Best Greek Islands To Visit In April and May
All Greek islands have something to offer visitors. You just need to know which one matches your interests, budget and type of holiday!
If you are planning a holiday to the Greek islands in April or May there are some things to keep in mind for a smooth experience.
Can you swim in Greece in April and May?
One of the first questions you will probably want an answer to is, “can I swim?”.
Well, yes and no.
Everybody has a different idea of what a comfortable beach temperature is but if you are planning on lounging on a sunbed all day and getting a suntan then April and May are not ideal months.
In Santorini, the average water temperature is 16o to 18o Celsius (60-64 Fahrenheit). You find similar temperatures in Rhodes and Crete which are considered the warmest places to be during that period of the year.
Having said that, on a clear blue sky kinda day, there is nothing stopping you from experiencing the cold Mediterranean waters. When I called the island of Crete home, middle of December swimming was not unheard of, plus it is supposed to be great for your immune system!
If your budget allows, finding a hotel with a heated indoor or outdoor pool would be ideal. Especially in places like Santorini that is a great spring destination for travellers that dislike crowds. Getting to experience a caldera view while warm inside your spa pool is bliss!
While most Greeks will find May still quite cold for swimming, the southern islands like Crete and Rhodes will all be good options for a dip.
What is the weather going to be like in Greece in April and May?
For April expect the temperature to hover around 20 degrees and come prepared with at least one light jacket and some warm layers. On average there are at least 6 days of rainfall a month.
By mid May the temperature will have significantly increased to a perfect 26o degrees Celsius but if you are a fan of hiking activities or will like to explore more mountainous areas then a few warmer clothing items will still be needed.
What Greek islands are best for April and May?
The best Greek islands for April and May have a few things in common.
a) a permanent population base which means more accommodation and activity options
b) frequent flights or ferry options
c) located in southern Greece for warmer temperatures
Dodecanese Islands For April and May
The Dodecanese peninsula is a complex of 15 major islands that are located between the Cyclades and Turkey.
The most famous island in the region is Rhodes, which is ideal for those wanting to combine their holidays with a plethora of cultural and historical activities. Known as the island of Knights and Castles, Rhodes ticks all boxes for a warm, easy to reach island whose size allows more options for activities.
There are usually daily departures all year round and it will take you approximately 15 hours and at least 20 euro per person depending on availability. The Easter celebrations can affect the frequency and availability of the ferries as well as their price. The neighbouring Kos, Karpathos, Patmos and Kalymnos all have connections to Rhodes as well that take between 3-5 hours to reach.
Cyclades Islands For April and May
The Cyclades are the most visited islands in Greece. That includes the all-time favourite Santorini, celebrity magnet Mykonos, and “not-so-secret” anymore Milos and Naxos. Due to their popularity, the islands of the Cyclades will be some of the easiest to reach.
Yet, the sheer number of options can be confusing to say the least.
What is one to do?
Mykonos and Santorini are the places visitors most often say they want to visit. If that is your dream destination and you are set on experiencing them outside of the summer season (meaning without your bikini) then go for it. The prices will be lower than in July and August and you will have a better chance of experiencing the Greek hospitality and relaxed vibe that you have heard so much about.
Syros, for example, is an interesting choice, since it has the largest number of Catholics in Greece and they traditionally celebrate Catholic and Orthodox Easter on the same time. Even though the Catholic Easter date always falls a week earlier.
In Folegandros, the people of the island celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ with a procession. Starting on Easter Sunday and for the next two dates, the icon of the Virgin Mary is taken around the island to every village and every house, where it is received in the spirit of celebration. Treats, delicacies and wine are handed out to the people of the procession.
In Tinos, an island known as the island of miracles and religious pilgrimage, another interesting tradition survives in the village of Ktikados, the meal of love. It is a chance for people to sit and enjoy a meal together, forgive each other any wrongdoings done in the past and reconcile.
What other destinations to visit in Greece in April and May?
There are of course other non-island destinations that you can visit in April and May.
This might be a good option for those looking into travelling very early in April when some hotels and activities are still closed or there are less frequent connections to allow for island-hopping.
Springtime in Greece is ideal for nature lovers! Grab a backpack, your hiking gear and a good friend and go explore some of the more mountainous destinations around Central Greece. You don’t need to leave the sea far behind you to do that either. You can have the best of both worlds in some of the destinations we suggest below.
In Old Panteleimonas, a village high up on the mountains, you can stay in a traditional settlement with cobblestone streets and adorable boutique hotels. Enjoy the view of the Thermaic Gulf below and dine on local delicacies while exploring another side of Greece.
Galaxidi, in Central Greece, has all the charm of an island destination, since until very recently it was cut off from the rest of the world. Architectural gems, peace and tranquillity are things you can look forward to here.
Thessaloniki in the north, the reigning co-capital of Greece, is the area richest in Byzantine monuments and has countless activity options for a colder springs day. If the sun is out and you wish for a swim, however, the beautiful beaches of Halkidiki nearby will not dissapoint.
Things to keep in mind when traveling to Greece in April and May?
Τhe biggest thing to keep in mind when booking a holiday to Greece around the April, May period is Greek Easter.
The dates for next few years are:
2021 – May 2nd
2022 – April 24th
2023 – April 16th
2024 – May 5th
Easter is the largest Christian holiday in Greece. Yes, even more important than Christmas. People spend a lot of time preparing for and celebrating Easter, with countless events both purely religious as well as family gatherings.
What that means for travelers, is that the days before Easter Sunday and the week following are busy, with lots of people moving from place to place to be with loved ones. There tends to be a mass exodus from Athens to the villages and islands.
The positive side is that there are more ferry routes available to the islands.
Almost everything will be closed on Easter Sunday and most businesses may also remain closed for Easter Monday.
Conclusion for Greek islands in April and May
As you can see, travelling to the Greek islands in mid spring is a great option. If are wanting to hit one or more destinations, plan your routes well in advance and pay close attention to the Orthodox Easter dates.
Lounging on a sunbed will not be feasible but you can still splash around the waters. The most southern islands will be warmest, and the largest of the lot will have more to offer in terms of activities.
Which Greek island is best for your type of holiday?
Rania grew up in Thessaloniki and spent most of her adult life in her adopted country of New Zealand. When she’s not studying to complete her masters degree she’s either reading, writing or exploring the outdoors.
She loves going on mini adventures, whether it is an impromptu road trip or multi-day hikes. She is interested in photography and languages and strongly believes that feta should be consumed with every meal.
She also thinks Greece is the best holiday destination and invites anyone that thinks otherwise to prove her wrong.
More of her writing can be found at Bachelor of Travel.