Here’s a quick overview of my winter travels to Greece and the pros/cons of visiting three areas: 1) Athens 2) Meteora and 3) the Greek Islands of Syros and Mykonos.
1. Visiting Athens, Greece in the Winter
- Weather: It was low to mid 60s with clouds and some rain, which we personally prefer over blistering summertime heat. We kept saying how miserable it must be to visit the exposed Acropolis in July!
- Crowds: Minimal! I read that in summer you can wait for 2+ hours in line at the Acropolis. No thanks! We had the perk of everything being open without any of the crowds.
- Cost: Mid-Range. We spent €220 each for flights from Vienna, €39 for one night in an Airbnb, €10 each for entry to the Acropolis (half price for the off season), and ~€40 per day on food. We felt like this was reasonable for a last minute trip, but expect it would be cheaper if you planned ahead for an off season trip.
- Must see/do: hike Areopagus Hill, visit the Acropolis, walk the Anafiotika neighborhood (looks like a Greek island), eat Greek food at “The Traditional” restaurant, see Little Kook’s holiday decor
2. Visiting Meteora, Greece in the Winter
There were a few things we wish we had know before visiting this beautiful rocky area with famous Eastern Orthodox monasteries. Keep reading for the deets!
- Weather: Perfect! It was was mid 50s and sunny when we visited Meteora at the end of December. It was a little windy but nothing a light jacket couldn’t handle. Check the weather before you go!
- Crowds: Minimal! Meteora felt relatively empty during our visit. It made visiting the famous cliff side monasteries a stress free and calm experience. No lines, no worries.
- Cost: Expensive! Staying in Meteora was pricy even in the off season. We paid €120 for two nights in the cheapest guest house we could find and it wasn’t even a good experience (there were definitely dried boogers on our shower curtain…) However, entry into the monasteries is only €2-4 per person.
- Public Transport: Expensive even in the off season and not worth the hassle! We paid €100 round trip for trains to and from Athens but found it to be stressful, unreliable, and ultimately not that much cheaper than renting a car. Plus, once we arrived in Kalabaka (the train stop closest to Meteora), we still had to walk 45 minutes to our guest house. Also, Meteora itself isn’t super hiker friendly and we ended up walking/hitchhiking on a busy road between the monasteries. Looking back, we wish we would’ve rented a car for convenience and flexibility.
3. Visiting the Greek Islands of Syros and Mykonos in the Winter
🇬🇷 Syros: I only recommend going if paired with other islands, it’s not worth a trip by itself due to the time + cost of getting there.
- It’s one of the closer islands to Athens (3.5 hrs by ferry).
- It’s less touristy and has more year round residents, so more restaurants were open.
- It’s beautiful! We loved exploring the marble city streets and colorful neighborhoods.
- We were there on New Years Day so rental companies and the local bus system were closed. We ended up walking everywhere.
- The water was too chilly for swimming, at least for us! (We knew this would likely be the case before we went.)
🇬🇷 Mykonos: I Would NOT recommend visiting in winter.
- We didn’t really see any other tourists. So if you want the empty streets of Mykonos all to yourself for photos, winter is great!
- VERY few restaurants were open. There were only a few expensive seafood places open in Mykonos town. We ended up walking outside of town to an area with more local traffic for cheaper food and groceries.
- Almost no rental companies (scooters, cars, etc) were open. We called 6-7 before finding one that was willing to help us. After all that, we had forgotten our international drivers licenses and they wouldn’t rent us a car 😬 So once again we walked most places.
- If visiting in winter, look into bigger/more populated islands like Crete or Santorini.
- If you want to rent a car, bring your international drivers license or be prepared to pay ~€30 for one.
- You can take taxis on the islands, we just didn’t because it’s not worth the money to us. Plan your transportation ahead of time.
- Plan ahead if visiting on holidays! More things will be closed in addition to normal off season closures.
🏝 Lastly: BOTH Syros and Mykonos are worth visiting, but I think there’s a reason the Greek islands are so popular in summer! I’d say stick to warmer months (or fall for shoulder season) and enjoy the ambience of these islands in full swing!