When the Crowds Disappear: Enjoying Late-Season Greece

By Chris Deliso for Travel Intelligence (2009)

Although Greece and its myriad of inviting islands are most popular in high summer, the country still has plenty to offer even after the masses have dissipated; in fact, for this very reason, this Mediterranean destination becomes all the more attractive. Out of high season, it’s eminently possible to enjoy your own private Greece. Here are four aspects of the Greek experience reserved for those patient enough to wait a bit longer than the average traveller.

1. Follow the Sun

If you want to indulge in the last rays of the Indian summer, then follow the sun to the southernmost Greek islands. Getaways like Crete and Rhodes remain balmy longer than anywhere else in the country. Further, Crete is Greece’s largest island, and Rhodes is relatively large too, meaning that there are more options for getting there in the late season than to smaller places.

Coming in September and October to Greece’s southern isles virtually guarantees that you can enjoy some of the country’s most pristine beaches – the pink sands and lapping lagoons of Elafonissi in Crete is just one of many – minus the crowds. Take a dip in waters that have been warming all summer, and gaze out over an endless sea from your own private sandy cove.

2. Great Value for Accommodation

Another benefit of visiting the Greek islands in the fall is that you can get great value for accommodation. That sumptuous resort or chic boutique hotel you were dreaming of staying at, but was just too pricey? The difference between inordinately expensive and suddenly affordable might simply mean travelling just a couple of weeks later than you otherwise would have. And, when comparing things by category of accommodation, there is no type of lodging in Greece that registers such relative declines in room cost than the top end of the market.

3. Autumn Idylls

Meanwhile, over on the Greek mainland, autumn idylls offer another opportunity for good value, and a different kind of experience. Watch the leaves change colour and feel the crisp mountain air in Epiros, Greece’s northwestern province, interspersed by the rugged Pindos range.

Here, in attractive traditional villages like Metsovo, or the famous stone-and-slate villages of the Zagorohoria region, further west, you’ll find atmospheric and evocative lodging in refurbished traditional mansions. Wedged as it is between the high seasons of summer and the winter, when prices rise for ski season, the autumn season also makes for a more affordable time to visit- and you don’t have to worry about encountering snow on the roads, either.

4. Urban Life

Since temperatures fall in autumn, this period is also best for enjoying urban life in Greece while avoiding the sweltering heat of summer. Seeing Athens and its magnificent historical sites becomes much more bearable when it’s cooler, while visiting Greece’s smaller cities is a completely different experience in fall than it would be in July and August. Abandoned for much of the summer, student-driven cities like Thessaloniki spring to life in September, when social life and cultural events swing into high gear. Out of high season, Greece becomes much more ‘Greek;’ if you want to get a feel for what makes the country tick, just show up after the crowds have gone.