Hottest Greek Islands in May

 By Mark Hodson, Sunday Times Travel Writer

May is the month when the tourist season in Greece really kicks off. Flights are operating and there’s a buzz of excitement in the resorts as hotels, bars and restaurants look forward to the season ahead. It’s a wonderful time to visit because the weather is superb, prices are low, the summer crowds have yet to descend and locals are delighted to see you.

You can expect average highs of 24ºC and 10 hours of sunshine per day – ideal for both sunbathing and sightseeing. The sea will be around 18ºC, just warm enough for a quick swim, and evenings are pleasantly cool. But there’s a lot of variation between the islands and regions of Greece, with some distinctly hotter than others. Scroll down to find our expert recommendations on where to stay.

Which islands are the hottest in May?

Kos

Average temperature in May: 24ºC
Hours of daily sunshine: 11
Flying time from UK: 4 hours

If you are looking for heat, the southern island of Kos is a great place to go. The daytimes will be warm with 11 hours of sunshine every day, and mild evenings bring everyone out for a stroll before dinner. In May, there will be very little rain and humidity will be low, so you can explore the medieval castle and ancient sites of Kos without overheating.

Holiday recommendation: the luxury all-inclusive IKOS Aria resort is very good value, according to our researchers. Nearby Rhodes has a similar climate and is home to a lovely Mark Warner beach club which opens in May.

Crete

Average temperature in May: 23ºC
Hours of daily sunshine: 10
Flying time from UK: 4 hours

Crete, the most populous and most southerly Greek island, is also warm and sunny in May. With only 20mm of rain forecast for the month, visitors in May will have plenty of chances to sunbathe and visit sites including the palace of Knossos, which will be quieter than later in the season.

Holiday recommendation: Cachet Travel has an outstanding selection of hotels and rental properties in Crete. If you want to book your own flights, see i-escape’s collections of boutique hotels and houses for rent. Couples should look at Simpson Travel’s small authentic adult-only hotels.

Mykonos

Average temperature in May: 22ºC
Hours of daily sunshine: 11
Flying time from UK: 4 hours

Mykonos is nicknamed “the island of the winds” (and has plenty of picturesque windmills). However, it is less windy in May than in the summer months. It is slightly cooler than Crete but has a full 11 hours of daily sunshine and on average only three days are likely to be affected by rain showers.

Holiday recommendation: Our researchers loved these boutique hotels or you could splash out on a fabulous private villa.

Cyprus

Average temperature in May: 24ºC
Hours of daily sunshine: 10
Flying time from UK: 5 hours

If guaranteed heat is a major deciding factor for you, it may well be worth considering Cyprus. Although technically not a Greek island, the Greek part of Cyprus is culturally similar to Greece and its location means that the weather is consistently warm. The sea should be around 20 ºC in the daytime and there is very little rainfall in May.

Holiday recommendation: rent one of these villas in Cyprus. If you’re more interested in exploring the countryside, Sunvil has some interesting options including an independent walking holiday exploring the natural wonders in Akamas National Park.

Which other islands are worth visiting in May?

Corfu

Average temperature in May: 23ºC
Hours of daily sunshine: 9
Flying time from UK: 3 hours 15 minutes

Some islands are rainier than others: due to its mountainous landscape, Corfu will receive around 47mm in May with an average nine days being affected by showers. However, this ensures that the foliage flourishes, giving hikers a greener environment to enjoy. And the sea is warm enough for a swim at 19ºC. Corfu has the added advantage of being closer to the UK than the southern islands, cutting down flight times.

Holiday recommendation: MarBella resorts has two gorgeous all-inclusive hotels in Corfu. If you prefer self-catering CV Villas is the market leader in villas with private pools.

Kefalonia

Average temperature in May: 23ºC
Hours of daily sunshine: 9
Flying time from UK: 3 hours 30 minutes

Kefalonia, the setting of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, is a little to the south of Corfu in the Ionian Sea, and has a little less rain in May. This is a wonderful time of year to enjoy those white-sand beaches and mountainous backdrops without the summer crowds.

Holiday recommendation: Check out this lovely collection of villas in Kefalonia. Nearby on the mainland, Mark Warner has a beach club at Paleros which opens in May.

Paxos

Average temperature in May: 23ºC
Hours of daily sunshine: 9
Flying time from UK: 3 hours 15 minutes (to Corfu, then ferry transfer to Paxos)

Close to Corfu, Paxos is among the most authentic Greek islands, brimming with small fishing villages and traditional tavernas. The sea around Paxos will still be warm enough for a dip at 19°C and the low humidity will make it easier to explore the coasts on foot.

Holiday recommendation: Check out these self-catering villas and traditional houses in Paxos. For couples, there are some charming little adult-only hotels.

Santorini

Average temperature in May: 22ºC
Hours of daily sunshine: 10
Flying time from UK: 4 hours 15 minutes

Santorini, which lies on an active volcano, provides a compromise, having slightly cooler days for activities but receiving very little rainfall (only 14mm in the month). It also remains warm in the evenings (with minimum temperatures of 15°C) to allow for evening strolls and outside dining. There’s even the possibility of bathing in the island’s thermal spas.

Holiday recommendation: Santorini has a great choice of boutique hotels and luxury villas.

What about mainland Greece?

Halkidiki

Average temperature in May: 23ºC
Hours of daily sunshine: 9
Flying time from UK: 3 hours 15 minutes (to Thessaloniki airport, then around a 1-hour drive)

Halkidiki, on the Aegean Sea, has many beautiful beach resorts and plenty of historical sites. Despite being on the Northern side of Greece, Halkidiki will be warm in the daytime and the sea will be around 18°C. However, prepare for cooler evenings (with lows of 12°C) and slightly more rainfall (8 days in total).

Holiday recommendation: IKOS Olivia and IKOS Oceania are both good-value luxury all-inclusive resorts. If you are planning a family half-term trip, you should also consider Sani Resort.

Close to Athens, Club Med has a lovely all-inclusive resort Gregolimano on the island of Evia. See the latest deals.

If you’re interested in Ancient Greek culture, Martin Randall Travel has some fascinating group tours in May.

Cruise holidays in Greece in May

Star Clippers operates sailing cruises on traditional tall ships in the Eastern Mediterranean throughout the summer months from April to October. Most itineraries depart from Athens. This is a wonderful way to explore the region, with access to smaller ports that large cruise ships cannot reach.

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Last updated: 29 March 2022

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