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Best time to visit Athens
Photo credits to Titanas via Flickr
High season in Athens is from May to October, with a particular peak in July and August.
The lowest number of visitors arrives in January and February, that’s the best period to avoid crowds - you may even get the impression that you’re alone at Acropolis: the site is big, and you will always find a quiet corner without many people in sight. Just to give you an idea: during these months there are on average 10 times less visitors a day than in August!
Spring is the best time in terms of crowds/weather ratio: with the Mediterranean climate, it’s warm with a lot of sunshine. The closer the summer is - the more crowded it becomes. April is probably the best month, with the temperatures rising up to 19°C and a moderate number of visitors in the city.
Beware that Easter Week attracts big crowds, but that’s a very unique spiritual period you may prefer to see despite higher visitation numbers: many rites and traditions differ as Greece is an Orthodox country.
Fall period is slightly worse for visiting Athens (and Acropolis particularly) than spring: there are more visitors and it rains more often. November would be a good option, as there are no crowds remaining in the city. You may consider coming at the end of October - beginning of November to see one of the main Greek holidays - the Ohi Day (October 28), when most public buildings and residences are decorated with Greek flags, and military and student parades are held.
Tips to avoid crowds at Acropolis
One of the things you should take into account first is the weather: if you arrive at Acropolis in July-August (slightly less in September but should still be considered) - it’s usually unbearably hot late morning and early afternoon. Exploring Acropolis, which is an open site, would therefore be difficult and exhausting.
Give preference to coming right at the opening time, or even about 10 minutes before to be sure to be one of the first. By doing this, you will not only visit the site before the heat becomes suffocating, but also be ahead of large tourist crowds, most of those arrive at around 9-10am.
Buy your skip-the-line tickets online, that’s always saving some time instead of queueing at a specific booth.
Acropolis crowds during the summer depend a lot on cruise timetables: a huge number of the Greek capital visitors arrive for a one-day trip with a cruise and leave the same day. Usually they do the Acropolis first thing in the morning or, in rare cases, early afternoon . Most of them turn back to the ships at about 3-5 pm. So if you didn’t manage to get up early enough to be at Acropolis in the morning - you may try your luck at the end of the day. Beware to check the opening hours on the official website and come about 1,5-2 hours before the closing time, in order to give yourself enough time.
If you decide to escape from the crowds at midday - head to the Museum of the Ancient Agora, it’s small but very interesting and seldom overcrowded.
The full ticket price is €20, and it gives access to the following sites: Acropolis of Athens, Ancient Agora of Athens, Archaeological Museum of Kerameikos, Hadrian’s Library, Kerameikos, Museum of the Ancient Agora, North slope of Acropolis, Olympieio, Roman Agora of Athens, South Slope of Acropolis.
Reduced ticket price: €10 (EU citizens over 65 years old, non-EU students).
Free entrance: children under 18 years, EU students.
Since 9th April 2016, Acropolis is open everyday from 8am to 8pm (last admission at 7:30pm).
Tips for a few days in Athens
This page will give you many tips to avoid crowds in Athens as well as crowd schedules for top tourist attractions in order to plan your visits.
Photo credits to Ronny Siegel via Flickr