The Greek capital of Athens is a wonderful city throughout the year, though it is particularly spectacular in the summer months. However, despite the array of historical, cultural and archaeological sites looking astonishing in the summer glow, there are downsides to this season; it can be absolutely boiling, there are enormous crowds of tourists, and there can be lots of queues.
In August, however, the locals empty the city in order to head to the Greek islands, meaning that Athens is full of just tourists; this can mean that a lot of businesses are closed, such as bars and restaurants, though not all. This guide will provide you with all the information you will need about visiting Athens in the summer, from the weather, what to pack, and the top things to do.
A Complete Guide to Athens in Summer
Weather In Athens in Summer
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Athens in the summertime is extremely warm, which can be absolutely amazing, but also a little overpowering at times. Each month varies in temperature, and here are the averages for the summer months:
June – June is one of the cooler summer months in Athens; the average temperature is approximately 26 degrees centigrade.
July – the weather picks up in July, with an average daily temperature of 29 degrees centigrade.
August – August is the hottest month in Athens and has an average of 29 degrees centigrade. This is the month in which many of the locals escape to the coast and the islands to avoid the heat.
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What to pack for summer in Athens
It can be a little challenging knowing what to take with you on a trip to Athens in the summer, particularly if you have never been before, and are unsure what to expect regarding temperature and conditions, etc. However, here are some of the most essential items that you will need:
Hat – it is so important to take a hat with you on a trip to Athens during the summer; the sun is incredibly hot, and you will undoubtedly suffer immense headaches and exhaustion without a hat to keep you protected. The best type is one with a large rim.
Sunscreen – another essential item for your trip to Athens during the summer is sunscreen. If you are spending hours a day exploring archaeological sites and other outdoor pursuits, you will need to make sure your skin is protected from the scorching sun.
Swimsuit – although your hotel or accommodation may not have a pool, an essential and small item to bring with you is a swimsuit; you may decide to explore one of the nearby islands or beaches.
Sunglasses – like a hat and sunscreen, sunglasses are an essential item to keep you protected from the summer sun in Athens; make sure to invest in a high-quality pair for the most protection possible.
Summer clothes – the summer in Athens is so warm and sunny, that you will most definitely need to bring some lightweight clothing options, such as shorts, skirts, t-shirts, and dresses, etc. If possible, long-sleeved and longer-legged items are best at protecting you from the sun and are also suitable for visiting religious monuments or sites.
Good shoes – when visiting Athens, you are likely to do a lot of walking, so it is super important to bring a comfortable and high-quality pair or shoes.
Things to do In Athens in Summer
1. Explore the Museums
A great thing to do in Athens is to explore the abundance of the fascinating, (and air-conditioned!) museums; here are some of the best in the city:
- Acropolis Museum: focused on the findings from the famous landmark, the Acropolis, this beautiful and modern museum is a must-see stop for culture and history lovers.
- National Archaeological Museum: this is the largest museum in the whole of Greece, and houses some of the most important artifacts from many aspects of Greek heritage; this is a fantastic place to visit to learn some new things about the place in which you are visiting.
- Cycladic Museum: focused on the ancient cultures of the Aegean and Cyprus, the Cycladic Museum is a fantastic spot to explore some artworks and artifacts from the past.
Perhaps the most important and easily recognizable landmark in Athens, the almighty Acropolis is an ancient citadel that towers above the city; it is best to visit the Acropolis at 8:00 am when it opens, in order to explore it and all of its beauty before the crowds and heat take over. In addition, it is a good idea to buy your tickets in advance or to book a guided tour to get the most out of your visit.
Here are my recommended tours of the Acropolis:
A small group guided tour of the Acropolis with skip the line tickets. The reason I like this tour is that it is a small group one, it starts at 8:30 am, so you avoid the heat and the cruise ship passengers and it lasts for 2 hours.
Another great option is the Athens Mythology Highlights tour. This tour includes a guided visit to the Acropolis, the Temple of Olympian Zeus and the Ancient Agora. It is my favorite tour in Athens as it combines history and mythology and it is also interesting for kids.
Please note that the entrance fees 30 euros (combo ticket) are not included in the price. With the same ticket, though you will be able to visit some more interesting sites in Athens the following days.
3. Relax at the shade of the National Garden
Home to over 500 types of plants and trees across a whopping 160,000 square meters, The National Gardens of Athens are truly gorgeous and feel a world away from the hustle and bustle of the city. This is the perfect place to take a stroll or have a picnic, and there are lots of shaded areas to cool down in.
4. Check out the Athens Central Market
One of the best places to visit in Athens that is lovely and shaded, but also full of culture and fantastic sites is the Athens Central Market; having been open since 1886, this market is full of history, as well as being a great place to stock up on some delicious fresh produce, and traditional Greek ingredients.
5. Visit the Beaches
Athens is very close to the coast, and there are a string of amazing beaches on its doorstep. One of the best beaches nearby is Akti Vouliagmenis Beach, which is 20km away, and has plenty of facilities nearby, and makes for a great day out. Another lovely beach near to Athens is Krabo Beach; situated 20km away from the center, there are lots of fantastic high-end bars and restaurants, and it has a very upmarket atmosphere.
6. See the Sunset from Sounio
For a completely unforgettable experience, head to Sounio to experience one of the most stunning sunsets ever. This sunset tour from Athens takes you from the picturesque, idyllic South Coast of Attica, to the Temple of Poseidon, and finally enjoying fantastic sunset views across the Aegean.
Although Athens itself has an amazing plethora of things to do, it is also very closely situated to a string of stunning islands, which are easily accessible from the capital. By taking this full-day cruise tour, you will visit Aegina, Poros, and Hydra, the gems of the Saronic Gulf; you can sample the wonderful dishes and cuisine of the islands, explore the towns and soak up the magnificent views.
8. Pick a Hotel with a Swimming Pool
When deciding on your hotel in Athens, it may be a good idea to pick one that offers a swimming pool, particularly during the summer months. This is a great way to cool down in the boiling summer heat and is incredibly relaxing.
Click here to find the best hotels with swimming pool in Athens.
9. Check out the Outdoor Cinemas
One of the traditions in the city of Athens is the outdoor cinemas that are held throughout the summer. One of the best of these outdoor cinemas is Cine Paris, which is situated on a rooftop in the Plaka district, where you can watch films and also see the Acropolis. Another great outdoor cinema is Cine Athianaia, which is situated in the upmarket Kolonaki neighborhood; there is a brilliant cocktail bar, and it makes for a truly memorable evening.
10. Have a Cold Cocktail in a Rooftop Bar
There are so many rooftop bars in the city of Athens, and they make for the perfect setting to sip a delicious cocktail in. One of the best rooftop bars in Athens is A for Athens, which is a boutique hotel with a spectacular cocktail bar, that offers views of the Acropolis and Monastiraki Square.
11. Watch a performance at Odeon Herodes Atticus
The famous Odeon Herodes Atticus in an enormous Roman theatre that is nestled upon the southwest slope of the Acropolis, and was originally completed in the year 161 AD. Though this structure is ancient, it is still used today to host an array of different performances and shows; to see what is on this summer, and to book, visit the website here.
12. Archaeological Sites at August’s Full Moon
One of the best ways to explore the historic archaeological sites of Athens is at night time; the amazing midsummer August fill moon sees a string of museums and sites open their doors to the public at no charge. This is a really unique and memorable activity to do in Athens.
13. Stroll Around Plaka and Anafiotika
One of the best places in Athens to take a stroll in the historical neighborhood of Plaka, which is situated around the northern and eastern slopes of the Acropolis; here, you can discover some amazing restaurants, shops, bars, and cafes, and do a few people watching. Likewise, the tiny neighborhood of Anafiotika is also incredible and has so much history to explore and soak up.
14. Watch the Sunset from Philopappos Hill
Offering views of the magnificent Saronic Gulf and the Acropolis, the wonderful Filipoppapos Hill is the perfect place to visit at sunset. It is a relatively easy hill to climb, but the views it offers are absolutely unbeatable.
Tips to Survive the Summer in Athens
- Wear a hat and sunscreen – one of the most important things you can do to survive the summer in Athens is to wear a hat and sunscreen; the sun can be absolutely boiling so it is crucial to stay protected.
- Keep hydrated – another way to survive the summer in Athens is to stay super hydrated; it is a good idea to bring a water bottle out with you each day.
- Start your day early – a top tip is to start your day early so that you can avoid the crowds and see the sites without so many tourists. In addition, it also tends to be a little cooler in the mornings.
- Stay in the shade as much as possible – also make sure to stay in the shade wherever possible, and make lots of regular breaks to rest and re-hydrate.