May marks the beginning of the tourist season in Greece, but prices are still quite low, while the weather can even be hot! The restaurants and hotels are opened on all islands and the ferries and flights increase schedules.
On mainland the weather is warm and sometimes even hot, while on the islands it’s pleasantly warm, sprinkled with some light breezes. Just perfect for a holiday! The average temperature in Athens is 70.5 F/ 21.4 C, while in Rhodes is slightly cooler (68.5 F /20.3 C).
>>more information on Greece weather.
Labor Day and the Festival of Flowers
May 1 is International Labor Day. In Greece it’s celebrated with parades and other festivities. While public institutions are closed and the traffic might be disrupted in major towns, the summer season is just starting. On the same day, Greeks celebrate the Festival of Flowers, a celebration with ancient roots linked to the goddess Demeter.
On Rhodes, the flower festival is held during the last week of May on the streets of the Old Town . The magnificent space is filled with flowers and streets food, as well as wines of Rhodes.
International Monuments Day
May 18 marks the International Monuments Day. All over Greece the entrance to all monuments and archeological sties is free.
Battle of Crete
All over the island of Crete, the resistance to Hitler’s paratrooper invasion is commemorated on May 20 each year. Major cities commemorate the day with big celebrations but the festival atmosphere is felt all over the island. Expect some interruptions in the normal travel services and make sure to ask around where the festivities are held.
Anastenaria is a traditional ritual of fire walking which can be observed in the village of Ayia Eleni, near Serres and Langada near Thessaloniki.
On May 20, on the eve of the Saints Constantine and Helen, the worshipers gather and start dancing and singing to the music of the Thracian lyre and a large drum. On the next morning, they leave in a procession to a holy well, where they are blessed by its waters. After an animal is sacrificed, a bonfire is lit and as the wood burns, men spread the coals, eventually creating a large oval bed. When everything is ready, the worshipers start walking barefoot on the coals.
Getting to Greece in May
The big islands and the big cities are served by regular flights especially from Europe. The low-cost carriers also offer really good bargains. Ferries also work normally connecting the mainland to the islands and to other neighboring countries as well.
Where to Stay
May usually marks the start of the season. Although the prices are not yet at their highest, they do start to rise. Also, many travel agencies offer special discounted accommodation in May so you might want to try this approach. The weather is nice and with some luck you can catch a decent tan.