5 Reasons To Visit Crete in Winter
October, November, December and January are by far no frosty encounters on Greek’s faboulous island. Based in the Mediterranean Sea Crete in winter is well worth a visit.
If you ask 100 people about the first image coming to mind when they hear the word Crete, at least 99 of them will answer with something like this:
A picture of a beautiful, sandy beach with crystal blue water under the hot summer sun
However, for somebody who knows better, the island offers many pleasures not only during summer, but also in the winter months of October, November and December. That somebody is no other than myself: I am here to bring you 5 reasons why spending your winter holidays in Crete is a fantastic option for the worldly traveler.
1. The Highlands
Even if snow is a must for you the high mountains of the island, 2 of them almost 2,5 km high, will not disappoint you.
Thinking of Crete’s geographical location – just 300 Km north from the African coast of Libya – it’s easy to believe that half of the winter days in Crete are sunny with mild weather as the average day temperature is 14-ͦ 18 ͦ C (mainly in the South coast). Maybe temperatures will drop for 6 ͦ C to 8 ͦ C at night, but during the day it’s possible to walk outside with your sun-glasses on, wearing just your trousers, a shirt and a light jacket. Even more so if you are used to Northern European temperatures.
But the most prominent feature of Crete during winter is meeting many nice people and enjoying the extra hospitable mood of Cretans. Why extra hospitable?
Without the stress and the tiredness of serving or dealing with tourists during summer, most of the locals are really happy to open their hearts and make you feel very comfortable by reaching the epithone of their overall great sense of hospitality.
Cretans are so proud of their place and this feeling becomes even stronger if they realize that you are a simple, honest man who also likes the island and their temperament. In that case don’t get surprised if you are invited in the house for lunch or dinner and be treated as you were their best friend. This open, socialized character with great sense of humor (at least for half of them) is very nicely presented in the following short video.
If you are lucky enough to meet the right people and experience this level of Cretan hospitality (for God’s sake, don’t try to offer any money, just a small present from your simple personal belongings will make them happy), it’s more than sure that you are in for experiencing some of the most intrigueing flavors you have ever tasted. In fact, Crete in december can be a paradise for palate and soul.
3. Food & Drink
Apart from dining with the locals you may get a lot of stomach pleasures even by visiting local taverns. The great majority of the touristic food places are closed anyway so it’s highly recommendable to try the tasty home cousine and the warm, welcoming atmosphere in most of the taverns, especially if you do so a short away from the towns’ center.
The mild weather makes most of the taverns’ owners collect tables from the yards so they can offer lunch service outside during winter’s sunny days.
If you like sea food and you get to travel to Crete in the winter months or in early spring time, then you virtually have no chance to be served some not-so-fresh-anymore seafood. How does that come about? It’s easy: the number of tourists, and therefore the number of opportunity for any kind of shenanigans, has reached its annual low. Traveling to Crete in winter almost guarantees you absolute freshness in fish, shrimps, prawns and even squid, all caught right from the nearby Cretan Sea.
The best tip here is to choose places where you see many locals. A hearty between staff and the customers (including loud talking and laughing) also helps to understand that you are at the right place.
The delicious food is not the only advantage of the hospitable Cretan character outside of the touristic season. The more time you spend with these people the more likely are they to assist you in having a great time in many different ways.
4. Explore The Island
Starting from giving you tips about places to visit, over inviting you to take part in interesting festivals or activities of their everyday life to personally guiding you, showing impressive places that are not mentioned in any touristic guide book the people of Crete are your number one resource for successfully traveling this versatile island.
The olives’ harvest, the olive oil production, the making and celebrating of Raki that in Crete is called Tsikoudia, the handmade procedure of making bread, cheese, soaps, cosmetics, ceramics, collecting and drying herbs, participation in fishing, cooking, bird watching, star observation, mountain skiing are just some of the possible invitations you might get, all depending to the interests or profession of the local people you might meet.
The weather in Crete in December is by far not as cold as you think. The daily average would be a mild 12C.
5. Visit A Local Festival
I am not speaking about religious festivals or musical and dance events as traditions are still strong here. This kind of treatment makes you feel not like a tourist, but like you were an actual guest to the festivities.
And last but not least you can be informed about some of the many beauties of this huge and impressive island full of contrasts.