When the crowds thin and the weather cools, Athens breathes, almost whispering a secret for those looking to experience the city’s authentic Greek heartbeat. Travellers can explore at their own pace and more intimately savour the local flavours in cozy tavernas with friendly locals. The best season to visit Athens is the off-season.
During peak tourist season, the weather in Athens is not for the faint of heart, as visitors often bake under blue skies and a scorching sun that drives temperatures as high as 40°C. But between November and March, although more unpredictable, the weather is far more comfortable. Couple that with the holiday season, when Syntagma Square lights up and Michelin-starred restaurants offer festive tasting menus.The canal adjacent to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center just south of the city transforms into a free outdoor ice rink complete with illuminated trees and dancing fountains. In February, Apokries, Greece’s version of Carnival, features three weeks of free events, celebrations, parades and floats, drinking, and dancing, further amplifying Athens’s vibe.
With sweater weather in full swing, strolling through the city’s quaint courtyards and vibrant neighbourhoods is an experience all its own. Head south to coastal, fashionable Glyfáda and enjoy a day of shopping and seaside drinks overlooking the Saronic Gulf, or stay in town and visit Plaka and Monastiraki, two picturesque quarters loaded with shops, cafés, and restaurants. Neighbouring Psiri is more of an artists’ district, with indie fashions, eclectic street art, and tavernas playing live music well into the night, while the once industrial, now trendy Gazi quarter features art galleries, quirky shops, and LGBT+ bars and clubs that close only when the sun rises. Climbing Mount Lycabettus, the highest point in Athens, is far more comfortable in the cooler season and offers romantic views of the sprawling city and distant Parthenon, along with stellar front-row seats to New Year’s fireworks. For a more intimate city experience, meander the small and historic enclave of Anafiotika, a tranquil village-style neighbourhood at the base of the Acropolis peppered with charming, rustic homes and narrow, painted pathways that date back centuries.
For a magical experience with unobstructed 360-degree postcard views, get up early and head to Philopappos Hill to watch the sun rise. Feel the cool morning air blend with the warm, Greek sun once again enveloping and caressing this ancient, iconic city.