Best Time To Visit Athens

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by Santorini Dave • Updated: March 14, 2019

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When is the Best Time to Visit Athens?

The best time to go to Athens is late-March through early-June or late-September through early-November when the weather is warm but not blazing hot and the peak tourist crowds of July and August have decreased. Athens is generally a good year-round destination though the weather can be cool and wet from November to March (some years Athens even gets snow in the winter).

when to visit Athens

The Acropolis of Athens at sunset. The best times to visit Athens are late spring and early fall.

  • The 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 mid-June or mid-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.
  • Best Time for Sightseeing: The best time for sightseeing in Athens is when the weather is mild and there are fewer tourists to interrupt the views: April through about mid-May, or October and into early November are the best times to visit the historical sites.
  • 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 are already 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.
  • Best Time for Beaches: Greater Athens has the longest coastline of any other capital, with 16 Blue Flag beaches. The best time to visit to experience them is in September when the biggest 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, and this seasons also sees the highest accommodation 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 Weather by Month

  • Athens Weather in January: The chilliest month of the year in Athens is January but compared to cities in more northern climates, it’s practically balmy. The weather can be unpredictable, bringing sun, rain, wind or snow, with an average high temperature of 13°C and it rarely getting much colder than 7°C at night. On an especially nice day, it can climb to 17°C, making it possible to enjoy dining outdoors at cafes right in the middle of winter. The month does see some scattered storms, with an average of 57mm of precipitation falling over 9 days. While winter brings shorter days, even in early January there are over 9 ½ hours of daylight for enjoying outdoor sights. When it comes to packing, you’ll want to bring a mix of clothing for both cooler and warmer days along with a rain jacket and/or travel umbrella. (Average Max Temperature: 13°C. Average Precipitation: 57mm.)
  • Athens Weather in February: February doesn’t bring much change, with the average high temperature climbing just a degree to 14°C and the chances for rain decreasing a bit to 47mm over 7 days this month. Expect plenty of sunshine and progressively warmer days as February moves forward, along with few crowds and cheaper accommodation rates. Bringing a mix of clothing is still advised – when the sun is out it can feel much warmer than the thermometer reads, and it can also get rather chilly late at night with the low temperature still at 7°C. (Average Max Temperature: 14°C. Average Precipitation: 47mm.)
  • Athens Weather in March: March ushers in spring, and temperatures are really warming now. The high rises three degrees to 17°C and (during the second half of the month especially) there are usually quite a few very nice days with temperatures in the low 20s. There are typically a lot more sunny days than rainy ones in March, with the average amount of rainfall decreasing further to 41mm over 8 days. With that relatively small amount, many will visit this month and not see much, if any, rain, making an umbrella unnecessary. With those warmer days, you’ll need more short-sleeve shirts, and if you’re lucky, shorts or dresses (perhaps paired with leggings for extra warmth), though you’ll also want to have some sweaters or sweatshirts as well as long pants and a jacket for cool evenings. Late in the month, clocks move forward, providing even more daylight hours for exploring the city with sunrise at 7:12 a.m. and sunset at 7:46 p.m. (Average Max Temperature: 17°C. Average Precipitation: 41mm.)
  • Athens Weather in April: Warm weather officially arrives in April, with the average high now 20°C. It’s a great time to visit Athens with plenty of sun and little rain (only 31mm of precipitation over six days). Hours for attractions are extended now and days are getting increasingly longer, while lines are much shorter than summer and crowds are few. With the low temperature at 12°C, a jacket or sweater and long pants are advised for late nights, but during the day, you’ll likely need clothing for warm weather like dresses, skirts, shorts, and t-shirts. Although the sea temperature is beginning to rise, at 16°C you probably won’t be going for long swims, but you may need a suit for the pool. (Average Max Temperature: 20°C. Average Precipitation: 31mm.)
  • Athens Weather in May: May is a great time to be in Athens. For most, it will feel like the peak of summer, only the thick tourist crowds won’t have arrived just yet. Temperatures in the afternoon reach 25°C on average, while some days the mercury climbs to 30°C. There are virtually no worries about rain now, with just 23mm of precipitation falling over four days. When it comes to packing, while you might need a light jacket or sweater for evenings low temperatures of 16°C, but it’s primarily all about summer attire now, including sunscreen, sunglasses and a bathing suit. With the average sea temperature increasing to 19°C, going to the beach for a swim is more comfortable now. (Average Max Temperature: 25°C. Average Precipitation: 23mm.)
  • Athens Weather in June: Both the heat and crowds arrive in June, with the average high climbing five degrees over last month to 30°C. The later in the month you visit, the higher the temperatures are likely to be, with some days reaching the mid-30s. Rain is practically unheard of now with just 11mm of precipitation falling on one day in June on average, and nights are fairly balmy with the low temperature at a pleasant 21°C. Now is the time just about everyone can enjoy swimming at the beach with the sea temperature climbing three more degrees to 22°C, which means bringing a bathing suit is really a must, along with plenty of sunscreen, a hat for protection and lightweight clothing. (Average Max Temperature: 30°C. Average Precipitation: 11mm.)
  • Athens Weather in July: With the peak of summer now here, Athens experiences some of the hottest temperatures of the year – average highs of 33°C, with some days the mercury stretching all the way to 40°C. There won’t be any rain, but you can expect long, hot days with sunrise at just after 6 a.m. on the 1st and sunset at 8:51 p.m. This month is all about spending time at the beach, with the sea temperature at 24°C, which means you may want to bring more than one bathing suit and plenty of summer gear to stay cool and protected from the sun. Even at night there won’t be a need for a sweater or jacket with an average low temperature of 24°C. (Average Max Temperature: 33°C. Average Precipitation: 6mm.)
  • Athens Weather in August: Conditions in August are very similar to July, although the average high creeps up a degree to 34°C. What’s different is that the city empties out quite a bit with most locals taking their two-week holidays now. While it will be very hot, as the climate is on the drier side, it’s bearable for many, and the quieter streets make it a little more pleasant than July. When you need a break from the heat, head to the sea and enjoy a refreshing dip, just be sure to bring plenty of protection from the searing sun, including sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses. (Average Max Temperature: 34°C. Average Precipitation: 6mm.)
  • Athens Weather in September: While early September will be similar to August in terms of heat, things gradually begin to cool down with the average high temperature reduced to 29°C and water temperatures still ideal for swimming at 24°C. Many feel it’s an ideal month to visit Athens, particularly in the latter half with the crowds thinning significantly too. There’s still no worry about rain, with only 14mm of precipitation over three days on average and with the low temperature at 20°C occurring in the wee hours of the morning, a jacket or sweater probably won’t be necessary. (Average Max Temperature: 29°C. Average Precipitation: 14mm.)

  • Athens Weather in October: It starts to cool significantly in October though it may feel like idyllic weather to many with the average high temperature now at 24°C and lows around 16°C. During the first half of the month it may be warm enough to swim with the sea temperature still quite warm from summer’s heat at 22°C. The later in the month you arrive, the more likely you’ll need a jacket or sweater, but it’s a good idea to bring a mix of clothing for any visit in October, with both long- and short-sleeve shirts, shorts and pants. There is a better chance for rain with 53mm over five days, though most falls later in the month. (Average Max Temperature: 24°C. Average Precipitation: 53mm.)
  • Athens Weather in November: November in Athens often feels as if someone turned the air conditioning on, with the average high dipping another five degrees to 19°C and the low at a relatively chilly 12°C. Earlier in the month, there is usually more sunshine than clouds, but the second half sees more grey days and a decent chance of rain with 58mm of precipitation over days. While the water is still warm enough to swim in at 20°C, the cooler daytime temperatures mean that few folks head to the beach for a dip now. Visiting Athens this month means packing attire that can be layered and bringing a rain jacket and/or travel umbrella. Days will be shorter too, at the end of the month the sun comes up at 7:20 a.m. and sets at 5:06 p.m. (Average Max Temperature: 19°C. Average Precipitation: 58mm.)
  • Athens Weather in December: December brings some of the coldest temperatures of the year to Athens, but winters here are relatively mild with the high temperature at 15°C and the low at 9°C. There is quite a bit more rain, averaging 98mm of precipitation over 11 days, which means bringing a travel umbrella and waterproof jacket if you visit now. There may even be a few days with snow, although it’s likely to only be a dusting. The latter half of the month tends to bring more sunny days. It also sees the shortest day of the year, with 9 hours and 31 minutes of daylight on December 21st. (Average Max Temperature: 15°C. Average Precipitation: 98mm.)

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.
  • Ephiphany – January 6th is Ephiphany 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, January 8-12 in 2020, 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, February 23 to March 11 in 2019. 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 known as one of Greece’s most important feasts. It’s celebrated on the first day of the seventh week before Easter Sunday. This marks the end of Carnival celebrations and 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, April 8-14 in 2019. 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 is Holy Week in Greece. While it sometimes falls in March, it’s usually in April. In 2019, Palm Sunday is April 21, Orthodox Good Friday is April 26 and Orthodox Easter Sunday is April 28. 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, April 19-21 in 2019, 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. In Athens, there may be protests as well as parades scheduled.
  • Athens Technopolis Jazz Festival – One of the city’s most popular festivals offers five days full of music. In 2019, it will be hosted from May 27 to June 2, 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, June 4 to June 8, 2019.
  • Art Athina – Held for four days around the Summer Solstice (2019 dates to be announced), 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. In 2019 they’ll be exhibited from June 6 to July 29 at the Benaki Museum.
  • 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, July 6-20 in 2019, 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, July 17-18 in 2019, 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, running through Sunday, September 15 in 2019. 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, September 16-27 in 2019. 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, September 26 in 2019, 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, November 10 in 2019, 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.
  • GeMin – Held for three days in late November, November 29 to December 1 in 2019, 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 by 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.

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