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Winter in Crete: 5 Reasons to Consider Crete for Your Winter Holiday Destination

by Crete Locals

  • Posted 8 months ago

Are you looking for a winter holiday destination with plenty of things to do? Then consider Crete! This beautiful Greek island is home to stunning beaches, great food, and plenty of activities to keep you busy.

Here are five reasons why Crete is a great place to visit during winter:

  1. The weather is milder than in other parts of Europe, so it’s perfect for those who don’t like the cold.
  2. You can still enjoy the sun and the beaches – there’s nothing like a refreshing swim in the sea to cool down!
  3. There are plenty of cultural and historical attractions to explore, including ancient ruins and traditional villages.
  4. Crete is a great place for outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling, surfing and skiing.
  5. The locals are friendly and welcoming, and they know how to have a good time!

Weather Forecast for Winter in Crete

In Crete, the weather during winter can be unpredictable. One day it might be storming and raining, while the next it could be sunny and warm. The temperature usually doesn’t go below 10 degrees Celsius (50 F), but keep in mind that because of the high humidity level, it often feels colder than that. In addition to storms and rain, you can also expect snow in some parts of Crete during January. Plus, despite the cold temperatures experienced in winter on the island – don’t forget that Crete is surrounded by blooming flowers and lush trees!


During the winter months, the island starts to blossom! What about fresh green grass in December? Or trees full of lemons, oranges, and pomegranates? This is the magic of the first heavy rains on the island, mostly on the northwestern coast, the area that gets more rain.

So, even though winter in Crete can be a little bit unpredictable – there’s still plenty of beauty and wonder to be found on the island during this time of year!

Beach Time in Crete in Winter

Triopetra beach crete
Triopetra beach: Crete in winter

Are you looking for a place to escape the cold winter weather? Look no further than Crete! While most of Europe is covered in snow, Crete enjoys sunny weather and temperatures in the mid-15s (60s F).

Crete is a beautiful place to visit any time of year, but winter is especially special. The beaches are practically empty, so you can enjoy them all to yourself. And if you’re lucky enough to catch a stormy day, you’ll be thrilled by the power of the sea.

Even during December, January, and February, the sea temperature ranges between +15 and +17°C. So don’t hesitate to take a swim – you might just find that Cretan water is still warm enough to keep you comfortable!

Visit Archeological Sites and Museums

The biggest advantage of visiting Crete during winter is that you can avoid the crowds and enjoy your trip without lineups at archaeological sites or museums. In addition, prices for admission tickets may be lower than at other times of the year.

Every first Sunday from November 1st till March 31st most of the archaeological sites and museums in Crete offer a free entrance. So take advantage of this great opportunity to explore the island’s rich history and culture without spending a lot of money.

There are many interesting museums to visit in Crete, such as the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion, which houses one of the world’s finest collections of Minoan art. Another must-see is the Folklore Museum in Chania, which will give you a glimpse into the island’s traditional way of life.

And if you’re interested in getting out and exploring some of Crete’s ancient ruins, there are plenty to choose from! The most famous is the Palace of Knossos, but other notable sites include the Dikteon Cave, the ancient city of Phaistos, and the Venetian fortifications in Rethymno.

Winter Outdoor Activities in Crete

Crete is a great place to spend the winter holidays because of its many outdoor activities. Skiing, surfing, kite surfing, and hiking are just some of the great things that you can do while you’re here. Especially in winter, the waves in Falassarna go up to 3m, and the common windless conditions are ideal for surfing. The beaches are great for surfing and kite surfing. And hiking is a great way to explore the beautiful nature of Crete. So come on down and enjoy everything that this wonderful island has to offer!

Unfortunately, Samaria Gorge is closed during winter but you can still do the easier hike to Imbros gorge. The entrance of Imbros is only 1km from Omalos village, so it’s quite easy and fast to get there. The hike takes about 3 hours in total and is really worth it!

Europe’s southernmost ski mountaineering event| Photo: Pierracreta/ Facebook

Another activity that you can do in Crete is ski mountaineering racing! Crete is home to three towering mountains that rise above 2,000 metres: Psiloritis with its pinnacle, Timios Stavros, reaching 2,456 metres; the White Mountains peaking at Pachnes with 2,454 metres; and Dikti, whose highest point, Spathi, stands at 2,148 metres. Ski mountaineering was once an obscure sport, largely a hidden gem among climbing enthusiasts. But a team of Cretan mountaineers took on a daring endeavour: they launched Crete’s first ski mountaineering race, now recognized as Pierra Creta. Today, it’s a renowned event. If this piques your curiosity, don’t hesitate to explore their page for more details on the upcoming event – Pierra Creta.

Does it Snow in Crete?

Imagine a beach covered in snow. The waves crash against the shoreline, palm trees sway gently back and forth with each gentle gust of wind that blows through them while ice builds up on all sides making for an enchanting scene. While this scene may not be a typical sight in Crete, let it not diminish your spirits. If the snow is not coming to you, then you can go to the snow!

There are a few locations in Crete that can be reached within 1-3 hours, depending on your location. Two villages worth visiting are Zoniana and Anogia, which are located on the slopes of Psiloritis mountain – the highest summit in Crete. In winter these villages become something special with narrow streets covered in snow and smoke rising from the numerous chimneys. The views here are unforgettable!

Lasithi plateau covered in snow
Lasithi plateau covered in snow

Another must-visit location during winter is the Omalos Plateau by the entrance to Samaria gorge. In this region, snow can pile up to a staggering 3 meters at times! After your snowy adventures, cosy up at the Xyloskalo café-restaurant with a steaming mug of traditional Cretan mountain tea.

Enjoy mesmerizing views of the White Mountains from the restaurant, which welcomes visitors throughout the year.

Celebrate Christmas like locals!

Chania Santa Run marathon| Photo: Santarunchaniaa/ Facebook

Crete is a beautiful place to visit during Christmas. The locals celebrate the holiday with great dinners and festivities. All the streets are lit up and decorated, making it a wonderful sight to see.

If you’re looking for a place to spend your Christmas vacation, then consider Crete!

Groups of children go from door to door singing old Greek Christmas carols, known as kalanda, accompanied by popular musical instruments such as the triangle (which locals call trigono).

In Heraklion, pay a visit to Plateia Eleftheria where you can find a Christmas market with small kiosks offering sweets, hot wine, and local delicacies. Also, there is a small tent with a live band playing in the evenings.

In Rethymnon, Mikrasiaton Square is beautifully transformed into a Christmas city with Santa’s workshop, exhibitions, and other interesting Christmas activities to take part in. Also, don’t forget to explore the beautiful Venetian Old Town in Chania and its Christmas markets! 

On the island of Crete, you can also find several smaller towns and villages that offer charming Christmas markets. In Plakias, for example, you can find a traditional German-style Christmas market with all the usual trimmings like gingerbread houses, mulled wine, and handmade gifts. 

No matter where you go on the island of Crete, you’re sure to find festive Christmas markets full of charming local traditions and holiday cheer!

The Chania Santa Run marathon is usually held on December 26th and thousands gather to dress up as elves or Santas. Then they wander around town until late at night joining in with other participants who have all dressed alike too – this event has been going strong since 2011. At the moment, it is proportionally the largest in terms of crowd and fundraising in Europe.

Cretan Winter Food

Christmas Cookies
Christmas Cookies: Melomakarona and Kourabiedes

During winter, the Cretans enjoy eating plenty of stews and hearty dishes that warm them up from the inside. One of the most popular dishes is Apaki, which is made with smoked pork and potatoes. Another winter favourite is Makaronia, a delicious pasta dish that is usually served with grated cheese on top. And of course, no winter meal would be complete without a big bowl of Soupa – a hearty vegetable soup that is perfect for warming up on a cold day. Don’t forget about Christmas Cookies: Melomakarona and Kourabiedes

Are there Flights to Crete in Winter?

There are no direct flights to the island from Europe between November and March. But the island remains very well connected with most European cities. Several airlines offer flights mostly via Athens or Thessaloniki to both Heraklion and Chania.

So if you’re looking for a place to enjoy the winter sun, the beach, and some great outdoor activities, then Crete is the perfect destination for you!

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