The weather remains hot throughout September, although temperatures taper off as the month progresses. The average high in Athens is 84 Fahrenheit, and the sea temperatures are bathtub warm after all the summer sun. In short: great beach weather. Rain falls on one in four days this month in Athens, but less so in the Peloponnese and Cyclades.
Crowds & Costs
Early September is still high season, with large crowds in the most popular venues. But this eases by the third week as northern Europeans return home en masse. By mid-September, airfares and hotel rates begin to drop, so keep your eyes peeled for bargains.
Where to Go
The sizzling temperatures of mid-summer are easing slightly, making for more comfortable sightseeing, and by the second half of September, the crowds will noticeably thin—perfect for visiting popular sites like Epidvaros and Delphi. Inland, mountain villages such as Zagori and Meterora, and Nafplio on Crete, are still hot but delightful—perfect for hiking.
This is a prime time to visit the resorts and islands. The most popular isles (notably Ios, Mikonos, Paros, and Santorini) are still buzzing with nightlife in early September when Santorini hosts a major music festival. But don’t forget the more peaceful, less-visited islands, such as the Ionians, Saronics and Dodecanese.
What to Do
Culture vultures can enjoy sightseeing by month’s end, when you’re no longer shoving elbow to elbow with a huge wave of tour groups. This is the peak of the olive and vine harvest—a great time to focus on wine-producing regions such as Naoussa, in Northern Greece; Attica and Thesaly, in Central Greece; Nafplio, in the Peloponnese; and the islands of Crete, Samos, and Santorini.
September is also ideal for active vacations, on land or sea. A favorite option is to hike the Samaria Gorge, while sea kayaking the Sporades or whitewater rafting the Lousios-Alfios River are (literally) cool ways to enjoy even the hottest of days. The warm sea temperatures and mellow Meltemi winds (which die down after two ferociously windy months) make sailing a breeze, and days are still long enough for drives around the Peloponnese or mainland Greece.
Warm water also means the perfect time for a scuba diving adventure. Top sites include Chios, in the Northern Aegean; the Dragonisi Caverns south of Mykonos; and the wreck of the HMHS Britannic off the Cycladic island of Kea.
Aegina Fistiki Festival: The Saronic isle of Aegina is a major pistachio producer, and this 4-day festival is an all-things-pistachio affair, enlivened by music and dance.
Aeschylus (Aisxylia) Festival: Hosted at Eleusis, 14 miles west of Athens, this cultural festival revives the ancient Greek drama festival and features films, music concerts, and plays.
Festival of Tastes & Traditions of Rhodes: Gourmands should head to Pefkos, on Rhodes, for this 2-day event, celebrating local wines and dishes. It features cooking demos, tastings, and plenty of music and dance.
International Music Festival: Santorini really sings along for two weeks in September, when top international artists perform classical music and opera. Book your hotel early!
Reworks International Music Festival: Hosted in party-hearty Thessaloniki in late September, this 3-day event hosts a calendar chock-full of contemporary music performances.
Traveling to Greece in September? Consider these great itineraries.
Mythical Peloponnese Adventure - 7 Days. September offers perfect weather for this exciting multi-activity exploration of Southern Greece, combining Athens with hiking and sea kayaking.
Food Tour of Crete - 6 Days. The olive and vine harvests have begun, so why not eat and drink to your heart's content, plus hike Samara Gorge.
Active Cyclades: Tinos, Naxos & Ios - 11 Days. Discover some of the lesser islands, including hiking and scuba diving.