a ferry or fly to a popular Greek island like Santorini or Mykonos, either basing themselves there or ferry-hopping between two or three others. You can reach mainland destinations by train or by hiring a car—factor in travel times between destinations when planning your vacation.

For a decent taster of the country, plan for a 10-day trip: Athens, plus one or two islands. Two weeks can provide a lovely combination of a city break and countryside getaways, plus swimming and sunbathing around the Greek coast.

One thing's for sure: Don't try to see it all in one trip. Greece is a country to savor and explore at leisure, with time to wander the charming cobbled streets and sip a frappe in a local cafe, watching local life unfold around you. Greece and its monuments have been around for centuries—they're not going anywhere.

Places to stay in Greece

Most vacations in Greece will commence in Athens, and there are many neighborhoods to choose from when booking a stay. While not a sprawling city by U.S. standards, it is one of the bigger European cities.

If you've never visited Athens before, a hotel located smack dab in the center, near the Acropolis and its accompanying museum, is a great choice. The upscale Herodion Hotel attracts visitors with its rooftop-bar views of the famous monument. Plus, it offers airport transfers.

Boutique hotels such as Asomaton (don't miss its relaxing plunge pool) and Altar Suites have cozy vibes in lovingly renovated centuries-old buildings. They're within walking distance of all Athens's main sites, as well as the contemporary old gasworks district of Gazi, where you'll find nightlife, tavernas and the industrial museum.

Heading to Santorini, base yourself at either Voreina Gallery Suites or Zannos Melathron Hotel . Both properties were renovated to their former splendor in the less-busy village of Pyrgos. You still get the magnificent Caldera sunset views without the crowds.

In Mykonos, Mykonos Town makes the best base if you don't mind being in the thick of it all. Hotels such as Semeli and Myconian Korali Relais & Chateaux have sleek Grecian lines and unfussy furnishings. Both have pools and airport transfers.

Book your visit

  • Eurostat : "Commercial flights in the summer still below 2019 level"
  • Enterprise Greece : "Greek tourism on track for record-setting year"
  • Schengen Visa News : "Greece to Introduce Caps on Daily Visitors to Acropolis"
  • The Guardian : "Heatwave set to be Greece's longest as extreme weather continues in Europe"
  • World Bank Group : "Climate Change Knowledge Portal–Climatology; Greece"
  • Greek National Tourism Organisation : "Athens"

The post The Best Time to Visit Greece, According to a Local appeared first on Reader's Digest .

The Best Time to Visit Greece, According to a Local

COMMENTS

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