Best Greek Islands in May: Where to Go to Beat the Crowds!

greek islands in May

If you dream of a Greek getaway, May is the best time to visit Greece and its islands. Prepare for warm weather, minimal crowds, and nature galore.

Most importantly, choose your destination wisely. To help you with that, here are 7 of the best Greek islands in May for your pre-summer escape!

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7 Fantastic Greek Islands to Visit in May

greek islands in may

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Santorini: The Iconic Island Paradise

How to get from Heraklion to Santorini - Santorini

No holiday in Greece is complete without Santorini. It’s an extraordinary Greek island, and there’s no better time to visit than in May.

Two main reasons! One concerns the pleasant weather, with temperatures reaching only 23 degrees Celsius.

The other is all about the absence of big crowds! Imagine exploring the breathtaking towns of Fira and Oia without the overwhelming summer crowds and heat.

greek islands in may

Or have a front-row seat to Santorini’s breathtaking views and stunning sunsets! You’ll feel blessed!

In short, you’ll fall in love with Santorini’s deep blue waters, wild volcanic landscape, and whitewashed buildings. 

Click here to discover the best things to do in Santorini.

Crete: A Blend of History and Natural Beauty

Promontory, Peninsula, blue sea, exotic beach
Balos Lagoon and Beach.

Now, let’s move on to the largest Greek island, Crete. There are so many amazing things to do in Crete that you’ll never have enough time to visit all the attractions.

You’ll find anything from stunning beaches to ancient archaeological sites – endless experiences here. 

Most significantly, in May, you can experience Crete in warm but not hot temperatures, with an average high of 24 degrees. Compare that with the insane heat waves during summer, and you’ll feel lucky!

Samaria Gorge - Gorges in Crete
Samaria Gorge – Gorges in Crete

So grab your adventure gear and get ready for some pleasant sunshine. Hike the Samaria Gorge (which usually opens in May), swim in Balos Lagoon, or visit the Kourtaliotiko Gorge and Waterfalls.

Soak in the charm of Chania’s Venetian Harbor, explore Rethymno Old Town, or take a scooter through the most gorgeous villages in Crete. Whatever you do, soak it all in!

Click here to learn about the weather in Crete all year round!

Rhodes: A Blend of History and Beaches

greek islands in may
Lindos, Rhodes.

With weather conditions similar to Crete’s, our next island in May will feel like a treat. Rhodes is a historic destination, blessed with ancient ruins and stunning beaches. 

The old town’s narrow streets will take you to world-renowned historical treasures. You’ll marvel at the medieval architecture and visit the Palace of the Grand Master.

greek islands in may
Rhodes Old Town.

If you want more inspiration, head to the coastline. You will be able to discover the best beaches in Rhodes, which are sure to catch your eye.

Or, get to Lindos, a charming whitewashed town with an acropolis overlooking St. Paul’s Bay. In short, you’ll always have unforgettable things to do in Rhodes.

Corfu: A Verdant Island Paradise

greek islands in may

The next destination in this list takes us to the lush island of Corfu, known for its verdant landscapes and Venetian architecture. 

This famous Ionian island enjoys a Mediterranean climate, with May temperatures averaging around 24 degrees. Nice and warm, right? While moderate rainfall is possible, it only adds to the island’s vibrant greenery.

greek islands in may

Once in Corfu, you’ll be spoiled with countless choices. It includes everything from exploring the ancient Roman village of Kassiopi to driving through the island’s mountainous interior. 

My personal favorite? The island’s main town, Corfu. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site featuring charming plazas, fortresses, and a vibrant culinary scene. 

Click here to discover the best beaches in Corfu.

Hydra: A Tranquil Island Retreat

greek islands in may
Kamini Beach, Hydra.

If you’re seeking a peaceful and car-free island, you can never go wrong with Hydra. Located just an hour and a half from Athens, Hydra offers a serene escape from the bustling city life. 

In May, the island experiences an impressive amount of more than 290 hours of sunshine. If you ask me, that’s plenty of opportunity to soak up the rays and get that tan you deserve.

Although the water temperature in May may be a bit cooler at around 18 degrees, you can always take a refreshing swim in the Aegean Sea.

Greek landscape, houses on a hill, boats - Hyra island port
Port of Hydra.

Above all, you’ll love Hydra’s simplicity and untouched beauty. Wander through the narrow streets lined with traditional cafes and bakeries, where you can savor local delicacies.

Take a boat trip to the nearby islands of Poros and Aegina, or relax on one of Hydra’s peaceful beaches. 

Whether you’re looking for a day trip or an extended stay, Hydra will captivate you with its tranquility.

Click here to check out the vacation houses in Hydra.

Leros: Get Off the Radar

greek islands in may: Leros

Imagine strolling along sandy beaches, the gentle breeze on your face, and the warm sun kissing your skin. You’re in Leros, and you can’t believe your luck.

It’s a perfect island getaway, and as if you were in a movie, you’d be the main character.

Leros is in full bloom in May, with nature showing its beauty. The island calls you for adventures, and you answer. It’s time to wander through its streets, explore the ancient Leros Castle, and visit its beaches. 

greek islands in may
Agia Marina, Leros.

There’s so much to do on the island, but one thing stands out. Leros is a destination where time seems to slow down.

So remember to embrace the pace of life as you visit this idyllic island. Try out a traditional 2-hour-long Greek lunch at a waterfront tavern. Who knows? Once you have such a lunch, it could become your thing!

Thassos: A Hidden Paradise in May

greek islands in may

To experience a traditional Greek island in May, visit a place many tourists have yet to discover. 

Located in the North Aegean, Thassos will leave an indelible mark on your heart, beckoning you to return again and again. Why? The reasons won’t fit on this page, but I suppose I could give you an overview.

Think of lush pine forests, kilometers-long sandy beaches, charming villages, historical Acropolis, ancient olive groves, 3000-foot mountains, world-famed lagoons, and much more!

There are dozens of amazing things to do in Thassos – all packed on an island you can drive around in under two hours.

If you decide to summit the mountain, it will take longer, but that means exploring traditional mountain villages that will leave you in awe.

greek islands in may
Theologos waterfall, Thassos Island.

For example, visit the impressive castle-like settlement of Kastro, taste local goat meat in Panagia, or dive into the refreshing waterfalls of Theologos.

In short, Thassos will leave you full of wonder. After a trip there, I’m sure you’ll be planning to return in no time. 

Click here to find the best hotels in Thassos.

Conclusion: What Greek Islands to Visit in May

greek islands in may

May is one of the best times to visit the Greek islands. The weather is ideal for outdoor activities, with minimal crowds and affordable prices. 

Whether you explore the iconic Santorini, relax in Crete, or soak in the history of Rhodes, each Greek island is unique. 

So pack your bags, embrace the beauty of the Greek islands, and make your May holidays stand out!

Read more about the Greek Islands

greek islands in may

Written by Dimitrios Tsevremes
Passionate about travel, spirituality, and sports, Dimi divides his time between Chania (Crete) and other countries. Writing is a way for him to express himself and his creativity. You can find out more about him and his work here.

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greek islands in may

About me:

Gabi Ancarola | The Tiny Book

Gabi Ancarola

I have lived in Chania, Crete, since 2016. As a local, I have an intimate knowledge of the island. I host culinary and concierge tours and experiences in Crete and write about the island for several travel media. During the last five years, I have helped many travelers plan the perfect holiday in Crete. I co-authored DK Eyewitness Top 10 Crete and had more glasses of frappe than any regular person could ever handle.

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