Not only is Crete the largest of the 6,000 Greek islands, but it is the 88th largest island in the world, which means that there is plenty to see and do in this traditional location. Crete stands out among the Greek islands for a host of reasons, and a trip here will be different from any other Greek trip you’ve been on.
Crete has its own specific culture, wild landscapes, cuisine, personality as well as places of historical significance, which set it apart from the other islands, so if this sounds like a place you want to experience, it is worth knowing when is the best time to travel to Crete.
Fear not, because we have all the information you need right here, so let’s delve into the details.
Overview of the climate in Crete
To get an understanding of the island, and when is the best time to travel to Crete, it is important to know what kind of climate this island has, and what you can expect to experience weatherwise when visiting there. Crete has a Mediterranean climate like many other areas of Greece, meaning it is susceptible to rainy albeit mild winters, and hot and sunny summers, making it an ideal holiday destination. The fact that it is not soaring hot like other parts of the country means you can enjoy your surroundings and go sightseeing without suffering too much.
Although Crete is in-between two climatic zones – the Mediterranean and The North African, it can be quite humid, while snowfall can occur in the mountains. The south coast of the huge island falls into the North African climate zone, which means this area has more sunny days and slightly higher temperatures during the year. Examples of these regions would be the Mesara Plain, Asterousia Mountains, and the southern coastal towns. The varied climate on the island is perfect for growing food, especially with the fertile region of Lerapetra, on the southeast corner of the island, as well as an abundance of fruit trees which thrive in the south part of the island. On the other hand, Western Crete tends to be privy to more rainfall, and knowing this can help determine the best time to travel to Crete.
If you are not a fan of rainfall, you will need to know a little bit about the island’s rain patterns, to see when is the best time to travel to Crete. When it comes to rainfall, the majority of the rain occurs during October and March, with the wettest month being December (95mm/3.7inches), with January (90mm/3.5inches) not far behind. While the temperature may not drop too low and the sun may still be shining, it is still worth knowing that it can rain at any time during the wet season, and if you choose to travel within this period, you need to be prepared.
Crete has an average yearly rainfall of between 450 – 600mm (17.7- 23.6 inches), with it being rainier in the west and drier in the south. Given that Crete has a varied landscape, there is quite a difference between the rainfall in the west and east regions, the mountainous regions, as well as the coast, and you will find that there are many lush forests, rovers, and gorges inland, which benefit from the heavy rains.
Thanks to Crete’s geographical position, there is always a part of the island that will be rainier and wetter or warmer and drier than the other, so it is important to plan accordingly. While temperatures are mild in Crete, is not uncommon to experience snowfall in the mountains, but for the most part, along the southern coast, you can experience perfect temperatures during the summer and the shoulder season, which can help you to figure out when is the best time to travel to Crete. To give you a detailed look at what you can expect when it comes to warmth in Crete, check out the daily maximum temperatures below:
- Average high temperature in January: 60°F (15 C)
- Average high temperature in February: 60°F (16°C)
- Average high temperature in March: 63°F (17°C)
- Average high temperature in April: 68°F (20°C)
- Average high temperature in May: 75°F (24°C)
- Average high temperature in June: 82°F (28°C)
- Average high temperature in July: 85°F (29°C)
- Average high temperature in August: 85°F (29°C)
- Average high temperature in September: 81°F (27°C)
- Average high temperature in October: 75°F (24°C)
- Average high temperature in November: 69°F (20°C)
- Average high temperature in December: 63°F (17°C)
The Best time to travel to Crete
The best time to travel to Crete if you fancy some sun, sea, and sand is either July or August when the average daily temperature reaches 85°F (29°C), which is hot but not too hot. This is an ideal time to go swimming, do watersports, sunbathe, and enjoy attractions (best visited in the morning or late afternoon outside of peak temperature hours).
This is also a prime time for festivals with each village having its wine festivals, as well as the Chania Rock Festival which is held in July. The Chania summer festival takes place between July and September and is something to watch out for if you are visiting during this time.
To avoid the crowds
Either May, June or September is ideal to beat the crowds, enjoy reduced prices and still enjoy the sunshine. While May marks the beginning of the summer, September might be a better choice if you love sea swimming, given that the water is at its warmest at this time. June sees many festivals including the Matala Festival and
April/May/October is the best time to travel to Crete, for those who predominantly want to go sightseeing, with fewer crowds and pleasant temperatures. It is worth noting that the rainy season is between October and March, so take precautions in case of light rain or downpours, which can happen at any time, however, by sticking to the south coast you will experience less rain.
What to pack
No trip to Crete is planned properly without the correct packing list, and there are a few things that you will need to remember to take with you such as:
- Mosquito Repellent – If you are prone to be bitten by these nasties, make sure to pack this just in case, especially when Crete is surrounded by water. It’s better safe than sorry.
- Water shoes/Hiking shoes/Evening shoes – There will be many things to see and do in Crete, so getting your feet prepared is necessary. Water shoes are handy if you will be out on the water a lot or are at rocky beaches, while hiking shoes or good sturdy trail runners are ideal for day hikes and exploring. Beach sandals are useful too, while evening shoes are a dressier option for dinner, drinks, and festivals.
- Layered clothing – The best time to travel to Crete is during the summer when the weather is the warmest but if you are traveling outside of this period, then pack layers to ensure you keep warm throughout the day and evening, especially as it varies from region to region.