Athens is the capital of Greece as well as the country’s largest city. The historic metropolis, Athens is widely regarded as the birthplace of Western civilization and democracy. It is also credited for giving birth to some of the world’s most prominent intellectuals and artists.
Today, this ancient city serves as the cultural, economic and political center of Greece as well as the gateway to the country. It is also one of the top tourist destinations in Europe and a common pit stop for travelers planning to visit the Greek islands.
From the historic landmarks and magnificent museums in central Athens to incredible cuisine and a vibrant nightlife scene in hidden gems along the way, there’s no shortage of fun things to do in the Greek capital. Is visiting Athens a part of your travel bucket list? If so, one of the main things you have to consider is the time of your visit. During your stay, you want to be able to maximize your time without having to worry about what the weather will be like or what events are taking place at the time.
Depending on your preferences and your budget, you might find that tailoring your Athens trip to a specific season is the best option. Each season has its own pros and cons when in the city; for instance, there is a range of cultural festivals being held during the summer, while winter is best for indoor activities such as museum hopping and drinking in bars or clubs.
Regardless of when you visit, you’ll find that there are plenty of activities to keep you occupied. For a hassle-free and fun experience, find a place where you can leave your bags. Bounce has luggage services to keep your belongings safe while you enjoy the summer solstice, Saint Basil's Day in January or anything exciting all year long!
Summer in Athens: June - August
The summer season in Athens, which takes place from June to August, is considered the peak season and arguably the best time to visit the Greek capital. Just like in most places, summer weather in Athens can get really warm, with an average of 84 degrees F (29 degrees C), and can even go up to a max temperature of 113 degrees F (45 degrees C). Precipitation is also very rare throughout the entire season.
June is an extremely popular time to visit Athens because of the range of festivals held during this month. Additionally, this time of the year offers all-around good weather, averaging 79 degrees F (26 degrees C). It is not so humid that you will feel hot and irritated, which makes for the perfect climate for outdoor events. Some of the key events to watch out for in June include the Athens Epidaurus Festival, the Athens Open Air Film Festival, Rockwave Festival, Art Athina, Ejekt Festival, Megaron Concert Hall Garden Series, and the Release Festival.
During the month of July, the temperature starts to get warmer and establishments such as beach clubs and outdoor cinemas start to pick up. Most bars, cafés and clubs also have their rooftops and courtyards ready to welcome the influx of tourists and locals during this time of the year. Summer events such as the Plissken Festival, Delphic Cultural Heritage Days, and Summer Nostos Festival all take place during this month.
However, by the time August comes, the city starts to empty as locals take advantage of the blazing hot weather and head out to the beaches on the Greek islands. Athens is just full of tourists during this month and a lot of the businesses are closed. This doesn’t mean that there is nothing to do in August; some summer festivals are still held during this time, such as the August Moon Festival and the Feast of the Assumption. Most tourists opt to visit museums and other indoor establishments in August because of the sweltering heat outdoors.
For the summer months in Athens, pack comfortable clothes that will keep you cool, especially during August when it gets really hot. This includes cotton shirts and tank tops as well as shorts and light pants. Bring sunscreen and sunglasses for the sunny days. It would also be handy to have a reusable water bottle that you can easily refill and bring with you anywhere. Not only will this ensure that you stay hydrated, but it is also eco-friendly and prevents you from using plastic bottles.
Fall in Athens: September - November
The fall season in Athens is a dream for a lot of tourists. It gives you the best of both worlds because the weather is still warm enough, with average daytime temperatures of 75 degrees F (24 degrees C), but the crowds are smaller compared to those during the summer. Hence, you can visit all the famous attractions and landmarks around Athens without rubbing elbows with other tourists. In addition, the hotel prices are also reduced as there are fewer visitors in the city.
When talking about early fall, September is a great month for exploring Athens as a lot of the establishments that closed down during August start to reopen. Most shops, restaurants and top nightclubs become active again as the majority of the locals return to mainland Greece from their trip to the islands. Several exciting events take place during this month, including the Athens International Film Festival, the Athens Street Food Festival, Athens Photo Festival, and the annual Athens book fair.
October is also a good time to stay in Athens because of the thriving city life. While there are fewer festivals taking place, the opera and theater season begins during this month. The weather also becomes less predictable. The average temperature is 72 degrees F (22 degrees C), which is still generally warm, but there is a higher chance of rain during the latter half of the month.
By the time the month of November comes along, the weather completely changes. The average temperature during this month falls to around 61 degrees F (16 degrees C) and grey, rainy days become more frequent. If you happen to be in Athens during the month, you can also witness (or even participate!) in the renowned Classic Authentic Athens Marathon.
If you want lower prices and fewer tourists, then autumn is an ideal time to visit Athens. When packing for fall in the city, you can stick to light clothes but be prepared to bring a rain jacket or an umbrella in case of rain. You may also want to have some layers to keep you warm during the colder temperatures at night.
Winter in Athens: December - February
Needless to say, winter brings the coldest temperatures of the year in Athens, which makes it the low season where very little tourist activity takes place. The average high temperature falls at around 54 degrees F (12 degrees C) max and could even go to as low as 45 degrees F (7 degrees C). However, if you do not mind having consistently chilly weather and lack of sunshine, winter is when you can surely get the best flight and hotel deals as well as cheaper ticket prices to the city's top attractions and archaeological sites.
December may be the wettest month of the year but it also has several highlights, especially as the Christmas season approaches. Even though it’s cold during this month, snowing is a rare sight (but not impossible); instead, precipitation is a more likely occurrence. Throughout the month, a range of Christmas-themed events are held, such as performances at the Athens Concert Hall, indoor skating rink pop ups, and holiday bazaars at Syntagma Square and all over the city.
January is the year's coldest month and brings with it unpredictable weather – one day you could be seeing some sunshine amidst the cold temperature while on other days you can expect rain all day long. For this reason, most of the fun things to do during this month involve outdoor activities, such as relaxing at one of the many hammams (Turkish baths) found in the city or enjoying a live musical performance at a bouzouki club, which stays open until the late hours.
The weather in February is nearly identical to that of January, although the days start to get warmer and the sun shows up more frequently. For this month, the crowds are still smaller than usual and prices for hotels remain generally cheaper. The highlight of February is definitely the Apokries or the Athens carnival. Held all over the city, the event stretches for three weeks leading up to the fasting of Lent.
Just as how you would pack for winter in any destination, packing for a winter trip to Athens means bringing warm clothes and layers, such as jackets, scarves and closed shoes. In case of rain, you should also have a raincoat or umbrella. If you’re headed to Athens around the month of February, you may want to bring a mix of clothing in case of warmer days.
Spring in Athens: March - May
For some, the spring season is the best time to visit Athens because of the nice weather, with average high temperatures of 68 degrees F (20 degrees C). Apart from the pleasant weather, the accommodation and flight prices during the spring months remain affordable. Plus, you have the chance to take in the beauty of attractions like the Acropolis Museum and Ancient Agora without an overwhelming crowd, as most tourists prefer to visit during the summer season.
March offers a relaxed atmosphere with weather that is predominantly sunny, though you can encounter some rainy days from time to time. There are also several national holidays celebrated during this month; one of the most important is the Greek National Anniversary. Held every March 25th, this holiday is the country’s Independence Day and celebrates Greece’s triumph against the Turks.
April officially marks the start of warm weather, with lots of sunny days and rare chances of precipitation, making it an excellent time to visit Athens. Because of the improving weather, the opening hours of most attractions are extended but the queues are still shorter compared to the high season. April is also the month when the most important national Greek holiday takes place - Greek Orthodox Easter. While the date changes every year, Holy Week typically takes place during April and ends on Easter Sunday; during this period, you can expect a lot of church services taking place as well as various establishments halting their operations.
When it comes to spring, the sun is almost always out and the temperatures increase as the season progress. However, because of the city’s proximity to the coast, some nights can still be chilly. It’s best to pack at least one layer of warm clothing, such as a light jacket or cardigan. Sunglasses, sunscreen and comfortable footwear are also a must, especially if you plan to do a lot of sightseeing on your trip.
When is the best time to visit Athens for you?
The best time to visit Athens is highly dependent on your personal goals and preferences. Although the Greek capital has something to offer all year long, certain seasons have their own appeal and special feature. For instance, if you want to experience warm weather and attend a range of exciting festivals, then the months of June and July are the best option for you.
If you want to still enjoy good weather but would like to avoid massive throngs of tourists, you may want to consider visiting during the spring season, particularly the months of March and April. On the other hand, if you are looking to save some money and would like to stretch your budget, you should think about visiting during winter, when most accommodations and airlines slash their prices to attract more tourists.
Know what you want to do during your trip to Athens? Check out these guides for inspiration!