Winter in Crete
Strangely, there is even more to do in Crete during winter than in the summer months. For the local people, winter is a busy time of manufacturing, harvesting and preparing for the spring to come. A lot of the main industries, such as the olive oil industry and Raki making, are at their busiest times during the colder months because this is the best time to harvest olives and distil alcohol. In summer, life takes a slower pace due to the intense heat, and the locals focus on accommodating the many tourists that flock to Crete for the sun and beaches.
A winter break in Crete is not a relaxed beach one; due to the weather the beaches are nearly deserted and the main activity goes on in the centre of the country. A Christmas break in Crete means connecting with the local culture, exploring the natural beauty and enjoying the natural resources and landscape of the island. A summer holiday in Crete means beaches, barbeques and boat trips, with the chance to laze by the pool all day if you wish. Although the weather isn’t cold in a Cretan Winter, it is much more suitable for exploring, walking and taking an active interest in the Cretan lifestyle. Staying in traditional villas in Greece will guarantee you get a taste for the traditional culture.
Some activities that you can do over a Cretan winter include:
- Hiking in the mountains
- Visit the Samarian Gorge
- Snorkelling and fishing trips
- Fruit picking and olive harvesting
- Visits to olive oil, wine or cheese factories
- Trips to churches, monasteries and forts
- Horse riding
- Quad biking
- Off road 4×4 adventures
- Visit the palace of Knossos and archaeological museum in Heraklion
Christmas in Crete
Due to the majority of Greeks being Orthodox Christians, Christmas is taken seriously as a religious festival, and many people attend Church on Christmas day. The Christmas celebratory period lasts from the 6th December, which is St. Nicolas’ day, until epiphany which is on January 6th. Presents are given on 6th December to mark St. Nicolas’ day, who is the patron Saint of the seas, and also on 1st January which is St. Basil’s day. On Christmas Eve children go round houses in villages singing carols, which are meant to bless the house. On Christmas day, after church, Greek families have massive feasts with lamb, pork and traditional loaves of christopsomo bread. If you stay in Crete over winter, you could be lucky enough to join in the beautiful Cretan Christmas celebrations.