Updated: October 25, 2016
Q. When is the best time to visit Crete?
- Best Time for Good Weather and Swimming: The warmest weather in Crete (and all the Greek islands) is between late May and early October when it’s sunny, hot, and the water is perfect for swimming. Water temperature heats throughout the summer months and is warmest in August and early September. Since most people go to Crete for the beaches it’s pretty quiet here in May and October though the weather is still quite nice.
- Best Time for Sightseeing: If you’re visiting Crete more for the sights, history, wineries, and food then you don’t need hot temperatures just warm pleasant weather. So the months of April, May, October, and early November are great times for touring the sights. The weather is still warm by northern european standards though there can be some rain and warmer clothing should be packed.
- Best Time for Island Hopping: There are some incredible islands (Santorini, Naxos, Paros, Ios, Mykonos) that are a 2 to 5 hour ferry ride from Crete. Hopping on a ferry and exploring these nearby islands is a highlight of traveling to Greece. Santorini has a longer tourist season than the other islands so you can happily visit there anytime between late April and early November (though check ferry schedules for connecting ferries). For the other islands mid-May to early October is best.
- Best Time for Saving Money: Hotels are much cheaper in the shoulder season (April, May, and October) than in the summer months but there’s also a lot less going on so you need to weigh the pros and cons. Transportation, food, and drink prices tend not to vary much by season. If you want good weather but cheap hotels then late May, early June, late September, or early October are great times. There are no guarantees but the first three weeks of October can often have great weather.
- High Season (July to early September): Hot, sunny weather with lots of people – but never so many that it’s unenjoyable. Prices are at their peak. Sea water at its warmest and best for swimming. Ferries and flights run with the greatest frequency. If you’re in Crete for the buzz and nightlife of the larger towns then this is the time to visit.
- Shoulder Season (May and June, September and early October): Great weather. Sunny and warm but not blazingly hot like the summer. Tourists are around but it’s never crowded. Everything is open in June and September but May and October will definitely see some closed doors. The sea might not be warm enough for swimming in May and October.
- Low Season (late October to April): This is winter and that means gray skies, cool weather, and rain. The main towns of Heraklion, Chania, and Rethymno have large local populations and never go completely dead, even in winter. Ferries and flights have very limited schedules though there’ll be at least one a day going to Athens.