Crete falls into two climatic zones, with the largest part of the island falling into the Mediterranean and the south coasts and Gavdos island falling into North African. It has one of the healthiest climates for humans to live in as it is quite humid near the sea, with short mild winters and cool summers. While the far south has subtropical weather during summer, and inland alpine areas of the three major massifs can be as cold as -10°C (14°F) in winter, most of the inhabited areas lie close to the coast, which means mild temperatures.
The average Crete temperature decreases as you travel north. July and August are the warmest months, and January is the coldest month of the year. In summer, the average maximum temperature ranges between 20-30ºC (70-90°F) and in winter between 10-15ºC (50-60°F).
Seasons and clothing requirements
Summer: June – August
Summer in Crete is moderate to hot, with temperatures hovering around 20-30 degrees celsius and clouds almost nowhere. In most places you can wear shorts and a t-shirt or singlet during the day, adding a light jumper at night. On dry south shores, the sun get warmer and you should always wear hats, sunglasses and have water with you.
Autumn/Fall: September - November
Temperatures during this time are a little cooler than summer but the Crete weather can be excellent. Suitable clothing includes light pants or shorts, and a t-shirt or long-sleeved top. It can cool off at night more during this season, so make sure you are prepared with a warm sweater, especially in the mountainous areas.
Winter: December - February
Winter in Crete brings colder weather to much of the island, with snow in the mountains and rain in the rest areas, but still, sunny days are very common. You’ll need jeans, long-sleeved tops, and coats in most places, and if you’re heading into the snowcapped mountains, gloves and thick sweaters are also a good idea.
Spring: March – May
Spring brings weather of all types – expect everything from cold, frosty, clear days to sunny and hot. Make sure you are prepared for this type of weather if you are visiting during this time. Jeans are good and layers work well on top, as they can be added and removed depending on what the weather brings.
Mean daily temperature
Most places in Crete receive over 2000 hours of sunshine a year, with the sunniest areas - South Crete and Gavdos - receiving over 2400 hours. During the summer months daylight can last up until 9.00 pm. Crete experiences relatively little air pollution compared to many other Mediterranean countries, which makes the UV rays in our sunlight very strong.
The sunlight here can quickly burn skin from May to September, especially between 10 am and 4 pm, even on cloudy days. Be 'SunSmart' by using these three simple steps when you go outdoors:
- Stay in the shade whenever possible.
- Wear a shirt, hat, and sunglasses.
- Use SPF 30+ sunscreen. Reapply every 2 hours.
Crete's average rainfall is low in low altitudes, almost disappearing in summer. Mountains receive the most of the rainwater and surrounding areas are watered by the springs around the ranges. Despite the low rainfall, Crete is an ideal place for farming and horticulture, as water is stored in large dams. It's very interesting to see that Crete can produce from snow maturing lotus and chestnuts to tropical bananas and mangos.
Snow typically appears during the months of January through March, though cold snaps can occur outside these months. Most snow in Crete falls in the mountainous areas, like the Lefka Ori, Ida and Dikti.
In November the sea temperature is not lower than in June (19-20°C). The lowest temperatures occur in January, February, and March, but never fall below 14°C. The temperature starts decreasing significantly when the first snow melts on the mountains, especially on beaches with rivers and torrents.