Where are the fires in Greece? What wildfires mean for your trip

After Greece experienced its earliest ever heatwave last month, continued extreme temperatures have caused wildfires in Kos, Chios and Crete

Liv Kelly
Written by
Liv Kelly
Contributing Writer
Kos, Greece
Photograph: Shutterstock

Greece is only set to get busier over the next few weeks, with tourists from all over flocking to the country’s islands to enjoy its glorious sandy beaches and guaranteed sun. However, Greece’s earliest-ever heatwave in June marked the start of another summer of extremely high temperatures and wildfires

Only a couple of weeks after the Paphos wildfires, tourists have described ‘apocalyptic’ scenes of smoke after more wildfires broke out on Monday July 1 on the islands of Kos, Chios and Crete. 

Now, a severe fire has broken out near Thessaloniki. Understandably, this is worrying news if you’ve got an upcoming trip to Greece. Here is everything you need to know about the wildfires in Greece and how they might affect your holiday. 

Where are the wildfires in Greece? 

Greece is experiencing its eleventh day of extreme heat today, and another bout of wildfires have broken out across the country thanks to the presence of a ‘hot air balloon’ from Africa. 

According to, Greece’s civil protection ministry has declared a general state of alert due to the high temperatures and strong winds. Since July 17, a wildfire has been raging in the forested area of Agios Vlassis near Sofiko. A fire was also recorded near Thessaloniki airport yesterday, according to this Google Satellite map. 

The islands of Kos, Chios and Crete saw wildfires spread from Monday July 1, for the following couple of days. In eastern Kos, a wildfire broke out in Antimachia early Monday afternoon and spread towards the tourist resort of Kardamaina, and 10,000 people were evacuated. 

On the island of Chios, the northwest town of Sidirounda saw a blaze break out, but was diverted away from residential areas by the following morning thanks to additional firefighting forces dispatched from Lesvos and Athens. Vianos on the southern coast of Crete also saw a wildfire break out, but which was then contained. 

The island of Serifos and the Attica region around Athens also saw fires break out over the weekend of June 29 and 30, but these had been controlled and subsided by Monday morning. 

Is it safe to travel? 

News of wildfires is of course a concern if you have a trip booked to Greece, but there is currently no official advice against travelling to the country. Instead, you should follow local advice on how to stay safe in the heat, check if there is a risk of wildfires in the area you’re staying, and stay updated on any evacuation calls. 

The good news is that Greece has amped up its prep for the summer ahead. More staff have been hired and trained, and the use of drones and early warning systems have proved useful in tracking potential wildfires so far.  

What started the fires in Greece? 

The prolonged drought and dry weather that Greece has experienced has led to what Sky News previously described as ‘tinderbox-like’ conditions. This current bout of heat has apparently been caused by a ‘hot air balloon’ moving in from Africa. Paired with unusually strong winds, conditions have been prime for the outbreak of wildfires. 

Can I get a refund if I choose not to travel because of wildfires? 

To see what can be done, it’s best to contact your accommodation, flight or trip provider directly – a full refund isn’t guaranteed when travelling to Greece has not been officially advised against.

Under the Package Travel Regulations, travellers who have been evacuated can likely seek reasonable compensation for their trip if the holiday company they booked with fails to proactively offer a refund or vouchers. 

If you are already in Greece and want to return home early, it’s possible (depending on your trip provider) that you’ll be able to do so at no extra charge. Whether you’ll be refunded for the rest of your holiday all depends on your trip provider and insurance policy.

What’s the latest UK Foreign Office advice? 

The UK Foreign Office has not issued any advice against travelling to any parts of Greece, but its section on forest fires and wildfires says: ‘There is a high risk of wildfires during the summer season from April to October. Wildfires are highly dangerous and unpredictable. The situation can change quickly. To avoid starting wildfires: leave no litter, especially not glass which is known to start fires; make sure cigarettes are properly extinguished; do not light barbecues. Causing a wildfire or a forest fire is a criminal offence in Greece – even if unintentional. If you see a fire, call the emergency services on 112.’

It also encourages you to follow @112Greece for official updates on X (fka Twitter), and to follow guidance issued by the local emergency services. 

What started the fires in Greece in 2023? 

Last summer, Europe experienced extremely hot and dry weather conditions which, combined with strong winds, put plenty of areas at high risk of wildfires.

However, a senior climate crisis official said the majority of fires were started by ‘human hand’. As of late August 163 arrests have been made on fire-related charges. 

Where else in Europe has been affected by wildfires?

Wildfires have also broken out in Türkiye as the temperature reached between eight and 12C higher than seasonal norms. Following fires in Antalya’s Kumluca in June, blazes broke out in the Selçuk and Menderes districts of İzmir, and in Susurluk, Balıkesir, earlier this month. Hundreds of hectares of land were destroyed.

Greece’s extreme temperatures led to Athens closing schools and tourist attractions, including the Acropolis, last month. Paphos in Cyprus also experienced wildfires.

Elsewhere in Europe, areas of southern Switzerland, northeast France and northern Italy were battered by torrential rain and storms, and seven people reportedly died. 

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