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Greece - October 2021 or Spring 2022

Hello,
I know there are similar threads but I like to start my own post, and not hijack someone else's thread.

My husband and I (74 and 71) hope we can go to France this October to visit our daughter and grandchildren who live in Provence. Because of COVID-19, we haven't seen them since October 2019. We are Americans, and we both are fully vaccinated. Of course, I realize our trip is dependent on whether Europe allows Americans into Europe at that time.

We would be in France around the last 2 weeks of October based on our grandchildren's school vacation. So my thought is we would like to visit Greece for 2 weeks before we go to France, which would put us in Greece around the first 2 weeks of October, more or less. This is the itinerary I am thinking of based on preliminary research: Santorini (3 nights - I know its crowded and over touristy, but we really want to see Santorini); Naxos (4 or 5 nights); Peloponnese Peninsula, possibly Nafplion (4 or 5 nights); and then end in Athens (3 or 4 nights). What are these places like in October? I am sure Athens is always open and bustling, but what about the islands and Nafplion? Will there be plenty of restaurants, sights, etc open?

Or the other possibility is to do the same trip next spring. We would visit France first when our grandchildren get their 2-week vacation in April, and then we would go to Greece, so perhaps be in Greece last week of April and first week of May. Would restaurants, shops, sights, etc be open in late April/early May?

It sounds like weather is nice in both spring and autumn. I assume traveling in spring 2022 might be better regarding Covid-19, but I admit I am itching to go somewhere and to see our daughter and grandchildren, of course.

I visited Greece in 1972!!! My husband has never been to Greece. We like just about everything: good wine, delicious food, art and history museums, historical and cultural sights, and strolling through neighborhoods and sitting at cafes. We aren't fit enough for any strenuous hiking.

Thank you for your help!

Posted by
5262 posts

We were in mainland Greece and Crete in late October and early November a few years ago and the weather was mostly fine, I remember some rain in Crete one early November day. Everything was open, and I'm sure it will be also in April. Easter is a big deal in Greece.

I don't have much interest in Santorini and haven't been to Naxos, but Athens and Nafplion are good choices, and you're planning enough time for both. Sounds like a good trip and I think you'll find OK weather and everything open whether in fall or spring. Others much more knowledgeable will comment soon.

Posted by
169 posts

Sounds like a great trip.

We were there mid-October '18. Did a mainland highlights group tour then 3 nt Mykonos, 2 nt Naxos, 3 nt Santorini and back to Athens for 4 nights. Temperatures were fine (70's most days on the islands & a bit warmer in Athens). Biggest mistake we made was Leaving our jackets in luggage at our hotel in Athens. Thinking " it's the Med not the Atlantic" did not expect high winds. .. duh! We did nicely layering t-shirt, long sleeve shirt and sweater - but a light windbreaker would have been enough. Naxos was pretty devoid of tourists (maybe the wind forced them inside). Both Santorini and Mykonos (even Athens) were winding down their seasons for tourists - crowds didn't seem horrific and "sites" were still open. I believe many places on the islands close about the first of November.

Mid-May in '19 did similar timing with friends - weather was great (much less wind) but the crowds were definitely thicker.

Bottom line - don't think you can go wrong either time of year. And Naxos definitely needs more nights than we gave it.

Posted by
875 posts

Dick and Quilter17, thank you for your responses. Sounds like weather-wise, either season will be a good time to go. When I have a more detailed itinerary, I will post it. I haven't made any reservations yet. I think it's too early because of the uncertainty due to Covid. But at some point I will ask for hotel and restaurant recommendations.

Posted by
1797 posts

You can take an overnight boat from Santorini to Symi island and rent a cabin for two. The reason I’m suggesting this is because the Dodecanese Islands are fantastic places to be in early fall. From Symi you can take a one-hour boat ride to Rhodes. People like Naxos, but Rhodes tends to be the clear winner among those who’ve been there. Furthermore, Symi is one of the most beautiful islands in the Dodecanese.
You’ve allowed plenty of time for Athens so consider taking a day trip to Hydra from there. When it comes to restaurant recommendations, ask the locals.

Posted by
22 posts

We were in Greece mid October of 2018 and weather was fine. We did end up with rainy and chilly day in Santorini. But other islands were fine. It was our second time being there in October and I wouldn’t hesitate to travel there during that seasons. Agree that things in Santorini and Mykonos seem to shut down by early November. Some of the small shop owners said that they all leave by early November and that is wehen they go on vacation. I would assume that Athens would always be open. Enjoy

Posted by
5648 posts

As far as being not completely mobbed, and things being open, we were in Greece the first half of October 2019 - on the large island of Crete, not the mainland that trip. While some cities were fairly busy, it wasn’t high season, and some parts were virtually empty. However, sights, shops, and restaurants were all open. A couple of the places we stayed hardly had any other guests, so it varied, but sure beat mid-August crowds.

The previous year, for the first 2 weeks of April, we were on the Greek mainland, including Athens and Napflio. The first Sunday was “our” Easter, with the rest of that week leading up to Greek Orthodox Easter on the second Sunday. Again, while there were other tourists, it was clearly not elbow-to-elbow people. Sights, restaurants, shops were fully open, except on their Easter. We did find one restaurant south of Kalamata that was open, and were the only non-locals there, for Orthodox Easter lamb roast.

Napflio’s outdoor market was wonderful to visit in April, and didn’t involve strenuous walking. In Athens, however, do be aware that it’s a very long staircase up to, and down from, the Acropolis. Waking around the Parthenon and other buildings up on top also involved some up-and-down on various levels; it’s not a flat mesa up there, but then it’s not like running an extreme marathon, either.

Posted by
13042 posts

I’m not sure why people would think that restaurants and shops would be closed in May or October. Although there may not be as many tourists as in July or August, however the local Greek people do not go into hibernation. Some smaller islands may have some establishments that close in low season but something will be open everywhere, even in the smallest towns.

In terms of weather both periods are fine and should be pleasant albeit with a little chance of rain (Greece is very dry in summer). I prefer spring to autumn due to the longer daylight hours but October is fine too.

The only issue is when things will return to normal after the pandemic. In that respect I think 2022 would be a better bet.

Posted by
5695 posts

The odds of this trip happening would be better next year. I would opt for April/May when Greece is awash with pretty spring flowers.

I have had good and bad weather in Greece in both April and October, but generally it’s been worse in October.

Posted by
974 posts

I've been going to Greece every October since 2010, mostly the first half.

For the most part the weather is fine with blue sky and mild temps, even warm enough for a dip in the Aegean. Some rain but no washouts. However, there is no guarantee on what the weather will be.

I booked a flight last Dec. for my Oct. 2021 trip based on the assumption that the vaccine will make it possible for travel. Keeping my fingers crossed.

I haven't been to Santorini because it's not my type of island. I have been to Naxos plus numerous other islands and parts of the Peloponnese.

Even though the tourist season is over there will always be shops, markets and tavernas open for locals which will give you a more "Greek" experience rather than a tourist experience. I find off season travel far more relaxed with more locals than tourists!

Athens is Athens, a city of millions but I love it!

Posted by
875 posts

Thank you to everyone who replied. Your responses are thoughtful and very helpful.

When I asked if restaurants, shops, etc would be open in October or April, I was referring primarily to the islands. I know that everything would be open in Athens, or course. But it sounds like that is not a concern for the islands as well.

Cyn, thanks for the warning about the long staircase up to the Acropolis. I was actually there in 1972 when people were still allowed to walk ON and THROUGH the Parthenon! Of course I was much younger then so no problem with walking. I think even now we should be able to handle that albeit slowly. When I said we can't do strenuous hiking, I meant mountain hiking or down some gorges I read about in Greece, such as the Samaria Gorge. We were in Croatia in September 2019, and did a lot of walking on that trip. Walking the walls of Dubrovnik was a highlight but I thought that was somewhat strenuous with lots of up and down walking. The same with walking up to the hilltop fortress in Hvar Town. And there was a lot of up and down walking in Plitvice Lakes NP, too. But I appreciate the reminder!

tommyk5, we love traveling during the off-season, too! And would prefer a more "Greek" experience than a tourist experience.

Jennifer, thanks for the tip about the spring wildflowers.

Because of the pandemic, I am considering postponing the Greece part of our trip until April/May 2022 as Jennifer and a few others have suggested.

I just hope we can travel to France in October to see our daughter, son-in-law, and especially our little grandchildren!

Posted by
875 posts

Oh, I forgot to ask. Why is the food better in the fall?

Posted by
9 posts

Late reply to your question but if you get bad weather in October it is like wining the lottery.
Food is excellent any time if the year as long as you know the best places to eat out.
I would suggest more time in the Peloponnese and not just Nafplio. The Peloponnese is such a rich region. Limitless sites to visit.
Check out Hydra island and spend less days in Santorini if you must visit. And finally, less time in Athens. A couple of night will be plenty!

Posted by
782 posts

I went to Greece in October 2018. The weather was warmer than it would have been in Michigan. I didn't need to dress warmly most of the time. The evenings felt only a few degrees cooler than room temperature. You might need to carry around a polyester fleece shirt in case you need to put it on. There was some light rain on part of my last day, in Athens. I spent 5 nights and 4 days in Athens. If you don't like museums and/or if you can't do enough walking to see the amount of museums and/or sights I saw, you might be just as happy if you only give Athens 3 or 4 nights. One day in Athens, there was a strike of government workers, The government sponsored museums were closed. I saw 4 private museums in one day. The only Island i saw was Crete. I took overnight ferries there and back. I had a bed in a cabin. I was in Nafplio for 3 nights; maybe 2 nights could have been enough. The Peloponnese has more ruins than you will have time for. I'm not a fan of restaurants; there were enough stores I could buy fruit or other stuff that needed minimal or no preparation. Yeah I know most travelers eat restaurant meals.

Posted by
27 posts

We were in Peloponnese Peninsula, Athens, and Santorini in May and it was nice weather, although the water was still cool (if you’re swimmers). Nafplion was one of our favorite towns. But the Peloponnese loop Rick recommends is ALOT of driving. I doubt you could do it in 4 days and enjoy anything but we did go al the way down Mani. I’d extend your trip or only do Nafplion and nearby Epidavros. Sounds fun either season. Enjoy!

Posted by
15037 posts

In 2019 I took a 2 week trip to the Greek islands in mid-October. I started in Crete - in Chania and Heraklion everything was open and while there were lots of tourists, nothing was crowded. Santorini was a zoo with 2-3 cruise ships docked every day. I had arranged a private driver from the port to my hotel, he said the tourist season was at the very end! My last stop before Athens was Naxos, which was about "half" open for tourism - no boat excursions and only limited bus tours. There were very few tourists, the beaches were great, all the restaurants were open. I was the only guest at my B&B right on the beach and I was the last guest of the season. Athens was, well, Athens - same as when I was there in May a couple years earlier - lots of tourists but no long lines for sights.

As someone who lives on the Mediterranean, I can tell you that no matter what the weather, the water at the beaches will be very cold in late April/early May - just warm enough for a few minutes if you can gird yourself for the initial shock. The opposite is true for early/mid October, the water will be pleasantly warm.

You can see daily historical data for many cities for any month in the last 10 years at timeanddate.com

Posted by
37 posts

Hi there,

Your itinery is really good, I ll let you know that October and May are the best months for vacation in Greece for the following reasons

  • not overcrowdy (Santorini is an exception on this, but is much better than a visit in June, August, September)
  • best weather conditions of the year (not very hot as in the middle of the summer but sunny)
  • reasonable prices in accommodation, tickets etc.

Hope I helped, let me know if you need any further information, I grew up in Peloponnese :)

Posted by
875 posts

Thank you to everyone who has replied since my last post. All your information is helpful. Both May and October sound like they are great times to visit Greece, whether it's the mainland or the islands. I think my final decision will be based on the COVID situation. I will start doing more research but probably wait until the summer to make a final decision.
Thanks!

Posted by
2950 posts

Something to keep in mind: If there is any significant spike in Covid cases in the U.S. Greece could instantly shut its doors to Americans without notice. Best to have some sort of backup plan in place in case this does happen.