Unlike many of the Greek island destinations that close for winter, Athens is a tourist spot that can be visited year-round. However, it is worth bearing in mind that temperatures do vary greatly in Athens throughout the year, so you’ll want to plan carefully to find a time that best suits you. In general, I think spring and autumn are the best time to visit Athens, as the climate is temperate and the main tourist attractions aren’t too busy.
Read on to discover more about the best time to travel to Athens, including a month-by-month guide, information about the low and high seasons, and some top tips about Athens’ best festivals so you can plan your trip to coincide with some fun cultural events!
A Guide to the Best Time to Visit Athens
Average Temperature and Rainfall for Athens
|Month||Celcius High||Fahrenheit High||Celcius Low||Fahrenheit Low||Rainy days|
What Are The Travel Seasons For Athens
High Season in Athens
High season in Athens is definitely summer, with the months of June, July, and August seeing peak numbers of tourists flock to the city. I personally think this is one of the worst times to visit Athens (especially late July and August) as temperatures can become stifling and the crowds are way too hectic! Of course, if you like the heat and the hustle and bustle of summer, then mid-June to mid-September will be the perfect time for you.
As summer is high season in Athens, flight and accommodation prices do tend to rise, but you’ll be treated with sunny days and wild nightlife to keep you entertained.
It is worth noting, however, that many Athenians tend to leave the capital during the height of August, retreating to the islands or the coast of the mainland, so some local businesses and restaurants may be closed at this time.
You can check out my post: Visiting Athens in Summer.
Low Season in Athens
Low season in Athens runs from around November to March, as the temperatures drop and the main tourist attractions reduce their opening hours. It is still definitely possible to visit Athens at this time, as there will be cheap flights and accommodation available, but you won’t be able to enjoy the same buzzing atmosphere as the rest of the year.
The winter months in Athens tend to bring cooler, greyer days, and while snow is quite uncommon, there are plenty of rainy days throughout this season. You’ll, therefore, want to pack accordingly and perhaps research some of Athens’ great bars and museums before you go so you have some indoor activities up your sleeve!
Visiting in low season does, of course, allow you a more relaxing trip, and you’re more likely to be able to interact with locals and possibly get some good deals at this time.
You might want to check out my post: Things to do in Athens in winter.
The shoulder season in Athens is my favorite time of year to travel as the spring months of late March to May and the autumn days of late September and October offer mild temperatures and lessening crowds. The main tourist attractions usually have normal opening hours during these months, and with the days getting longer and longer as the year goes on, you’ll have plenty of time to explore the city during the warm, spring days.
Prices for flights and accommodation tend to be cheaper during the shoulder season than they are in the height of summer, but the regularity of flights increase giving you a win-win situation.
When Is The Best Month Of The Year To Visit Athens
January is the coldest month of the year in Athens with temperatures barely rising above 12C in the day and dropping to a chilly 5C at night. Of course, this is relatively pleasant compared to Northern Europe or parts of the US and Canada at this time of year, so it could still be a possibility for your travel list. Days tend to be quite short and unpredictable during the month of January, so you’ll want to come prepared for all eventualities; packing plenty of layers and waterproofs just in case. Of course, there are benefits to traveling in January too, namely low prices, fewer crowds, and great New Year and Epiphany celebrations!
February is one of the cooler months of the year in Athens, with temperatures sitting between 6C and 14C, but despite the chill in the air, days are usually bright and rain-free. February sees an average of seven days of rainfall in the month (50mm) and there are approximately five hours of sunshine per day. As February is low season in Athens, accommodation and flight prices are very affordable, and crowd numbers are low.
March is a time of spring blossoms and rising temperatures which makes exploring Athens’ archaeological sites absolutely magical. Crowds are yet to arrive, and while the daily temperatures are only in the teens it is still plenty warm enough walk around in a t-shirt. There are an average of eight days of rain in Athens in March, so you’ll want to pack a lightweight coat or umbrella, but the likelihood is your days won’t be spoilt by rainfall.
Check out my post: Visiting Athens in March.
Spring has well and truly sprung in Athens in April and daily temperatures are regularly in the teens, with lows of 12C and highs of around 20C. This is therefore ideal for long days walking around the city sights, and with just six days of possible rainfall throughout the month, your days are unlikely to be interrupted by precipitation. While you will still need a jacket for evenings, and you’re unlikely to be taking a dip in the sea, April is definitely still a good time to visit Athens.
May is a lovely time to visit Athens as daily average temperatures sit in the mid-20s and there are just five days of rainfall (23mm) throughout the month. May days are long and warm, with an average of around 10 hours of sunshine per day, with the hottest days boasting temperatures in the late 20s and early 30s. While the evening temperatures still sit in the teens and seawater temperature is around 18/19C, this is still an extremely pleasant time to travel.
June is the official start of summer in Athens, with both the tourists and the hot temperatures arriving in earnest. The comfortable 20s temperatures of May make way for warmer days, and rain is minimal, with just 11-12mm falling throughout the month. Evening temperatures are also warming up in Athens in June, with lows dropping to just 21C. This means you won’t need much more than a lightweight jumper or cardigan to keep you warm.
July is one of the busiest and hottest months of the year, with average temperature regularly in the 30s and some summer days even peaking into the 40s! Days are of course long, hot and sunny throughout July so you can expect plenty of time for exploration, but you may want to add some beach days into your agenda to ensure you have some time to cool off too!
August is the hottest month of the year in Athens with average temperatures sitting at around 34C. This makes it pretty hot for sight-seeing but can be a lovely time to enjoy the Athenian Riviera. Many Athenians actually leave the city in the month of August to visit the coast or the islands, so the city will be a little bit quieter, especially around the 15th August (Panagia celebrations). This does also mean that some restaurants and businesses will close though, so that’s something to bear in mind.
September, particularly late September, is a wonderful time to visit Athens as the summer temperatures and sun still linger on, but crowd numbers (and according to prices) begin to lessen. Temperatures sit between 20C-30C which is perfect for both a city break and some beach time, and there are usually nine glorious hours of sunshine per day.
Check out my post: Visiting Athens in September
October is still a great time to travel to Athens as crowds and temperatures drop but not so much so that it is too cold to be outside. Daily temperatures vary between lows of 14C and highs of 22C, and sea temperatures are still 22C too, so taking a dip on the Athenian Riviera isn’t completely out of the question. There are an average of five days of rain per month in October, so you’ll want to be prepared, but it’s unlikely to negatively affect your trip.
Check out my post: Visiting Athens in October
November is the beginning of low season in Athens as temperatures head towards the teens (daily highs of 18C and lows of 10C), but you still won’t need much more than a jacket or jumper during the day. Athens still usually boasts around five hours of sunshine a day in November (even though the clocks have gone back), and there are an average of nine days of rain per month.
Last but by no means least is December. December in Athens is quite a cold month, with daily highs of 14C and lows of around 9C. The city takes on a Christmassy feel throughout the month of December and if you wrap up warmly you’re still bound to have an enjoyable time exploring this incredible destination.
When I think is the best time to visit Athens
Personally, I think that the months of April – May and September – October are the best time to visit Athens as the days are long enough to allow hours of exploration and the weather is generally clear and dry, but the temperatures aren’t too hot that it becomes uncomfortable to be walking around the city.
Many of Athens’ sights are outside and the only way to reach the Acropolis is by walking up the hill to get there. Therefore, you ideally want a mild spring or autumn day that makes both your visits and the walking around in between, pleasant and relaxing.
Best time to visit Athens for a sightseeing or a city break
The best time to go to Athens for sight-seeing is spring or autumn if you want the balance of good weather, long days and regular opening hours at the main tourist attractions. However, if you don’t mind the cooler weather and are happy to spend longer in Athens, then visiting during the winter months may also be a good option. Days are notably shorter in winter and you, therefore, won’t be able to fit as much in each day, but you’ll also be able to enjoy long evening meals and drinks in cozy tavernas so you’ll still be able to have a wonderful experience!
Best time to visit Athens for the beaches and the islands
The ideal time to visit Athens you want to combine city exploration with beach relaxation is summer, with late May to mid-September offering the best weather. These months tend to see temperatures in the 20s and 30s and in September the seawater temperature will also be much warmer and more welcoming!
Ferry schedules tend to become more regular between Athens and the islands from June to October, so if you want to do some island hopping, you’ll need to consider the schedule that works best for you. The summer months do, of course, see tourist numbers rise, and both travelers and Athenians flock to the coast throughout the peak months of July and August.
Best time to visit Athens for good weather
This question really depends on what you define as good weather. The months of March to May/June, as well as September and October, offer the most pleasant climate for sight-seeing and walking around the city as the days are long and bright and temperatures generally sit around the mid-20s which is ideal for most people.
However, if you love the sun and heat, then you may be more tempted by the peak summer months of June, July and August when temperatures rise into the 30s and sometimes 40s. This is great for sunbathing on the beach but it can get a bit too much when you’re walking around the main city sights!
Public Holidays in Greece in 2020
|New Year’s Day||1 Jan||Wed|
|Orthodox Ash Monday||2 Mar||Mon|
|Independence Day||25 Mar||Wed|
|Orthodox Good Friday||17 Apr||Fri|
|Orthodox Easter Sunday||19 Apr||Sun|
|Orthodox Easter Monday||20 Apr||Mon|
|Labour Day||1 May||Fri|
|Orthodox Whit Sunday||7 Jun||Sun|
|Orthodox Whit Monday||8 Jun||Mon|
|Assumption Day||15 Aug||Sat|
|National Anniversary Day||28 Oct||Wed|
|Christmas Day||25 Dec||Fri|
|2nd Day of Christmas||26 Dec||Sat|
Athens events and festivals
There are a number of fun local festivals that run throughout the year in Athens. Some are great for tourists to take part in and enjoy, while others are more traditional affairs that mean shops and businesses are closed and most locals spend the day with family and friends. You’ll, therefore, want to plan your trip to Athens based around festivals quite carefully to ensure you don’t try to travel on a day when tourist attractions are closed or public transport is slow and infrequent.
1st Jan: New Year’s/St. Basil’s Day
The 1st January is a national holiday in Greece, with most businesses, restaurants, shops and tourist attractions being closed. It is therefore a great time to see friends and family in Athens, sharing a traditional Vasilopita cake with a coin in, but not the best day of the year to be arriving as a traveller.
6th Jan Epiphany/Theofania:
If your trip also coincides with Epiphany (6th January) then you may want to head out to the coast at Piraeus to witness the Theofania event which sees a priest throw a cross into the sea, followed by several people jumping in after it to retrieve it from the cold winter waters.
First Sunday of the month
The first Sunday of the month in January is a day when all archaeological sites in Athens are free to visit so you can save yourself a few Euros while exploring the top historical sites.
First Sunday of the month
The first Sunday of the month in February is another day when all archaeological sites in Athens are free to visit so it’s a good idea to plan your trip to coincide with this date.
Carnival dates depend on when Easter falls but the celebrations usually start around mid-February and see the city brighten up with colorful confetti, masquerades, dancing, parades, and much more. Tsiknopempti, or ‘smoke Thursday’ is a popular celebration, with costumes, percussion, and dancing taking place from Syntagma Square to Plaka and everyone devouring plenty of meat before the fasting begins.
First Sunday of the month
The first Sunday of March also offers free entrance to all archaeological sites in Athens.
6th March: Melina Merkouri Day
Melina Merkouri Day celebrates the life and works of the late actress, activist and Culture Minister, Melina Merkouri, with free entrance to all archaeological sites across the city.
25th March: Independence Day
Independence Day in Athens see parades run through the center of the city as an anniversary of the 1821 Revolution against the Ottoman Empire.
Greek Orthodox Easter
Greek Orthodox Easter falls a week after Catholic and Protestant Easter and is a huge family celebration in Athens and beyond. There is the Epitafios Procession on Friday night in Athens followed by a family meal of lamb or goat and red boiled eggs on Sunday.
18th April: International Monuments Day
This day in April sees all monuments across the country open and free to all.
1st May: Public Holiday
May Day is a public holiday in Athens so most shops, restaurants, businesses, and museums will be closed. Public transport may also be affected.
18th May: International Museums Day
This day in May sees all museums across the country open and free to all.
End of May: Athens Technopolis Jazz Festival
Athens Technopolis Jazz Festival is a spring/summer celebration of jazz, with seven days of performances, workshops, actvities and more.
Agiou Pnevmatos: Holy Spirit Day
Agiou Pnevmatos: Holy Spirit Day is held on Monday six weeks after Easter when Greek people celebrate with their families and most schools and businesses are closed.
End of June: RockWave Festival
A fun, national rock festival held at the TerraVibe Park.
June/July: Ejekt Festival
Ejekt is a bustling music festival held over two days in summer at Markopoulo Park and the Plateia Nerou.
15th August: Panagia (Assumption Day)
Perhaps the most important religious festival of the year, Panagia is a celebration of the Virgin Mary and many Greek people take this opportunity to make a pilgrimage to their local Panagia church.
The last weekend in September: European Heritage Days
Almost all archaeological sites and museums in Athens are open and free to visit for all throughout the weekend.
28th October: Oxi Day
Oxi day is a celebration of the Greek refusal to the Italian ultimatum of 1940 when they said ‘oxi’ or no to further oppression. This is celebrated with local parades as well as traditional food and costumes.
Second Sunday in November: Athens Marathon
The second Sunday in November sees many roads close for the Athens Authentic Marathon, a race that follows the route that the legendary messenger, Pheidippides followed, from the Battle of Marathon to Athens to announce the Greeks’ victory over the Persians.
25th December: Christmas Day
As with most countries, Greece celebrates Christmas on the 25th December and most businesses and all archaeological sites are closed.
26th December: Glorifying Mother of God
This is a day to celebrate Theotokos, the Mother of God but is mainly enjoyed in the same way as Boxing Day elsewhere around the world.
Hopefully, by now you have a clear overview of what Athens looks like in terms of weather and tourist seasons throughout the year, and you’ve decided what month is best for you to visit the city. Let me know which month appeals to you most in the comments below!