March marks the end of winter, with warmer days on the horizon. It is also the perfect time to escape to Greece, where you can enjoy the culture and history readily available. From places to see to things to experience, here is Culture Trip’s travel guide for exploring this Mediterranean country in March.
While you should consider visiting Greece during the winter, spring is an excellent time to visit as well. While the popular islands offer an instant vacation feeling, other destinations are perfect for soaking up the spring sunshine.
Crete is a no-brainer. With one of the earliest springs in the Mediterranean and a plethora of sights to discover, the island is at its best when the tourist crowds are at their lowest. Double your chances for some sunshine and head to the south coast, which is usually warmer than the north (temperatures sometimes peak at 20ºC or 68ºF). Blessed with exotic features, the southern part of the island has a few jewels worth visiting in the springtime, such as the beautiful Preveli Beach or the mysterious Triopetra cave.
With mild weather, Rhodes enjoys warmer temperatures after the winter months. You should expect some rain, but you will have the island to yourselves. You can take the time to discover tranquil villages, explore historic sites and relax in local cafés.
Off the Anatolian coast, Chios, the fifth-largest Greek island, is a perfect ecotourism destination to discover in March. Blessed with a rich landscape, the island blooms in the spring, and even if the waters are too cold for a swim, you can still enjoy the local history and traditions. You can even visit the Chios Mastic Museum, where you can learn all about mastic or mastiha, a flavorful resin produced by trees native to the region.
Athens and mainland Greece
Athens hardly needs an introduction, and even though there is always has something new happening there, it might be the perfect time for a road trip throughout the mainland or the Peloponnese. With a plethora of history, culture, beautiful nature and warm locals, Greece’s mainland is a region that certainly deserves more attention.
March 25th is a double holiday in Greece. Greeks commemorate the War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire, which took place between 1821 and 1832, while the Greek Orthodox Church celebrates the Annunciation, as it is exactly nine months before Christmas. For the occasion, celebrations take place throughout the country, including a parade in Athens.
Athens Half Marathon
While March may be a quiet month when it comes to celebrations and events, it is the time for the Athens Half Marathon, an annual event organised by the Hellenic Athletics Federation (SEGAS) and the City of Athens. The first edition saw about 3,500 participants, while this year, more than 20,000 runners from Greece and abroad are expected to take part in the race on March 19, 2017.
If you’re going to be roaming around the Peloponnese, be aware that the Nafplio Marathon will be on March 5, 2017. The marathon, which includes several races for all ages, is an excellent opportunity to run an epic route in one of the most beautiful and romantic towns in the area. And even if you’re not running, you can still take the time to cheer on the runners. Nafplio is also an ideal base from which to explore major archaeological sites such as Epidaurus or Mycenae.
The first sign of spring in Greece usually appears in March, with the average temperature starting to rise at the end of February. The average temperature in March is approximately 12°C (54°F), with the average low set at 8°C (46°F) and the average high at 16°C (61°F). Of course, in the southern island of Crete, temperatures can go higher than in mainland Greece.
While the islands are considered major summer holiday destinations, they are not as popular during the cooler months. However, ferry transportation is still possible to all Greek islands, though it is more challenging than during the summer. Check the ferry schedule well in advance. Alternatively, you can opt for a flight from Athens or Thessaloniki, which allows you to save time as well. Aegean, Olympic Airlines and Ryanair operate from both cities, along with other European cities, and go to most of the islands with airports. If you are opting for a road trip through the mainland, car rentals are always available.