Crete is the best year-round destination of any Greek island. But for warm weather, swimming, and sun it’s best to visit from May to October.
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 at the holiday spots in early May and late 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 late March, 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. Crete’s main cities of Heraklion, Chania, and Rethymnon have a large local population and stay active and open year-round.
Best Time for Greek Island Hopping: There are some incredible islands (Santorini, Naxos, Paros, 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 in the off-season). For the other islands mid-May to early October is best. Ferries between Crete and nearby islands will run from April to October for sure. They might also run in late March and early November but for the rest of the low season you’ll need to travel via Athens (whether by flight or ferry).
Best Time for Saving Money: Hotels in Crete 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.
Crete in January (20% Crowded): Damp, cold, and windy (by Greek standards). January is the coldest month on Crete. The tourist spots are quiet with few tourists but local life hums along at a friendly pace. Most restaurants and hotels in the tourist towns are closed but the cities of Heraklion, Chania, and Rethymnon have a large local population and always hum along with a good beat. The beach towns are completely shutdown. (Average Max Temperature: 16°C. Average Rainfall: 78mm.)
Crete in February (20% Crowded): Much like January. There is a little less rain than December and January. (Average Max Temperature: 15°C. Average Rainfall: 64mm.)
Crete in March (30% Crowded): A noticeable change occurs in March from the previous 3 months. There is less rain, more sun, and warmer temperatures. This can be a nice time to visit for hikers and sightseers but visitors should pack for some rain and cool nights. (Average Max Temperature: 17°C. Average Rainfall: 52mm.)
Crete in April (40% Crowded): A great month for hiking, sightseeing, and touring the wineries. On warm years it’s possible to have a few beach days at the end of the month. By the end of April most hotels and restaurants in the beach towns are open. (Average Max Temperature: 20°C. Average Rainfall: 21mm.)
Crete in May (70% Crowded): There’s a big differences between early May (when cool overcast days can still be common) and late May (when the days are consistently sunny and warm – sometimes hot). (Average Max Temperature: 24°C. Average Rainfall: 11mm.)
Crete in June (80% Crowded): June is a hot sunny month and the unofficial start of beach season when tourists arrive in large numbers. (Average Max Temperature: 28°C. Average Rainfall: 1mm.)
July Weather on Crete (90% Crowded): Hot and sunny. Along with August July is the busiest month on Crete. Book rooms at least 3 months in advance for July visits – 6 months in advance for luxury hotels. (Average Max Temperature: 29°C. Average Rainfall: 1mm.)
Crete in August (100% Crowded): Hot and sunny with occasional strong winds (called the meltemi) that can cancel ferries and catamarans. Book rooms at least 3 months in advance for August visits – 6 months in advance for luxury hotels. (Average Max Temperature: 29°C. Average Rainfall: 1mm.)
Crete in September (85% Crowded): Hot and sunny but cooling a little from August. The weather is similar to June but the water temperature is warmer as the sea heats over the summer months. Winds have died down. September (and June) are the best months to visit Crete for beach weather with smaller crowds. Hotels are still very busy and can be fully booked months in advance. (Average Max Temperature: 27°C. Average Rainfall: 10mm.)
Crete in October (70% Crowded): October is much like May but the weather is moving in the opposite direction. There is often a large difference between early October (when days can be hot and sunny) and late October – when you can have some cool cloudy days and visits to the beach are not a guarantee. (Average Max Temperature: 24°C. Average Rainfall: 40mm.)
Crete in November (40% Crowded): The cooler days of winter arrive in November. Early November can still get warm days when a visit to the beach could be possible. Most tourist resorts are closed by early November. Heraklion, Chania, and Rethymnon stay active throughout the winter months though tourist-related activities dwindle. (Museums and historical sights stay open through the winter.) (Average Max Temperature: 21°C. Average Rainfall: 69mm.)
Crete in December (20% Crowded): Be prepared for cool, cloudy, and rainy, though there are often stretches of clear skies and sunny days. Heraklion and Chania are the hubs of most activity during the winter as most other towns are shut down or quiet. (Average Max Temperature: 17°C. Average Rainfall: 89mm.)