Winter in Crete is probably one of the greatest travel decisions ever! The legendary island is often associated with its popular beaches, however, they are just a part of the story. You will be surprised to know that it actually is an all-year-round destination. It is the perfect way to escape from colder climates and enjoy the temperate Mediterranean climate, Cretan culture and fantastic cuisine. Moreover, the island might be extremely famous for its phenomenal beaches, but there’s more than meets the eye in this fantastic place! From ancient landmarks dating back to eons ago, to hiking and agricultural activities, the list just goes on and on. And the most important detail – you won’t have to deal with the hordes of tourists!
So, if we’ve peaked your interest, check out our local’s guide to experience island life in winter.
What is Crete like in the winter?
To begin with, Crete, the biggest island of Greece, is undoubtedly less crowded during wintertime. The island’s dreamy beaches attract thousands of tourists every summer, but that doesn’t end there. You may not experience the perks of spending precious moments by the beach, but there are many things to do in Chania and in the rest counties. So, don’t be skeptical whether or not you should visit Crete in winter. The vibe might be different, but it is replaced by the coziness and mysterious atmosphere that comes along with the cold season.
Which leads us to the next question: How cold does it get in Crete?
Crete has a temperate Mediterranean climate with sunny, cool and partly rainy days. The temperatures stay quite warm, with average highs around 18 °C, as the lows around 8 °C. And if it gets too sunny, you can take a quick swim in one of the island’s top beaches! You can find a beach just about anywhere, whether you’re in the city center or on the outskirt. Check out our article featuring the Best Beaches in Chania for ideas and inspiration. On the other hand, it will most likely snow in the northern parts of the island, such as the White Mountains (Lefka Ori) and Mount Ida. The latter are covered with snow up until late spring, and enable popular activities such as trekking, caving, climbing, and birdwatching. But overall, the temperature is significantly warmer unlike the one in the southern parts.
What to do in Crete in winter?
You can engage in numerous outdoor and indoor activities that will help you experience winter in Crete from a different perspective. Hiking across the Cretan Mountains and vast wilderness, taking part in traditional harvest activities, and visiting ancient landmarks are some of the best ways to experience Crete like a local. But let’s see these unique activities one-by-one!
Hiking in Crete
Hiking in the island is just wonderful during the cold season! Crete is famous for its beautiful hikes for every level and skill throughout the whole year, and is definitely one of the most rewarding ways to explore the outstanding Cretan nature. Despite the fact that Samaria Gorge is the #1 hiking trail to cross, it is only open from May to October. Thankfully, there are many guided tours where you can join with other like-minded individuals and explore fantastic under-rated paths.
Routes available all year round include the trail from Agia Roumeli to Agios Pavlos and from Loutro to Chora Sfakion. Some more challenging trails are Askifou-Imbros-Kallikratis and the Chora Sfakia-Frangokastello, on the southern coast. Check out the updated hiking list on this article.
Agritourism in Crete
Agritourism in Crete is constantly growing and gives visitors the chance to feel the authentic Cretan hospitality. The fantastic temperate climate of Crete allows the production of agricultural goods which have immense nutritional value to the human body. It is no wonder that the Cretan diet is among the healthiest ones in the world.
Furthermore, fans of agritourism are able to try multiple activities and get familiar with the locals and their traditions. There are many organized tours (particularly in the Cretan countryside) that offer such alternative opportunities. In some villages, you will even be able to participate in food preparation and learn the secrets of the traditional Cretan cuisine. Using Cretan products such as vegetables, olive oil, aromatic herbs, wine, cheese and honey will make you realize the simplicity and authenticity of delicious meals.
Visit Landmarks in Crete
Myths and legends that date back to thousands of years ago have a close connection with the island. There are many archaeological sites, monasteries, museum and reminders of the past that are definitely worth visiting. While you are too busy enjoying the sun during summer, winter in Crete allows you to discover all these historical sights that have a wonderful story behind them. One of the most significant landmarks in the Knossos Palace. Located in Heraklion, the palace dates back to 3000BC and is one of the oldest cities in Europe. The Minoan civilization that flourished during those times have left behind a truly magnificent landmark which stands strongly even nowadays.
There is no doubt that winter in Crete is nothing less than beautiful. You get to do all these other activities which you were not able to during summertime. One thing is for sure though. No matter what time of the year you visit the island, you will definitely create lasting memories.