With winter upon us in the UK, you may be looking for somewhere to escape to. Crete is just the place for a bit of winter sunshine, avoiding the hustle and bustle of the summer sunshine seekers and allowing you to enjoy the beauty of Crete in the quieter (and more affordable!) off-peak season.
Things to See
While you’re not guaranteed sunshine, you’ll find that the months of November and December are still quite mild, with January and February being the coldest months of the year. November’s average temperature is still 17oC, while January’s average of 11oC is still perfectly respectable. By all means, pack your sandals and shorts, but do take your raincoat and waterproof shoes as well, as it can rain heavily. If you’re specifically looking for snow, the White Mountains live up to their name between November and April, with a good covering of snow.
The locals class the off-peak season from November to March, so between these months, expect to find a more traditional way of life in action. Harvesting of oranges and olives begins, local trucks take to the roads to transport the crops to be processed. With so many Cretans owning olive groves, families come together at country estates to help bring in the harvest or just meet up with family.
Things to Do
Open-air beachfront clubs and bars go into hibernation, tavernas and restaurants, heated by stoves burning locally produced firewood, bring the locals out of their homes. If you’re looking for local food, cooked the way Cretans enjoy it, you won’t have to look far to see where the locals like to eat.
There are plenty of festivals and celebrations to enjoy in the off-peak season as well. Christmas is celebrated for 12 days, starting on December 25th, and leads on to Epiphany on January 6th, where you’ll find Cretans celebrating the Holy Blessing of the Waters at the waterside.
The end of January brings a three-week carnival celebration, starting on January 28th, visitors can look forward to carnivals, parades and formal masked balls which really encourage a party atmosphere.
One-day celebrations include Clean Monday, which occurs on February 19th, and Greek Independence Day on March 25th.
Top Tips for Cretan Winter
Our top tips are:
Rent a car, which will allow you to do some self-guided sightseeing
Take a warm coat with you, as well as adequate shoes
Stay in established towns, as the tourist hotspots tend to close facilities down off-peak