If you are visiting Greece in April, you may arrive during Orthodox Easter, a magical time in the country. While the majority of sights and museums close during the Easter weekend, this doesn’t mean that the entire country shuts down. Quite the contrary.
Corfu hardly needs an introduction. Known for its beautiful main town, pretty villages, lush inland and stunning beaches, it is a popular destination, even in the spring. Take the time to explore the various museums at your disposal, or take part in a walking tour to explore the island. With a mix of unique Easter traditions such as the pot smashing on Holy Saturday, Corfu is a great spring destination, with the Holy Week full of events where young and old gather around and celebrate the occasion.
Known as Homer’s homeland, Chios is blooming in the spring. Explore its beautiful medieval settlements (don’t skip the mastic-producing villages) and its only black-sand beach called Mavra Volia, or visit the UNESCO-listed Byzantine monastery of Nea Moni. A top ecotourism destination, Chios in April is the perfect locale for nature lovers and those seeking peace and quiet. Well, that is, unless you’re there during Easter. One of the local traditions on the island is the rocket war on Easter Eve, which takes place in Vrontados, a small village near Chios town.
Dubbed the Jerusalem of the Aegean, Patmos is for those looking for a break from the usual islands. The island’s highlights include the Cave of the Apocalypse, where Saint John had a vision of God and wrote the biblical book of Revelation, and the Holy Monastery of the Apocalypse in Chora, where the majority of the Easter events take place. But Patmos has a lot more to offer visitors. Picturesque villages and stunning beaches, such as Vaya, Kampi or Psili Ammos, are perfect for a sunny day, while the islets of Arkoi, a boat ride away from Skala, make for a perfect day trip.
Wild tulips in bloom, Chios
While in Chios, you might be lucky and catch the wild tulips of Kampochora in bloom. Chios is home to four wild varieties, and local rumour has it that in the 17th century, the tulips impressed a Dutch botanist so much that he proceeded to bring some seeds back to his homeland. While the blooming period lasts between seven and 10 days, the municipality of Chios and the Department of Environment of the Aegean University are studying ways to prolong it so that more visitors can enjoy it.
Rocket War, Chios
Don’t miss the Easter Eve highlight in Vrontados, where the two rival churches of Agios Markos and Panagia Erithiani fight every year in a rocket war. And while the origin of this weird custom is unclear, the event is one of Easter’s most anticipated events.
Orthodox Easter celebrations
Spring in Greece is often synonymous with Orthodox Easter. While the dates change from year to year, the majority of the festivities fall on Friday and Saturday. Easter Sunday is usually quiet as Greeks celebrate with their families at home or in tavernas, while Easter Monday is seen as a recovery day. Shops, banks, museums and other archaeological sites close during the four-day period.
Spring in Greece means warmer days, with an average temperature of 15°C (59°F). The average low is about 11°C (52°F), and the average high reaches 19°C (66°F).
Corfu and Chios both have airports and connect to Athens via ferry. Patmos, on the other hand, is only reachable by sea. The journey is long and lasts between seven and nine hours depending on the ferry. For a faster connection, you can fly with Olympic or Aegean airlines from Athens or Thessaloniki to either Samos (one hour and 10 minutes), Kos (55 minutes or 1.5 hours, respectively) or Leros (55 minutes from Athens), and then catch a flying dolphin ferry from there.