Sailing Through Seasons: The Best Time to Visit Each Greek Island by Ferry

From Jason and the Argonauts to Frankish Crusaders and Mamma Mia film crews, Greece’s islands have enchanted many travelers. To truly experience the Greek islands and their villages, aim to visit during spring or fall.

High summer can be too hot and crowded to enjoy. To avoid crowds, visit after Orthodox Easter (usually April) through May or September to mid-October.


The Greek islands are a sight to behold, with ribbons of sugar-soft sand and azure waters. They’ve drawn people from Jason and the Argonauts to Mamma Mia film crews, and their allure endures. Getting there is part of the fun, with ferries sailing from Piraeus to Mykonos and across the Sporades chain of 24 inhabited islands. But deciding when to visit depends on your interests and where exactly you want to go.

Summer is a wonderful time to sail between the islands, especially if you’re after sun and sea. But popular spots like Mykonos and Santorini can be unbearably crowded during the height of the season in July and August. Lonely Planet recommends planning your trip in shoulder months of April to May or September to October, when prices are lower and crowds are thinner.

It’s also possible to travel through Greece in the winter, when temperatures are mild and rains are rare. It’s a great time to hike the peaks and mountains, including the 14th-century monasteries that perch on the top of the karst pinnacles at Meteora. It’s also a good time to enjoy the many festivals and cultural events that take place throughout the country. However, it’s important to note that accommodations are typically booked far in advance and service standards can slide during peak season.


Scattered like ribbons of sugar-soft sand across the shimmering Aegean and Ionian seas, Greece’s islands beckon all who enter their shores. From Jason and the Argonauts to Frankish Crusaders and Mamma Mia film crews, the country’s mythic allure has captured many a traveler. Sailing through Greece’s famed island chains offers an experience as enchanting as its shorelines.

For sailing enthusiasts, the spring months of May and September offer ideal conditions for island hopping. This shoulder season will allow you to avoid the infamous Meltemi winds that blow in Greece’s eastern regions during summer, and prices will be lower than they are in the peak of summer.

The springtime weather is warm but not hot and crowded, making it the perfect time for nature lovers to explore the Greek islands, while culture vultures will be treated to a variety of events and celebrations, including Orthodox Easter. In addition, the flowers of the springtime are especially colorful and there is a chance you will be able to witness a unique event such as Oxi Day, a national holiday that celebrates Greece’s refusal to let Mussolini’s troops enter during World War II in 1940.

According to Frommer’s, October is the best month to visit Greece as it will allow you to avoid the high season and its inflated prices, hordes of tourists and heat. Instead, you can expect golden days, a mild climate and still-warm seas.


For centuries, the Greek islands have lured travelers with their azure seas and ribbons of sugar-soft sand. From Jason and the Argonauts to Frankish Crusaders and Mamma Mia film crews, myth and enchantment surround this island nation. Getting around is an important part of the experience, and the best way to visit most of the Greek islands is by ferry.

The ferry schedules ebb and flow depending on the season, but during high season from mid-June to mid-September, you can hop among the most popular destinations with ease. You’ll also find crowded beaches and restaurants that are at their most lively.

Spring and autumn, when temperatures cool down, are great times to see the Greek islands without the crowds. Many of the attractions are still open during this time, and you can get a feel for Greece’s culture without fighting through masses of tourists. April brings Orthodox Easter celebrations to some of the island nations, and May is a lovely month for flower viewing on Santorini or exploring pristine beaches on Naxos.

Shoulder months like October offer ideal weather conditions, and prices are less expensive than in the summer. Frommer’s recommends visiting the Ionian Islands during this time. This group is home to woodland villages, a UNESCO-protected capital in Corfu, and Shipwreck Beach on Zakynthos. The smaller islands, including Paxos with its three charming villages and a satellite island of Antipaxos, and Lefkada with its iconic blue caves you can swim into, are also worth exploring.


In winter, Greek island tourism slows to a crawl. The weather is still warm but prices are far lower and crowds are nonexistent. If you love to travel independently, this is the best time to go island hopping in Greece. However, you should expect reduced ferry services to the islands (and nonexistent hydrofoils and catamarans) as well as tavernas and hotels that are largely closed except for their faithful local clientele.

Summer is the peak season for most of the Greek islands and attracts sun-seekers and nightlife seekers from all over Europe. According to Lonely Planet, peak season can be a little overwhelming, with inflated prices and hordes of tourists everywhere you go. But, if you can avoid the crowds and high temperatures, summer is an ideal time to explore the Greek islands like Santorini for its iconic caldera views and incredible sunsets or Corfu for its pristine beaches and hilltop villages.

Shoulder months like October offer excellent conditions for a more relaxed vacation with higher chances of perfectly good weather and lower travel costs. As you sail between islands, visit Nisyros for its verdant forests and steaming lava pools or Karpathos with its timeless hilltop villages. Kalymnos draws climbers and divers to its limestone cliffs and undersea wrecks, while Patmos has an ethereal quality with its monastery bells and where St. John experienced his revelations.