Greece Weather in January: Travel Tips for First-Timers

By Edward | Updated Oct. 7, 2023

January is in the middle of Greece's winter, which is typically cool, except in the mountains where snowfall is common. There is moderate to low rainfall. The capital, islands, and a ski resort are recommended.

Averages:

  • Temperature range: 8–14°C (46–57°F)
  • Rainfall: 9 cm (3 inches)
  • Rainy days: 15
  • Sunshine hours/day: 4 hours

Read on for our weather information and travel advice including average temperatures and rainfall, places to go, and travel tips…

Suggested reading: Best and Worst Times to Visit Greece>>>

Climate Comparison (Averages) for Greece's Top Tourism Areas

Greece City/Area Temp. Rainfall
Athens (Largest city, travel hub, ancient capital) Cool Low
Crete (beaches, hikes, Minoan palaces, waterparks) Mild Moderate
Santorini (Scenic coast, food, wine, swimming, sailing) Cool Low
Corfu (Beaches, turquoise sea, medieval architecture) Cool Moderate
Greece City/Area Daily High Daily Low
Athens (Largest city, travel hub, ancient capital) 13ºC (55ºF) 7ºC (45ºF)
Crete (beaches, hikes, Minoan palaces, waterparks) 15ºC (59ºF) 9ºC (48ºF)
Santorini (Scenic coast, food, wine, swimming, sailing) 14ºC (57ºF) 10ºC (50ºF)
Corfu (Beaches, turquoise sea, medieval architecture) 14ºC (57ºF) 5ºC (41ºF)
Greece City/Area Rain (cm) Rain (in)
Athens (Largest city, travel hub, ancient capital) 6 2
Crete (beaches, hikes, Minoan palaces, waterparks) 9 4
Santorini (Scenic coast, food, wine, swimming, sailing) 6 2
Corfu (Beaches, turquoise sea, medieval architecture) 14 6

January's cool weather often feels mild and comfortable at low elevations because it is sunny almost half the daylight hours.

Northern Greece: Northern Greece is colder and windier than the south. The climate is more continental: cold air masses from Europe bring higher winds, storms, snow, or frost at times. Lowland Thessaloniki averages between 10°C (50°F) and 3°C (37°F). Higher elevations see more snow.

Southern Greece: The climate in the south is generally Mediterranean. The sea makes the temperatures milder. Sightseeing, touring, and hiking activities are not affected by the weather as much as in the north, and it often feels mild and comfortable, even in the evenings.

Best Places to Visit in Greece in January

January's weather is good for comfortably touring Greece's extensive archeological sites, sightseeing, touring urban attractions, hiking, and going to a ski resort during low season. When evening descends, as it does early in January, you can enjoy dining in warm Greek restaurants.

1. Acropolis Hill, Athens — Tour the Ancient Highlights

Athens' weather is usually pleasant in January. Snow is uncommon. Though it rains about 13 days, the rainfall is low. You can tour ancient and modern highlights with less crowding during low tourism season. Most days in January are good to explore major archeological sites on Acropolis Hill comfortably.

You can take the long walk up the main pedestrian road to the Acropolis past cafés and hotels, then walk around the extensive park area including Mar's Hill where Paul is thought to have spoken, the Parthenon, the Dionysus theater facade, and the Odeon amphitheater.

The Agora complex is at the base of the Acropolis and includes numerous buildings, sites, and monuments from many eras as well as the Museum of Ancient Agora. This museum is in a building that originally dates from 138 BC and closes at 5 pm. The Parthenon closes at 3 pm.

2. Downtown Athens — Tour the Modern Highlights, Enjoy the Food and Culture, and Visit the Treasure-Filled Museums

Many tourists will find modern Athens to be just as interesting in its own way as the ancient ruins. You can watch the locals celebrate major Greek holidays in January and join in if you want. See below for more on public holidays.

The Greeks have a unique culture, and the culture is especially highlighted in winter without the tourist crowds that come during the rest of the year. The downtown restaurants and shops in the area are excellent, and there is easy access to Athens' metro hub stations.

We recommend Monastiraki at the base of the Acropolis for your hotel accommodations, so you'll be right in the middle of Athens' highlights. You could get a hotel room where you could see a dreamy and otherworldly Acropolis shining at night on the hill.

3. Santorini — Resting, Dining, Hiking, and Seeing Archeological Sites

Santorini is the most popular Greek island for tourists for a lot of reasons such as 3,600-year-old Akrotiri that was partly buried in lava. Picturesque cliff-top towns, Fira and Oia, are places people hike between, and you can visit Ottoman and Byzantine constructions that are still in use.

Though January is in the low tourism season, most of Santorini's historical places stay open for visits. The weather is good for long hikes through nature and the popular towns. We suggest enjoy staying in the capital, Fira, as your base, and enjoying the substantially lower prices.

There is low rainfall and cool temperatures averaging 9–14°C (48–57°F). The water temperature is too cold for swimming, so most of the famous beach clubs, businesses, restaurants, hotels, and shops are closed. Ferry rides from Athens take between 5 and 7 hours, and flights take 50 minutes.

4. Crete — Hiking, Relaxed Resort Stays, and Sightseeing Ancient Ruins and Greek Buildings

Crete is popular because it is a big island (about 700,000 people live there) with good beaches and long hiking trails through amazing natural and historical places amid tall mountains. Samaria Gorge, unfortunately, is not open until April

The average daily temperature range is from mild highs of about 16°C (61°F) to chilly lows of 8°C (46°F). There are regular snows on the peaks, and skiing is possible. You can see the historical sites such as Knossos without crowds.

Crete is beautiful all year round, though it rains more often in Crete than the rest of Greece: about 16 days each January. Flights to Crete's two airports takes about an hour from Athens.

5. Parnassos — Ski

Parnassos is the best ski resort in Greece since it is the largest and best equipped. The highest route starts at 2,260 meters (7,415 feet). The ski resort has good slopes for beginners and intermediate skiers.

Parnassos is conveniently close to Athens (2½ hours' driving) for a day excursion for skiing and winter sports, so you could be back in Athens for dinner. Alternatively, good accommodations in Parnassos average about 100 USD per night.

Highlights nearby: The famous archeological site, Delphi, is about 75 minutes away by vehicle. For coastal scenery and fine Greek-style seafood, Galaxdi, a fishing village, is less than two hours away. Galaxdi's average high in January is about 15ºC (59ºF).

Tips for Visiting Greece in January

Greece seems so much more tranquil, peaceful, and dreamy in winter. So it is a good time to relax and enjoy the excellent Greek food and experience the unique culture. As you tour, you will have more time to contemplate about history and life in general. There are bargain prices for hotels and flights.

The weather is conducive for walking tours, and it is better without the rush of tourist crowds. You might find that you like the usually calm and comfortable days followed by relaxing in warm cheery restaurants.

Closures: Some popular Greek islands are virtually closed down during winter. Many hotels and restaurants close for their winter vacations.

Shorter hours: The archaeological sites have shorter hours in January than in the summer. Most major sites close at 3 p.m. because there is less daylight, and minor sites might not open. Many museums also close earlier too, even by 3:30 p.m.

Public holidays in January: There are two major national holidays in Greece in January and a local carnival.

  • January 1, New Year's Day is the Feast of Saint Basil's — a major Orthodox holiday. Greeks give gifts, reunite with family and friends, party, and play games. You would see a lot of customs and ceremonies, and Athens and many other places have midnight fireworks.
  • January 6, 2024, Epiphany — On this major Orthodox holiday (Theofania), local Orthodox priests lead processions, visiting each house to offer a blessing.
  • The Patras Carnival: The city of Patras (2½ hours west of Athens) has parades and parties starting on January 17 that last for about a month.

What to Wear in January

You will need a coat for comfort, and if you are planning to go to the mountains or to the north of Greece, take freezing weather clothing. Since there are rainy days, have an umbrella or poncho handy.

Monthly Weather in Greece

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