Greece is often associated with sunny, warm weather all year round. In reality, while many destinations in Greece are indeed very sunny and feature fewer than 90 overcast days a year (with extremely rare overcast days between June and September), they’re too cold during the winter, with mean maximum temperatures dropping below 15 °C (59 °F). This applies particularly to the northern part of the country, bordering the countries of Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Albania.
Some sunny destinations in Greece feature winters with mean maximum temperatures only slightly lower than 15 °C (59 °F). Yet, since they don’t meet the second most important requirement, I don’t feature them in the ranking. Some examples of destinations that don’t meet the requirements are Thessaloniki (winter mean maximums only 10 °C/50 °F), Athens (winter mean maximums reach 13 °C/55 °F), and further south, Kalamata (winter mean maximums reach 14 °C/57 °F). Of course, if you don’t mind slightly colder winters, Athens, and any destination further south, could be a good choice for you.
Having said that, there are still some warm and sunny cities in Greece that did make our list, meeting all the requirements.
What Are the Sunniest Places in Greece?
Since the destinations we list in our ranking need to be not only sunny (fewer than 90 overcast days a year), but also have winter daytime temperatures no lower than 15 °C (59 °F), there are only three Greek islands that meet our requirements:
- Crete—the largest and most populous Greek island. This is the only choice if you’d like to move to a bigger city or stay on a bigger island with enough population to offer all the amenities you might want.
- Santorini—a small island located north of Crete. Its southern part fits all the requirements. It’s an alternative to Crete if you don’t mind living on a smaller island. The island is extremely popular among tourists, though, so during the summer it’s a crowded place (to say the least).
- Kythira—a small island located between the Greek mainland and Crete. Like Santorini, only its southern part fits the requirements. If you want to escape from it all, but still have relatively easy access to mainland Greece, it might be an option to consider.
Other small islands near Crete didn’t make our list because the highest winter maximums reached at most 14 °C (57 °F) there. If you don’t mind slightly colder winters, you can consider Karpathos, Rhodes, Kos, Naxos, and other nearby small islands. They all feature a similar, slightly cooler but still sunny climate.
The southernmost area of mainland Greece (for example Kalamata) didn’t make the list for the same reason. Of course, if you’re fine with a bit lower winter temperatures, by all means consider this area, too, as the area is still very sunny.
Let’s cover the three warmest and sunniest islands in Greece in more detail, ranked by the number of overcast days, starting with the sunniest ones. All three of these destinations feature Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers featuring little to no cloud days and mild, wet winters featuring about two weeks of cloudy weather a month. Please note that we will focus only on the major cities and towns.
|City||Island||Clear days||Partly cloudy days||Overcast days|
The main Cretan cities and towns I include in the ranking are: Heraklion, Rethymno, Chania, Agios Nikolaos, and Lentas. Obviously, any nearby towns and cities (for example Ierapetra and Sitia) feature the same or very similar climate.
By far the sunniest place in Greece is Lentas, a small village on the south coast of the island. The area benefits from being influenced by the North African climatic zone. It features 30 fewer overcast days than Heraklion, the cloudiest destination on the island, which gets up to 17 overcast days a month in the winter.
It’s worth noting that Lentas is not only one of the sunniest places in Greece, but also one of the sunniest places in Europe.
All Greek cities and towns featured in our ranking feature extremely sunny summers with virtually non-existent cloudy weather. However, the sunniest destinations (Lentas and Agios Nikolaos) get much fewer cloudy days during the rest of the year, which means that you can enjoy sunny weather not only during the summer, but largely during the fall and spring, too (and winters aren’t that bad, either).
The hottest places on the island are the sunniest places, too. Agios Nikolaos and Lentas feature summer daytime temperatures of 34-35 °C (93-95 °F) with nighttime temperatures dropping to 20 °C (68 °F). The other three destinations on the island are slightly cooler during the summer, reaching 32-33 °C (90-91 °F) during the day. Nighttime temperatures are the same and hover around 20 °C (68 °F).
There’s a slight difference in winter temperatures between Lentas and other places (Lentas is a little bit warmer), but generally speaking, winter temperatures in all these destinations stay around 15-16 °C (59-61 °F) during the day, while night temperatures drop to 8 °C (46 °F).
If you’d like to live in Greece and your priority is living in the warmest and sunniest climate possible, stick to the eastern or southern part of the island. If you don’t mind cloudier weather, the entire island is still a good choice offering plenty of sunshine and high temperatures.
Please note that whether it’s Crete, Santorini, or Kythira, average daytime winter temperatures will be too low for sunbathing. You’ll be able to spend time outdoors in relative comfort, but winters will still be much colder and cloudier than summers (particularly at night which can get chilly). If you’d like to move to a place that offers climate that feels like endless summer, Greece is not the right choice.
Only the southern part of the island fits our requirements because the northern part is slightly too cold in the winter. The destination we put on our list is Kamari, a coastal village on the southeastern part of the island. It shares almost the same climate as Heraklion.
Mean daily maximum temperatures in the summer hit 33 °C (90 °F) during the day and fall to 20 °C (68 °F) at night. In the winter, daytime maximums don’t fall below 15 °C (59 °F), while nights are chilly, dropping to 8 °C (46 °F).
As for days of sunshine, Kamari gets virtually zero overcast days between June and August, with just one cloudy day in September. During the cloudiest months (December and January), there are on average up to 17 days of cloudy weather.
The southern part of the small island of Kythira (with Kapsali being the main coastal village in the area), located south of the Peloponnese and to the northern east of Crete, features a climate that shares the same characteristics as Chania.
Summer maximums reach 33 °C (91 °F) during the day and fall to 20 °C (68 °F) at night. Winter maximums stay around 15 °C (59 °F) during the day, while minimums are around 8 °C (46 °F).
Summers are extremely sunny, without any cloudy days between June and August, and just one in September. There are up to two weeks of overcast weather in the winter.
Quick Selection Guide
Want to live in one of the sunniest and warmest destinations not only in Greece, but also in Europe? Lentas is the answer.
Want to live in a bigger city in Greece and don’t mind that other destinations get sunnier weather? Consider Heraklion.
Looking for a nice mix between great weather and access to good infrastructure without the drawbacks of a big city? Move to Chania or Rethymno.
Want to live on a small Mediterranean Greek island? Consider the southern part of Kythira. Santorini is another option, but its popularity with tourists might be an issue during the high season.