Planning to visit Greece in February? Being a pretty mountainous country, Greece is an excellent destination for winter holidays, especially when you know exactly where to go to get the best experiences that can be had!
Especially for the month of February, which is the heart of winter for Greece, there are a lot of things you can see and do that will offer you a unique experience of Greece and beauty that only those who know Greece isn’t just a summer destination get to see!
So, if you’re up for an unexpected winter wonderland, bundle up and get ready with this guide to February in Greece!
- A Guide to Visiting Greece in February
- Pros and cons of visiting Greece in February
- The weather in Greece during February
- Holidays in Greece in February
- Where to go in Greece in February
- Planning your vacation to Greece in February
A Guide to Visiting Greece in February
Pros and cons of visiting Greece in February
February is officially the off-season in Greece, so one of the biggest pros of going there then is you get everything a lot cheaper. You also get a far more authentic feel of Greece everywhere you go simply because there are very few tourists.
Nobody is in the high-season frenzy, so you get to see locals being more relaxed, museums being nearly empty (except when schools are visiting), and venues that cater to the locals rather than the tourists- so that is a great opportunity to experience services and quality as it appeals to Greeks rather than in versions that are designed to cater to international tastes.
February is also still sales season in Greece, so you can get a lot of bargains while you’re there! Especially towards the end of February, sales become even heftier, so keep an eye out for the various shops!
The cons of being in Greece in February stem from it being the off-season as well: archaeological sites and museums are on the winter schedule, which means they close early or aren’t open at all in the afternoon.
Many of the standard places Greece is known for, such as cosmopolitan islands renowned for their nightlife, are closed. For example, Mykonos’ high-end clubs and summer restaurants are all closed, and the island is back to being a traditional, quiet, relaxed Cycladic place. But that might be exactly what you’re looking for!
Domestic airports might be closed for the winter, limiting your travel options within Greece, and certain ferry or air travel lines may be a lot less frequent, which means you will need to plan and design your vacation well in advance. The good news is that these flights and ferries are rarely fully booked, but you should never rely on that.
The weather as well can be quite mercurial. Especially when it comes to visiting islands, you might be grounded by severe winds that result in sailing bans for ferries. These sailing bans can go on for a few days and depend solely on how long the heavy weather lasts. However, these are issues that you can easily work around when you design your February vacation now that you know!
Check out: When to visit Greece? A detailed guide.
The weather in Greece during February
As already mentioned, February is the heart of winter in Greece. That means that you’re likely to experience the heaviest version of it by Greek standards. Depending on where you go, this can be pretty cold or relatively mild.
On average, temperatures during February are around 10 degrees Celsius and drop to 5 degrees during the night. However, if there is a cold spell, that can easily drop to 5 degrees during the day and go as low as -1 during the night.
This average drops the more north you go, so expect it to be around 5 degrees on average in Thessaloniki and even down to 0 degrees in Xanthi during the day and go well into the minus during the night. Cold spells might be even lower.
The more south you go, the average goes higher! So in the islands, it’ll be at around 12 degrees during the day, and in Crete, it can get as high as 16 degrees, with only 8 to 10 degrees Celsius during the night. Cold spells rarely drop below zero.
Weather-wise, February is mostly sunny in Greece, as is the case in general. However, there can be sudden rainy days and snowy days even in Athens. Frost and ice are quite frequent, so make sure you bundle up and have good shoes to avoid slipping!
Holidays in Greece in February
February is a month of festivities in Greece, which are culturally vibrant and unique. Here are the ones you should look out for:
There are a lot of local panigyria or “feast days” honoring local patron saints that you can participate in. During this panygiria, there will be free food, dancing, music, and even open-air market stalls with street food and other tokens. It’s a wonderful opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture in ways that you can’t when there are crowds of tourists swarming everything.
A prime example is Santorini, one of the most popular and famous summer destinations in the world! On February 2nd, a panygiri is held at that gorgeous mountain chapel of Panagia Vothona. You get to attend mass at one of the most beautiful churches on the island and then party through the night until the next dawn with free food, wine, dancing, and song! It’ll be just the locals and you.
Therefore, anywhere you choose to go, make sure to look up local panygiria and wine or beer festivals that may be taking place, and don’t miss them!
Carnival season opens in February in Greece. Because it’s part of the Easter-related holidays, the exact date varies every year. The “Opening of the Triodion” is the official start to the carnival season, with each weekend or so being a special celebration of Lent-related dietary restrictions that begin the Monday after that weekend.
One of the most celebrated Thursdays is “Tsiknopempti” during which festivals for meat lovers are held everywhere in Greece, as after the weekend following Tsiknopempti, Lent forbids the consumption of meat. Make sure you attend or get together with Greek families celebrating Tsiknopempti at home, or book with a restaurant that has special happenings in honor of the day!
Beyond the culinary highlights of various carnival days, there is also the carnival itself. Dressing up in Greece happens only during the Carnival, and a lot of venues hold dress-up or masquerade parties that you should consider adding to your experience in Greece! Of course, the queen of the carnival in Greece is Patras, a wonderful city to visit anyway, now with more festivities!
February 14th is Valentine’s day, which is celebrated in Greece mainly as a lover’s celebration. There are a lot of venues that have special programs dedicated to romantic love, from restaurants and pubs to concerts and other happenings.
Make sure to look up various announcements in the area you are visiting. Big cities, especially Athens, always have a lot of events honoring the day, and certain towns and villages are considered a prime romantic getaway for couples.
Where to go in Greece in February
The best destination for wintertime in Greece are mostly in mainland Greece and Crete. Whether you’re feeling up for snowy fairytale-like areas, or mild, warm wintertime, Greece has you covered.
The islands, too, are a unique experience, provided you’re aware that you must factor in the sailing bans during bad weather- if you want to ensure that you won’t be grounded, make sure you choose an island that has an airport that works during the winter.
To make the most of February in Greece, consider visiting the following places:
The Zagori area in Epirus is just too stunningly gorgeous to appropriately describe with a few lines. Wander in the gorgeous forest, the stunning rivers with the beautiful waterfalls, explore amazing caves, and find warm refuge in any of the 46 villages that are considered of the most beautiful mountain villages in all of Greece: with a deep tradition of stonemasons that created astoundingly picturesque houses, bridges, paved byways, and verdant streets, you are virtually walking in a winter postcard.
Xanthi is another gorgeous city in Thrace that makes for a perfect destination in winter: you get to experience snow and the beauty of winter in Greece while surrounded by iconic northern Greek architecture, an amazing cultural atmosphere, and beautiful natural vistas such as the Kosynthos River trail (also called “the Path of Life”), the Nestos Gorge Observatory’s stunning views, and the gorgeous Livaditis Waterfall that freezes during the winter.
Make sure to visit the museums, especially the Balkan Culture Museum, the Folk and History Museum of Xanthi, and the House of Hadjidakis, one of the best and most internationally acclaimed modern composers of Greece.
Wander in the picturesque Old Town of Xanthi, and then warm up with the amazing local dishes and warm honey wine as you enjoy the snow falling outside!
Finally, there is a famous carnival parade in Xanthi every year.
As already mentioned, Patra is the queen of the Carnival in Greece. It’s located in the north of the Peloponnese, and its winter is almost always mild. During February, the big Carnival Parade is the central event, with a lot of locals dressing up in certain themes, spanning from satiric commentary on current events to pop-culture references and more!
Alongside the Parade, there are a lot of restaurants, clubs, and venues that have carnival-themed parties, and there are a lot of side-street parties that will pull you in for merriment as you wander the streets of the city!
Because Patra is a hub of university students, there are always a lot of young people willing to paint the town red, and the Carnival Season is a great opportunity!
Beyond the Carnival, Patra is a gorgeous city to explore in itself, with its Castle that was in use from the 500s AD to WWII, its stunning Cathedral, and important archaeological sites. Visit the Mycenean Cemetery, the Roman Amphitheater, and the Archaeological Museum.
Don’t miss out on other cultural venues, such as the house of Kostis Palamas, one of the most important poets of Greece, and the Achaia Clauss Winery, which has been making amazing wine since the 19th century.
Nafplion was the first capital of modern Greece after the War of Independence in 1821. It’s also one of the oldest planned cities in Greece, with remarkable preservation of its tremendously important heritage, and a great one to visit in winter and especially in February.
It’s already considered one of the most romantic cities in Greece, so for Valentine’s Day, Nafplion is an excellent choice. It is a lake city with gorgeous vistas no matter where you happen to be!
Enjoy the gorgeous neoclassical architecture of the city, the imposing three castles that reign over the city, and the iconic museums that are going to immerse you in the city’s deep history. Explore the famed Palamidi Fortress and take a boat ride to Bourtzi Castle in the middle of the lake!
Monemvasia is a stunning castle town in the Peloponnese that was built in medieval times and has fully preserved its heritage. Made to be invisible to pirates and fortified against invaders, it was called the Gibraltar of the East! Right now, it’s a perfect romantic destination for Valentine’s Day and an excellent vacation spot for history and nature lovers.
Monevasia combines the cosmopolitan with the traditional, where you can enjoy a romantic fine dining experience with your significant other, then explore the winding paved or cobblestone paths of the castle that is still alive with history, tradition, and progress.
The most famous of Greece’s island destinations is a viable option in winter, too, if you are looking for authenticity, quiet, and adventure! Since it is the off-season, a lot of the high-profile places in Santorini will be closed.
But that leaves the authentic, traditional, popular-with-locals places for you to enjoy. Santorini takes on its real flavor, away from the frenzy of tourists and free from the stifling crowds that swarm it during the summer months.
You can enjoy the gorgeous Oia, take in stunning sunsets, and explore the archaeological sites at your leisure. You can partake in local festivities like the February 2nd panygiri, and you can take in the truly wild, gorgeous natural landscapes of Santorini’s bizarre beaches without people and tourism in your way.
Santorini is great for couples all year round, and Valentine’s Day can be very special as you walk around the caldera with a few others.
The big two: Athens and Thessaloniki
If two places are great to visit in winter, it’s Greece’s capital Athens, and its ‘northern capital’ or ‘secondary capital’ Thessaloniki. Both boast staggering histories, with archeological sites literally everywhere you go.
Both have excellent local cuisine, as well as fusion and international options that are very popular with the locals. Follow the queuing to get hot spanakopita in the mornings in central Athens and warm bougatsa in Thessaloniki as the most authentic breakfast in the city!
Visit the Acropolis in Athens or the White Tower in Thessaloniki for some of the most iconic photos of your holidays. Walk around the historical center of Athens, especially around Plaka, and immerse yourself in its gorgeous 19th and early 20th-century architecture while listening to street musicians and live music taverna tunes wafting around in the air.
Walk around the historical center of Thessaloniki, with the gorgeous view of the bay and the iconic square and promenade that make it unique. Visit the museums and the imposing churches, and seek out the art galleries and exhibits that are at their height during the winter season!
For Valentine’s Day, Athens and Thessaloniki are ideal as there are many places with happenings and celebrations tailor-made for romantic couples.
Planning your vacation to Greece in February
Because it is the off-season, planning for your vacation in Greece in February is quite important: you must make sure that where you want to go will have the services and amenities you plan to use.
Especially when it comes to domestic airports or airline or ferry connections, you must make sure that these are still serving the public during winter. Make sure you book all your ferry and plane tickets well in advance.
If you plan to go to the islands, make sure you either have time to spare in case you are grounded by bad weather or can leave the island by plane.
For accommodations and even restaurant bookings, assuming you plan for a nice Valentine’s Day dinner or some such occasion, you must make sure you book well in advance, as often certain destinations are popular in the winter (such as Monemvasia or Nafplion), and get fully booked quickly.
The same goes for restaurants that are either considered luxury (i.e., fine dining venues) or very famous or popular because they will be fully booked on simple weekends, let alone days such as Valentine’s Day or Carnival-related days.
Lastly, just because generally winter in Greece is considered mild, don’t let yourself be taken in. It can get quite cold in Greece, even in the southernmost areas, so make sure you pack warm clothes, jackets, scarves, and gloves along with your sunglasses and sunblock: you can be cold to the bone while the day is brilliantly sunny and threatening to still scorch your nose!