5 Reasons to Visit Greece in the Spring and Early Summer
As you think about your next Greece vacation package, there is a little secret you should know: some of the best island vacations are to be had in the spring and early summer.
For those who can get away a bit earlier, an entirely different world awaits on the Greek islands, one that is more reminiscent of the earlier days of Greek tourism, when beaches and temples never had more than a handful of visitors, and life was simpler and less frenetic. The sea might be a bit more bracing to dive into than at the height of summer, but it is no less glorious. And your Greece vacation experts Hellenic Holidays can help you discover a whole new world of amazing activities and hidden gems.
Below are just some of the key advantages of heading off to Greece sooner that you might think.
1. Enjoying world-famous destinations without the crowds
Islands like Mykonos and Santorini are famous for good reason. But that popularity comes with a price: in the high season they get very busy. While for many, the happy hubbub and busy social scene is part of these islands’ appeal, others just want to get away from the crowds and relax.
That’s why May and June can be magic. The fact is, even on the most popular Greek islands, the warm weather arrives well before the large influx of summer visitors. From early May onwards, the sun shines almost without fail and temperatures most days climb above 30 degrees C (86 degrees F). Yet the vast majority of travelers only arrive from July onwards, meaning that for almost two months you can enjoy a summery yet far more intimate experience of these and other islands.
Enjoy walking the streets of Little Venice on Mykonos with just a few other shoppers browsing lazily in the shops, and get those magical photographs of Santorini’s famous sunset without dodging in between thickets of selfie sticks. Or just wander down to the sea and revel in the serenity of beaches seemingly made just for you.
2. Enjoy a sense of true island life
The lower number of visitors also will also allow you to experience something else that is usually obscured during the peak season: a sense of the rhythms and culture of true island life.
What is often hard to appreciate during the height of the summer is that all Greek islands have local populations that live there year round. For them, the summer is a hectic time with lots of work. When the last of the visitors leave in the autumn, an entirely different vibe takes over, one of natural rhythms and regular local celebrations reinforcing the bonds of these tight-knit communities. Visiting before the tourism season fully hits its peak is the only way to truly experience this.
Getting a window into each island’s local culture can be a moving experience that allows one to gain a deeper appreciation of its history and people. If you can, attend a local church pangyri (traditional festival) – these are held regularly throughout the year to celebrate local patron saints and religious holidays. They are also where you will see real Greek dancing as a genuine expression of joy, not just a performance for tourists. You may even forge new friendships for life.
3. The Greek islands with colors like you’ve never seen them
Dry, brown hills with whitewashed homes set against the brilliant blue of the Aegean. That is the classic image of the Cycladic islands that most people have – the result of innumerable August vacation snaps.
But earlier in the year, the scene is completely different. During the cooler months, the islands turn green thanks to the winter rains. Then when the spring rolls around they erupt in explosions of color as myriad wildflowers come into bloom. The hills literally buzz with life as butterflies, bees and many spectacular migratory birds do their thing in these unique ecosystems. The incredible bouquet of natural fragrances that is carried on the breeze only heightens the spectacle. It’s truly a nature-lovers paradise.
You can even taste some of this natural goodness in the form of wild herbs and plants that are traditionally foraged on the islands at this time of year and turned into delicious, naturally organic pies and salads.
4. Perfect Temperatures for Activities
The Greek summer heat is legendary; an intense, dry heat that makes days spent at the beach a dream.
But those very high temperatures can prove to be more problematic if you want to do other things on your vacation, like visit ancient temples or hike or cycle across the hills. It is not uncommon for summer visitors to start their days with ambitious hiking and sightseeing itineraries, only to end up in an air-conditioned café a few hours later battling heat-stroke.
In May and June however the daily temperature – while still very warm – does not quite rise to the sweltering heights that it does in July and August, meaning that the weather is much more conducive to activities beyond swimming and sunbathing. That fact, plus the much smaller crowds, makes the spring / early summer truly the ideal time to explore Greece’s ancient and natural wonders.
5. Get that personal touch
When every hotel, café, restaurant and beach bar is overflowing with customers, it can be hard to get that sense of personal connection that made Greece so attractive to the first international tourists that discovered it.
But in the spring or early summer you will often find yourself as one of only a handful of people eating at any given restaurant or chilling out at a trendy seaside café. As such, the level of personalized service you’ll get will be far greater.
Don’t be surprised if a bar or restaurant owner strikes up casual conversation with you, offering his or her advice and guidance to help you get the most out of the island. Or if you quickly get on a first-name basis with the car-rental guy who’ll go out of his way to make sure you don’t miss a local celebration. Such natural ‘above-and-beyond’ hospitality is the default for Greek island communities, but it can get lost in the chaos of the high season as every business works flat-out just to meet demand.
But come a bit earlier and you will be given the full hospitality treatment, even perhaps being invited in to someone’s home for some pie or an omelette freshly gathered eggs.
So next time you’re planning a Greece vacation package, why follow the crowd? Instead let the crowd follow you!