Winter in Crete is mild, spring and autumn sweet and pleasant, summer is warm and shiny, the climate is temperate: a splendid place to be.
Crete straddles two climatic zones, the Mediterranean and the North African, mainly falling within the former. As such, the climate in Crete is primarily temperate. The atmosphere can be quite humid, depending on the proximity to the sea, while winter is fairly mild. Snowfall is very common on the mountains between November and May, but rare in the low lying areas, especially near the coast when it only stays on the ground for a few minutes or hours. During the Cretan summer, average temperatures start from 20-30 Celsius, with maxima touching the upper 30s to 40s.
The climate of Crete is considered one of the finest, healthiest and mildest in Europe. One factor that plays a key role in climate is the sea surrounding the island, which limits the warming intensity of the sun in summer. Ierapetra is the most warm Greek city and the coastal areas of the Libyan Sea are considered the most warm and dry in Greece. The south coast, including Messara plain and Asterousia Mountains falls in the northern African climate zone, thus has many sunny days and very high temperatures all year round. Indicative of the change is that in southern Crete and Gavdos swallows remain all year-round without migrating to Africa.
In coastal areas, especially in the south, the climate is so mild that tropical plants are cultivated, such as bananas. Favorable weather conditions in Crete help the development of subtropical plants such as avocados, mango, tserimogias, pecans, medlars, prickly pears and the date palms. The climatic and soil conditions in Crete are good for the development of these crops, which require the sufficient moisture and high temperature. The climate helped the development of organic agriculture and particularly in major agricultural products, which have become naturalized so perfectly in the climatic conditions prevailing in the island. In recent years groups of organic farmers started a big effort: to provide the consumption of organic products that will fully meet the needs of the modern consumers.
During the summer, even during July and August, when the highest temperatures are observed, northwest winds, called ‘meltemia’, absorb the warm atmosphere. Occasionally, strong souther winds increase the average temperature during the summer. Rainfalls are rare during the summer season. Autumn is, for many vacationers, their favorite season in Crete, because temperatures are often higher than in spring.
Variations by region
- There are significant climatic variations between the coastfront and the coastal zone and in northern and southern parts of the island.
- The rainy season begins in late October and lasts until March or even April in coastal regions. The snow is rare in the coastal area, especially east of the island
- The eastern part of Crete (Sitia), is warmer than the west. The prefecture of Chania has more vegetation.
- The same differences are observed between the north and south of the island, which is warmer.