Ionian Islands, map

The Ionian Islands are located in the western part of Greece, and have a mediterranean climate, with mild, rainy winters, and hot and sunny summers.

The seven main islands (the old Heptanese) are:
- Corfu, the northernmost of the main islands and the second largest with its 592 square kilometres.
- Paxos.
- Lefkada; it has an area of 336 square km.
- Ithaca, 118 square km.
- Kefalonia, the largest one with its 781 square kilometres.
- Zakynthos (or Zante), the southernmost between the actual Ionian Islands. It has an area of 408 square km.
- Cythera (or Cerigo), located south of Attica, in a position isolated from the other islands, it has also a slightly different climate: less rainy in the cold half of the year, and a little less hot in summer.
There are also some small islands:
- the Diapontian Islands, the northernmost ones, located northwest of Corfu: Erikoussa (or Merlera), Mathraki, Othoni (or Fanò).
- Kalamos, Kastos and Meganisi, between Lefkada and the mainland.
- Other islands such as Antipaxos, Arkoudi, Atokos, Oxeia.

Being outside of the area where the Meltemi blows, in these islands in summer it can get very hot: temperatures can reach 35/36 degrees, but sometimes even 40 °C. In winter, you may experience periods of a few days in which a cold wind blows from the north, although a very cold weather is rare: in practice, it does not snow in the plains and it never freezes, while snowfalls may occur in the interior of the islands that are home to hills or mountains.
Here, for example, the average temperatures of Paxos.
Average temperatures - Paxos
Paxos J F M A M J J A S O N D
Min (°C) 5 6 7 9 13 16 18 19 16 13 10 7
Max (°C) 14 14 16 19 24 28 31 31 28 23 19 15

The rains in the Ionian Islands are quite abundant, as they generally exceed 800 millimetres per year, but above all they can be abundant from October to March, because these islands are exposed to both the sirocco and the westerly winds. In summer, it rains very rarely, as occurs in the regions having a Mediterranean climate.
Here for example, the average rainfall in Argostoli, in the island of Kefalonia.
Average precipitation - Argostoli
Argostoli J F M A M J J A S O N D Year
Prec. (mm) 110 110 76 60 18 11 5 10 38 100 150 132 820
Days 13 13 10 10 5 2 1 2 4 10 13 14 96

The amount of sunshine in the Ionian Islands is excellent in late spring and in summer, when clear skies prevail. From November to mid-March, however, sunny days alternate with periods of bad weather.

Meganisi beach

The temperature of the sea in the Ionian Islands is high enough for swimming from July to September, while in June it is still a little cool (22 °C), but overall acceptable. Here, for example, the temperature of the sea in Lefkada.
Average sea temperatures - Lefkada
Lefkada J F M A M J J A S O N D
Sea (°C) 16 15 15 16 18 22 24 26 25 22 20 17

The best time to go to the Ionian islands, for sunbathing and swimming in the sea, goes from June to August, or even mid-September, especially in the southern islands (Cephalonia, Zakynthos, Kythira), where summer lasts a little longer.

Back to the Greek Islands.