Greece is a tourist hot-spot in the European summer, with the sparkling oceans, sandy beaches and dreams of white-washed streets calling travellers from all over the globe. We set off on our Greek adventure in shoulder season, during mid-April, and we are so happy we made this (somewhat spontaneous) decision…
1 – LOWER PRICES
Hotels, ferries, food, car hire, you name it, everything is is more affordable on the islands during the shoulder season. With the tourism season not yet gearing up, or just starting to wane, businesses are happy to see you and you’re rewarded with lower prices. Costs will be cranked up twice as high or more from May until August, so if you want to visit all those beautifully popular islands in a more budget-friendly way, this is your first smart move.2 – LAST MINUTE BOOKINGS
We made the decision to fly from London to Athens just a week in advance, we bought our ferry tickets just five days in advance, we locked in our hotels just three days in advance…get the idea? If you’re visiting in high season then this sort of behaviour is either going to require you to be a millionaire, or not even be an option.3 – PERFECT WEATHER
Not too hot, not too cold, the shoulder season will give you that ideal balance to enjoy both strolling the streets of Little Venice, and swimming on the black beach of Santorini. Generally in the mid to high 20s, you’ll need a light jacket in the evenings, but will still be able to enjoy wearing that perfect white dress during the day.
4 – PRIVATE BEACHES
We spent a day exploring the coast of Mykonos and we can’t tell you how many empty beaches we discovered! Long stretches of soft sand and glistening water were deserted as far as the eye could see. Not so bad having your very own private beach on one of the most popular islands in Greece!
5 – MEET THE LOCALS
With 26 million visitors to Greece in 2015, summer season really isn’t the time to be trying to initiate a conversation with the locals. Shoulder season brings the opportunity to relax in a bar for hours on end chatting with the owner, allows friendly banter with the guy selling ice cream on the side of the road, and a much more personal and relaxed experience wherever you wander. So we don’t take photos of ourselves chatting to the locals…but here’s a photo of a donkey…
6 – NO LINES
Hanging for a gyros only to find you have a line of 30 people in front of you? Wanting to wander the Acropolis and discover you’ll have to wait 45 minutes for a ticket? Got down to the beach a little late to a sea of bodies occupying all the sun beds? Not in shoulder season!
7 – PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES AWAIT
Last but not least and something we were ridiculously happy to discover; the lack of crowds meant capturing those iconic Greece photos wasn’t so difficult! We could settle in at that perfect position for sunset just an hour and a half early rather than four, we could pop down to the blue domes in Santorini at any time of the day without having to wait any longer than five minutes for someone else to grab their holiday snaps, and we could enjoy watching sunset without the chatter of 200 people around us. Our tour guide, Spyros from Guide Me in Greece laughed as he told us we wouldn’t recognise Santorini in just a month – traffic jams heading up to Oia every night for the sunset, waves of people jostling up and down the streets, beaches packed with sun-tanned (or bright red) bodies. Now and September really is the perfect time, he told us, and we would have to agree!
What’s your favourite time to visit Greece?