Balmy temperatures, fewer crowds and lower prices: Now is the perfect time to take a trip to Greece.
Greece is in the midst of a tourism boom. Even with this summer’s devastating wildfires, the country is on track to pull in a record-breaking €21 billion in revenue from the tourism sector this year, according to recent estimates from the National Bank of Greece. With popularity at an all-time high, the autumn shoulder season—between the summer peak season and winter off-peak season—makes for a perfect time to visit, especially for travelers seeking sunny temperatures, fewer crowds and lower prices. These are the destinations to visit and the hot new hotels putting them on the map.
Even in peak summer season, the Ionian Islands—an archipelago of seven main islands scattered in the Ionian Sea between the Greek mainland and the south of Italy—don’t attract the same overwhelming mass tourism as other island groups like the Cyclades. The islands benefit from a long summer season that last until the end of October, which is typically when the seasonal direct flight from Europe stop running. One of the islands’ hottest and newest hotels, Eliamos on Cephalonia is open until October 31. With 12 private and spacious villas scattered down a hillside overlooking the sea and mountains, this impeccably landscaped property first opened this year and is now part of the Relais & Châteaux family. It’s upscale without being too sterile or serious: cool music is always playing at the gourmet restaurant serving fresh fare from the land and sea; the yoga deck and wooden Pilates machines are open for all with an in-house instructor; and a small, two-room spa delivers relaxation on tap (treatments can also be taken in-room). With temperatures in the 70s, the hotel’s pools are still in play, including the main infinity pool, perched at the top of the property with seemingly endless vistas, as well as the private saltwater pools that adorn each of the villas.
Greece is more than just islands and beaches, and the autumn is the best time to explore the country’s mountainscapes. In the heart of the Peloponnese, the fir-tree-covered Mount Mainalo is the tallest mountain in the Menalon highlands with an extensive hiking trail network. It’s also home to the new Manna, a five-star, soothingly chic Design Hotel, which is open all year round. Located at nearly 4,000 feet above sea level in Arcadia, this style-forward new hideaway is nestled within the thicket of the rugged forest, in a prime spot for cool-weather outdoor pursuits like hiking, cycling, horseback riding and even mushroom foraging. The area is also famed for its historic Byzantine monasteries and archaeological sites, providing an unmistakable Greek touch.
Athens is a world-class city and so much more than just a stopover destination. Lately, a whole crew of hot new hotels have been springing up in the timeless city, with the exquisite, whitewashed The Dolli being one of the highlights. With 46 rooms crafted in a historic 1920s building in the culture-rich Plaka neighbourhood under the shadow of the Acropolis, this hotel has an impressive art collection that boasts pieces from Picasso and Jean Cocteau, as well as a rooftop restaurant and infinity pool, both of which are open all year round. Temperatures in Athens in October are typically in the mid-70s; however, tourism numbers drop significantly during this time of year, adding a more locals-only feel to the ancient capital.