There's no getting around the fact that Athens is cold in December. Temperatures hover around 54°F (12°C) with lows of 48°F (9°C) and highs of 57°F (14°C). There are 11 days of rain throughout the month—the highest number all year—and only three hours of daily sun on average.
The rest of the time tends to be grey and overcast. The good news, however, is that the sunshine starts increasing toward the end of the month. It's also drier during this time so you won't have as much rain if you come later in the month. Given that these changes correspond with Christmas and New Year's Eve, it can be a good time to make a holiday visit.
For more on weather this month, see Greece in December: Travel Tips, Weather, and More.
Crowds and Costs
The tradeoff for the cold weather is the delightful lack of crowds. You can walk through the Acropolis or stroll through popular museums without contending with large masses of people. Lines are almost non-existent and you won't have to wait forever to be seated at restaurants. Best of all, you won't find people accidentally slipping into your frame every time you go to take a picture.
The only exception is at the end of the month when tourists arrive for the holidays. During this period, numbers increase and so do the rates at hotels and lodges (which are much lower earlier in the month). Generally speaking, prices are low overall during December but increase slightly as you move through the month.
Where To Go
December is a great time to stroll through the Acropolis, checking out the Parthenon, Erechtheion, and other famous structures. It's one of the few times all year that you won't have to contend with tons of other tourists. There will still be people there but the numbers will be considerably more manageable. Just make sure to bring a warm jacket and raincoat since the weather can be unpredictable. Also note that many of the sites close earlier in the winter so check ahead of time when planning your day.
If it starts raining or you get too chilly, head indoors to see some of the museums or explore the many art galleries throughout the city. It's also a great time to find good food at the restaurants and tavernas, especially when the holidays begin approaching. You can also wander through Monastiraki and visit the famed flea markets.
If you decide to get out of town for a day trip, head to the mountains where many ski resorts will be open, or do a winter wine tour of one of the Attica vineyards.
What to Do
There's no shortage of things to do in Athens in December. If you like museums, check out the Byzantine and Christian Museum, or pop by the Museum of Cycladic Art. The archaeological sites will be practically empty so on top of the Parthenon and Erechtheion, you can visit places like Hadrian's Library, the Propylaia, or the Temple of Athena Nike.
If you're into food, the tavernas will be full of heartier delights this time of year—ones you can't always find in the summertime. Try lahanontolmades (a winter dish with stuffed cabbage leaves), revithia (a rich garbanzo bean soup), or frikase (a meat and lettuce stew). You'll also be able to find seasonal desserts such as kourampiedes or melomakarona pastries, both of which coincide with the Christmas and New Year's Eve holidays.
Outside of town, you can visit the Parnassos Ski Resort on Mount Parnassus or check out the Kalavrita Ski Center on Mount Helmos.
Events in December
Christmas holiday(Dec. 25th and 26th): The Christmas season is festive in Athens. At Syntagma Square, the tree will be lit and there will be music, caroling, and ice skating at various places throughout the city. People are off school and work for the holiday, and lots of locals will be spending the day with family.
If you visit during this time, be sure to make note of the bus schedules and other things that might be delayed or closed altogether.
New Year's Eve (Dec. 31st): Like many places throughout Europe and the rest of the world, New Year's Eve is a big party night in Athens. The bars and nightclubs will be packed and the atmosphere will be festive. If you're not into the nightclub scene, have a nice dinner out and climb Lycabettus Hill where you can watch the fireworks overlooking the city.
Traveling to Athens in December? Check out these great itineraries.
Best of Athens and Ancient Greece - 5 Days. Spend five days exploring this city's many cultural treasures and cool neighborhoods—along with day trips to archaeological sites in nearby Mycenae.
Athens Food Experience - Day Tour. The tour kicks off with a traditional Greek coffee at one of the city's landmark coffee houses before a stop at Varvakios Market, the largest produce market in the city. The food tour includes samples of olive oils, honey, and cheeses from around the country—everything from baklava to souvlaki is available.