Visiting the Greek islands in winter isn’t something many people think about doing, but we will let you into a secret – winter is the perfect time to visit this country!
The Greek islands are just as beautiful in the wintertime as they are in summer, and they are also a lot quieter during this season because many people go elsewhere, assume the islands are too cold, or stay at home for the holidays.
That also means hotel and flight prices are often much cheaper. While the popular tourist sites that are packed in summer, are virtually empty in winter. It’s a win-win situation.
For us, there’s also something about the Greek islands in winter that makes them special. They just feel and look different, almost magical. Maybe it’s because you get to see them without the cruise ships, tour buses, and beaches packed with sunbathing bodies.
The temperatures on the Greek islands in December, January and February are far more pleasant than in other parts of Europe too. Expect temperatures to sit around 10-12 Celsius during the day, but they can also reach up to 15 Celsius. That’s incredibly mild for a European winter.
So now you’re tempted by a vacation in Greece, below we share our favourite Greek islands in winter!
We explain what gives each their charm during the winter months, and why you should visit. As well as show what kind of things they have to offer.
So read on to begin your Greek adventure!
The best Greek islands to visit in winter
People often don’t give Corfu a second glance when it comes to winter vacations, simply because many consider this island to be too close to the continent for it to be a great winter holiday spot.
However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. This stunning Greek island has so much to offer to visitors all year round, and even more so during the winter months.
So, what exactly makes Corfu such a wonderful destination during the winter? There’s so many things really, however, the main reason is what we mentioned above – almost no-one picks this destination during the winter. That makes it perfect for those of you who are looking to go somewhere quiet, chilled out, and not completely overrun by other tourists.
Plus the temperature in Corfu can reach as high as 14 or 15 Celsius during December and January so it’s still pleasant enough to enjoy being outside.
If that point alone hasn’t swayed you in the direction of Corfu, then the fact there are so many activities and experiences to enjoy, might just do the trick!
A popular thing available all year round is walking along the coastal paths here. There are many different trails that you can follow, so you had better get your hiking boots out! (Recommended: Hiking and Walking in Corfu).
For us, the good thing about walking these trails during winter is the fact there isn’t the blazing heat during the day like in summer. As a result you can easily do long distance walks, something that is often impossible during the peak tourist season.
You should also take time to explore Corfu’s mountain villages. They are significantly less busy during the winter season, and you’ll get a far more ‘local’ feel. Two of our favourites to visit during winter are Lakones to the Northwest of Corfu Town, and the village of Agios Matheos; which remains relatively untouched by tourism over the years.
We also suggest you visit Corfu Town. Most of the tourist restaurants and shops will be closed during this time – so why should you visit? Well the places that remain open are the local bars, restaurants and shops. Here you’ll get local prices, superb Greek cuisine, and can grab an ouzo in a bar near the port with fishermen. It’s a proper Greek island experience.
Santorini is one of the most popular destinations to visit in Greece and Europe, and no wonder.
This famous volcanic island with its stunning caldera is picture perfect. The white-washed buildings that are perched on the steep volcanic cliffs of Santorini are one-of-a-kind. And they seem to glow softly when bathed in the tangerine sunsets that light up the sky and ocean here.
However in summer, Santorini is far far too busy. Believe us, everything and everywhere is packed. The hotel and rental prices are sky high as well.
In winter the island is far more like what it used to be before Santorini because Greece’s tourist hotspot. The temperature in Santorini during winter is a mild 10-15 Celsius during the day, so you can still enjoy being outdoors. Accomodation is far more affordable in winter too.
As Santorini does still attract some visitors in winter, there are many tavernas, restaurants and cafes that remain open throughout the season. However there’s no queues like in summer, and you can get the best seats in the house with those gorgeous views across the ocean. If you do visit, definitely try Ambrosia Restaurant in Oia for fantastic food and the best sunset restaurant views on Santorini.
If you like walking then there’s some wonderful hikes and trails to try in Santorini, many of which can be difficult to do under the heat of the summer sun. However during winter the temperatures are perfect for half-day walks, and you’ll come across very few people on the usually-busy trails too. (Recommended: Walking and Hiking in Santorini).
All in all, Santorini is probably our favourite Greek island in winter.
This is the biggest and possibly most popular of Greece’s islands. For good reason too, as there’s so much to do on beautiful Crete.
However, it is important to note that during winter it can get quite cold on some days, with daytime temperatures in Crete struggling to reach 7 Celsius in December and January. But it will still be warmer than Mainland Greece.
Don’t let the temperature put you off though! As Crete is the largest of Greece’s islands you are never short of activities to participate in or new areas to explore.
If you are looking for a romantic winter getaway, then you should base yourself in either Rethymnon or Chania. These two beautiful old towns, with their vibrant gastronomic scenes and Venetian architecture, are perfect for enjoying as a couple. There’s just something very romantic about walking down their cobbled streets in winter where there’s no crowds.
There’s many gorgeous hiking paths that will take you into the mountains, valleys and tiny villages in Crete too. These trails are rarely used in winter, but are peaceful and have some of the best scenery in Greece. (Recommended: Walking and Hiking in Crete).
You can also enjoy a cocktail or something stronger by the waterfront in both towns, without the need to queue up or reserve seats. Don’t worry about it being too cold as there are outdoor heaters. So you can simply sit back and enjoy the atmosphere and peacefulness on this wonderful island during this season.
Wander down the alleys in the Old Town of Chania, where in winter you don’t need to elbow your way through crowds like in the peak summer season. There you can find small quaint cafes and other hidden gems that you might not be able to access during the summer months due to it being too busy.
For more curious types, visit and explore the archaeological sites and museums in Crete. Winter is a great time to visit them, and you’ll get a whole different view of the island whilst learning something on your trip.
Evia is one of the lesser-known Greek islands, but that doesn’t mean it’s not as beautiful or as enjoyable as some of the more popular destinations.
This is the second-largest of Greece’s islands and is located just one hour away from Athens. It’s very easy to reach as there are two bridges that cross the Gulf of Eubea to get to it. That means no winter ferry crossings, which can sometimes be rough during the colder months.
The fact not many tourists visit Evia has also allowed it to remain authentic and mostly unspoiled. This island is a popular destination amongst locals though, in both summer and winter.
There are a plenty of different things for you to enjoy here. Most people base themselves in the capital, Halkida. Here you can find many beautiful beaches perfect for long winter walks.
However, if you are looking for somewhere a little less popular, but equally beautiful, then check out Eretria. This is one of the oldest cities from Ancient Greece!
The ruins in Eretria, and throughout this island, are well known for their historical significance, including departure points for ships that set out to find new towns in southern Italy. So, there’s a lot of history here to explore and discover.