Are you considering travelling to Greece in November?
Are you wondering if November is a good time to visit Greece? More than 20 million people visit Greece each year and while most make the trip for the long summer days and nights in the islands, there are dozens of different destinations to suit all tastes and they definitely don’t have to include swimming or summer. While Greece is a perfect all year destination, there is most often a misconception that the winter months are to be avoided. Let’s take this from the beginning and make a plan of what are the best places to see and do in November and the reasons why November is preferable. Also, we will discuss how to make time for some amazing events and festivals that take place in Greece in November.
A fine November day in Greece at 22o C
What do you need to pack for Greece in November?
Contrary to popular belief, Greece is not a tropical destination where it never gets cold. So for your packing list, prepare for a cold autumn day with lots of layers and a jacket that can be used to protect you from rain and wind. The most adventurous can still put a swimsuit in there, just in case, and you may still find a lot of “winter swimmers” around the beaches. This is also a good thing to keep in mind if you want to visit thermal pools or if you are staying in hotels with heated pools. A scarf, beanie and gloves are great for those that are more sensitive to the cold, especially if you are primarily visiting destinations on a high altitude or northern cities in mainland Greece.
The islands are considerably warmer but can be hit hard by winds so come prepared.
☞ Related: What You Need To Pack For Greece in September
What kind of traveller enjoys Greece in November?
November is neither a party animal favourite nor a sunbather one. It is a month that appeals to those that want to travel slow or fully immerse themselves in the culture and area. November in Greece is great for becoming acquainted with the Greek rhythm of everyday life, finding small tavernas and restaurants that are local favourites and visiting as many cultural sites and galleries as is possible. The weather tends to have the sweet melancholy of autumn, with colourful leaves and moody skies completing the picture.
Solo travellers will find it easier to find affordable accommodation and couples can get moments of privacy and solitude in destinations that are often heavily overcrowded. Just like travelling to Greece in October, you may find a population shift taking place between the islands and the mainland. People living in small and difficult to access islands over the winter period will make the move back to Athens or other cities, while those that call the islands home year round will prepare for the offseason and be considerably more relaxed.
Hikers, nature explorers and athletes will find a multitude of sport and fitness-related events taking place around Greece in November and be excited to explore destinations around the country without the heavy sun rays of the summer.
Families travelling to Greece in November may prefer the more well connected and easier destinations of Athens, Thessaloniki, Crete, Meteora, Rhodes and Nafplio. While these are only some of the many options, a bigger city or island ensures a smoother transportation schedule with fewer chances of delays and plenty of activities to keep young and old occupied even if the weather is unfavourable.
If you are set on swimming then you may find November a bit on the colder side. Interestingly, it isn’t the water so much but the outside temperature that keeps people off the beach. The average water temperature for Greece in November is around 19°C which is chilly but not freezing.
If you are looking for a quiet holiday, relaxation, peace, and time to reflect on life and its experiences, November is ideal. You will seldom be disturbed by other tourists, even in the most popular destinations and will come away with a completely different picture of Greece than what you get in the summer.
☞ Related: A Free Walking Guide For The Best Monuments in Athens
Where to travel to Greece in November?
Rhodes is the 4th largest island in Greece and the largest of the Dodecanese complex. This is great for late autumn travel since the all-year population means that there are still frequent flights and activities and restaurants on the island will still be open even though greatly reduced compared to summer. In addition, Rhodes is often nicknamed the sunny island, boasting more than 300 days of sunshine a year. In addition to convenient transport and warm temperatures, Rhodes simply has so much to offer its visitors. Its history goes back a long way and those interested can spend hours learning more about the geographical significance of this island in ancient times. The name may also be familiar as the place where the Colossus of Rhodes once stood, a towering statue depicting the god Helius (or sun) that stood at more than 30m high.
The medieval city of Rhodes is a must-see for visitors, which also happens to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its impressive architecture and the cultural significance and influences. Even better when it can be enjoyed during the offseason.
If you are after a longer holiday with multiple destinations or have been to Rhodes already (which by the way, is fiiine you should go again) then consider the top 5/well known Greek islands. Crete down south, Santorini that is an experience any day, Mykonos which will be a deserted paradise in comparison to its party summer clientele, and Naxos which is not a far way from Athens and has a great vibe for all kinds of travellers.
☞ Related: Our Bestseller Trip: Athens, Santorini, Crete, Mykonos
Events and Festivals in November
November has so many events and festivals to take advantage of, you might have a hard time trying to fit everything in!
St Andrews Name Day – If you have Greek friends or are just very well informed, you might know that Greeks celebrate name days rather than birthdays (or did nevertheless before the western custom of birthdays became popular). Name days are celebrations on a saint’s feast day. Almost every person in Greece has a name day because most Greeks are baptized into the Orthodox church and thus carry a Christian name. The 30th of November is a massive celebration around Greece and every household that has members that share this name. I wish I could break the stereotype but if you know one person with this name then chances are there at least a few cousins or relatives sharing it in their family. My family? Five Andrews/Andriana’s and counting!
17th of November – This day is observed as a holiday around Greece in celebration of the student uprising of 1973. The uprising was in response to the dictatorial rule and military regime of the Colonels that started in 1967 and would last until 1974. Athens Polytechnic students went on strike on November 14th which began to escalate in tension and lasted until November 17th when the strike was broken by a tank crashing through the gates of the university. Approximately 40 people are said to have been wounded or fatally injured. Universities remain closed on this day and commemorative services take place as well as wreath-laying ceremonies. Protests take place every year and the downtown area of Athens from the Polytechnic till the United States Embassy is usually flooded with people singing slogans that were used during the original uprising, namely “Bread-Education-Freedom” and the national anthem. Due to increased social unrest, heavy police presence and tension between different groups the area is best to be avoided by visitors and tourists in the area.
21st of November- This is one of the main and most important celebrations of the Orthodox Church that is known in Greece as “the entry of the Virgin Mary or “The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary” in the Catholic Church. This is a day that always falls within the Christmas fasting period, in which abstinence from dairy, meat, oil, wine and fish is encouraged. However, on the 21st of November, there is an exemption for fish and oil-eating. Some women with the name Maria, Despina, or Panagiota which are other names for the Virgin Mary, have a name celebration on this day. I say, only some because the 21st of November is often reserved for young “virgins” or unmarried women whereas the 15th of August (another day in celebration of the Virgin Mary) is celebrated by married women. In case of doubt, the easiest thing if you know a lot of Maria’s or Mary’s is to simply ask if they are indeed celebrating!
Location Specific Events
Athens Classic Marathon – If you are a runner then you must be aware of the ultimate marathon race in the world, the classic Athens Marathon. This sport owes its name to the town of Marathon, from where Pheilippides, a Greek messenger, is said to have started running until reaching Athens, in order to announce the victorious result of the Battle of Marathon that took place in 490 BC. According to the story, Pheilippides ran more than 40 km and died from exhaustion soon after. The 38th annual event always takes place in early November with thousands of participants from around the world.
Thessaloniki International Film Festival – This year marked the 60th International Film Festival in Thessaloniki that is one of the most established and popular events of the year. Events take place in the space of about 11 days in different cinemas and venues around the city with a focus on showcasing the work of “subversive filmmakers from all around the world”.
Thessaloniki Piano Festival– This is another beloved event that has been taking place in Thessaloniki since 2012 and has despite the harsh reality of the economic situation in the country, remained a successful event that attracts plenty of local and international visitors. More than 15 events take place within the space of 2 weeks that showcase a diverse pool of talent, spanning different genres and encourage artistic expression.
Amorgos Tourism Film Festival – Fancy an excuse for leaving the mainland or flying into the stunning island of Amorgos? The annual Tourism Film Festival is a 4-day event packed with screenings that showcase the island of Amorgos and the Cyclades island complex in general, encourage cooperation and collaboration between the island and other film producers and visitors from Greece or internationally and celebrates artistic mediums and their contribution to societal problems like sustainability in tourism.
Chania Film Festival – If you are in Crete island in early November make your way to the charming port city of Chania that charms everyone with its romantic vibe and Venetian architecture. For more than a week, thousands of people come together to watch the best films from around the world. There are plenty of workshops, classes and exhibitions that take place around this time as well.
Nafplio Castle Run – Another relatively new event that has been picking up incredible support in its 6th year running. Excuse the pun! This is a unique and challenging fitness event and the only one in the world where participants ascend a castle! Do not be fooled by the fact that this is only a 10km run, the race will challenge even the fittest athletes and will surely be a unique way of experiencing Palamidi castle and the views it gives of the city below. It is also a great excuse for an excursion in the beautiful Peloponnese peninsula!
☞ Related: 10 Castles Around the Peloponnese You Need To See
Greece in November: Average Weather Temperatures
So, here you have it. A complete picture of what Greece in November can offer visitors and a few ideas for where to go, what to see and what events to look out for. You will find most days averaging around 15-20 degrees Celcius with colder days closer to 10o , especially in mountainous regions. Expect at least a few days of rain and windy nights in the islands that require warmer clothes. If you are a winter swimmer, bring your swimsuit because the water is still a balmy 20o Celsius.
☞ Related: Your Master Guide To The Greek Islands & Where To Go