The 7 Best Greek Islands to Visit in September - Mykonos, Paros, Kos and more!
On the hunt for the best Greek islands to visit in September? This guide has you covered, with seven expert tips on where to go at the start of autumn.
September is a darn fine month on the Greek islands. All across the Aegean and the Ionian seas, the weather remains warm and there's plenty of sun beating down on the boat-bobbing harbors. But it's the end of the official high season, which means crowds slacken off and the beaches start to empty.
The upshot? The beginning of autumn is a sweet spot in this southerly corner of Europe; a time when you can still enjoy swimming in bath-warm waters and topping up the tan, only without hefty price tags or having to deal with oodles of other holidaymakers.
Sounds good, right? Cue this guide. It runs through seven of the best Greek islands to visit in September, focusing on the places that offer the best weather, the most authentic experiences, and even a little hedonism to cap off the season. Let's go…
Yes, we know, Mykonos is all about the summer vibes. But is it? Really? The truth is that the good-time party island of the central Aegean is packed to bursting between May and August. It can be hard to even find a hotel in Mykonos Town or close to the bumping sands of Paradise Beach, let alone a hotel that won't break the bank. September marks the end of all that, and the month gradually sees the resort towns empty out. That's great news for travelers keen on seeing the more authentic side of the island, perhaps with day trips out to the ancient sanctuary at Delos or ATV rides to the reef-ringed beaches of Lia and Kalafati in the east
Crete is so far south that it's got one leg in the Libyan Sea. It's actually closer to the coast of Africa than to some parts of Greece. That should set the bell's a-ringing for any budding meteorologists who are reading, because it means that the island sits on the same latitude as countries like Syria and Tunisia. The upshot? There's oodles of sun here well into autumn. In fact, September is still positively hot, with average highs of 29 C. Crete is also blasted by the Meltemi wind system in June and July. It hits the beaches along the northern shores, in Rethymno and Chania, and can make sunbathing a bit of a chore, but usually calms down by autumn. To squeeze even more out of the lingering summer warmth here, consider heading across to the south coast, where the rugged gorges of the Sfakia region meet hippy towns like Matala.
The draws of Santorini are well known: Rugged volcanic landscapes, uber-romantic whitewashed towns, some of the most photogenic sunsets this side of Thailand. We get why millions of folks are magnetized by the isle each year, but why go when everyone else does? The summer rush is crazy on Santorini, cranking up hotel prices by nearly 50% or more. Add to that packed-out cliffside bars and a continuous influx of people from cruise ships, and it's easy to see why this is one of the top Greek islands to visit in September. In fact, it might even be a better choice for sunset viewing, as the light fades over the top end of silhouetted Therasia island at this time of the year.
Some seasonal flights to specific Greek islands can stop running as the summer turns to autumn, leaving travelers with the option of going to Athens and only Athens. That's not the end of the world if you want to have your taste of island life, though. Get down to Piraeus and hop on the 1.5-hour ferry to Poros. It's a charming little speck in the Saronic Gulf, with a whitewashed town set on a volcanic rock. You can cycle out to hidden coves like Love Bay or Monastiri Beach, where September days sometimes mean having the whole place to yourself. Or you can stick to the harbor and dine on mezze while watching the millionaire yachts sail by. It's totally up to you. One bonus with Poros is that it's a five-minute ferry from the Peloponnesian mainland, with good road access to incredible history sites like Mycenae and Epidaurus.
It's almost impossible to go any further east than Rhodes without ending up in Turkey. The good news there is that this island sits neatly out of the way of most of the so-called medicanes, which are the strong storms that can buffet the Ionian Islands in autumn. And, while we can't guarantee good weather, Rhodes also boasts average highs of 28 C in September, not to mention just 1.5 days of rainfall. Not bad, eh? At least that should be enough to head down the famous southeastern coast to Lindos Beach and the snorkeling reefs of beautiful Kokkini Ammos. Rhodes is also a corker of an island for history buffs. The main town is crowned by UNESCO castles that date to the age of the Crusades, and you can still walk the ancient harbor where the wonder of the Colossus of Rhodes once stood.
Another of the eastern islands of the Aegean Sea that should help you dodge any autumn storms in Ionia, Kos has something of a reputation as a no-holes-barred party mecca. It's certainly that, what with the appropriately named Bar Street in Kos Town and the strips of Kardamaina resort buzzing with life all throughout the summer months. September ushers in a slightly more chilled evening scene, with sandy bars on Lambi Beach offering chill-hop sessions, though you can still go all night if you want to. The best thing about autumn here is that temperatures cool off just enough to put hiking back on the menu. There are loads of trails, with the best weaving up from uber-cute Zia village to the pine-studded Dikeos mountains.
Paros is widely seen as the transportation hub of the Cyclades chain. It's served by oodles of ferries that come and go to and from both big ports like Piraeus and smaller islets in the Aegean. The good news is that many of the connections continue on well into the autumn season, so you shouldn't have any issues getting here if you don't have access to your own boat. The even better news is that Paros is a truly enchanting place. Head beyond the ferry port and there's loads to see, including the lively little fishing town of Naoussa and its whitewashed cottages. In the countryside, you can hike to ancient marble quarries. On the coast, you can escape the crowds by setting the sat nav to Tripiti or sleepy Paralia Lolantonis.
This guide to the best Greek islands to visit in September covers just seven of the top early-autumn destinations on the map of the Aegean. There are loads more. If you'd like any extra inspiration about where to go in this stunning part of the world or info on our once-in-a-lifetime island-hopping itineraries, be sure to get in touch!