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The best time to cruise the Mediterranean will vary depending on your particular interests and schedule. Families looking to spend a relaxing trip abroad will probably want to take advantage of summer vacation days, while a couple planning a romantic getaway may choose to cruise to the Mediterranean during shoulder season when there are fewer tourists.

Similarly, wine enthusiasts may prefer to book their cruise around peak harvest season, while beach seekers will want to cruise the Mediterranean when there’s the least chance of rain.

When is the Mediterranean cruise season?

Celebrity Apex in Santorini, Greece

Celebrity Apex

The main Mediterranean cruise season runs from April through November each year, with June to September the peak months. But increasingly, the region is becoming a year-round destination as travelers discover the joys of “quiet season”.

In these winter months, you’ll have museums and galleries virtually to yourself. Restaurants and bars remain open in port cities, and the atmosphere is, if anything, more relaxed than at the height of summer.

Ports in the Southern Mediterranean, including those in Cyprus and Egypt, enjoy bright, sunny days almost year-round.

Also, bear in mind that the Canary Islands, which feature on some Mediterranean itineraries, are actually in the Atlantic, much further south, and are bathed in sunshine throughout the winter months.

Cruising the Mediterranean By Month


Street view of Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, Spain

What’s typically the low season is becoming increasingly popular for Mediterranean getaways. You won’t be lying on the beach in January, but in the far south and east, for example, you could find wonderful hiking weather.

Visit Ephesus in Turkey and you’ll have the ancient site virtually to yourself. Cities like Athens, Malaga, Barcelona, and Rome will be buzzing with locals, rather than tourists. Maximize your cultural activities in these historic cities as you’ll be able to fit in far more sights than you would in the heat and bustle of summer.

Street view of Old Town Malaga, Spain

Malaga, Spain

Expect average highs of 62.6°F (17°C) in sunny Malaga, which is a long way south, and 59°F (15°C) in Barcelona in January. Pack a light waterproof jacket as you may encounter the occasional rain shower.

One exception is the Canary Islands, which lie in the Atlantic, off the west coast of Africa. January is one of the busiest times here as the Canaries is the easiest way for northern Europeans to find winter sun without taking a long-haul flight.

Cruises depart from Barcelona for the Canaries, visiting ports in the Mediterranean and Morocco along the way. Expect average highs of 68°F (20°C) in Tenerife, and six hours of sunshine.


Historic pyramids of Giza, Egypt

Pyramids of Giza, Egypt

Head to Greece or Cyprus in February and you’ll see swathes of snowy white in the fields. Not actual snow; this is almond blossom season, the beginning of spring, and is a wonderful time to visit.

There are still very few tourists around, as it’s not yet beach weather, but you can expect average daily highs of 57°F (14°C) in Athens, with up to five hours of sunshine per day, perfect for sightseeing.

February is one of the busiest months for tourism in Egypt, when the temperatures are more conducive to visiting ancient temples and the fabulous Pyramids of Giza, which you can do on a day trip from Alexandria. Pack layers, as the weather varies; you could encounter pleasant sunny days but equally, cooler weather and rain.

Read: What to Pack for a Mediterranean Cruise


Beautiful waterfront of Limassol, Cyprus

Limassol, Cyprus

March is considered spring in the Mediterranean. Fields are bright with wildflowers and temperatures can rise to 63°F (17°C) in Cyprus and 62°F (16°C) in Athens.

Shops and restaurants that may have closed for winter are beginning to open. While you may encounter some rain and cloudy days, this is still a great month to cruise the Mediterranean.

Depending on when Easter falls, March is Easter holiday season for many European countries, and visitor numbers begin to rise. But there’s no such thing as Spring Break in Europe, so there are no rowdy student areas to avoid.

Remember, too, that Greece and Cyprus celebrate Orthodox Easter, which falls much later than Catholic Easter. In some years, it doesn’t happen until late April.

Turkey and Egypt observe Ramadan. While Ramadan is culturally an interesting time to visit, it won’t affect you as a visitor.


Best time to cruise the mediterranean - Florence, Italy

Florence, Italy

The Mediterranean cruise season begins in earnest in April. Shops and restaurants are open, and there’s a good chance that you can enjoy outdoor dining, although taking layers is always a good idea in case the sun goes behind a cloud.

You still won’t be swimming in the sea unless you’re inclined to cold water swimming, but this is a lovely month for strolling on the beach or walking in the mountains. Wildflowers are still in bloom and you can expect average high temperatures of 65°F (18°C) in Barcelona and 66°F (19°C) in Florence.

Couple exploring the Parthenon in Athens, Greece

Parthenon in Athens, Greece

If you’re coming to Europe for the culture rather than the beach, April is a great time to visit. You should enjoy fine weather (in the south, at least) and places like the art museums in Florence and the Parthenon in Athens won’t yet be teeming with visitors.

Do check the dates of Easter, as in mainly Catholic countries like Spain, Italy, and France, this is an important holiday. Spain in particular is famed for its somber Holy Week processions. Easter is an enriching time to visit, but some shops and attractions may be closed.


Best time to cruise the Mediterranean - Mykonos, Greece

Mykonos, Greece

May is one of the very best times to cruise the Mediterranean, with long, sunny days, al-fresco dining, comfortable temperatures, and manageable crowds. The month kicks off with Labour Day, on May 1, which is celebrated as a national holiday all over the Mediterranean, so expect locals to be out and about.

Sea temperatures are warming up, but if you’re intent on a beach getaway, later in the year is the best time to come to the Mediterranean. In Mykonos, for example, the sea will still only be around 63°F (18°C) in May, although the beach clubs will be holding their seasonal opening parties.

Croatia’s island-specked coastline is the same; sailing and kayaking are fine, but only the hardy will be swimming in the sea.

Couple exploring Pompeii, Italy

Pompeii, Italy

Instead, use May as a time to take in some of the most glorious sights in Europe in the late spring sunshine. Stroll around Pompeii (which has little shade, so is much more manageable in spring). Walk the ramparts that encircle Dubrovnik.

In Sicily, take a trip to beautiful Taormina and admire the views of brooding Mount Etna, which by now will be losing its snowy cap.


Yachts in Vieux Port of Marseille, France

Marseille, France

Like May, June is one of the best times to visit the Mediterranean. The days are at their longest, the weather is fine, and the sea is warming up for swimming.

Evenings are balmy, too, so there’s no need to pack any warm clothes unless you plan to spend a lot of time in air conditioning. Expect highs of up to 79°F (26°C) in Marseille and 81°F (27°C) in Mallorca.

Popular destinations are beginning to get busy in June, but the summer crowds have yet to descend. You should think about pre-booking big attractions, though, to avoid standing in line. Your time is much better spent enjoying coffee in some sunny piazza or enjoying a gelato.

Nature is in full bloom around the Mediterranean in June. This is the beginning of the lavender season in Provence, while the vineyards are lush and green. Mediterranean islands like Mallorca and Mykonos are brilliant with mauve bougainvillea.


Exterior of Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain

Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain

July is one of the busiest and hottest months to visit the Mediterranean, with summer in full swing. It’s not quite as busy as August, when the whole of Italy, Spain, and France heads for the coast, but plan your sightseeing carefully. You’ll need to pre-book for visits to places like the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona and the Uffizi in Florence.

Do your sightseeing in the morning and enjoy a long, lazy lunch before heading to the beach; the Greek Islands can easily reach a sweltering 84°F (29°C) in July, which for most, is too hot to be trudging around temples.

Sunset from Santorini, Greece

Santorini, Greece

Make the most of late stays in port to enjoy blissfully warm evenings ashore. If you’re sailing from Santorini, for example, watch the sun sink beyond the caldera in a blaze of orange.

Cruises that overnight in Tuscany are a great opportunity to enjoy the buzz of Florence after dark, when locals emerge for their evening stroll and aperitivo hour. July 14 is Bastille Day in France, which is a wonderful time to travel, as the night sky will be ablaze with fireworks.


Best time to cruise the Mediterranean - Athens, Greece

Athens, Greece

August is the very peak of the Mediterranean season, with July’s hot weather continuing and regular daily highs of more than 86°F (30°C) throughout the region.

Schools are on summer break and city dwellers flock to the beaches. The sea is blissfully warm for swimming, and you can expect long, hot, sunny days, tempered by the occasional thunderstorm.

The Greek Islands can be windy at this time of year, as summer is when the meltemi wind blows, whipping up the waves in the afternoon. If you want to go paddle boarding, morning is best.

August 15 is the Feast of Assumption, or the Feast of the Virgin Mary, celebrated across the Roman Catholic countries of the Mediterranean with processions, parades, feasting, and floral decorations. Some businesses may be closed, so plan your day accordingly.

Best time to cruise the Mediterranean - Nice, France

Nice, France

If you’re traveling in August, take some tips from the locals. Plan activities for early morning and late afternoon. Enjoy a good lunch and take a siesta during the hottest part of the day.

You may well have kids in tow, in which case, head for the beaches. Even urban destinations like Barcelona, Nice, and Athens have fantastic beaches nearby.


Best time to cruise the Mediterranean - Valletta, Malta

Valletta, Malta

There are many compelling reasons to visit the Mediterranean in September. The summer crowds are beginning to thin out as European schools have gone back and the family holiday season is over. The sea is blissfully warm and perfect for swimming; in fact, this is one of the best months for watersports.

Days are hot and nights are still balmy, if a little cooler than in August. Expect highs of around 82°F (28°C) in Malta and 77°F (25°C) in Nice, tapering off as the month progresses.

Couple exploring a vineyard in Tuscany

Vineyard in Tuscany

What’s more, this is the month when the wine harvest begins in regions including Rioja, Tuscany, and Provence, a time of great festivity.


Street view of Bordeaux, France

Bordeaux, France

October is the beginning of fall in the Mediterranean. The vines are turning golden and beach destinations are beginning to take on an end-of-season feel, although you should still enjoy plenty of sunny days.

Evening temperatures may dip down into the 50s. The sea is still warm enough for swimming in Greece and Turkey, though.

Essentially, if you want sunshine, head as far south and east as possible. More northerly destinations like Tuscany, the south of France, and Portugal will be feeling a little more autumnal by now, with more likelihood of rain.

Pack layers and a light waterproof jacket for October cruises, as well as good walking shoes as cobblestones can get slippery in the rain.

Read: What to Pack for a Mediterranean Cruise in October


Piazza in Naples, Italy

Naples, Italy

November is low season around the Mediterranean, with some restaurant owners and shopkeepers taking a well-earned break between the summer and Christmas seasons.

Temperatures are generally cooler, although if you head a long way east, to Cyprus, for example, people could still be sitting on the beach.

November is the time to see your cruise as a series of city adventures. There’s no other vacation that can link, for example, Athens, Dubrovnik, Naples, Rome, Florence, and Nice, with all their cultural treasures, in one easy journey.

Couple sightseeing from Old Town Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Expect daily averages of 56°F (13°C) in Dubrovnik and 59°F (15°C) in Athens. Do pack a waterproof jacket, though, as rainy days are likely. It’s a time to retreat into museums and cozy coffee shops.

Thanksgiving is not celebrated in Europe, so your November cruise vacation won’t include any major holiday weekends. The only significant public holiday is All Saints’ Day, November 1, which is celebrated in most Catholic countries.


View of the Upper Rock in Gibraltar


Countries all around the Mediterranean are gearing up for Christmas throughout December. Although you may envisage Christmas markets as being in snowy settings, you’ll find them everywhere, from Tenerife to Gibraltar. They make a colorful addition to any cruise, not to mention a great shopping opportunity.

December 6 is St. Nicholas Day in Catholic countries, when children leave their shoes out at night, hoping to wake up finding them filled with chocolate. From then until Christmas, you’ll find islands and cities festooned with Christmas lights and sparkling trees.

Cable car in Mt. Teide, Tenerife

Mt. Teide, Tenerife

December is decidedly cool in the Mediterranean, but cruises that sail from Barcelona out through the Straits of Gibraltar to the Canary Islands will whisk you to a world of winter sunshine, beach weather, and sub-tropical blooms.

You’ll most likely see snow on top of Mt. Teide, Spain’s highest mountain, in Tenerife, but you can still be strolling along a palm-lined promenade a couple of hours after throwing a snowball.

What time of year has the best weather in the Mediterranean?

Best time to cruise the Mediterranean - Santorini, Greece

Santorini, Greece

If you’re looking to avoid high temperatures while on a Mediterranean cruise vacation, then it’s best to avoid the last half of July and the entire month of August when average temperatures can reach over 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

This is important to keep in mind if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t like the heat since many restaurants and shops don’t have air conditioning. Luckily, if you need a cool escape, you’ll always find air conditioning back on the ship.

Between November and April is the coolest season in the Mediterranean, when you’d be advised to pack a coat.

If you’re searching for winter sun as well as the cultural pleasures of a Mediterranean cruise, choose a voyage that combines the Canary Islands with Mediterranean ports. Here, you can swim in the sea and sunbathe on the beach year-round.

When is the best time to find special offers to the Mediterranean?

Best time to cruise the Mediterranean - Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, Spain

Similar to those trying to avoid crowds, the best time to cruise to the Mediterranean for cost savings is during the shoulder seasons (April to May and September to November), when there is a slightly higher chance of rain and cooler weather.

If you’re looking for a spontaneous getaway, look for last-minute cruises to the Mediterranean. This approach can be risky if you have your heart set on a particular date, itinerary, or stateroom category, which may sell out in advance.

When’s the best time to visit the Mediterranean for wine tastings?

Couple on a wine tasting in Tuscany

Wine tasting in Tuscany

If you want to enjoy wine tastings while in port during your Mediterranean cruise, tasting rooms are usually open for visitors during the entire cruise season. However, wine aficionados looking for a truly special time to visit the Mediterranean should book their cruise during wine harvest season in September and October, when the grapes become ripe and ready for fermentation.

During harvest time, Celebrity Cruises can arrange a wine-focused group shore excursion or private journey, where you’ll be able to tour wineries and get an in-depth look at the harvesting process, which may include an afternoon of grape picking and wine tasting.

Read: Best Wine Cruise Destinations

When’s the best time to visit Mediterranean beaches?

Couple on a beach in Mykonos, Greece

Mykonos, Greece

If you are all about discovering the best beaches in the Mediterranean, you’ll want to book your cruise when the weather’s hot and the sunshine endless.

The best time to book a cruise for perfectly warm, sunny days include the months of July and August. However, keep in mind that this is one of the more crowded times of year to visit. That being said, if you’re spending your days in port lounging on a beach chair next to gorgeous turquoise water, we’re guessing you won’t really care.

When’s the best time to cruise to the Mediterranean for families with kids?

Couple carrying kids overlooking the sea

Mykonos, Greece

This region of Europe is one of the most fun places to go in the summer for families, and the best time of year to visit the Mediterranean is during the school summer break.

For most schools in the United States, summer break runs from the middle of June until the end of August or the beginning of September. Many families often prefer to travel to the Mediterranean in July or during the first half of August in order to enjoy a relaxing vacation while still leaving plenty of time to make it back home and buy school supplies for the new year.

However, if you want to take a family cruise to the Mediterranean while your kids are on summer break but want to avoid going during high season, try to travel during late June (just after the school year ends) or right before the school year begins again in September.

Best time to cruise the Mediterranean - Mykonos, Greece

Mykonos, Greece

Browse our Mediterranean cruise itineraries and find the perfect month for your cruise vacation. Book your stateroom and reserve shore excursions and other onboard activities all in one convenient place.

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