February is Carnival time, and a good time to witness the celebration of Lent—an important part of Greek culture. This winter month is still low season in Greece, with few visitors, a subdued nightlife and cold, often gray, weather but fewer rainy days. Prices are still at their lowest, and this is one of the best months of the year to experience the Greek Islands like a local, forsaking the beaches to experience the culture at its most authentic.

Weather

Throughout the Greek islands, the weather remains mostly cold, with an average high around 57 ° F (14°C), but with significantly less rain than January.

By month’s end, temperatures are noticeably beginning to rise as the end of winter approaches, and may feel positively balmy compared to more northerly European countries. But even the locals bundle up warm and tight when biting northerlies whip through.

The Aegean can be very windy at this time of year, so be prepared for possible stormy passages if you use the inter-island ferries. Pack a sweater, cold-weather jacket, long pants, and raingear. And while the sea is a tad warmer than the air temperature, it’s still far too cold to swim comfortably.

Crowds & Costs

This is a great time to visit the Greek Islands if you eschew crowds and the noisy, party scene of summer. You’ll have the most popular islands, such as Mykonos and Santorini, virtually to yourself—in some less popular islands, it may truly be just you and the locals. The same holds true for top museums and historical sites, such as Delos.

Plus, Greece is bargain-priced in February. Many hotels and restaurants remain closed for the off-season, but those hotels that remain open will have drastically reduced rates. Air fares are also cheaper. Remember, though, that there’ll be fewer flight options, and the inter-island ferries operate on reduced schedules.

Where to Go

February is a good time to be a culture vulture, focusing on the archaeological and cultural hot-spots, such as Crete, Rhodes, and Delos—places where in high-season, top sights are swarmed with tour groups. This is a time to forgo nightlife (the nightclubs of Ios, Mykonos, and Santorini will still be closed for winter) in favor of saving the island’s off-season calm, with time to focus on the stunning architecture and the slow rhythm of the isles in winter, and to photograph the isles at their most serene.

Corfu is especially delightful in February. Photographers will love the more diffuse light and softer colors of landscapes and seascapes, while vibrant Carnival festivities add the whirligig of costume parties in the streets. The narrow alleys of Corfu Town and its small family-run tavernas are blessedly free of summer crowds, and you can linger like a local over coffees and ouzos. And wandering the many old footpaths that lead through Corfu’s lush, hilly landscapes is particularly agreeable in the comfortable cool of mid-winter.

What to Do

With the air still too cool for sunbathing in comfort, and the sea too cold for bathing, February is a time to think of exploring away from the beach, with your sights set on cultural sites and events.

For example, head to the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Delos to be awed by the ancient temples, which you’ll have just for yourself. On nearby Mykonos, this is a great time to hike the path to the Armenistic Lighthouse, or to Agios Sotic Beach. It’ll be just you and the donkeys, goats, and one or two local shepherds to enjoy the solitude.

Crete is another fantastic destination for hiking. Plus, you get to experience the Apokries—the island’s Carnival celebration, when almost every settlement on the island dresses up in costume and parades through the streets, accompanied by music, dance, and plenty of irresistible cooked treats..

February Events

Carnival (Apokries): Cities throughout Greece host flamboyant carnivals, with plenty of dancing and feasting, when aromas of barbecue waft on the air. Those of Crete and Corfu are among the best. The 3-week carnival period peaks on the last Sunday before Lent and closes with “Clean Monday” (Ash Monday), ending a colorful three-week calliope.

Traveling to the Greek islands in February? Check out these great itineraries

Getting Off the Beaten Path in Mykonos. Get to know the quieter, more natural side of Mykonos, beyond the beach party scene.

Relaxing Secret Cyclades – 16 Days. Tour the villages and vineyards of such lesser-visited gems as Tinos, Syros, and Naxos.

More Helpful Links

Greece in February
Best Time to Visit Greece
Greece Tours & Itineraries