Despite being known as a leading destination for summer holidays, Greece’s charms remain long after the holiday season peaks
Greece’s sun, sandy beaches and warm seas are factors in the country being a leading summer holiday destination. Yet even after the holiday season peaks and autumn arrives long hours of sunshine result in warm days and evenings, helping the mainland and Greek islands remain pleasant places to spend time. Here are five reasons why autumn is the perfect time to visit Greece.
Enjoy Athens without roasting
Travelling during Greece’s shoulder season, from mid-September into November, means being able to enjoy sunshine without experiencing fierce heat. Cooler than in summer, the footpath corkscrewing around the rocky hillside towards the Acropolis makes for a leisurely walk on autumn days. Climbing it gives you an incredible view of the sprawling metropolis. Meander through the streets of Plaka and Psyri where you can grab a beer and watch the world go by. Visit the newly refurbished National Gallery, try one of the multiple award-winning restaurants or even go for a swim in the close by Athens Riviera.
Walking trails in Naxos and Andros
The biggest island in the Cyclades, Naxos has plenty to offer, but its hiking trails are among the best in the world.
Discover the varied landscape of the island by following numerous routes (Chora-Melane-Halki, Halki-Danakos-Apeiranthos, Skado-Apollonas). There are incredible views from the top of Zas Mountain – and en route to the summit you will pass a cave that was dedicated to Zeus in ancient times.
Andros, the northernmost island in the Cyclades, has a totally different landscape to its neighbours, but with equally interesting walking routes (Zagora-Panachradou Monastery, Chora-Batsi). Here you will find lush vegetation and rocky coastlines and amazing cobblestone paths that run along the island through meadows where you can smell the thyme, saffron and sage growing nearby.
If you want something shorter, you can wander over to Korthi or Gialia beaches, both of which are great for swimming.
Big islands that are not so busy
Autumn also means fewer people at popular attractions, including the ancient city of Knossos on Crete. The hub of Minoan civilisation thrived more than 3,500 years ago. The Palace of Knossos with the labyrinth of King Minos is ideal for exploring early in the day, leaving the afternoon free to view artefacts at the Heraklion Archaeological Museum.
Popular beaches draw fewer bathers after the summer peak. Travelling in autumn brings opportunities to photograph beautiful coastal landscapes such as Navagio Beach on Zakynthos. A rusting wreck sits on the golden sand of what is nicknamed Smuggler’s Cove, limestone cliffs hem the beach, and the water temperature remains pleasantly inviting until late in the year.
Climb the path to the Lindos Acropolis in Rhodes for a leisurely Autumn walk. Climbing it brings opportunities to view the ancient temple dedicated to Athena Lindia and medieval buildings constructed by the Knights of St John. From the walls of the acropolis you can view Lindos’ white houses and sunbathers on the beach in St George’s Bay.
See some surprising wildlife
When the crowds start to dissipate, the wildlife becomes far more abundant in Greece, and there is plenty of it to be found.
Whether you’d prefer to see the majestic water buffalo at Lake Kerkini or the incredible bird life in Prespes National Park – including 1400 pairs of Dalmatian pelicans – there is something for everyone. At Arcturos Sanctuary you can learn more about the brown bears and wolves that have been saved from captivity.
Greece also boasts some superb marine wildlife, which can be seen from both the Alonissos National Marine Park and the National Marine Park of Zakynthos respectively.
While it might not be the first reason for visiting the region, there is plenty to go wild about.
See the grape and olive harvests
Grapes tend to be harvested during September in northern Greece. Being present means that, if you want to, you can participate in the harvest. A time of celebration, picking and crushing grapes brings people together. Thessaloniki has many wineries that offer visitors an introduction to the winemaking process during a tour that includes tastings.
Olives are harvested on Crete from October onwards. Being present late in the season gives you opportunities to view gnarled trees being shaken so the fruit falls into nets below. Cretan olive oil is sold throughout the year from Chania’s historic market hall, an easy stroll from the Venetian harbour.
The harvests don’t just stop there, either. There are crocuses in Kozani, chestnuts in Pelion and, of course, olives in Kalamata – one of Greece’s most famous exports.