Anyone who’s ever been to Greece tends to fall in love with the country and return. With its range of islands with pristine beaches, Greece is a perfect summer destination. Yet don’t overlook Greece for a fall vacation too. Fall — from September through to November — is actually a better time, in my opinion, to visit this beautiful country. Gone are the heaving crowds that make even moving around the islands and sights in the capital difficult in the summer months.
It’s still warm enough to swim in the sea, and nature changes to give a different insight into the country. It’s a time for hikers to come and comfortably explore the stone pathways as air temperatures during these months average from rarely under 50 degrees Fahrenheit up to 77 in the daytime, depending on whether you choose a mainland or island vacation.
So let’s explore some reasons why you’ll fall in love with Greece in the fall and make these months your Greek vacation.
1. Climb The Acropolis
One of the main reasons people visit Athens is to visit the Acropolis. The Parthenon — the remains of the ancient temple dedicated to the Goddess Athena — sits atop this 156-meter hill, making a climb inevitable if you want to see it up close and the gorgeous views from it.
The best time of the year to climb this monument starts in October, when the daytime average temperature is 68 degrees F, rarely falling below 59 degrees. It’s not cold, but lovely and cool as you ascend the path and steps leading up, meaning it’s the perfect time of year to visit and help you appreciate and fall in love with Greece just that bit more.
Pro Tip: Between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. is the Acropolis’s busiest time. An early morning visit is recommended to avoid the crowds, even in the fall. It’s open from 8 a.m.
2. City Tour Around Thessaloniki
Greece’s second biggest city, Thessaloniki, is situated in the north of the country. It’s more like a very large town by the coast and boasts a large port, an airport accepting domestic and European flights, and the popular beach promenade where locals and visitors alike stroll and come to watch the sunset.
Nearby Aristotle Square has many coffee shops to relax in and sit outside, watching the world go by surrounded by the Commercial Center with its plethora of shops, restaurants, and pastry shops that sell the delicious desserts of the region.
The main sights in the city date back to Byzantine and Roman times and include the famous 16th-century White Tower on the beach promenade that was used as a fortress, prison, and university workshop in its time.
The Old Town is worth strolling around. It was originally the Ottoman quarter, which now houses the Turkish Consulate. The Jewish Quarter which was here originally was destroyed in a fire in 1917.
Smaller than the country’s capital, Thessaloniki is a unique city brimming with history, culture, and fine shopping to explore, the fall season being the best to wander around with temperatures ranging from 55.5 to 68.5 degrees.
Pro Tip: As Thessaloniki is a city by the sea, humidity can be high at 67 percent, so this can make it feel chilly in the fall months. Bring a light sweater.
3. Visit The Monasteries Of Meteora
Not really known to international tourism, except for those traveling for religious purposes, a visit to Meteora in the Thessaly region of the mainland proves you don’t actually need to be religious to appreciate this unique destination.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Meteora is known for its huge pinnacle rocks that were formed millions of years ago by a series of earthquakes pushing the seabed up, creating a high plateau. The landscape alone makes it the perfect destination for natural exploration, the fall months offering ideal temperatures — but come here to be wowed by the monasteries built hundreds of years ago atop these pinnacles.
Originally, 25 were constructed and separately housed monks and nuns. These days just 6 remain and are in operation, open to the public to visit so long as you are appropriately dressed with covered shoulders and legs.
Visitors to Meteora love to walk and hike — or hire a taxi to take them to the monasteries to visit and admire the sweeping views. As Meteora is inland, daytime temperatures in October can reach 76 degrees F. Bring light clothing and a light jacket for the nightly temperatures that can drop to 41 degrees.
Pro Tip: Catch the train or bus or drive from Athens to the small town and station of Kalambaka in the central/northern part of the mainland. It’s quicker by train or to drive — just over 4 hours — whereas the bus takes upwards of 6 hours.
4. Walk Around Ancient Delphi
Not only is Delphi great to visit in the spring, the fall season is also the perfect time to explore this important archaeological site in central Greece.
Held in very high esteem in Ancient Greek times, pilgrims from across the Mediterranean would travel to Delphi to understand the prophecies of the ancient God Apollo. The Ancient Greeks believed that Delphi radiated a special energy and was the navel, or absolute center, of the earth.
With daytime temperatures averaging 61-72 degrees F, it means walking up to the site — among the ancient relics and up through the pine forest to the ancient stadium used to host what is thought to have been the preface to the Olympic Games — is a pleasure, not an endurance as in the summer months.
Pine trees, olive groves, and Mount Parnassus surround Delphi; it’s the perfect fall destination.
Pro Tip: Many people just take a day trip here as it’s only a little over a 2-hour drive from Athens. But stay a couple of days in nearby Arachova to really appreciate the place.
5. Hike The Samaria Gorge
Mountainous and with a superb coastline, Greece’s largest island, Crete, offers the visitor many activities at all times of the year. However, there will be some best done in the cooler months such as the fall, purely down to temperature reasons.
Crete is home to the longest trekking gorge in Europe — the 10-mile Samaria Gorge that cuts through the White Mountains.
Starting from Xyloskalo in the south of the island, you’ll descend the wooden staircase into the gorge and trek through to the small seaside town of Agia Roumeli on the coast of the Libyan Sea. Along the way expect to see the abandoned settlement of Samaria, the odd goat or two, pine and cypress forests, plus rivers and high gorge sides.
Pro Tip: The long walk with little shade proves that fall is the best month, but it’s only open until the end of October. Later in the year, there’s a danger of flash flooding.
6. Corfu Beer Festival
Admittedly not as famous or as large as the Beer Festivals held in Germany, the Corfu Beer Festival, held over five days in September, aims to showcase local producers’ beers and has a contribution from one foreign country with their own beers too.
There’s local food to sample and music events to attend, and the festival crowns itself as a “meeting among people, cultures and products.” It’s the perfect place to ingratiate yourself with the local culture and experience another side of the island beyond that of beach days, plus it’s an opportunity for the local community to extend their summer period and show off their island.
Pro Tip: The Festival was put on hold in 2021 due to COVID, so check its website for further information for 2022 onwards.
7. Enjoy The Greek Islands Without The Crowds
Take your choice — the Greek islands are a perfect time to visit during the fall months as the crowds are gone and the days are still warm to swim, yet do pack a light pullover or jacket for the nights as they can get a bit chilly.
As there are so many Greek islands to choose from, it’s difficult to know which ones to visit. Many have airports so are easily accessible with domestic flights from Athens in the fall. These Greek islands are some of my recommended ones, even in the fall months.
Rhodes, however, is one of my favorite Greek islands. As it’s quite far south, and the average daily temperatures range from 69 to 78F, meaning exploring the UNESCO Old Town on foot is not as challenging as it would be in the summer months. Even taking a dip in the sea remains possible.
8. Oxi Day
National Public Holiday On October 28
October 28 is a very special day for the Greeks. An annual national holiday, it commemorates the day in 1940 when the then Greek Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas denied Mussolini’s request to allow his Italian troops to cross into Greece. Oxi (sometimes Ochi or Ohi) means “no” in Greek, you see. Word spread across the country and the days that followed saw Greeks nationwide take to the streets shouting “Oxi!” in solidarity. They would not capitulate to the enemy.
Metaxas’s actions are seen as heroic and brave, so on this day every year, there are public parades across the country, from large cities to small villages. Naturally, the largest is held in Athens in Syntagma Square with marching bands, school children, clubs, and societies, and everybody lines the streets, cheering them on and waving the Greek flag.
Pro Tip: If you go to the parade in Athens, it starts at 11 a.m., but get there at 10:30 a.m. or earlier if possible as it’s a very proud day for Greeks and there’ll be huge crowds. Expect road closures.
As you’ve seen, Greece is so much more than a summer destination. I hope this article has tempted you to enjoy Greece in the fall too.