I simply adore the season of autumn that comes to Greece and Thessaloniki in particular. The sea is still warm for a good long while in the beginning of the season, thus making it the perfect time to visit the beaches of Halkidiki without too many people. October brings in cooler weather, but there are still plenty of warm days. Thessaloniki is a bustling city with students coming in for the academic year and tourism workers coming back from Halkidiki and other summer destinations. This is an ideal weather to explore the city, take strolls and go sightseeing. Until winter, you can enjoy coffee on the outdoor terraces with a view of the sea or take a boat ride around the coastline of Thessaloniki.
Our top pick is Thermi Dam, a delightful area with incredible views — from the lake and park to the small cafe. It’s a wonderful spot for families and athletes alike, with a playground, free tennis courts, a basketball and football field, as well as outdoor exercise equipment. So why not take a car and explore the natural beauty of this lovely place?
Head for Chortiatis on a sunny autumn day if you’re up for a hike in the woods! It’s a bit of a struggle to get started, with the steep slope, but soon enough you’ll find yourself in a picturesque forest that’s painted gold. The trail to Katafigio SEO will take around 2 hours, so be sure to bring water and download offline maps — you never know when you’ll find yourself in a signal-less area. Have a tasty lunch of mushroom soup once you reach your destination and enjoy the view!
Don’t forget to time your journey to take advantage of the daylight. If you’re up for an adventure, make your way to the view place near the meteorological center. Or, after your walk, you could simply drive there.
Greeks have a unique way to enjoy their time — visit a quaint village on the weekend, find the best tavern, and have a meal in the open air. Livadi, Petrokerasa or any other village in the vicinity of Thessaloniki is worth the visit. With its picturesque roads, dense forests, and incredible vistas, it’s a perfect spot for a sunny autumn day.
A beloved pastime of many in the Livadi district is chestnut gathering. Come autumn, people flock here to collect them.
I strongly suggest you don’t miss out on the amazing St. Anastasia Farmakolitria monastery. For lunch, I’d recommend Ktima Perek — it’s got a huge area and offers scrumptious dishes of Pontic cuisine. If you plan to arrive over the weekend, bear in mind that it’s a popular spot amongst Thessaloniki locals, so I’d recommend booking a table beforehand. If you’re looking for a short escape from Thessaloniki, this is the place to go!
From Thessaloniki for 2-3 days
Kastoria and Grevena
Situated in a mountainous region, Kastoria, the captivating village, is best visited in October to make sure you experience the best of the season. In contrast to Thessaloniki’s relatively mild climate, Kastoria’s temperatures are cooler, usually around 10–11°C in November, while Thessaloniki can reach up to 15°C. If you have the time, the ideal trip would be to stay two days, one to explore Kastoria.
I recommend following activities here:
Stroll beside Lake Orestiada and feed its avian inhabitants;
Tour the gorgeous cobblestone lanes of the ancient village;
Tour the exquisite Holy Monastery of Panagia Mavriotissa with its 11th-century church and awe-inspiring murals;
Explore the Dragon Cave;
Go to the folklore Museum for an interesting guided tour.
Travelers who are mushroom and cheese aficionados will want to make a journey to Grevena, where it’s known as the «mushroom capital» of Greece. Here, you can gather mushrooms and enjoy them in local restaurants. Additionally, the region is renowned for its famous Greek cheeses.
Ioannina and Metsovo
For those who want to explore autumn Ioannina in depth, a three-day trip is recommended. Located near a stunning lake, its landscape is a burst of fall hues. Though the weather in Greece during November is somewhat rainy, if you pick a sunny day, a stroll along the lake will be a treat.
I strongly suggest you treat yourself to a visit of:
The lakefront trail with its view benches and sculptures;
The old part of the city surrounded by walls;
The Acropolis, castle, mosque and other historical edifices inside the old town;
An island — a must-see spot! The houses and streets there are very picturesque and the lake views are breathtaking. You can also try some of the local delicacies like eel and crayfish while dining on the island. You can get there by taking a boat that serves as the local public transport from the central dock.
The modern part of the city is teeming with cafes and bars, many of which are tucked away in the arches between the houses, referred to as stoas, and adorned with blankets and faux fur blankets, just waiting to invite you in for a warm cup of coffee.
One of the most impressive caves in Greece is Perama Cave, a kilometer-long route which has a guide who will take you through. Be aware, however, that there is no parking at the cave itself and that nearby shop owners may try to lure you in to their paid parking.
If you have oodles of time and fancy something different, not far from Ioannina lies the ancient archaeological site of Dodoni. Although small, the historically relevant digs will plunge you into the 2nd millennium BC, where the oracle of Zeus was found. This oracle is older than the Delphic One!
On the journey to Thessaloniki it is possible to take a half-day break in Metsovo. This city is a great favourite during the autumn-winter season among Thessaloniki’s locals. People come here to stroll along the picturesque cobblestone streets, enjoy fragrant meat in the many taverns and get toasty by the fireplace with its mountain views in one of the many snug hotels. I suggest a visit to the Folklore Museum: the local guide talks with great enthusiasm about the region’s history and customs.
Metsovo, along with Grevena, is well-known for its cheese, so why not take some away as a souvenir? After all, it would be a shame to not cap off an amazing walk with lunch at a traditional tavern!
Autumn in Greece is stunning!
While the weather in the northern part of the country may be a bit chilly, it’s certainly not enough to stop you from having a great time and discovering the loveliest nooks and crannies of the region. If you reside in Thessaloniki and don’t own a car, renting one is a great suggestion. It’s especially convenient to hire a car for an extended period — say, a month — during the winter to allow you to take your time and explore the local sights and stunning towns.
Check out our other articles for tips on things to do in Thessaloniki, and to discover some of the best places for day trips from the city.