May or October for Greece

Nov 27th, 2008, 07:21 PM
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May or October for Greece

My daughter and I would like to take a trip to Greece within the times that we can max out on our milage award.

Is spring or fall a better time to go? When is the rainy season?

Is 2 weeks enough to be on the mainland and go to 1 or 2 islands?

Fodorites have been so helpful with other trips!!!

Goldiept is offline  
Nov 27th, 2008, 07:30 PM
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Hi Goldiept,
two weeks is a good time to get a feeling of Greece.
There is not a rainy season where it rains everyday like in a tropical climate. For example now that we speak in Athens it has rained ONLY 4-5 times during the entire fall!!! Other years it has rained much more!

I think May would be a lovely time to visit Greece but if you can, try to come the last two weeks of May starting from Athens and mainland and the second week visit an island or two.

(if you decide on October, it has to be the beginning, starting at the islands and then visit Athens and the mainland.)
cristine27 is offline  
Nov 27th, 2008, 07:53 PM
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I don't have an answer for you. I spent 20-28 October 2008 in Athens and Rhodes. The weather was great both places, about 80 degrees. It is an enchanted land! I would avoid the summer because of the heat. I was there once in late June, and it was HOT!
BootsN is offline  
Nov 27th, 2008, 10:27 PM
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The best time to go is late May through June or September. The weather is best during these times and the prices are lower than high season. The largest crowds have either not arrived or have mostly left. 2 weeks is enough time to visit Athens and 2 islands as long as your islands are close together on the same ferry route, or you can afford to fly between islands which usually requires a return back to Athens Airport for a connecting flight. This means that if you're interested in Mykonos your closest choices are Tinos, Syros, Paros and Andros. If you want to go to Santorini your closest choices are Naxos and Paros. If you want to go to Rhodes your best choices are Kos and Tilos. Save a couple of days in Athens for the end of your trip so you don't have to stress about returning to the mainland for your flight home. Those days will give you a cushion in case of any unforseen delays on the islands.
brotherleelove2004 is offline  
Nov 28th, 2008, 12:15 AM
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Either should be similar weatherwise, with generally good warm (but not too hot) weather but a possible risk of some rain. I've been to various parts of Greece at both these times but if I had to choose, I'd go for May, with the added bonus of all the wild flowers. I'd recommend at least a week on the Peloponnese - you could easily spend a couple there, as there is no much to see and do.
Maria_H is offline  
Nov 28th, 2008, 12:57 AM
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You are asking "should we go just as the season is beginning, or just as it is ending?"

First of all, the weather: There are likely to be some rainy days in either of those periods, but not enough to spoil your holiday. You are more likely to have strong winds that cancel ferries in October than in May. Late May or early October would be better than early May or late October. To see what actual weather is likely to be, go to and plug in some Greek locations and dates. You will then see averages at the top of the page, and actual weather history for the last eight years or so as you scroll down.

Hotels and restaurants on the islands (the ones that close for winter) start opening in May, and some even stay shut until June. The beginning of October is the de facto end of season, but many hotels/restaurants are open until the end of the month. Popular islands, e.g. Mykonos, Santorini, Rhodes, have longer seasons than others, and there is always something open on each island, even in the depths of winter.

The mainland doesn't have a season - most things stay open year-round. For that reason, I would recommend if you choose May, save the islands for last, but leave a day or two at the end of your holiday for Athens. If you choose October, go to the islands first.

Which would I choose? Late May. If you plan to swim, the water will be much warmer at the beginning of October, though.
Heimdall is online now  
Nov 28th, 2008, 01:09 AM
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May will be prettier but cooler. Both will be nice.
sheila is offline  
Nov 28th, 2008, 05:34 AM
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I second the vote for the last 2 weeks in May. I'm an avid 'water-baby' and go IN the sea, not just sunbathe. In October the water is warmer, but from mid-May on, it's enjoyable too, tho just a bit brisk when u first plunge in. However, as others say, it's the greenest time of year, the most flowers etc, AND the longest days. I always say u get a bonus in May or June because the sunsets last until 8:45 or 9! an extra half-day of holiday each day ...
travelerjan is offline  
Nov 28th, 2008, 10:26 AM
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The sea will be colder in May but May is a nice time to visit because the season is just starting and everyone has energy. In October, the sea is still warm but some places, especially on the islands, are beginning to close down. The weather should be fine for either option although it can rain for a day or two both in May or October.
Carolina is offline  
Nov 28th, 2008, 07:36 PM
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I "third" the vote for May.

The mainland will be prettier -- more greenery & wildflowers.

Also, the locals may actually be looking forward to tourists and the new travel season -- at season's end, I would be frazzled were I a Greek restaurateur or innkeeper

During early May on the mainland, I did encounter a day or two of light rain & drizzle -- quite pleasant, actually -- plus a few chilly nights (mid 50 F). By mid-to-late May, the weather had gotten noticeably milder and warmer.
tom_h is offline  
Dec 9th, 2008, 07:15 AM
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Oh my - Thanks for all of your responses.

I couldn't find my post and just gave up. Managed to find it this time around.

Looks like it will be May. I have to go the first 2 weeks since that requires fewer airline miles.

How much time should we allot for Athens and environs? It will probably be a total of 12 nights and want to spend time on some of the islands. I could take more time off from work but am reluctant to do so.

Having said that, I have gone to places and soooo regretted not giving myself more time there. I've come to the point in life where I doubt that I will get back to the places I visit. So, is 12 nights enough time? Yes, I know - it is never enough time - but really, is 12 nights good enough to get the feel and be able to relax a bit?

Does taking a cruise to several islands make sense? Is choosing 1 or 2 islands better and going on our own?

Goldiept is offline  
Dec 9th, 2008, 09:12 AM
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Goldie, glad you have chosen May.

When you say 12 days, do you count the day of arrival and day of departure?? I hope not... if you hve, then essentially you just have 10 days.

Please let us know -- and you sound as if you are saying that you are considering adding a few days. If you could it would enhance your experience considerably, since you would not be rushing around so much.

Please do NOT take one of those cruises, you will be frustrated... they are all about sailing, and only give you a few hours on each stop,, and you don't usually get beyond the port town and shopping, not getting a feel of the islands.

Whether you have 10 days or 13 days (not counting arrival/departure), you will have to plan carefully. If you are booking to use FF miles, often they will not give you the most desirable routes, i.e. nonstops that will get you into Athens Airport in the morning. With that early arrival, you could travel most efficiently, by immediately getting a "bargain" Aegean air flight out to your first island. Then u could ferry to your 2nd island, and do athens Last.

However, airlines more typically force their 'freebie" travelers to take a route that doesn't arrive until late afternoon. in such a case, u would do your Athens sight-seeing first.

Some popular itinerary options include:
(1) Santorini (by air) -- Naxos or Paros (by ferry) -- Athens.
(2) Athens -- Naxos or Paros (by Ferry) -- Santorini (by ferry) ... fly back to Athens.

(3) Nafplio & area -- One Island -- Athens.

... all these can be done in 12 nights with careful planning; with 15 nights, much more relaxing.

travelerjan is offline  
Dec 9th, 2008, 10:50 AM
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You already have a lot of suggestions but slightly different would be the notion of staying on the mainland for a week and then 1 island for a week. The Pelion area on the mainland is divine, not overtouristed, and rarely mentioned on Fodors.
stevelyon is offline  
Dec 9th, 2008, 03:14 PM
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We visited last year in May, and thought it was the best time possible to be in Greece. Very few crowds, perfect temperatures, lovely sunny days. Enjoy it!
Weadles is offline  
Dec 9th, 2008, 08:13 PM
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Janet: I am counting 12 nights that we will actually be there. We have a stopover in London (leaving from JFK) and will arrive Athens at 2PM.

I'm convinced about not going on one of those cruises. My daughter suggested we do that but sounds like a turn off.

I need to look at maps and see where all of your suggestions are and, of course, check good old Barnes and Noble for note taking.

Pelios - hate to admit I've never heard of it which makes it enticing to check out. Thanks for the tip

It is wonderful to have this much time to research and plan ahead. My daughter is into reading the mythology and I may do that too. One of those things I have always wanted to do but too lazy to.

Will check out the routes Janet suggested about the islands. We go to East Coast beaches every summer so don't know if I want to spend a whole week there at the beach. Besides, I doubt the water will be swimmable in May. I am a total check in cold water.

Thanks for everything and I am sure to ask tons of questions when I know what I am talking about.
Goldiept is offline  
Dec 9th, 2008, 09:16 PM
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Pelioon has its charms but is not what one thinks of as "archetype" GReece ... it's more of a Swiss kind of look, forested, chalet types etc. The Cycladic isles are more what's seen on posters ... and in May, no point in going "off the beaten path" because nothing is very touristic that early in the season.

It helps us to advise you better if we know what your interests are ... and also, the age of the daughter. Quite different interests if she is 11, 15, or 21!! Does she want to hang out with others in her age group? Is she the age to look for night life? Do you lilke an ancient site... do you hate museums? How about a bit of shopping? Do you enjoy a hike through lovely landscapes? Cafe-sitting? Bouzouki music?

Also, the approx dates help... in case there is a holiday u should know about.
travelerjan is offline  
Dec 9th, 2008, 10:54 PM
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Goldiept, to find all your posts, just click on your name and they will be listed.
Nikki is online now  
Dec 10th, 2008, 03:19 AM
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You might want to look into Crete. It's farther south than the other islands, so the water would be warmer for swimming. It has gorgeous beaches, lots of archaeological sites, the Palace of Knossos (!), and excellent food. We loved our stay two years ago in Chania, an old harbor city that still reflects its mix of Venetian, Turkish, and Greek culture.
Weadles is offline  
Dec 10th, 2008, 06:42 PM
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You guys are just too terrific!!!!!

We will leave on April 29 return on May 13.

My daughter is 30. We travel well together since we share a lot of interests. Yes, ancient sites are a huge part of what this is about - after all, the cradle of civilization.

We are museum goers (live in NYC) and go to see art of all kinds often.

We both love to shop too but I know it is easy to carried away when I'm away from home. The lure of knowing I will probably not be this way has again has cost me a lot and burdened me with things I don't use often enough.

Sitting in cafes sounds great too. I have a tendency of running around too much trying to get everything in. I want not to do that this time - too frenetic.

My daughter loves the sun and sand, I could take it or leave it but knowing how spectacular the islands are supposed to be, I really want to go to at least 2. It will also be a way for down time.

I think, from all of your posts, that we should save any island for the latter part of the trip just for a few degrees more warmth.

The suggestion of Crete makes sense for the temperature reason. Also, it seems to be one of the main islands referred to. Off the beaten path is attractive to me but on the other hand, I would like to see what the main path is about too.

Nikki - I wish I had known about clicking on my name before. Have gotten some nasty comments from people who just figured I was an idiot! Oh well, I finally figured it out and thank you.

A bit frightening with the riots going on there right now. I trust that will be over and done with long before we go.

Goldiept is offline  
Dec 10th, 2008, 07:28 PM
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Goldie, so glad you shared more ... so much clearer. And am delighted, that your daughter is NOT 15 (SUCH a difficult age) and that you are interested in the ancient sites, and both love museums. We can work up a terrif trip for you. I'm in Philly now but an Ex-New yorker 30+ years, downtown then upper West Side, and a museum haunter; was there last week for a periodic culture "fix."

You arrive at 2 pm April 30, right? and leave May 13 -- that's actually 13 nights (12.5 days)-- better than we had thought at first. My new idea:

Ap 30 -- Rent car from airport 3pm & drive on modern hiway 2.5 hrs to Nafplio, most gorgeous city in Greece-- a world Heritage town on the water with tons of history, fab architecture and fortresses and. BEST sunsets ...

May 1/2-- Ancient sites: Mycenae, Tiryns, Epidaurus, plus Nafplio itself.

May 3 - return to Airport hop Bargain noon Aegean Air flight to Santorini.

May 4 - Santorini

May 5 - mid-day Ferry to Naxos

May 6,7,8,9, Naxos -- Ancient sites, mseum, hikes,
drive around island etc etc.

May 10 -- mid-day ferry to Athens; sightseeing
May 11- 12 more Athens sights

E-mail me for further explanations -- this itinerary is one that Fodorites have seen me suggest before. There's a reason: it works, & people love it!
travelerjan is offline  

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