To most people the island of Crete is a typical summer destination, as like many other Greek islands. To enjoy the warm sun, the beautiful beaches and the inviting restaurants and bars at night make Crete a great summer destination and a very popular one!
Crete is the largest island and it measures 260 km from east to west and it is 60 km deep. At the nearest point even 12 km! Crete has four prefectures: Chania, Rethymnon, Heraklion and Lassithi.
The capital Heraklion in the north part of the island is the spot where most tourists start of their summer vacation. For 2017, Heraklion has been the fastest growing tourist destination with a growth of 11,2% in arrivals.
Crete is more than just beautiful beaches and great tourist attractions; Crete is an island with a thousand faces. The summer season starts in April and lasts until the end of October. During that time its crowded and busy, so more and more people are discovering Crete in wintertime.
Between November and April, the weather is good, of course with some rain and chilly days but most of the time the temperature is very pleasant. Well enough to enjoy the beautiful flourish nature that Crete is well known for, to drive around the island to find quiet sleepy villages, where time stood still and where the locals welcome you for a raki and meze. From October to mid December it’s autumn, the season for the grape gathering, wine production and for the raki making (or tsikoudia as they also call it), also known as the “Kazani”. These are actually the raki production units. It’s like a party for friends and relatives where you have to be invited to. It is very famous in Crete and everywhere on the island you can find these kazani’s.
Taking the car to make a tour around the island will bring you to several hidden, remote beaches, sometimes also with great temperatures of the water, to have a winter swim all by yourself! Especially in the south there are beautiful beaches with crystal water. Be aware that it might take a while to get somewhere, for Crete has good roads but most of them take you through the mountains, so just take the time to get somewhere. The Cretans don’t rush and neither should you, especially in wintertime!
During wintertime Crete has several areas where snow will cover the mountains, like Mount Psiloritis, near Heraklion. But also more areas to the west of Crete, on the way to the other bigger town Chania, are most of the time covered in snow. Therefor they are called the White Mountains or Lefka Ori. They rise up to 2000 meters. Usually the snow starts falling from November and until early spring the mountains will have a white cover.
Taking the time to discover Crete in wintertime will hopefully be a lot easier in the nearby future when airlines will fly all year round to the island. Besides the airlines, also the ferries will take you to the island from the mainland and arrive in Heraklion or Chania.
For a place to stay the bigger towns are more ideal. Heraklion is very popular also in wintertime, but also Rethymnon or Chania have nice hotels or apartments to stay. Various booking sites will let you choose between nice places to stay. The tourist areas on the north of the island will mostly be ghost towns and be desolated. But still then, strolling along the beach and drinking a frappé in the sun on a terrace is really a great way to enjoy a winter stay at Crete!