Best Time to Visit Athens: Month-by-Month Guide (+Photos)

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.

In this post, we’ll cover:

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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