Spring holidays in Greece: pros and cons

Spring is finally here… March has already begun and in few days (April 1st) the tourist season in Greece will officially open. In popular islands, such as Santorini and Crete, the first visitors arrive even in middle March with the first cruise lines and the relaunch of direct flights from abroad. In fact, apart from summer holidays, many visitors also choose to come for spring holidays in Greece.

So, what exactly can visitors do in Greece and the Greek islands during spring? How easy is it to travel around? Are the islands still closed down, like many of them are in off season? Here are some answers to these questions.

Greek islands for spring holidays

The most popular destinations for spring holidays in Greece are the tourist islands, such as Santorini, Mykonos, Kefalonia, Rhodes, Corfu and Crete. These are large islands that get busy during the entire tourist season and have direct air connections with foreign airports.

A popular destination for spring break in Greece is also Athens, the city with historical charm and interesting sightseeing. In fact, many visitors choose to spend their spring holidays in Greece with a short visit in Athens and then take a multi-day tour around the Greek mainland or hop to one or two islands.

The less popular islands usually open for season in early May. This is when air and ferry transportation is more frequent, hotels gradually open and so do restaurants, taverns, cafeterias and shops. Of course most islands are not entirely closed down off season, but they are not busy with tourists, only with locals.

What to do in Greece during spring

Early spring is not a beach season in Greece. The weather gets more appropriate to swim in the sea from early May and onwards, until early October. Of course, if your background is from a cold country, you can start swimming in Greece even earlier, in April, when the temperature is 15-20oC in the day.

Although sea swimming is not totally guaranteed in Greece during spring, there are many other activities to try. Spring holidays in Greece are a great chance for hiking. The weather is not too cold and not too hot, the nature is blossoming and rains are not frequent at all in spring, therefore it is the perfect time to discover beautiful hiking paths. In fact, many Greek islands has developed a great hiking route along forests, ancient sites, monasteries and traditional villages, usually ending at a secluded beach.

Such islands with a developed hiking network are Kefalonia, Andros, Crete, Sifnos and many others. Some islands also have such paths that may not be marked or signposted, but they were in use until very recently.

Another great activity for spring holidays in Greece is sightseeing. The moderate weather permits easy walking through archaeological sites or within the premises of a historical city. The limited number of visitors in sites, museums and guided tours during spring is surely a plus for visitors.

How expensive is Greece? Costs for hotels, transportation, dining and more

In this article, we aim to present the basic costs in Greece for tourists. As we receive messages from people who ask questions on how expensive is Greece, we have decided to give you an idea of the basic costs for Greek hotels, ways of transportation, dining, tickets of archaeological sites and more. This way you can calculate more easily your budget for your Greek holidays.

# Cost of hotels

Naturally the cost of accommodation in Greece depends on many factors: the stars, the popularity of destination, the type of room and the season. In low season, which ranges from April to June and from September to October in Greece, prices of hotels are cheaper, even 40-50% more economic than high season (July and August). In general, hotels are more expensive than studios and apartments. Accommodation in popular destinations, such as Santorini, Mykonos, Rhodes or Athens, is more expensive than accommodation in off the beaten track destinations.

To set few examples, the cost of a hotel in the centre of Athens ranges in average 40 euros per room (double) in low season and may reach 200 euros per room (or more, depending on the hotel stars) in high season. A double room in 3-star hotel in Milos, an uprising island in the Aegean Sea, costs about 45 euros in low season and 80 euros in high season. If you want to visit a more popular destination, such as Santorini, Mykonos or Paros, you should be prepared to pay about 50-70 euros for a double room in low season and 100-200 euros in high season.

Of course, all these rates are per average. Prices differ from one accommodation to the other. Visitors may find better prices if they book early or if they find a last minute offer.

# Dining

Although there are many upscale type of restaurants in the popular Greek destinations, the most common place to eat in Greece is a tavern by the sea or at the squares of the little villages. In these taverns, you will find handmade dishes with fresh products, most of which are produced locally. A meal with a salad to share and house wine (no need to order bottle, house wine is excellent in Greece) costs about 15-20 euros per person. For a more economic solution, you can eat in a souvlaki house. The normal wrapped souvlaki will cost 2.5-3 euros if you take it to go, while if you seat at a table the cost will be about 10 euros per person.

# Transportation

The most usual way to travel to a Greek island or to hop from one island to the other is by ferry. The cost of a ferry ticket varies depending on the seat type (salon, air seat, cabin, etc) and the speed of the ferry. For some routes, for example from Athens to the Cyclades islands, there are both normal and high speed ferries. You can check schedules and prices of Greek ferries at an online ferry booking engine.

Some islands also have airports, but the flight cost with the Greek national carriers, Olympic Air and Aegean Airlines, can be expensive. Over the last couple of years, the low cost company Ryan Air has launched flights from Athens to popular destinations with prices starting from 10 euros per way.

If you want to get around on the island, the most usual way to get around is by bus. The local bus is pretty economic, especially for small islands where distances are short. Bus tickets in the islands usually range from 1.5 to 3 euros per person one way.

# Tickets for museums and sites

Depending on the size of the archaeological site and the museum, entrance tickets range from 3 to 8 euros per person. In some cases, there is a combined ticket for entrance to site and museum. For example, the combined entrance ticket for site and museum of Ancient Delphi is 9 euros per person (2016) and the combined ticket for the 12 main archaeological sites of Athens including the Acropolis Hill is 16 euros (2016).

Which is the best time for Greek vacations?

Greece is obviously among the most popular countries for holidays. It is usually ranked at the 15th or 16th position in the list of the most tourist countries in the world, according to the UN World Tourism Organization. As we frequently receive messages on which is the best time for Greek vacations, we have prepared this article to explain in detail all you need to know on this issue plus the current trends.

The tourist season

The majority of tourists visit Greece for summer holidays. Traditionally, July and August are the most popular months for Greek vacations. This is due to the hot sunny weather which provides a great opportunity for enjoy a long day at the beach. Swimming in the sea is actually the most popular activity when you holiday in the Greek islands or nice resorts in the mainland. July and August is also the period when most Greek employees take their summer break and head to the islands to relax.

These two months (July and August) is the best time for Greek vacations if you enjoy very hot weather (about 35oC in the daytime) and crowded resorts. Of course, the crowded resorts applies only to the most popular islands, such as Mykonos, Santorini, Paros or Lefkada, which get very busy during these months. If you choose less popular islands, such as Kythira, Ithaca, Serifos or Andros, you will not have to worry about mass visitors.

Greek vacations in low season

Officially low tourist season in Greece is the period from April to June and from September to October. These months are less hot in temperature, prices are lower, visitors are fewer and beaches are not crowded. They surely offer a fantastic chance to explore the most authentic side of Greece. Due to the cooler weather, these periods are perfect for various activities, such as hiking, mountain biking, diving and more. In fact, if you are fan of a particular sport of activity, it is a good idea for look for a Greek island that is ideal for this activity. For example, Kalymnos island is world famous for rock climbing, Leros for diving and Kefalonia for hiking.

Greece in winter season

Although the most popular time to visit Greece until now has been the summer season, over the last years there is a large effort to attract tourists even in winter season? Some popular islands, such as Santorini and Crete, have decided to stay “open” this past winter (2015-16), although in the past they used to close down at the end of October and open again in early April. This means that there are hotels that stay open all year round, many restaurants and shops as well as better public transport. This is pilot program in an effort to attract visitors in the islands even in winter time.

However, apart from the islands, winter is also a great season to visit the Greek mainland, an unknown part of the country with traditional villages, interesting archaeological sites and rural lifestyle. In addition, did you know that there are about 10 ski centers in the Greek mainland, especially in the central and northern part of the country? So, why not try something alternative for your winter break like spending few days in Greece?

Solo traveling in Greece: should I go and where?

Although the majority of tourists in the country are couples, groups of friends or families, there are also many people who are solo traveling in Greece, either for summer holidays or even off season. These solo travelers choose one Greek destination to totally relax or hop from one island to the other. However, how safe is Greece for single tourists? And which are the best Greek islands for solo travelers?

Is Greece safe for single tourists?

Greece is among the safest countries in the world. Especially the Greek islands are very safe and easy to get around, day and night. There is no need to feel stressed about traveling solo in the Greek islands or any other place in Greece, as you will surely not feel threatened or afraid in any way. Even if you are female, you will find it very safe to holiday in Greece alone, if of course you make sure that you are not putting yourself in any danger, such as with excessive drinking or very provocative dressing.

The only exception is Athens, the capital of Greece, where extra attention is needed especially for pick pocketing in public transportation or for walking late at night at certain quarters, such as Omonoia, Metaxourgeio or Patission Avenue.

Which are the best Greek islands for solo travelers?

We could say that all the Greek islands are actually great for solo travelers. However, we have gathered here our most appropriate places that we would suggest to single tourists.

If your aim is to come solo in Greece, party and meet other people, then the most appropriate island is definitely Mykonos. This is the place where parties take place 24/7: beach parties in the day and night parties in Mykonos Town after sunset. Even if you are traveling single in Mykonos, you will surely find company on the island. Rhodes, Paros and Ios are also nice islands for partying and solo traveling in Greece.

If you are traveling alone because you just need some quality time with yourself, then you should choose more quiet and relaxing islands. Ithaca is among the best destinations for solo traveling in Greece. This is a fantastic little island, with isolate crystal beaches and green nature. You will especially love Ithaca if you are a writer or an avid reader. Choose an Ithaca hotel by the sea and get inspired to write your next fantastic novel!

Another great island for solo traveling in Greece is Amorgos. Located on the southern side of the Cyclades group, Amorgos is an authentic island with traditional architecture and wild nature. This island is especially recommended for hikers and naturists. And of course, so is the tiny island of Anafi, with large isolate beaches and only a small village to buy supplies. Anafi accommodation usually consists of family studios and apartments, where you can sit at the balcony and gaze at the breathtaking sea view.

What to pack for Greek holidays: our list

A common mistake that we all do when we pack our suitcase is that we try to squeeze and take to our holidays half of our wardrobe and bathroom stuff. Do not do that when you pack for Greek holidays! First of all, it will not be necessary to take many things with you. You will discover that you will need much less than what you had thought of.

Moreover, a huge suitcase will be very difficult for you to carry around, especially in the middle of a hot day. If you are staying in a village with paved paths where vehicles are not allowed, like most villages in the Greek islands, you will find it uncomfortable to carry a large suitcase with unnecessary stuff here and around.

Here is our list with the most necessary things to pack for Greek holidays. Have in mind that you can always buy little things from local shops and save space and weight in your suitcase.

# Clothes and bathing suits

As the weather in Greece is hot in summer, there is no need to bring heavy clothes. Light dresses, shorts, skirts, T-shirts and sleeveless tops are fine for few relaxing days in the Greek islands. A light sweater would also be advisable just in case it gets windy in the evening. Do not bring many clothes with you, just some outfits for an evening out as you will probably want to spend all day at the beach, where clothes are not needed.

This is why you should also bring together some bathing suits and beach clothes. It would be better to bring at least 2 bathing suits with you because you might want to have 2 swims per day, which leaves little time for the suits to get dry.

# Shoes

Unless you like hiking and long walks, do not bring sports shoes with you. The most appropriate shoes to pack for Greek holidays are flip flops. Take with you 2 pairs of flip flops and 1 pair of sandals for an evening out. High heels are not that necessary in Greece, especially in islands like Cyclades which have many paved streets in the villages.

# Beach bag

The most useful bag to pack for Greek holidays is a large beach bag. In there, you can have a second bathing suit, a beach towel, a sun lotion, your sun glasses and a hat.

# Personal items

Our advice is not to bring many personal items with you, apart from your camera and any possible medications. There are many shops in Greece where you can buy all kind of little things, such as sun lotion, mosquito lotion, shampoos and shower gels or other hygiene stuff. It will save you from a lot of weight and effort to carry such things around in your suitcase.