Greece’s Mediterranean climate allows for long, warm summers with 11 hours of sunshine per day. The hottest days are made more bearable by seasonal winds called meltemi. Winters are mild in the low areas, but the mountains are cooler and snowy. Athens averages a temperature of 10 degrees in January and February.
When to fly to Greece
Mid-June to the end of August is high season for most of Greece, when the temperatures are hottest. Easter time to mid-June is also very popular as the weather is still very warm, though not unbearably hot. You may be able to pick up some cheaper deals at this time of year though. Late August to mid-October is Greece's shoulder season. The temperatures are still high (substantially higher than the UK and Ireland) and most resorts and attractions still open, but prices are much lower than early or high summer so cheap flights and accommodation are easier to find.
October to April is off season. Though you will find the cheapest deals at this time, much of the tourist parts of Greece close down around this time. Unless you're in Athens you may find that there is little to do and hardly any hotels or restaurants that are open.
Getting around Greece
Trains run on the mainland only and have daily services to most destinations but the routes are limited. They are run by Hellenic Railways Organisation.
Buses are the best method of public transport – even the smallest towns are connected to the bus network. KTEL is the intercity coach service.
Cars and scooters are readily available for hire.
Greece has an excellent network of connection by sea travel with ferries, hydrofoils and passenger boats. All of the islands and mainland are all well-connected and it is very easy to get a boat.
Flights are easy to catch between islands or from Athens to the islands. Olympic Airlines and Aegean Airlines both have domestic Greek flights.
Greece insider information
- Mainland Greece is often overlooked, apart from Athens and Mount Olympus. One place worth discovering is the Peloponissos, which has a spectacular landscape of mountains, caves, volcanoes, the sea as well as beaches. The Diros Caves, five miles south of Aeropolis, are part of an underground river. Five thousand metres has been exposed and you can take a boat trip among the huge stalactites and stalagmites.
- Smoggy Athens is home to some of Greece’s most historic sites: the Acropolis, the theatre of Dionysus, the Roman Forum, the Temple of Zeus. But while you’re there, don’t forget to see some of living Athens. The 2004 Olympics gave the city a much-needed facelift, making the capital much more appealing to tourists. Visit the ancient neighbourhoods, especially Plaka, the oldest section of the city. A particularly lively time to visit is during Apokries, or carnival, in the run up to Lent.
- Crete is the largest and most popular of the Greek islands, with two international airports and a huge variety of tourist destinations. But though the northeast coast is getting overdeveloped, head inland and you’ll still find towns and villages largely undisturbed by tourists. It’s the perfect island if you want to combine lazing on a beach with exploration of historical sites – Crete was the home of King Minos who ruled the Ancient Greek world.
- Zante or Zakynthos, on the Ionian islands, is another popular holiday destination. The beautiful and verdant island is nothing short of idyllic – except if you’re stuck with hordes of tourists. To enjoy it on your own, stay clear of Laganas, the biggest resort on the island, and try to visit any popular attractions – such as the Blue Caves or Shipwreck Beach – in the morning or late afternoon to avoid the midday rush.
- Trivago is a useful website for information about accommodation in Greece. The site contains user reviews and recommendations on a range of hotels across the country, including those in Athens, Crete and Zakynthos.