Greece in May opens a window to enchanting landscapes and cultural wonders, without the blistering summer heat and crowds of tourists. Picture a country awakening to the warmth of spring, where ancient ruins bask in gentle sunlight, festivals bring vibrancy to historic streets, and coastal vistas beckon with their crystal-clear waters and blue skies. This […]
Greece in May opens a window to enchanting landscapes and cultural wonders, without the blistering summer heat and crowds of tourists. Picture a country awakening to the warmth of spring, where ancient ruins bask in gentle sunlight, festivals bring vibrancy to historic streets, and coastal vistas beckon with their crystal-clear waters and blue skies.
This guide will delve into everything you need to know about visiting Greece in May, captivating the allure of this Mediterranean paradise during the shoulder season. Our travel experts have included insights into the weather, practical packing tips, the best places to explore, and a curated list of activities that promise an unforgettable holiday.
Whether you seek the serenity of secluded islands, the historical richness of ancient sites, or the vibrant offerings of local celebrations, Greece in May unfolds as a variety of experiences waiting to be discovered.
May brings in the shoulder season in Greece, experiencing a delightful transition into warm and mild weather with few tourists, marking an optimal time for travel. The average temperature in May in Greece typically sits at 19°C, with highs of 24°C. With approximately 10 to 12 hours of daylight, visitors can make the most of their time exploring the diverse landscapes and cultural attractions.
The climate varies across the different islands and regions of Greece with some hotter than others, offering travellers a range of experiences. For instance, the mainland is generally hottest as it doesn’t experience coastal winds, and the southern island of Crete also feels quite hot and humid as the winds from the south bring Saharan heat.
One thing to note is the Meltemi winds, which blow particularly in the northern Aegean islands, are prevalent in May. These can cause cool breezes, beachgoers could feel a little sting of wind-whipped sands, and the waters can become dangerous during strong winds. It’s worth checking the forecast for the day before you head to the beach during Greece in May.
As for swimming, the sea temperature in Greece in May hovers around 20°C. While it might be a bit cool for some, many find it refreshing, and coastal areas, especially in the southern islands, offer pleasant conditions for swimming. Pack a swimsuit and take advantage of the less crowded beaches, as May marks the beginning of the tourist season.
When packing for a trip to Greece in May, consider the fluctuating temperatures and diverse landscapes. Opt for lightweight clothing suitable for warm days, and don't forget a swimsuit for beach activities.
Suncream is essential due to the increasing sun exposure, and comfortable walking shoes are advisable for exploring historical sites. A hat provides additional protection from the sun’s rays, and considering the evenings can become quite cool, it’s best to pack a light jacket. Embrace the versatility of your wardrobe to ensure you’re prepared for the varied climates across the islands.
In Greece in May, the calendar is dotted with a vibrant array of festivals and events that offer travellers a unique immersion into the country's rich culture. One notable celebration is the Athens Epidaurus Festival, a cultural extravaganza featuring a diverse range of performances, including ancient Greek dramas and contemporary theatre productions.
Taking place from May to July, this festival unfolds in iconic venues like the ancient theatre of Epidaurus and the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens, providing attendees with a captivating blend of history and artistic expression.
Another highlight is the Flower Festival in Nafplio, a charming coastal town in the Peloponnese. Held on the first weekend of May, this local event celebrates spring's blossoming beauty. The streets come alive with colourful floral displays, parades, and traditional dances, offering a delightful experience for travellers seeking an authentic taste of Greek local culture.
For music enthusiasts, the Rockwave Festival in Malakasa near Athens is a must-attend event for those visiting Greece in May. Typically occurring in late May or early June, this music festival brings together renowned international and Greek artists, creating an electrifying atmosphere for fans of various genres. The festival site, surrounded by the scenic Malakasa landscape, enhances the overall experience, making it an exciting addition to any traveller's itinerary.
Santorini, arguably the most iconic of the Cyclades islands, is a top choice for those wondering where the best places to visit in Greece in May are. Considered to be the poster island of Greece with its white-washed and blue-domed buildings, Santorini in May is a great opportunity to see the famous villages of Oia and Fira without the tourist crowds. It boasts a delightful climate, with temperatures ranging from 18 to 24°C during the day.
Famous for its breathtaking sunsets, the town of Oia is a must-visit, offering panoramic views over the caldera. Beyond the well-known spots, venture to Pyrgos, a less crowded village with traditional charm and historic sites. You won’t want to miss exploring the beaches of Santorini during the shoulder season either. Perissa Beach, with its black volcanic sand, is a popular choice for sunbathing and water sports. For a quieter atmosphere, visit Vlychada Beach, known for its unique lunar-like landscape.
In terms of cuisine, the island offers a fantastic gastronomic experience with fresh seafood and local specialities. Indulge in a culinary adventure in the villages of Akrotiri and Megalochori, where traditional tavernas serve authentic Greek dishes.
Villa Altheda sits on the slopes on the highest point of Santorini, showcasing stunning panoramic sea views. This luxurious 1 bedroom, 2 bathroom villa has a clean and modern aesthetic, coupled with a private heated swimming pool and jacuzzi. It is one of a five-villa estate, making it the perfect secluded destination for a couples holiday.
If you’re wondering where to go in Greece in May for a different island experience, head to Crete, the largest of the Greek islands. Crete is the warmest Greek island in May usually, with average highs hitting 25°C.
Chania, a picturesque coastal city, combines Venetian, Turkish, and Greek influences, creating a unique atmosphere. Explore the Old Town with its narrow streets and vibrant market. Off the beaten path, the village of Archanes in central Crete offers a taste of traditional Cretan life and excellent local wines.
Crete boasts stunning beaches, and Elafonissi Beach is a highlight with its pink sand and crystal-clear waters. Additionally, the Samaria Gorge offers a challenging hike for nature enthusiasts. Cyclists can explore the Lassithi Plateau, known for its scenic landscapes and traditional villages. Food lovers will appreciate the variety of Cretan cuisine, with dishes like dakos (Cretan bruschetta) and kalitsounia (cheese or herb-filled pastries).
Villa Vasiliki is a 6-bed, 8-bath luxury waterfront villa located on the north coast of Crete. It’s within driving distance from Heraklion, Crete's largest city, and is set on a small estate with three villas, making it the perfect family-friendly destination.
For a mix of history, culture, and natural beauty, Delphi is one of the best places to visit in Greece in May. Delphi sits on the mainland, offering a pleasant climate with temperatures ranging from 15 to 23°C.
Renowned for its archaeological sites, including the Temple of Apollo and the Delphi Museum, this historical gem provides a clear insight into ancient Greek civilisation. To escape the crowds, hike the ancient footpath from Delphi to the village of Chrisso, passing through olive groves and enjoying panoramic views of the valley.
Cyclists can explore the Delphi-Livadia route, travelling through scenic landscapes. While in Delphi, indulge in local delicacies at traditional tavernas, savouring dishes like moussaka and pastitsio. The town of Arachova, nearby, offers a charming mountainous setting and is famous for its cheese and yoghurt.
Kefalonia is one the best Greek islands in May for those seeking tranquillity. This charming Ionian island enjoys a more sheltered environment, meaning you won’t feel the Meltemi winds as much, compared to it’s counterparts in the Cyclades. In May, Kefalonia experiences mild and comfortable weather, with temperatures averaging at 20°C.
The island's stunning landscapes feature pristine beaches, such as Myrtos Beach with its turquoise waters and the golden sands of Skala. Visitors can explore the picturesque villages of Assos and Fiskardo, each with its own unique charm and historic allure.
For history enthusiasts, Kefalonia boasts Italianate castles and monasteries that add a unique layer to the island's narrative. The Venetian Castle of Saint George in Traviata offers a glimpse into Kefalonia's medieval past, with its well-preserved architecture and panoramic views. Families can embark on a historical journey, exploring the castle's chambers and imagining the tales of bygone eras.
Additionally, the Monastery of Agios Gerasimos, dedicated to the island's patron saint, is a serene retreat showcasing Byzantine and Renaissance influences. Its rich history and religious significance make it a compelling destination for visitors interested in both cultural exploration and tranquil surroundings.
In Greece in May, the optimal weather and thinner crowds create an ideal environment for exploring some of the country's most remarkable attractions. One standout experience is hiking the Samaria Gorge in Crete, deemed the best place to go in Greece in May for outdoor enthusiasts.
With average temperatures of 22°C, May offers hikers mild and comfortable weather, making the challenging trek through one of Europe's longest gorges a rewarding adventure. The beauty of Crete's landscapes is magnified during this time, and the shoulder season ensures a more tranquil experience, allowing hikers to immerse themselves in the pristine nature of the Samaria Gorge.
For a journey into Greece's storied past, the ancient ruins of Athens become a captivating destination. May provides an optimal window with minimal tourist crowds and temperatures ranging from 18 to 24°C, making it an ideal climate for wandering through the ancient streets, tracing the footsteps of philosophers and statesmen, and marveling at the architectural splendors that have withstood the test of time.
The key sites to explore are the Acropolis, a symbol of classical civilisation, the Parthenon, an ancient temple dedicated to the goddess Athena, and the Temple of Olympian Zeus. Beyond the Acropolis, the ancient Agora beckons with its ruins of temples, stoas, and the Hephaestus Temple, offering a glimpse into the daily life of classical Athens.
Undoubtedly, Athens is one of the best Greek islands in May to explore history and culture. It becomes a captivating open-air museum where history comes to life, allowing travellers to connect with the roots of Western civilisation and savour the ongoing legacy of a city that has shaped the course of history.
A visit to Greece in May promises a versatile and enriching experience. From the ancient ruins of Athens to the idyllic beaches of Santorini, the historical offerings of Delphi, and the tranquil charm of Kefalonia, the possibilities are as diverse as the country itself.
The mild and warm weather in Greece in May ensures a comfortable exploration of both cultural landmarks and natural wonders. The shoulder season provides the added advantage of fewer crowds, allowing travellers to immerse themselves fully in the cultural richness of local festivals, historical sites, and culinary delights.
Whether it's hiking the Samaria Gorge in Crete or attending the Athens Epidaurus Festival, Greece in May presents a harmonious blend of serenity and vibrancy. Embrace the mild climate, revel in the cultural offerings, and savour the diverse landscapes, as this European gem unfolds as an optimal destination for those seeking a perfect balance between comfort and adventure.