There is no bad time to visit Greece. If you are considering booking a trip for Greece in February, why not?
Even the colder winter months have their own kind of charm. Just think of small villages on hilltops and the smell of firewood coming through the chimneys. The bliss that is a day spend at a hot springs resort, or the coziness of a warm soup or beverage in a traditional taverna, with people coming together to eat, drink and dance.
While it’s true that you don’t need bathing suits and sunshine to have fun in Greece, you may actually find that February can be a great month in terms of weather as well. While, you won’t be going to the beach or working on your tan, you can explore and discover the sights pleasantly. Greece in February has some top destination options that we cannot wait for you to discover an array of activity options whether you are an explorer or someone that prefers boutique hotels and charming eateries without too much physical activity.
Where to travel in Greece in February?
February in mainland, Northern Greece is often the time when temperatures are at their lowest.
With summer season pushing into late September, and December offering not-yet-freezing temperatures, February can be what winter enthusiasts wait for all year around. The area of Greece known as Pindus takes up most of the northern part and is often referred to as the spine of Greece.
It is the biggest and longest mountain range in the country and has peaks that reach 2.637 meters. Popular both for hiking and skiing, Pindus dominates the landscape starting from the northwestern border with Albania and traversing diagonally and down.
The mountains of Parnassus, Giona, Oeta and Vardousia further down in Central Greece are also considered to have once been a part of the Pindus Range.
Map below will help to visualize the above information.
February Travel in Greece – Pindus – Northern Greece
Winter is one of my favourite times to explore Greece.
Small villages high up in the mountains come alive and the heavy touch of snow in some areas, adds another layer of charm to the cobblestone streets. The smell of chestnuts becomes overpoweringly sweet and fireplaces are filled to the brim, spreading the aroma of pine and beechwood. This might just be personal preference, but nothing warms up your appetite for warm soups, hearty meat dishes and local wine better, than below zero temperatures.
A typical view of the Pindus area and surrounding mountains, only without the snow!
Northern Greece is mottled with villages that offer all the above. Charming guesthouses, warm fireplaces, traditional meals and mountains waiting to be explored. Always popular amongst locals, are the villages of Zagori or Zagorohoria in the Pindus area.
Forty-six villages in total, similar in architecture and style, impossible to see all at once. The eager visitor will need to expect a second or third visit to fully explore the area.
For those looking for a more adventurous winter experience, hiking in the area might be an option, depending on the weather and your skill level.
Local guides and expert advice regarding weather and suitable track conditions should always be obeyed . The mountains, while pretty, can be very challenging to non-experienced hikers and weather conditions could disguise the landscape significantly.
Other destinations for February
There are of course other mainland destinations that you can visit in February as well. That might allow you to skip the cold and snow, or you might just prefer non-mainland destinations. When we talk about island destinations, it is important to keep in mind that the biggest the island the easiest you will be able to arrange air or sea transport and the lesser the chance for weather changes to affect your trip. Santorini, for example, is a great destination for February if you commit to giving yourself at least one week on the island. That way you will get at least a few days of sun so you can explore the narrow alleyways and take pictures in peace. But even Santorini, with a healthy all year population of 20,000 and an ever-increasing number of winter tourism can be affected by harsh winds making it difficult for ferries to dock or cancelling their routes altogether.
If a ferry is cancelled due to weather conditions know that depending on the company that you have booked with, you are usually entitled to a cancellation and full refund or a modification to an alternative date. Additional charges may apply. Ferryhopper has a great interface and simple design for booking your ferry tickets and a very responsive team. Always check the fine print when booking with other companies, especially during the off-season. Of course, when you book through a travel agent or if we are arranging your trip, those details will be dealt with for you.
Another mainland destination that is worth exploring in depth is the city of Kalamata. Located in the Peloponnese region of southern Greece, which looks like the palm of the hand, the Peloponnese is known as the home of the Spartans and where the Olympic Games first became a thing thousands of years ago. Nowadays, Kalamata will probably bring to mind olives and olive oil production, but in addition to good food, visitors will find a city that is bursting with activities and things to do.
The Mediterranean climate of the region brings warm and humid summers and long and often wet winters with temperatures ranging between 5 and 15 degrees Celsius. In February you can expect at least 12 days of rain during the month and a few clouds but from my experience, there are just as many warm and sunny days that more than makeup for it. The city is the perfect combination of mountains and sea, with the marina and beaches on one hand and the engulfing presence of Mt Taygetus dominating the landscape in the other.
The cafe and bar scene in Kalamata is truly engaging, with plenty of interesting options to keep you entertained.
Aristomenous street in the centre of the town is where everyone stops for a stroll, a cofffee and some shopping. From exploring the museums, to learning more about the cultural heritage, visiting ancient Messinia or tasting the local produce, there will be plenty to keep you occupied in the area.
Things To Do In Greece in February
In addition to winter activities and excursions, February might also be a great month to experience cultural and religious festivities all around Greece.
Preparations for Easter begin far in advance and depending on when Easter Sunday is on that year, celebrations can begin as early as February.
Greeks all around the world celebrate the “opening of the Triodion” a peculiar expression that might be easier understood if I tell you that the Triodion is a liturgical book of the Greek Orthodox Church.
The Triodion sets out the propers for the three-week fasting period before the Sarakosti (Great Lent) as well as the 40 day Great Lent period and the Great and Holy Week.
This year will see us celebrating Easter Sunday on the 19th of April 2020.
Τhat means the Triodion will open on Sunday the 9th of February 2020.
So, what happens then? The first three weeks that will follow are each dedicated to something specific and for those that follow the Christian faith, odes to be sang each day.
One of the most celebrated dates in modern times, however, is Tsiknompeti, which directly translates to tsikna (the thick smell of grilled fatty meat) and Thursday. And yes, it is celebrated on a Thursday.
Every corner of every village and every balcony or terrace of every apartment building in Greece is covered in barbeque grills and thick waves of meaty smoke. Why is that important?
Traditionally, the consumption of meat is discouraged on Wednesdays and Fridays, making Thursday the ideal day to celebrate.
It is also the last chance for people to stock up on their meat-eating, before fasting from animal products, including dairy as well as any other human pleasures.
The second week of the Triodion is called Apokries or Carnival. Both names of which relate to the no meat-eating practices.
Greek – apo kreas – without meat
Latin – carnem levare –meat remove
Carnival celebrations are officially discouraged by the Orthodox Church due to their pagan origins, however, elaborate costume-wearing, masks, parades, street events and pranks are all very common.
Festivals are organized in advance in many cities around Greece, the most known of which is in Patra. It attracts thousands of people from all around Greece and Europe each year.
Festivals and Events in Greece in February
Cinedoc Festival (Athens + Other Locations) – This annual documentary festivals takes place in Athens, Thessaloniki and a handful of other cities around Greece that are increasing each year. The dates vary but it usually spans a five month period starting in mid autumn and finishing in early spring. You will find screenings of some of the best international and Greek documentary productions of the year.
2nd February – Santorini Panigiri – Panigiria are festivities that celebrate the name day of a saint. They are very common in the summer all around the Greek islands and are awesome for overseas visitors offering an insight into Greek culture and customs. This is one of the very few festivals that takes place in the winter in the village of Vothonas. There is a mass in the small and very impressive, rock sculpted church, dedicated to the Holy Mary that can be reached only by foot, followed by food, drink and all night celebrations.
Patras Carnival – The Patras Carnival is one of the loudest, largest and most exciting carnivals, not only of Greece but of Europe in general. The dates may vary due to the shifting of Greek Easter, but the big starting parade always takes place on the 17th of January. If you are a fan of partying and dressing up, there are a ton of events that take place during the month of February in Patras, and more than 30,000 attend the final Closing Ceremony. Don’t miss the Night and Grand Parade that take place the weekend before and make sure to book you accomodation ahead of time to avoid dissapointment.
Tsiknopempti – You can celebrate “tsiknomempti” anywhere in Greece, including the city of Patras that puts on a big “Smokey Thursday” day of events that is ideal for meat and BBQ lovers. In essence, the day is spend with family and friends, feasting in preparation for the lent season. If you are dining out, reservations would be very recommended. However, scoring an invite to a friends house ala “My Big Greek Fat Wedding” would be an experience to remember for certain.
Dine Athens – Another event ideal for food lovers is Dine Athens. More than 130 participating restaurants, put together affordable but ecclectic three course menus for the set prices of 15, 30 or 60 euros. Sponsored by Alpha Bank and attracting more than 30,000 dinners so far, the 4th year of this event is a celebration of all sorts of food, from local traditional Greek cuisine, to international and ethnic flavours all around Athens. While the website is only available in English, use Google Translate or simply find the phone numbers of the restaurant you have always dreamt of dining at and make a booking.
Lycabettus Run The Hill Athens – This annual running event is set for another year with more than 4,000 participants and a variety of options for those interested. Runners can choose from a 5.5 or 11 kilometer asphalt run or a 4.5 or 9 kilometer trail run.
☞ Related: 7 Unique Running Events Around Greece You Shouldn’t Miss
Weather in Greece in February
Wherever you are in Greece in February, expect at least 9-10 days of rain throughout the month. In general, the island have dark cloudy skies and wind and the temperature has an average high of 13 Celcius. But you also get quite a few days of sun. Late January in Arahova, I had coffee sitting outside under the sun very pleasantly. In Santorini, the first week of February was half rain adn half 20 plus degrees that did not even require a heavy jacket. That is one reason why I recommend extending your holidays to at least a week so you can get at least a few of the good days in there. Of course, preparation is key so come prepared for a fair bit of rain and wind.
We can help plan your Greek holidays! Whether you are visiting in February, June or October there is so much to discover in the land of eternal beauty.