Athens has closed the Acropolis as Greece is hit with a 43C heatwave

Multiple attractions and schools have closed amid fears of wildfires in Greece's earliest-ever heatwave

Liv Kelly
Written by
Liv Kelly
Contributing Writer
Athenian Acropolis
Photograph: Shutterstock

If the fact that extreme heatwaves in Europe are only going to become more common wasn’t bleak enough, buckle up. In some even more dire news, Greece is currently experiencing its earliest ever recorded heatwave. 

Temperatures above 38C are what is considered a heatwave in Greece, which is the most climate-affected country in Europe – but none have ever started earlier than June 15 before, according to TV meteorologist Panos Giannopoulos, who spoke to the Guardian.

Amid predictions that temperatures in Athens were likely to soar up to 43C, the Acropolis was closed to the public between midday and 5pm today local time (June 12) and the same will happen tomorrow (June 13), with the culture ministry saying this could be extended. 

Local press reported that tourists were fainting while in the queue to enter, and Red Cross staff were handing out bottles of water. 

The labour ministry advised public-sector employees to work from home and for outdoor work, including food delivery, to pause between midday and 5pm. 

What’s more, schools and nurseries have been suspended across Greece and the public transport authority said seven air-conditioned spaces would be opened, including a hall at the Syntagma metro station in central Athens. 

Paphos in Cyprus is already experiencing wildfires, but there are fears these will also flare up in the Attica region around Athens. The heatwave is thought to be driven by southerly winds transporting hot air and dust from north Africa. 

The Acropolis, which is Greece’s most-visited tourist attraction, was also forced to close due to extreme temperatures in summer 2023, amid an unprecedented two-week heatwave. You can read more about the working conditions here

Plenty of other areas suffered from wildfires last year too, and it was recently announced that the government were offering up 25,000 off-season holidays to compensate visitors who were forced to flee the heat. 

To cope with this extreme weather crisis, Greece is investing €2.1 billion into upgrading its water tankers, but these won’t be ready until next year. It looks like it’s going to be a difficult season for locals, visitors, and businesses that rely on passing trade. 

Did you see that this city has been named Europe’s leading sustainable tourism destination?

Plus: These are the new beach rules to know when visiting Greece

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