Brimming with wonders, Crete’s westernmost region is stunning throughout the year. Yet the best time to visit Chania can vary according to your style, mood, and inclination.
With several direct summer flights from all around Europe, and many daily flights and ferries from Athens throughout the year, Chania in Crete is easy to reach – and almost impossible not to fall in love with. With some of the world’s best beaches, important archaeological landmarks, a bustling gastronomic scene, stunning countryside, and an iconic old town with maze-like alleys to get lost in, this sun-kissed corner of the Mediterranean has something for all: History buffs, architecture lovers, foodies, adventure seekers, honeymooners and beach bums.
And what is the best time to visit Chania? Given that the island’s former capital is brimming with life and attractions year-round, this is a difficult question to answer – and largely depends on your interests, tastes, and dispositions. Here’s what the four seasons look and feel like in Chania, so you can decide for yourselves (part1: Winter & Spring):
Best time to visit Crete: Winter (December through February)
Discover Crete’s secret attractions and party like there is no tomorrow
Though it’s certainly warmer than, say Norway, Crete does get its fair share of cool weather in the offseason. Temperatures average in the 50s (10 -15o Celcius), sunny days aren’t uncommon, yet there is a good amount of rain, too. This, though, surely doesn’t stop the Cretans from having fun: Some of the most spirited festivals, including the Carnival, take place at this time of year; while opportunities for exciting adventures abound: The snow-capped peaks of the White Mountains and Psiloritis are perhaps Europe’s most surprising skiing destination, as thanks to the efforts of a handful of trailblazing locals, alpinism, ski mountaineering, and snow kite in Crete are now becoming increasingly popular among the connoisseurs.
Winter is also a great time to enjoy the island’s archaeological sites and attractions without the crowds. With some 60.000 permanent inhabitants, Chania, unlike other touristic places in the country, does not shut down for the season, yet is merciful traffic-free. Get lost in the maze-like alleyways; explore rambling and restored Venetian mansions, Byzantine churches, and Ottoman buildings; or shop till you drop, for souvenirs, leather goods, and of course local cheese and olive oil.
Key Winter Events in Crete
- Christmas (December): Christmas lights and ornamental trees aside, the time-honoured tradition of the decorated model boat still holds here – and is a sight to behold.
- Epiphany (January): January 6th, is celebrated in Crete’s coastal villages with the “Blessing of the Waters” ceremony (where a priest throws a cross into the water, and swimmers dive in to retrieve it and thereby be blessed for the year).
- Carnival (February): Apokries, the Greek equivalent of the Carnival, is celebrated before the beginning of Lent, with street parties, fancy dress parades and masquerades. The most famous celebrations take place in Rethymnon and Malia.
Best time to visit Chania: Spring (March through May)
Get immersed in the local rhythms and cadences, experience the rebirth of nature and Crete’s long-standing traditions
Springtime certainly suits Crete – the whole island is at its greenest and literally carpeted with multicoloured wildflowers with intoxicating scents. Temperatures are on the rise also, with the averages ranging in the 60s Fahrenheit (15-20o Celcius). The tourists are yet to arrive which means you won’t be spending a good chunk of your day waiting in line to get into attractions; and the mild weather is perfect for hiking, trekking and strolling around quaint villages and historic towns. But perhaps most importantly, spring is linked to Easter: Orthodoxy’s greatest celebration, is as a spiritual as much as a festive occasion, bringing together the religious, the theatrical, the social and the metaphysical to unite communities with a joyfulness that is heartwarming. Starting with the beginning of the Lent after Ash Monday and culminating with the exuberant festivities of Easter Sunday, this period extends over 48 days and is marked by a wealth of fascinating traditions –some rooted in pre-Christian pagan rituals associated with the rebirth of nature. Cretans are a largely pious lot and typically observe these time-honoured customs – and the few(er) lucky visitors will be invited to partake!
Key Spring Events in Crete
- Greek Independence Day (March): The declaration of the Greek War of Independence is celebrated on March 25th, with parades throughout the country –and Chania is no exception.
- Festival of Agios Georgios (April): Agios Georgios, the patron saint of shepherds is celebrated on April 23rd. A large event takes place in the village of Asi Gonia, where hundreds of sheep are milked in the town square.
- May Day (May): May 1st is now known as International Workers’ Day in Greece, but it also corresponds with an older tradition known as May Day. Cretans celebrate it with flower shows and decorative wreaths.
Did you like this post? Stay tuned to our blog to find out more about the best time to visit Chania.