Weather in Greece
With a Mediterranean climate, Greece enjoys a weather pattern of hot dry summers and cool to mild winters with some rain. Situated in south-eastern Europe, Greece borders the Mediterranean sea to the south as well as the Ionian Sea and the Aegean Sea to the west and east respectively. With close to 1400 islands, Greece enjoys a variety of micro-climates across the span of its territory. Greece, or the Hellenic Republic has three distinct climate patterns: a continental Mediterranean climate, an alpine Mediterranean climate and a dry Mediterranean climate, all of which add to the unique holiday experience that Greece has to offer.
The typical Mediterranean climate is experienced throughout most of the coastal areas in Greece, including Athens, Crete and some parts of Central Continental Greece. Greece’s mountainous regions, such as the Peloponnese province and the Pindus range, which cuts down the centre of the country, can get quite cold in winter and often experience snowfall during this time. These high altitude regions experience an alpine climate. Northern Greece, along the border with Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, has a more temperate climate characterised by hot dry summers and cold, wet winters. However there are often thunderstorms during the summer months as well. Western Greece tends to be slightly wetter than areas on the eastern side of the country.
The seasons in Greece are mainly divided into a long warm period, summer, and a long cool and wet period, winter. Autumn and spring in Greece and tend to be short-lived. The hot and dry summer period lasts from April through May, June, July, August and September. The rainy, and slightly cooler, winter period occurs in October, November, December, January, February and March. Although much of the country has slightly varied weather patterns the southern parts of Greece, and the Greek islands, follow a typical Mediterranean climate. The average temperature in summer rises from the mid-20s (77 degrees Fahrenheit) into the mid-30s (95 degrees Fahrenheit). The highest temperature ever recorded in Europe was 48°C (118°F) in Elefsina and Tatoi in Greece in 2009, but this is not the norm.
Summer in Greece is peak tourist season as visitors flock to any number of Greece’s many islands and beaches. Daytime temperatures in summer tend to be quite high, but cooling sea breezes, which blow from in from northern Greece, facilitate slightly cooler night-time temperature. Rainfall is rare in southern Greece and the islands during the peak summer months of July and August.
Greek winters are chilly, particularly up north, however the southern region and the islands enjoy mild winters with lots of winter rainfall. The temperatures in Greece over winter tend to stick to the mid-teens (59°F), with some warmer days when the temperature peaks at a comfortable 20°C (68°F). However, the winter rains can sometimes last for a couple of days, particularly during late November, December and early January. The mountainous regions often experience snowfall during this period.
Athens, situated on the western coast of mainland Greece also enjoys a predominantly Mediterranean climate. The weather in Greece in the areas surrounding Athens, and even Corfu, tends to be slightly wetter than Lamia and Larissa. While the typical Mediterranean weather in Crete can be enjoyed in summer on the beaches with Mount Heraklion towering over the island.
When is the best time to go to Greece?
The climate in Greece as well as the vast area that the country covers makes it a great destination regardless time of year. Visitors to the Greek Islands can enjoy the beautiful warm and dry summers of the Mediterranean climate, while mainland Greece offers spectacular tourist attractions and variable weather depending upon on region. Peak tourist season in Greece, particularly for the Greek islands, lasts from April to October. Greece’s alpine climate in the mountainous regions allows for ski holidays in winter.
The extreme summer temperatures experienced on mainland Greece, particularly on the western side are sometimes uncomfortable and so peak summer is best spent on one of Greece’s many islands. The eastern and northern areas of mainland Greece have the coolest temperatures in Greece, which allows for comfortable summer highs, but mid-winter temperatures can dip quite low and again the islands are a more popular option. In short, the climate and weather in Greece is as variable as the country itself, this variability lends itself to Greece being an attractive destination throughout the year. It offers visitors skiing in winter, beaches in summer and cities steeped in history throughout the year.
What should I pack for a holiday in Greece?
Items to pack for a holiday in Greece will largely depend upon the destination in Greece as well as the time of year. For a summer island holiday in Greece, beachwear is essential. The islands are also great for exploring so a pair of comfortable trainers could be useful, particularly if travelling to some of the uninhabited islands. Temperatures can get very hot in Greece in summer, so a hat and sufficient sun protection are advisable.
Summer temperatures on mainland Greece also require light clothing, summer dresses and linen shorts or trousers for the evenings. Winter in Greece can be quite chilly, particularly in the northern parts of the country; warm jackets are essential. For ski holidays in Greece, ski clothes are a must, but most ski resorts come fully equipped with rentals and basic equipment. Lastly, Greece is a photographer’s dream, regardless of the season, climate or weather in Greece, so don’t forget to pack your camera!