Autumn in Greece will win you over with its amazing transitional nature, colors, mild weather, and of course, the less crowded places all over the country. If you have always thought of summer as the ideal season for visiting Greece, you will reconsider after reading the 10 following things to do in Greece in autumn!
1. Celebrate the National holidays
Autumn in Greece is a very special season. Two out of the three national holidays are celebrated in the fall.
The Ochi (No) anniversary, is the national holiday of the 28th of October. In 1940 Benito Mussolini demanded from the Greek dictator at the time, Ioannis Metaxas, that Axis forces be permitted to pass through Greece and to occupy certain locations. Metaxas, in the early hours of 28 October 1940, said the legendary NO in response. That was when Greece entered World War II. A few hours later the Italian troops invaded Epirus, in the northern part of the country.
The 28th of October is now celebrated in every place in Greece, even in the most remote villages. Celebrations vary from just a wreath-laying to big student parades. Thessaloniki, the second-largest city in Greece, holds the big military parade. Two days earlier is the celebration of Saint Demetrius, the biggest celebration of the year. If you want to experience the modern Greek culture, take yourself to Thessaloniki during these days.
The other National holiday is the 17th of November. We commemorate the uprising of students of the National Technical University in Athens. From 1967 until 1974, a military dictatorship (known as the junta) had control of the country. On November 17, 1973, the students’ protests took a violent turn, while the dictators ordered the army to invade the university. They crushed the gates with military tanks and several civilians died. The next year the junta fell.
Every school, university or technical institution stays closed on this day to honor the role of students and their resistance.
Getting to know the culture of every place you visit is a great privilege. To blend in with the Greeks, knowing about these two national holidays is a good place to start.
Source: Flickr | Jean-Pierre Dalbéra
2. The Athens Marathon
Everybody knows the Marathon at the Olympics. The 42,195 kilometers race has Greece as its birthplace. In 490 BC, a Greek messenger ran this distance from Marathon to Athens, in order to announce that the Greeks defeated the Persians. After having fought in the battle of Marathon and having run this distance without stopping, he collapsed and died.
Every November, the classic race is revived in Athens. Athletes from all over the world, pour into the capital to participate in the event. It is considered a lifetime experience to run the exact same course as the messenger did after the battle of Marathon.
For those who are not (yet) ready to run the 42 km race, the Athens Marathon event organizes races of 10 and 5 km respectively. The joy of participation in an event like this will win over the fatigue. The 5 km race, is ideal for small runners too!
Even if you are not in the mood for running, you can be in the Panathenaic Stadium to see the finish line. For more info, click here.
It might sound more like a summer activity, but trust us it will be even better in the autumn. The water is plenty warm after 3-4 months of pure sunshine and high temperatures. The temperature varies from one month to another. September is a summer month in Greece, while in October the temperature drops around 20C and around 15C in November. September is the best month for swimming, but the more courageous continue to do so until Christmas. What’s more? The beaches are empty from the crowds of summer. There are days, especially during August where most of the Greeks take their annual leave, that it is impossible to find even a small space to lay a beach towel. The most famous beaches get empty after September so bring your swimsuit and enjoy the prettiest places without the hordes of tourists.
4. Athens and Thessaloniki International Film Festivals
If you are a cinephile, autumn in Greece has much to offer! One of which is the two biggest cities in Greece hosting two film festivals that are of great interest.
The Athenian one is called “Nychtes Premiers” which translates to Premiere Nights. Several producers, filmmakers and directors choose to present their movies in the Athenian crowd. The festival takes place every September. Check here for every year’s program and dates.
Thessaloniki International Film Festival is held every November in the northern town of Thessaloniki. This one is considered a bigger event for the locals, almost every resident of the city attends at least one event. There are several screenings in the morning and in the evening, in several different spaces. It is one of the biggest cultural events in the city. If you are in Thessaloniki during November, pay a visit!!
5. Visit a Winery
Greece is famous for its wine. In every season, you can taste incredible wines in every place you visit. Almost every region of Greece has local wine producers, that make all types of wine. No matter where you are, you will find one in a close distance, even near big cities such as Athens.
September and October are the harvest season. Visiting a winery at that time of the year, is a well worth experience. Wander around the vineyard, lose track of time and learn something new about wine production. After that, treat yourself with a wine-tasting!
Petra Kouzina in Santorini – offers stunning cooking lessons where you can taste wines from the area
Agrotourism is a great way to meet and get to know the countryside of the country that you visit. In the case of Greece, it is the best way to get to know the whole country! Our beautiful land is primarily a rural country, with many farmers and local products in its assets. With agrotourism, you get to comprehend the real face of Greece and the authenticity of its people.
One of the best and most renowned Greek products is olive oil. From mid-October until late November, from the north to the south, workers and farmers harvest the olive trees to gain the trees’ fruits. If you want, there is the possibility to participate in communication with the field’s owner.
Autumn in Greece is the season of other produce as well, like jam from the season’s fruits, raki in Crete, and tsipouro. Plenty of agrotourism farms can be found in the country and autumn is for sure the best time to participate in one of them! If you are in Crete check out the traditional village of Fabrica in Vamos that offers a variety of activities to visitors from around the world, like traditional cooking lessons and grape harvesting.
7. Do Some Activities
Autumn in Greece is the best season for doing outdoor activities. The weather is mild, we do not have as much rain as other European countries, and the temperature is at the right place: neither the summer’s heat nor the winter’s cold. Plus, the mainland’s mountainous landscape, offers far too many things to do. Let’s discover some!
For adventure and nature lovers, rafting is the ultimate autumn outdoor activity. The water has a fast-flowing stream, and the temperature is ok. With rafting, you get to know the mountains and rivers of Greece! Some of the most famous rafting places are: Evinos river close to Nafpaktos, Voidomatis river, Lousios river, Arachthos river, and Nestos river. Even if this is your first time, in the above places you will find schools with experienced instructors and the necessary equipment.
Another unique outdoor activity for the most courageous out there. Of course, there are levels of difficulty for every rock, but this is not for those who get frightened easily. Kalymnos island is the most famous place in Greece for rock climbing. In autumn, when the tourists have departed, you have the whole island to yourself.
Hiking is the easiest activity, which is perfect even if you are traveling with kids or pets. Everybody enjoys a walk in nature that gives you the option to make as many breaks as you want and to choose the path. Greece is rich in hiking paths both in the mainland and in the islands.
Climbing is easily combined with the previous activity, although it takes more time. You need to have some basic equipment and relevant experience to attempt by yourself.
Greece has many mountains, but Mount Olympus should be the first on your climbing list. It is the highest mountain in the country; its highest point reaches an altitude of 2918 meters and the ancient Greeks believed that it was the home of the Gods. This mythical mountain now offers mesmerizing nature and a must-visit National Park. On the way up, do not omit to visit the picturesque villages.
8. Explore mainland’s ‘treasures’
Greece is not only its islands. Greece has some magical places on the mainland that are equally beautiful to the really famous islands. Autumn with its amazing foliage and colors, is a great season to discover them. Here come some suggestions:
Zagorochoria are several small picturesque villages located in the mountain range of Pindos, in Epirus. Apart from wandering around the villages and admiring their beauty, the area offers more to its visitors, like Vikos gorge, Vikos-Aoos National Park, Mount Tymfi, Ioannina (a big city in the nearby area) and Metsovo. Autumn is the ideal season to admire the change of the seasons in this beautiful, harsh, mountainous landscape.
In the northern part of the Peloponnese, in the Achaea region, Kalavrita is a historical place for the Greeks. Furthermore, it is a place of great natural beauty and offers plenty of activities, such as taking the Odontotos railway and visiting the lake’s cave.
Huge standing rocks with orthodox monasteries on top are always a tempting destination. During the fall, the whole scenery gets even more impressive and it is certain that the view from the monasteries will take your breath away!
9. Visit the most famous places
Some magical places are scattered in every corner of the country. Greece in autumn offers the same magical places, without the crowds. July and August in Greece are by far the months with the most visitors. June and September have also a big number of visitors, but nothing too crazy, like the previous ones. On the other hand, October and November are ideal for visiting cosmopolitan places, like Mykonos and Santorini, or insanely visited archaeological places, like the Acropolis, without getting squeezed in the lines or the narrow alleys.
A last reason why autumn in Greece is the best
After August, all the Greeks go back to their normal routine. That’s when the big cities are filled again with their local population and that’s when everything is back to normal. Music and theatrical performances start, galleries open with new collections, and different events are held in every corner of the cities. If you want to get to know how the Greeks live in the big cities, autumn is the season to do so.
- That was our guide with the must-do activities during fall. Greece in autumn has many to offer to its visitors, Greece is not only about summer; it’s up to you to discover our amazing country.