Crete in December: weather and travel tips

written by Joanne Owen

updated 26.10.2023

Not sure what to expect of the weather in Crete in December? Wondering whether to pack for the beach or if you need to brace yourself for chillier weather? Read on to find out everything you need to know about average temperatures, rainfall, costs and crowds. Here we also share itinerary suggestions that’ll help you make the most of your trip to this Greek island idyll in December.

Is December a good time to visit Crete?

Given that Crete typically conjures images of beautiful beaches and savouring al fresco sun-downers, December isn’t the most obvious month to visit the island.

But, while Crete’s heat does dial down a few notches in December, heading here during this month can be a rewarding time to visit. That’s especially the case if you’re keen on tranquillity, and are on a budget.

In addition, fewer visitors in Greece during winter mean you’ll be able to book accommodation at lower prices. Plus you won’t have to jostle with crowds when you visit the island’s top historic sites.

Thinking of visiting Crete in December? Talk to our local Greek travel experts

Balos lagoon on Crete island, Greece © Shutterstock

Wondering about the weather in Crete in December? It's mild, with some rain and sun. Balos lagoon, Crete © Shutterstock

Air and sea temperatures in Crete in December

Stating the obvious, here, but don’t expect the weather in Crete in December to be anything like the scorching days and balmy evenings you’ll experience during the summer months.

That said, Crete sees some of Greece’s warmest December temperatures. We’re talking a daily average of 15°C.

To increase your chance of slightly warmer weather, head to the south of Crete. Here towns and villages are protected from the colder northerly winds by the island’s central hills. 

As for the sea, expect an average temperature of 17°C, so you probably won’t be going for a swim.

Set on taking a trip to Greece? Browse our inspirational Greece itineraries to start planning your perfect trip.

Chania at sunny summer day, Crete, Greece © Shutterstock

Chania, Crete © Shutterstock

Average rainfall in December

December is one of the rainiest months in Greece as a whole. In general, expect unpredictable weather — a mix of clouds and rain showers broken by the sun.

On Crete, on any given day in December, there’s a 42% chance of cloud, with an average of 41mm of rainfall across the month. So, you’ll want to bring a brolly.

For more details on the weather in Greece in December and around the year, read up on when to go to Greece

A fine fresco in Knossos Palace, Crete, Greece © Shutterstock

Fine frescos await in Knossos Palace, Crete © Shutterstock

What about the crowd and cost?

Being winter low season, visiting Crete in December means the crowds of peak summer season have long departed. As a result, the cost of flights and accommodation are much lower. Good news if you're on a tight budget.

Just be aware that some resorts and hotels close for the winter season, and airlines and ferry operators typically run reduced services.

On the plus side, while beach resorts may be closed, lots of smaller local hostelries remain open — all the better for a more authentic experience.

Set on taking a winter break? For further inspo, discover more of the best places to visit in December.

Stifado, greek food © Food Via Lenses/Shutterstock

Visiting Crete in December is a great time to taste a more authentic side of Greece © Food Via Lenses/Shutterstock

Unforgettable, fully customisable Crete itineraries 

Hankering after a December break that serves stacks of natural beauty, unique history, and world-class wine and dining experiences? Take inspiration from our Greece itineraries — here we highlight just a few of them.

  • Coast of Crete — a stunning self-drive experience (10 days): if you’re longing for awe-inspiring scenery, ancient culture, and a sense of freedom, this self-drive trip along Crete’s coast has your name all over it.
  • Milos — an exclusive island idyll (9 days): for an alternate Greek Island experience, why not get to know the Aegean’s most exotic island while staying in a private luxury villa by the sea?
  • Epirus and Athens — the Ancient Sites (8 days): shrouded in myths and legends of Greek gods and Roman and Byzantine warriors, sites in the Epirus region of Greece have fascinating tales to tell. Add to that exploring Athens and the magic of mortuaries in Zagori, and this amounts to a diversely exhilarating experience.

All these suggestions can be customised to your exact needs, with a local Greek travel expert on hand to offer insider tips and take the hassle out of planning and booking.

crete-greece-shutterstock_418705264

Customise your Crete holiday with Rough Guides © Shutterstock

Tips for travelling to Crete in December

What to wear in Crete in December

In many ways, what to wear in Crete in December corresponds with what you might wear on a spring day in the UK.

So, think jumpers, coats and scarves. You’ll also want waterproof outer attire and a brolly. We also recommend bringing some light layers for the warmer, sunnier days.

Planning to get your adventure on (more on that later)? Bring sturdy, comfy footwear for walking and hiking.

Consider renting a car

With December being out of season, you could look into renting your own car to make sure you don’t miss out on exploring the island.

While peak season sees reliable island-wide public transport as a convenient, affordable way to get around, come low season, many services are seriously reduced or have stopped completely. 

Preveli palm beach on Crete island, Greece © Shutterstock

Packed in summer, come December you could have Preveli beach to yourself © Shutterstock

What to do in Crete in December

Walk on the wild side

Cooler temperatures make December a good time to get back to nature and explore Crete’s wonderful, wilder landscapes.

Alongside having a stunning coastline, the island’s interior is something of a paradise for lovers of the great outdoors. 

Take your pick from gentle strolls to more challenging hikes. You can also enjoy mountain biking, canyoning and horse-riding adventures.

Samaria Gorge. Crete, Greece © proslgn/Shutterstock

Samaria Gorge, Crete, Greece © proslgn/Shutterstock

Explore the Old Town of Chania

The Old Town of Chania is located on the island's western coast. It is one of the most well-preserved and charming old towns in Greece, well-known for its rich history, narrow winding streets and Venetian architecture. Some of the key highlights to visit in Chania are:

  • Venetian Harbor,
  • Turkish Quarter,
  • Agora Marketplace,
  • Chania Archaeological Museum,
  • Etz Hayyim Synagogue,
  • Venetian walls.
Elafonísi-Crete-best-beaches-in-Greece

Be enchanted by Elafonísi beach in December — all the more romantic without peak-season crowds © Shutterstock

Savour Crete Christmas traditions

Through December “Karavaki” — boats festooned in festive lights — can be seen all over Crete, especially in coastal villages. 

Paying tribute to the sea, seafarers, and St. Nicholas (patron saint of sailors), they’re sure to put a seasonal spring in your step.

You'll also want to try Crete's traditional Christmas cookies. Cinnamon-spiced and dipped in a honey-and-sugar syrup, melomakarona is the perfect treat to pack for picnics.

Knossos Palace ruins. Heraklion, Crete, Greece © Shutterstock

Knossos Palace, Crete, Greece © Shutterstock

Planning your December trip to Crete

Love the sound of Crete? Get yourself The Rough Guide to Crete. For more island inspiration, read, up on the best Greek Islands to start planning your trip. 

Alternatively, if the idea of planning leaves you cold, browse our customisable Greece itineraries.

Joanne Owen

written by Joanne Owen

updated 26.10.2023

Joanne is a Pembrokeshire-born writer with a passion for the nature, cultures and histories of the Caribbean region, especially Dominica. Also passionate about inspiring a love of adventure in young people, she’s the author of several books for children and young adults, hosts international writing workshops, and has written articles on the Caribbean and inspirational community initiatives for Rough Guides. Follow her @JoanneOwen on Twitter and @joanneowenwrites on Instagram.

Planning your own trip? Prepare for your trip

Use Rough Guides' trusted partners for great rates

Ready to travel and discover
Greece?

Get support from our local experts for
stress-free planning & worry-free travels

Plan my trip ⤍