Greece heatwave 2024: is it safe to travel and should you cancel your holiday

After the country was scorched by its earliest heatwave on record, here is everything you need to know if you have a trip booked amid more extreme temperatures

Liv Kelly
Written by
Liv Kelly
Contributing Writer
Ermoupoli, Greece
Photograph: Shutterstock — Ermoupoli, Greece

Greece is one of the sunniest countries in Europe, and the bright weather paired with lovely beaches and striking scenery have made it a well-established summer getaway spot for years. 

However, Greece’s warm temperatures make it highly prone to heatwaves and wildfires, which are only becoming more common because of the climate emergency. Extreme temperatures scorched the country in a Europe-wide heatwave last summer, and Greece already experienced it’s earliest ever heatwave in min-June. Wildfires have spread around Cyprus, Kos, Chios and Crete, and the Acropolis, Greece’s most popular tourist attraction, was forced to close for the hottest parts of the day during this period. 

These extreme temperatures have now skyrocketed again, reaching a blistering 45C in some regions. It looks like Greece is set for a long and searingly hot summer. Here is everything you need to know about the Greece heatwave if you have a trip booked. 

Which areas have been affected by the heatwave in Greece? 

Areas across Greece are about to be affected by the heatwave as extremely hot weather is set to prevail for 10 days from July 15 to 24. Based on maps from WXCharts, the region around Larissa is predicted to experience blistering 45C temperatures, and areas such as Thessaloniki, Skopje and Athens, which will see temperatures of around 41-42C. 

In Greece, temperatures above 38C which last at least three days constitute a heatwave. 

So, is it safe to travel to Greece right now? 

Travelling to Greece hasn’t been advised against, but if you have a trip booked, you’ll need to take precautions to stay safe. During the previous heatwave in some areas, people were told to remain indoors between 11am and 3pm, and in June schools were suspended and attractions, including the Acropolis, were closed due to wildfire fears

Greece’s extreme temperatures during the first heatwave sadly led to the deaths of a handful of tourists, the first of which was British author and TV presenter Michael Mosely on the island of Symi, many of whom were out hiking during the hottest parts of the day. 

What islands were affected by the wildfires? 

Back in April, there was a wildfire on the island of Crete which injured three people. More recently, Paphos, a city in southwest Cyprus, has experienced wildfires. Five villages in the area were evacuated, and many homes and farms have been destroyed by the fire. Thankfully, no casualties have been reported as a result of wildfires.

The islands of Kos, Chios and Crete have all also experienced wildfires in the last few weeks. 

What is the UK Foreign Office saying? 

The Foreign Office hasn’t advised against travelling to Greece, but on the safety and security section of the website, it reads: ‘There are active wildfires across Greece, including in populated areas on the mainland and a number of islands. Wildfires are highly dangerous and unpredictable. The situation can change quickly. Follow ‘112 Greece’ on X (formerly known as Twitter) for official updates.

You should:

  • take care when visiting or driving through woodland areas
  • make sure cigarette ends are properly extinguished
  • not light barbecues

Causing a forest fire is treated as a criminal offence in Greece even if unintentional. If you see a forest fire, call the emergency services on 112. Forest fires can also cause travel disruption in wider areas.’

There’s more advice in this section about what to do if you find yourself in an area affected by wildfires – you can read that here

What are your rights if you’ve booked a trip to Greece? 

You won’t be entitled to a refund on your trip, as the Foreign Office hasn’t advised against travel to Greece. However, if you are concerned, it’s worth contacting your travel provider to see what can be done – you may be able to move the dates you travel. 

What’s the hottest Greece has ever been?

Greece actually holds the record for the hottest temperature ever recorded in Europe. On July 10 1977, Elefsina (which is in the Athens metropolitan area) reached a scorching 48C. The longest heatwave ever recorded in Greece was in July 2023, lasting for 16 days. 

When was the last heatwave in Greece?

The last heatwave in Greece was only a few weeks ago, and broke the record as the earliest one ever. Temperatures reached up to 43C in some areas on June 12 and 13. About the upcoming heatwave, Greek Minister of Health Adonis Georgiadis said ‘People need to understand that climate change is happening and that they need to be very careful. We have had cases of foreign travellers who lost their lives in Greece.’

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