Best Greek Islands to Visit in October

October on Greece’s islands is the shoulder season, the start of Autumn when the intense heat and intense crowds are a thing of the past and a quieter, more relaxed Indian Summer can be enjoyed. At home you might be getting ready to put the heating on but on many of Greece’s islands, especially at the beginning of October, it’s still shorts and t-shirt weather, the chance for a last dip in the sea and a last al-fresco meal before the Winter storms whip up and the tourist resorts close down for Winter.

6 Greek islands you should visit in October

1. Crete

Dramatic view of the Venetian harbour - things to do in Chania Crete

Being the largest of the Greek islands as well as the most Southern, Crete enjoys a longer tourist season and better weather. Though you may find the hotel pool a bit too chilly at this time of year, sea temperatures are still averaging 23c and with daytime temperatures reaching highs of 24c you’ll be able to fit in some last-minute sunbathing. The evenings can be chilly when temperatures drop to lows of 14c and you should expect some overcast days with the chance of heavy rain and thunderstorms, generally from the middle of the month onwards.

Aside from the party town of Malia whose clubs have closed by October, the other tourist resorts and touristic activities such as boat trips to Balos Lagoon, jeep safaris to the White Mountains, and coach excursions to Samaria Gorge run until the middle of the month with a decrease in activities and excursions as the month draws to an end, the 3rd and 4th weeks being the time when you’ll notice the hotels and tourist shops closing and tavernas with a more limited menu if not already closed completely.

The main church of Arkadi Monastery - things to do in crete
The main church of Arkadi Monastery

However, Crete is home to 620,000 residents so if you venture out of the tourist resorts and into the heart of ‘real Crete’ to its cities and towns on the North coast, most notably Heraklion, Chania, Rethymno, and Agios Nikolaos, you’ll find the local shops and tavernas open year-round along with the museums, art galleries and top attractions including Knossos Palace, Rethymno Fortezza, Ancient Aptera, and Arkadi Monastery just to name a few. You can also use this time of year to enjoy hiking and/or road trips  – bliss without the hoards of other tourists getting in your way!

West Bastion with the fresco of the bull at Knossos Palace Crete
West Bastion with the fresco of the bull at Knossos Palace

Go up into the mountain villages and experience Cretan hospitality at its best, shop at the street markets alongside the locals, enjoy the near-empty beaches, visit the monasteries and museums when it’s wet, and go hiking in the less-famous gorges when the weather clears. Even if you visit for 3 weeks and are out from dawn until dusk you’ll find you haven’t covered a fraction of what this wonderful island has to offer!

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2. Santorini

Oia Santorini in winter
Oia Santorini

If Santorini has been on your bucket list for years but the thought of battling the crowds along with the heat puts you off – visit in October! All of the Summer visitors have gone and the cruise ships are making less frequent visits, especially from the middle of the month, so you can enjoy this gorgeous island from a more local perspective.

The best Santorini Beaches
Red Beach

October is the shoulder season due to stormy weather closing in, the weather usually worst in the second half of the month than the first but temperatures still reach highs of 25c ensuring blue skies are the backdrop to your blue and white church photos and you can fit in some beach time whether you sink your toes into the black sand or golden sand.

When watching the sunset from the castle at Oia or from the streets facing the Caldera at Firostefani and Fira, you’ll need to pack a sweater as it soon gets chilly with temperatures dropping to 15c at night – best to pack an umbrella and/or a raincoat too in case you get unlucky with a string of bad weather.

Things to do in Fira, santorini watch the sunset

Although Santorini is best enjoyed outdoors soaking up the architecture and views, you’ll find places to shelter from the rain/wind if needed with a visit to the Akrotiri Archaeological Site, Museum of Prehistoric Thera, and the Atlantis Experience all must-visit places even when the sun is shining.

The backstreets of Firostefani and Oia are full of art galleries and workshops and there are smaller museums along with wineries and distilleries open too though some will shut entirely or keep shorter opening hours as the month progresses. The same with tavernas and shops, those who rely on the tourist trade will close in October but there’s still enough open for the locals who reside on the island year-round (mostly in Fira or Oia) to ensure you can shop for all the essentials and can enjoy a traditional meal out in the evenings.

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3. Rhodes

The Palace of the Grand Master Rhodes
The Palace of the Grand Master Rhodes

This Southern island is smaller than Crete (therefore less overwhelming) but enjoys much the same weather with highs of 25c and lows of 15c so you can swim and sightsee to your heart’s content, you might even be able to enjoy some last ‘nights on the town’ in Faliraki before the clubs shut down around the 15th October.

At the alleys of the medieval town Rhodes
At the alleys of the medieval town Rhodes

Being the capital of the island, Rhodes Town is open all year and truly has something for everyone to enjoy whether you’re a culture vulture ready to indulge in all of the museums and Knights Templar history within the picturesque Medieval city walls of the Old Town, you just want to unwind with time on the beach (the sea still warm enough for swimming) and enjoy leisurely lunches and dinners whilst people watching, or you use the town as a base to explore the rest of the island, this being the connection point for the local buses as well as the departure point for ferries going to the gorgeous island of Simi which can be visited in a day.

Lindos village Rhodes
Lindos village Rhodes

The quaint seaside town of Lindos, with the ancient Lindos Acropolis perched at the top, enjoys a more relaxed vibe after the crowds of Summer stop clogging up its picturesque streets. Most of the shops and tavernas stay open until the last week of October but even after this, there’s enough open to get by, you just have to experience the town from a local perspective than a tourist one.

When choosing where to stay on Rhodes in October it is worth noting that the West coast is windier and slightly colder than the East coast with the Southern towns/resorts (excluding Lindos) very quiet after the first week of October.

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4. Kos

Ruins of the Ancient Agora - things to do in Kos
Ruins of the Ancient Agora

This small island in the Dodecanese is known as the island of Hippocrates and is one of the most fertile islands in Greece ensuring lush scenery if you’re the type of person who enjoys beautiful landscapes whether you’re exploring the countryside by car, on foot, or by bicycle.

Although the weather in October is unpredictable, especially from the middle of the month with the likelihood of at least some rain and maybe a thunderstorm, daytime temperatures can reach 22c and with sea temperatures of 23c you’ll still be able to enjoy some beach weather – just be sure to pack something warmer for the evenings as the temperature averages 16c.

Kos island Zia village
Kos island Zia village

Although Kos is seasonal as with the other Greek islands meaning that the touristic resorts including Lambi will be closed by the end of October, the city of Kos is a working town and open all year allowing you to explore the picturesque Old Town with its wealth of Greek and Roman archaeology, the castle of the Knights of Saint John, the ancient agora, and the tree of Hippocrates all top of the sightseeing list along with the 3rd century Roman Villa with lavish mosaics. There’s also the picturesque fishing harbour and the promenade lined with palm trees to wander down and around before heading to the town’s sandy beach.

Things to do in Kos - Tigaki Beach
Tigaki beach

If visiting Kos in the first two weeks of October you’ll still find Kardamena, the party town of Kos,  open but without the buzz of Summer, therefore, it can be better to stay in Kos Town if you’re visiting for nightlife as you’ll find bars open in the Exarchia area of Kos Town all year.

Hiring a car is highly recommended so that you can venture further afield whether visiting the ruins of Asklepion, the mountain villages, and/or Thermi, the sea pool with hot water springs but if you time it right, October is also the time to enjoy hiking and cycling, just beware of the wind – the north coast generally the windiest.

Check out my post: A guide to Kos island. 

5. Corfu

Things to do in Corfu -Kanoni and Pontikonisi

Known as ‘the Emerald Isle’ due to its greenness, Corfu in October is a delight for culture vultures who also love exploring the great outdoors, marveling at the landscapes Mother Nature has put together. Hikers can climb the summit of Mount Pantokrator using the trails that start at the picturesque village of Palia Peritheia as their entry point whilst photographers and artists will adore the views cross Pontikonisi aka Mouse Island and history fans will delight in all of the fortresses and castles that dot the island.

Things to do in Corfu

The smaller resort towns will be closing down in October, particularly from the middle of the month, but chic and elegant Corfu Town is a bustling place that makes a great base all year since it’s a working town. Explore the backstreets of the Old Town as you admire the Venetian architecture being sure to climb the tower at the Church of Saint Spyridon so that you can get a birds-eye view of the town. There’s also the 26-hectare palatial estate of Mon Repos to explore and, should you need to escape the rain, a multitude of interesting museums to visit.

old_town_of_Corfu_from_harbour

In October, the weather in Corfu can be very varied so it’s best to go prepared for a mix of conditions. You’ll likely get a mixture of beautiful sunny days when the temperature can reach highs of 22c, perfect beach weather with the sea temperature still reaching 22c but some cooler overcast days with some rain (11 wet days are average in October) should be planned for too with chilly evenings when the temperature drops to lows of 12c.

Check out my post: What to do in Corfu island and the best beaches in Corfu. 

6. Mykonos

What do to in Mykonos in 3 days

This cosmopolitan party island, the Ibiza of Greece, shows its peaceful side in October with the clubs closed and the beach parties a thing of the past until next year. Now is the time to make the most of the reduced room rates and enjoy the island’s nearly-empty golden sand beaches, swim in the still-warm crystal clear water, and admire the picturesque streets without the hustle and bustle of the Summer crowds.

Elia Beach The best Mykonos beaches
Elia Beach

The island of windmills has plenty to offer the culture vultures and nature lovers at this time of the year with a livelier feel at the start of the month, things becoming quieter with more shop and taverna closures from the middle of October as tourist season comes to a final close at the end of the month. The museums, churches, monasteries, and epic views can be enjoyed at any time of the year though and a hire car enables you to get out and explore more without being reliant on the bus service which sees a reduced service from the middle of the month.

Little Venice Mykonos
Little Venice Mykonos

 The seafront area is known as ‘Little Venice’ and the picturesque white-washed cobbled backstreets in Mykonos Town are near impossible to enjoy in the Summer due to the crowds but in October you’ll have these streets nearly to yourself ensuring the best photo opportunities, that’s not to say this place is completely dead though – you’ll find the bars open in the evening and though not all of the touristic places will be open, all the places catering to the locals will be up and running along with a number of boutiques with their end of season sales meaning you can pick up some bargains.

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As with the other Greek islands at this time of year, the weather varies from week to week and indeed day-to-day so expect a mix of sunshine, daytime temperatures reaching highs of 22c but also some overcast days with the chance of rain. Nighttime temperatures can drop to lows of 14c but if you pack something long-sleeved for the evenings you’ll still be able to enjoy some alfresco dining.

 

 

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