Index


Introduction



The climate of Greece is Mediterranean on coasts and islands, with mild, rainy winters and hot, sunny summers. The northern cities, located in the inland areas of Epirus, Macedonia and Thessaly, have a slightly continental climate, with quite cold winters, during which air masses coming from the north can sometimes bring snow and frost, and hot summers, sometimes scorching. Finally, in the northern mountainous areas, winters are cold and snowy, while summers are mild, with possible afternoon thunderstorms.

On coasts and islands of central and southern Greece, where the climate is Mediterranean, winter is mild and quite rainy. The rains are more abundant on the coasts exposed to the west, on the Ionian islands and on the islands close to Turkey (Dodecanese).
In winter, temperatures in Greece progressively decrease as you head north: the average daily temperature in January is 12.5 °C (54.5 °F) in Iraklion (on the southern island of Crete), 9.5 °C (49 °F) in Athens, and 5.5 °C (42 °F) in Thessaloniki.
Sometimes Greece is affected by cold air masses from Northern Europe or Russia: in these cases, the temperature drops remarkably even in mild areas, and snow can occur in the northern plains (see Thessaloniki), and sometimes even in the central ones. In Athens, which generally has mild winters, during these brief periods the weather becomes cold and rainy, and during the most intense cold waves it can even snow.
On the islands, during winter the wind often blows; precipitation often occurs at night and in the early morning. On the islands, snowfalls are rare, and generally occur only in the northern ones (Samothrace and Thasos in the Sea of Thrace, but sometimes also in the Sporades and in Euboea), during the most intense cold spells.

Spring is pleasant and sunny in most of Greece. The days with some rainfall become less and less frequent. However, by the month of May, in northern areas and in the mountain ranges, thunderstorms can erupt in afternoon.
In addition, in the Aegean Sea, a wind that blows from the north or north-east, called Meltemi (or Etesian), begins to blow on sunny days in May, and continues especially during summer (see below).

Summer in Greece is hot and sunny. Although the country is not protected by the Azores High, the weather is consistently sunny.
Only in the north and in mountainous areas, where the sun usually shines anyway, at times there can be showers and thunderstorms in the afternoon, especially in June (in July and August they become a bit rarer). Of course, in mountainous areas, the temperature decreases with altitude, especially at night.
While on the islands and along the coasts the heat is tempered by sea breezes, in the continent, especially in inland areas and in the biggest cities, the heat is intense.
In summer, in the Aegean Sea the Meltemi, a northerly wind typical of the warmest months (July and August), often blows, and even if the sky is clear, it can make the sea dangerous. This wind can blow for periods of two to four days, but sometimes even for weeks. The Meltemi is caused by the difference in atmospheric pressure, between the western Mediterranean, where the Azores High dwells in summer, and the Eastern Mediterranean, where there is the westernmost part of the low-pressure area that forms because of the exceptional heating of the Iranian plateau and of the deserts of the Middle East. For this reason, these winds can not be considered as mere breezes, and can be persistent and annoying.

Santorini


Autumn in Greece comes quite late; in fact, in September a summer-like weather still prevails, especially in the south and on the islands. The temperature remains mild even in November (except in mountainous areas), however, by October, rainy periods begin to occur, and at the same time the Meltemi ceases to blow.

The north


Thessaloniki

In plains and valleys of the north (see Thessaloniki, Larissa), where the climate is more continental, winter is a bit cold, while precipitation is not abundant. In Thessaloniki, there is an average of one day out of three with freezing nights. Summer is hot: in July and August, the average maximum temperature is 31/32 °C (88/90 °F), but on hotter periods it can easily rise to around 35/36 °C (95/97 °F).
Here are the average temperatures of Thessaloniki.
Thessaloniki - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)125812161918151173
Max (°C)91114192529323127211511
Min (°F)343641465461666459524537
Max (°F)485257667784908881705952

In Thessaloniki, rainfall, which as mentioned is not abundant, has a maximum in autumn and winter and a minimum in summer, when rare thunderstorms occur. Here is the average rainfall.
Thessaloniki - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)453540404040201530555555470
Prec.(in)1,81,41,61,61,61,60,80,61,22,22,22,218,5
Days75666432478765

The amount of sunshine in Thessaloniki is very good in summer, when clear skies prevail, while in autumn and winter it's not high, since there are several cloudy periods.
Thessaloniki - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours455891012118644

In inland and mountainous areas, winter is cold, especially in the far north, on the border with Macedonia and Bulgaria, where there can be cold waves with heavy snowfalls and intense frosts.

Florina

In Florina, located in the extreme north, on the border with Macedonia, at 800 meters (2,600 feet) above sea level, the average temperature in January is 1 °C (34 °F). In a normal year, there is an average of 27 days with snowfall. During cold waves the temperature can drop to -20 ° C (-4 °F). Summer is hot during the day (sometimes very hot), but nights usually remain cool. Here are the average temperatures.
Florina - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)-3-225101315151283-1
Max (°C)571217222729292519116
Min (°F)272836415055595954463730
Max (°F)414554637281848477665243

On Mount Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece with its 2,917 meters (9,570 feet), it is possible to do cross country skiing. In the Peloponnese, the large peninsula connected to the mainland by the isthmus of Corinth, the highest peak is Mount Taygetos, 2,404 meters (7,887 feet) high.
Even on the northernmost islands (Samothrace and Thasos in the Sea of Thrace, but also Skiathos and Skopelos in the Sporades), winter is quite cold, and sometimes it can snow.

Center-south



In central-southern Greece, the climate is Mediterranean, with mild, fairly rainy winters and hot and sunny summers. However, the central areas (see Athens, Patras, Corinth) are still quite exposed to cold waves, so they can sometimes experience cold periods, and even snowfall.

Athens

Athens, though it overlooks the sea, in summer is the hottest capital in Europe: the average daily temperature in July and August is 26 °C (79 °F) in the coastal area, but it reaches 28 °C (82 °F) in the central districts. Maximum temperatures of 36/38 °C (97/100 °F) are not rare. In addition, it should be recalled that Athens is a polluted city, often wrapped in a blanket of smog.
Here are the average temperatures.
Athens - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)77812162023231915118
Max (°C)131416212631333329241814
Min (°F)454546546168737366595246
Max (°F)555761707988919184756457

The amount of sunshine in Athens is great in summer, when clear skies prevail, while it's not so high from November to February, although there may be sunny days even in midwinter.
Athens - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours456891112129754

Athens

In southern Greece (see the Dodecanese, Crete, Kythera, and also the southernmost islands of the Cyclades and of the Ionian Islands), winter is even milder, and cold spells are less intense, even though there may be windy and somewhat cold days. Summer is hot and sunny, but it is not as hot as in Athens because the influence of the sea is felt more. However, the temperature can increase when hot air masses arrive from Africa.

Methoni

The following average temperatures, relative to Methoni, a small town situated on the southwestern coast of the Peloponnese, are representative of the southern islands and coasts of Greece.
Methoni - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)87911151821221916129
Max (°C)151516192226282927242016
Min (°F)464548525964707266615448
Max (°F)595961667279828481756861

On the southern coasts and the islands, the rains experience a maximum in winter and a noticeable minimum in summer, when it almost never rains. Here is the average rainfall in Methoni.
Methoni - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)110806535255233575125135695
Prec.(in)4,33,12,61,410,20,10,11,434,95,327,4
Days111085310136101269

Sea temperature



In the central part of the Aegean Sea (see Naxos, Mykonos), the temperature of the sea never becomes very warm because the prevailing wind, the Meltemi, prevents it from warming up, by mixing the upper layers of the water. Here is the sea temperature in Naxos.
Naxos - Sea temperature
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp (°C)161515161821232323211817
Temp (°F)615959616470737373706463

In the southern part of the Aegean Sea (see Crete) and in the Ionian Sea (see Corfu), the sea temperature in summer is a little higher, and it's warm enough for swimming from July to September. Here is the sea temperature in Heraklion (Crete).
Heraklion - Sea temperature
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp (°C)161515161922242524222018
Temp (°F)615959616672757775726864

Best Time



- The best period for a beach holiday is the long summer, from early June to mid-September. In this period, there are no clouds in the sky for long periods, the heat is at times intense, but on coasts and islands it is tempered by the breeze. In the Aegean Sea, as mentioned, the Meltemi often blows.

- The best seasons for visiting historic and archaeological sites and cities are spring and autumn. Summer is often too hot, especially in the mainland, and in July and August. However, June and September can be hot as well, with average highs around 28/30 °C (82/86 °F) in the capital.
Winter is cold in the north and in the mountainous regions, while it is windy and rainy in the south and on the islands, so it's is not the best season to visit Greece. On the other hand, in this period, given the low amount of tourists, you can go on excursions and visit historic and archaeological sites, with greater tranquility and solitude.
In general, the best times are the month of May, and the period from mid-September to mid-October; the former offers longer days and the nature in bloom, while the latter offers a warmer sea, which can be a possibility in the pauses between excursions.
In October, temperatures are pleasantly warm and resemble those of May, but the days are shorter, and sometimes it rains, especially in the second half of the month.
In November, the sky is often cloudy and the rains are frequent, even though it's generally not cold.
In April, the weather is often mild and sunny, though some disturbances may still pass, so all in all a trip to Greece may be advisable even in this month.

What to pack



In winter: in inland and mountainous areas: bring warm clothes, such as a down jacket, a hat, gloves, a scarf. In Athens and in central and northern coastal areas: bring warm clothes, such as a sweater, a jacket, a raincoat or umbrella. In Crete and on the southern islands: clothes for spring and autumn, a sweater, a jacket, a raincoat or umbrella.
In summer: bring light clothing, sunglasses, sunscreen, a light scarf and a sweatshirt for the evening, especially on the islands of the Aegean Sea, where the Meltemi blows. In the mountains, you can bring a sweater, a jacket, hiking shoes, a raincoat or umbrella.

See also the climate of the Greek Islands.

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