A Guide to Traveling Greece in the Off Season
Arts & Culture
In Europe, Greece is part of a middle ground between the West and the East. It has an amazing history, a rich culture, and the most incredible people. There is so much to learn from exploring there and I want to make it possible for everyone. Traveling to Greece in the off season supports the tourism industry there and is a more affordable option for many. There's no season or time that's not enhanced by running through this magnificent country.
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Where to stay in Greece
Electra Palace Athens
Luxury property with gorgeous grounds in the center of Plaka with a poolside bar, a rooftop terrace and garden.
Breathtaking Santorini hotel with the most beautiful views from its perched location, perfect for events as well as romantic holidays.
Absolute Bliss Imerovigli
With a stunning cliff-side location, all of the Absolute Bliss suites overlook the famous caldera and the outstanding sunset.
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Things to do in Greece
November through March are beautiful months in Greece. They are colder and experience a bit more frequent rains, but it has a very unique feel–maybe more brooding and romantic. Two timings to take into account, Christmas and Holy Week. There is very little open during either of these times, especially Holy Week which does sometimes fall in March. My last off season trip to Greece was in March so I’ll be talking about that specific month here. Although it is still raining more often, the weather fluctuates. The mornings were crisp, the afternoons were warm, and the nights could get cold. I loved traveling through both the mainland and the islands in March, but just make sure to confirm that your trip doesn’t cross over with Holy Week. Unless of course, you’re looking to participate in Holy Week in Greece.
Fly into Athens, it’s a city full of amazing history and stories and it’s a great way to start. This time of year will allow you to explore Athens with less crowds and more opportunity to engage with locals.
To get around, use the metro. There are ubers, lyfts, and taxis, but the metro is the cheapest and best way to move throughout Athens. It also gives you opportunities to walk the city which often leads to some of the greatest finds.
While in Athens, the Acropolis, where the Parthenon and Aphrodite's Temple are, is an obvious must. There is also the Acropolis museum which is my favorite art museum in the world. Entrance to both the Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum are free on Sundays. Schedule a good amount of time at both these places. Both are expansive and involve a lot of walking. Both the Acropolis and the Acropolis museum are best enjoyed when you’re not rushed.
Two more of my favorite historical sites in Athens are the Temple of Zeus, in the middle of the city, and the library of Hadrian. Two things to note: they stop taking people in 30 minutes before closing and they are both closed on Sunday.
About 85 miles from Athens is the Peloponnesian seaside town of Nafplio. Nafplio was the original capital of Greece. Nafplio is a magical blend of Venetian and Neo-Classical architecture, Nafplio is widely thought of as one of the most beautiful towns in the Peloponnese. The easiest and most comfortable way to get from Athens to Nafplio is by rental car which also allows for a beautiful ride through Greece. There is also the option of traveling by bus. Both of these options take about 2 to 2.5 hours. It is possible to go by ferry, but it is not the most efficient way to travel to Nafplio.
In Nafplio, some gorgeous sites include: the Palamidi Fortress, the Water Castle of Bourtzi, and the Akronafplia Fortress (the oldest castle in the city). Other places to explore in Nafplio include the Epidauros Theater, Mycenae (the home of Agamemnon), and my very favorite as a midwife, the Asclepius Healing Centre of Antiquity. South from Palamadi Fortress is the Blue Flag beach of Karathona. This is a tranquil pebble beach with olive trees and has the best gelato.
The off season is a quiet and restful time to visit Santorini which is packed in the late spring and summer months. In the off season, there are virtually no crowds. The island is mainly locals who are so much fun to get to know. The views are even easier to enjoy without the crowds and it’s the optimal time for photography.
To get around, ATVs work great on this island and cars can’t go everywhere here, the island bus system also works pretty well and is cheap! Something to consider though is that a lot of businesses, bars, and restaurants are closed for the off season. Make sure to call restaurants ahead of time to secure reservations. We made sure to have reservations for dinner but were still able to find delicious options everyday for lunch that were open for walk-ins.
Places to eat & drink in Greece
Plan to grab a meal at the restaurant in the Acropolis Museum. There is outdoor seating on a terrace that overlooks Athens and has a stunning view of the Parthenon. The food is absolutely delicious and the wine menu features some of the best wines in Greece.
Also in central Athens is the Fish House, my favorite spot for inexpensive gyros and fish sandwiches. The Fish House is perfect for a delicious but quick meal while exploring Athens.
Tzitzikas Mermigkas is also a great spot for delicious food and wine. Right around the corner is Nabbuco which has later hours year round and serves outstanding desserts and wines.
Another place for drinks and desserts day or night is Ellyz Cafe. Ellyz is extraordinarily decorated, the entire space is covered in roses. Brettos Plaka is an awesome late night spot for very original and colorful cocktails.
My favorite restaurant on Santorini is Pelican Kipos — it’s in Fira, I have to force myself to not go for every meal.
Other authentic and excellent meals can be found at: Il Forno Pizza & Pasta for really good Italian food; Pitogyros for perfectly seasoned and inexpensive gyros; Candouni for fresh island Greek food with great live music; Kokkalo for a gorgeous fine dining experience; Blue Sky for an incredibly fresh seafood lunch.
Need to Know
For more travel tips, check out Unwind in Greece: A Guide to Athens, Santorini & Mykonos.
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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Greece.