Athens has got to be one of the most interesting cities in Europe to visit, not least because of its ancient history – Greece’s famed Acropolis and many of its renowned monuments far outdate those found in many of the other cities in the world. If you’re planning on visiting Athens this fall you might be thinking to yourself whether it’s worth it. I’ll break down what you can expect when visiting Athens in October.
October is my favourite time to visit Athens and, in my opinion, the best time to visit Athens. You escape the unbearable heat of the summer, when most people tend to make their holidays, and you also avoid the large crowds that come with the peak season. Yet, apart from that, you’ll find a city that still enjoys sunshine and outdoor seating, is alive with activity 7 days a week and whose sights and museums tend to visitors without long queues.
There’s a few things that need to be considered when planning a visit to Athens in October. I’ll list them out here, explain what you can expect and provide my best tips for visiting Athens at this time.
October weather in Athens
October is past the peak season and into the shoulder season. Weather begins to be a little less predictable compared to the continuous blue skies of summer. However, you’re still sure to get a fair share of sunshine and warm days, particularly during the start and the middle of the month. Mornings and evenings will start to feel cooler and you can expect a few more rainy days throughout the month. I pulled the below table together from holiday weather, showing Athens’ averages.
|Avg. temp (C)||Avg. high temp (C)||Avg. low temp (C)||Avg. daily sunshine (hrs)||Avg. rainfall (mm)||Avg. days of rain|
You can see October still has fine weather. For me, the trade off between temperature, potential rainfall, and the crowds more than justifies visiting Athens in October. The same can be said of the second biggest city, Thessaloniki. Though nowhere near as busy as Athens, the weather remains fine and prices more than reasonable.
There is of course the option of visiting the Greek islands during October. You may be surprised to know that temperatures are still very comfortable and swimming and sunbathing still perfectly viable. Check out the hottest Greek island to visit in October here.
Flights and Accommodation in October
As well as Greece being such a popular tourist destination, the number of expats returning home for the summer, Xmas and Easter holidays can make flights expensive, particularly if booking only a few months out. Prices drop for October and you’ll be able to travel to Athens for much less.
Likewise, you’ll be able to find many discounts on hotels and accommodation. The shoulder season begins around mid September (around the 15th of the month) and by October, prices have fallen significantly, at times up to 40-50%.
Check out this guide on visiting Greece on a budget for the best times to go, when to book and which islands to visit.
You’ll be able to notice a considerable dwindling of numbers in September and certainly into October. This means less people in and around the main sights and less queues outside the ticket offices. A generally more enjoyable experience and without the stress of too many people being around! Restaurants, cafes and bars are still alive, there is still plenty of outdoor seating for coffee and drinks, and districts such as Plaka still have a wonderful ambiance. The crowds are a lot more manageable when visiting Athens in October.
What to do and where to go
If this is your first time in Athens, then not much changes in terms of the recommended sights and activities. The Parthenon is an absolute must-visit and you’ll be able to walk up the Acropolis without the relentless heat of the summer sun beating down on you. The Acropolis museum close-by is definitely worth spending a few hours in after the hike.
Other museums, particularly convenient if it decides to rain one day, include the National Archaeological museum, the Museum of Cycladic Art, the Benaki museum and the Byzantine and Christian Museum.
The area of Monastiraki is packed with restaurants and bars, many offering a view of the Acropolis. Try rooftop bar at A for Athens – a great place for a drink and a view. Strolling around the area, it’s flea markets, tavernas and shops is a great way to spend an afternoon.
The ruined Temple of Olympian Zeus is close by, so too the Plaka district with its cobblestone alleyways, charming cafes and small shops. Mount Lycabettus is the highest point in Athens and its hike is well worth the views of Athens offered at the top.
If you are looking a little further out, on the outskirts of the City, Kifisia is a pretty neighbourhood, with luxury shops, boutiques and a range of elegant restaurants and cafes. It is scattered with beautiful houses and mansions and can be a nice change of scenery from down-town Athens, if you have a few days to explore.
Check out some suggestions for more sights and activities, from Matt Barrett, here
Events in Athens during October
The Odeon of Herodes Atticus, perched slightly beneath the Acropolis, is an open air theatre that hosts a variety of musical and drama acts throughout the summer and into October.
When visiting Athens in October, make sure you purchase tickets to see one of these performances as evening dawns, taking you back to the musical contests that you used to take place here during ancient times.
Oxi day parade takes place on 28th October every year and marks the anniversary of the Greeks refusal to allow the Italian military to march through its borders during WWII. It is celebrated by a military parade through the City.
What to pack when visiting Athens in October
As well as packing light clothes to make the most of the start of the month, you’ll also need to bring long sleeved pants and jackets for the cooler evenings. Avoid wearing clothes that are too thick or wooly during the day. Pack comfortable and closed-toe shoes and throw in an umbrella just in case. Bring sunglasses but leave the suncream at home.
Travel tips for visiting Athens in October
- Book flights well in advance. Book hotels in advance with free cancellation in case of further price drops within a couple of weeks of you leaving
- Make sure you don’t drive through the City during the Oxi day parade, as the city grinds to a standstill with patriotic activities and festivities
- Athens has a congestion system meaning you can only drive through the city centre on odd or even days depending on the first character of your licence plate – including hire cars
- Pack a light jacket, even on sunny days, as evening draws in you will start to feel a little chilly later in the month