Where Can You Swim in Greece in October?

Visiting Greece during its shoulder season has become very popular, but can you swim in the glorious Greek seas in October? It depends. In this travel guide, you’ll find all the info you need about visiting Greece for a seaside beach and swimming holiday in October.

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October in Greece – the people, the islands, the weather

Early October is business as usual. After the first three weeks, you start noticing the inevitable departure of summer.  

Acropolis of Athens and the Arch of Hadrian, Athens, Greece
Acropolis of Athens and the Arch of Hadrian, Athens, Greece

The end of October is the period when the summer has officially ended and the whole tourism industry is being put on a back-burner until mid-March next year.

Now, this does not mean the hotels are closed, ports shut and ferries grounded.

On the contrary – the country is back to its regular rhythms, which enables you to understand how beautiful Greek summers must have been several decades ago before the country became one of the world’s prime holiday destinations.

So what does it actually mean?

Well, it means the majority of tourists are gone and you will mostly be meeting locals wherever you go.

Even the last Athenian visitors are back to the capital, which is picking up a pace after the sleepy August when half of its citizens moved to the islands.

Greek tavernas take over from fancy restaurants during October
Greek tavernas take over from fancy restaurants during October

The beaches will become (almost) a private coastline for you and maybe a few other people to enjoy.

It means the locals you meet will be more relaxed and usually occupied with their other activities – like agricultural chores or construction.

It means the gourmet restaurants, luxury resorts, and island yoga classes for tourists are probably done for the season, so you will become a patron of the local taverna serving the freshest of local produce and you will love it!

So, Greek islands don’t close in October or during the winter?

No, they are not theme parks that shut down after the last visitors have gone home. Greek islands are year-round places where people live, work, go to school, and celebrate life.

Low season is the best for island exploration - Ammoudi bay in Santorini
Low season is the best for island explorationAmoudi Bay, Oia, Santorini Island, Greece

This means the ferries and airplanes (where available) will still connect them to the mainland, just a bit less frequent than during the summer (something like 3-4 times a week, compared to daily service during the summer).

Actually, many people prefer to wait until October to visit the Greek islands and most islands continue to welcome them in a much more peaceful and calm atmosphere.

Water sports, swimming, sailing excursions, diving trips, and courses are all available during October as the weather is still pretty good.

The off-season starts in November when the rainy days are here to stay until spring.

What is the weather in Greece in October like?

Greece is a country that stretches from the Balkans to the Libyan Sea, so the weather is different in the north which tends to be colder and not very inviting for swimming due to lower sea temperatures, especially during the winter months.

Clouds over the northern Cyclades islands of Greece
Clouds over the northern Cyclades islands of Greece

The southern parts of the country, its islands closer to Africa, and some sections of the Peloponnese peninsula are the best choices for those wanting a swimming holiday in Greece in October.  

However, the rule of thumb for Greek weather in October is this – the temperatures are much milder than during the summer, the sun is mellow and the mornings/evenings can be chilly.

You can get some wind and rain, but nothing too much or too harsh to spoil a whole day.

🌡️ Average temperature in Greece in October (daytime)

Between 15-25°C in the southern part of the country, and lower in the north. Mountainous regions regularly get temperatures lower than 10°C.

The mountains of Meteora, Greece
The mountains of Meteora, Greece

🌡️ Average temperatures in Greece in October (nighttime)

Between 12-18°C to the south, colder as you go north.

🌊 Average Sea Temperatures in Greece in October

These are just above the line for comfortable swimming if the day is sunny. Expect the sea temperature to be around 21-23°C to the south and less than 21°C around the northern coastlines.

The national average sea temperature in October is 20.9°C.

☀️ Hours of Sunshine

Expect 6-8 sunshine hours during the day, as October still maintains clear skies above Greece.

☔ Rainy days

If you head to Greece early in October, the chances are that you will not see a single drop. These chances increase as the month progresses.

Trip Anthropologist
Rain in Athens at the Temple of Olympian Zeus, Greece

However, the days are warm and still relatively long (sunset is around 18:30-18:45), leaving you with around 11 hours of daylight.  

Swimming in Greece in October

Based on all of this and my decades-long personal experience of swimming in the Greek seas in October, I can advise you on a couple of things:

Go south

The chances you will have warm seas and no rain are significantly better if you go to the southern islands, including southwest Cyclades, Dodecanese islands, Crete, and southern Peloponnese.

Libyan Sea from the southern coast of Crete Island, Greece
Libyan Sea from the southern coast of Crete Island, Greece

Avoid the Greek islands close to Athens and venture as far as the ferries take you to find fewer tourists, pleasant temperatures, and comfortable October swimming.

Only the south of the country is worth visiting.  

Go early

For a beach holiday with sunny weather in October, with higher water temperatures, empty best beaches, and lively low-season seaside and outdoor activities, plan the first 10 days of October.

Trip Anthropologist
Avoid the end of October as the sun sets early, like it happened to me here in beautiful Sfakia, Crete

After that, visiting Greece for fair weather becomes a hit-and-miss, and if you have time, visit Greece for its historical sites, wine tours, etc.

For these activities it doesn’t matter whether the weather cooperates.

Combine Swimming with Sightseeing

Have a Plan B ready in case the weather gets nasty or the seas get cooler than expected.

Also, after the sunny days are gone, you can visit Athens or other mainland Greek destinations for its archaeological sites.

Trip Anthropologist
Greek island of Rhodes is one of the best islands to combine swimming and sightseeing

October is also a great time to visit Corfu and Ionian islands for their charms and wine, not high sea average temperature, hot weather, or swimming.  

So, is it warm enough in Greece in October for comfortable swimming?

In the southern parts of the country, it is not only warm enough, but the first week of October (together with late September) might be the most enjoyable time for swimming.

Naxos Chora, Naxos Island, Greece
Naxos Chora, Naxos Island, Greece

Sudden showers usually do not last long and if the sun is back, the sea will feel most refreshing. Once you are back ashore, you will feel quite energized and fresh from the swim.  

Best Greek destinations for swimming in October

Southern Cyclades Islands, especially:

🏝️ Santorini – is perhaps at its calmest during October. The crowds are gone, the seas are still blissful and the island is not super busy. And that sunset over the Caldera cliffs can be all yours too.  

On the caldera edge, Santorini Island, Greece
On the caldera edge, Santorini Island, Greece

🏝️ Folegandros – another gem of the southern Cyclades with the most beaches per square kilometer in the whole of the archipelago.

Vitsentzou Beach, Folegandros Island, Greece

Beware, as there is nothing else to do on Folegandros but swim and relax, so plan a visit only if you are quite sure of the weather.

🏝️ Milos – after Santorini, the geologically most interesting island of them all. Go to Sarakiniko Beach for the unique lunar landscapes or Klima village for accommodation virtually above the shores of the Aegean.

Sunset in Pollonia, Milos Island, Greece
Sunset in Pollonia, Milos Island, Greece

🏝️ Visit Mykonos, the best known Greek lifestyle island, for both swimming and significantly lower accommodation prices in October.

Trip Anthropologist
Alleyways and cafes of Mykonos Chora, Mykonos Island, Greece

All of the Dodecanese Islands, especially:

🏝️ Rhodes – is always a safe bet. With direct international flights, warm seas, and glorious heritage.

From ancient Greeks, via Crusaders to modern Greek history, Rhodes will give you plenty of exploration opportunities should the weather turn bad.

🏝️ Kasos and Karpathos – two little satellite islands around Rhodes, each a real gem in its own right. Best visit both for variety of landscapes and very peaceful setting.

Megistri Harbor on beautiful Kastellorizo Island, Greece
Megistri Harbor on beautiful Kastellorizo Island, Greece

🏝️ Kastellorizo – the most distant of Greek islands is ideal if you do not like sandy beaches as there are almost none on the island.

Kastellorizo has unique architecture, plenty of sunshine, a complex history, and a lot of traditional Greece all around making it one of my favorite places in Dodecanese.

🏝️ Patmos – the grand dame of Dodecanese islands, a place with an imposing castle-monastery on top and a place where John wrote his Book of Revelation. Great pebbly beaches too, if you are not into exploring.

🏝️ Symi – another tiny barren piece of rock with the most colorful architecture and perfect setting where the beach is never far away from the nearest taverna.

Panormitis, Symi Island, Greece
Panormitis, Symi Island, Greece

East coast of the Peloponnese, including:

Kardamyli, Pylos, and Methoni regions. Some of the best Greek beaches are right here.

Trip Anthropologist
Limeni on the Mani peninsula of Peloponnese is considered one of the finest Greek beaches

🏝️ Crete

The most southern of Greek islands is perfect for swimming in October. I personally love combining beach holidays with exploring Crete, as it is so big one always leaves something for the next time.  

Balos Beach, near Chania in Crete, Greece
Balos Beach, near Chania in Crete, Greece

Are there lakes in Greece you can swim in during October?

Yes! Believe it or not, Greece not only has the best seas in Europe but some stunning lakes too. The emerald waters are just warm enough for a quick dip in Lake Plastiras in the Thessaly region.

Trip Anthropologist
Lake Vouliagmeni, Greece

The lake to go to in Greece is Vouliagmeni Lake just off Athens.

Located a half hour’s drive from the capital of Greece, Vouliagmeni Lake combines seawater with warm natural springs to maintain a constant water temperature between 21-24°C.

TIP: Vouliagmeni Lake is somewhat of a fancy place, so expect fewer crowds and a hefty ticket price between 16-19€, depending on the season.

Tips for swimming in Greece in October

🏊🏾‍♂️ Always wear sunscreen – a mellow day or sweet October breeze may mislead you, but the Mediterranean sun is still going strong in October. Apply sunscreen 15 minutes before hitting the beach.

🏊🏾‍♂️ Go to the beach around midday, when the temperatures are highest and the sea is warmest. For October that is a bit after noon time and not later than 15:30.

After that, the sun starts going down and it gets cooler. My perfect day includes hiking to the beach after breakfast, taking a dip, and walking back with the sun warming my back.

🏊🏾‍♂️ Swim first and sunbathe later! That way, you will avoid getting all heated up, when the sea feels much colder.

🏊🏾‍♂️ Count your swimming time. If the sea is colder than 20°C, do what the winter swimmers do – stay in the water for the same amount number of minutes as the temperature of the water is.

So, if the average temperature of the sea is 18°C, stay in the water no longer than 18 minutes.

🏊🏾‍♂️ Dry your hair and body right after you get out. Ideally, have a bottle of water with you to rinse the sea salt from your body to avoid it holding humidity on your body, resulting in a chilly feeling.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best time to visit Greece?

Depends on many things, but in general:

📸 For sightseeing and explorations – April-July and September-November, when the heat is mild and the country is not under the scorching summer sun. Avoid tourist season for the big landmarks.

📸 For popular islands – Santorini, Mykonos, and Paros are too hectic in July and August to enjoy them properly. May, June, and mid-September are the best months to visit them.

📸 For Athens – The Greek capital is a year-round destination with spectacular cultural, gastronomic, street art, and nightlife.

Avoid the summer month of August when it is too hot and you can fry an egg on some ancient ruins. It’s when the Acropolis might be closed because of the heatwave and all the people are away on the islands.   

📸 For all the other islands – June and the first half of July are the best 45 days in the year to visit. Longest days, warm seas and crowds just starting to appear, making this period my personal favorite.

📸 For tasting the most authentic Greece – Definitely the Easter weekend, when the whole country returns to its rural roots to spend 3 days in religious and family festivities filled with laughter, food, and drinks.

It’s also the time the islands blossom, so as you can imagine – it is pure bliss.

Why is Greece so good for swimming anyhow?

🏊‍♀️ Simple – the combination of sun hitting the seas under just the right angle makes the Greek coastline a natural wonder and its waters are azure, emerald, and aquamarine.

🏊‍♀️ Good weather and average temperature are great for swimming 6 months in a year and the fact that the waters are safe, warm, and abundant is enough. Not to mention the beautiful beaches

🏊‍♀️ Plus, the beachside tavernas make it a heaven on earth for after you are done with swimming.

October is not for you if you…

🌞 Can’t stand cooler weatherthen best avoid the shoulder seasons in Greece and book a summer holiday or consider early September when you will not feel a bit cold.

🌞 Want long days – the sun is setting at least 2½ hours earlier than in June.

🌞 Want warm seas – for anything from 22.5°C and above, you have to visit during the summer.

🌞 Want evening crowds of young people – the summer months of July and August are the best for that.

🌞 Want everything open – consider visiting mid-June-August, during the high season.

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