Crete in January: weather and travel tips

written by Joanne Owen

updated 30.01.2024

Not sure what to expect of Crete in January? Wondering whether to pack winter woollies or whether you can get away with wearing lighter clothes? Read on to find out everything you need to know about the weather in Crete in January, including info on average temperatures, rainfall, costs and crowds. In addition, we share itinerary suggestions that’ll help you make the most of your time on this gorgeous Greek island.

Is January a good time to visit Crete?

Stating the obvious, here, but given that Crete evokes thoughts of stretching out on beautiful beaches, January isn’t the most obvious month to visit the island.

While it’s not the place to come if you’re looking for a scorching-hot winter sun destination, January is a good time to visit Crete if you’re into culture. And the reason? You’ll get to explore the island’s ancient sites with fewer crowds. 

In addition, decreased visitor numbers mean you’ll be able to book cheaper accommodation. 

Oh, and it’s also worth knowing that Crete — Greece’s most southerly island — has some of the warmest winter weather in Europe.

 

The North Entrance of the Palace with charging bull fresco in Knossos at Crete, Greece © Shutterstock

Wondering about the weather in Crete in January? Mild conditions make it great for exploring ancient sites © Shutterstock

Air and sea temperatures in Crete in January

Crete usually experiences cool, pleasant weather in January, though exact conditions could change depending on where you are on the island.

The average high temperature in Crete in January ranges from 12°C to 15°C (54°F - 59°F), while the average low temperature ranges from 7°C to 10°C (45°F - 50°F). However, temperatures can occasionally drop below 0°C during the night in some inland areas and at higher elevations.

As for the sea, expect a brisk temperature of 16°C (61°F). It can be a bit chilly for swimming, although some visitors who enjoy cooler water temperatures might still find it refreshing.

Considering visiting Crete in January? Browse our inspirational Greece itineraries to start planning your perfect trip.

Average rainfall in January

January sees an average of 60mm of rainfall in Crete. On any given day, you can expect a 50% chance of a sunny day, and a 50% chance of clouds, and some rain. So, best to come armed with an umbrella.

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

windsurfing-crete-greece-shutterstock_371369737

Want to enjoy watersports in Crete? You might want to travel later in the year © Shutterstock

 

What about the crowds and cost?

As this is firmly in low season, visiting Crete in January means the island is crowd-free and quiet.

In good news for bargain hunters, this means flights and accommodation are much cheaper.

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

Keen to enjoy a trip away in January? For more ideas, discover more of the best places to visit in January

Taverns in the Old Town of Chania, Crete, Greece

January is a top time to enjoy Chania's old town taverns © Shutterstock

Unforgettable, fully customisable Crete itineraries

Looking to enjoy a January trip break that serves a bounty of natural beauty and ancient history? 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.

Seitan beach on Crete island- Greece © Shutterstock

Seitan beach, Crete © Shutterstock

Tips for travelling to Crete in January

What to wear in Crete in January

As you’ll have gathered from reading about the average temperatures, the weather in Crete in January isn’t exactly hot!

So, you’ll want to wear a coat and pack plenty of jumpers and scarves. You’ll also want waterproof outer attire and a brolly.

Check for seasonal closures

Before setting your heart on a particular hotel or resort, be sure to check it’s open in January. Many places close their doors during the quieter winter months.

The same goes for some restaurants, bars and clubs. So, if you’ve previously visited in the summer high season and are hoping to return to some of your favourite spots, be aware that they won’t all be open. 

You’ll also want to research flights and flights in good time — there’ll be fewer running in January.

Be aware of limited public transportation options

Related to seasonal closures, if you’re planning to visit Crete in January, consider hiring a car to make sure you don’t miss out on exploring the island.

While the peak season period comes with reliable island-wide public transport, many services are reduced — or stop completely — during the low season.

Samaria Gorge. Crete, Greece © proslgn/Shutterstock

Wrap up warm for January walks on the wild side — Samaria Gorge, Crete © Shutterstock

What to do in Crete in January

Experience Cretan Epiphany

6th January heralds Crete’s Blessing of the Waters ceremony — AKA Epiphany. On an island of seafarers, this is an especially significant holiday. 

As for what it involves, a priest casts the cross into the sea three times — for the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Brave swimmers have the chance to receive a special blessing for retrieving the cross after each casting. In addition, boats and the sea itself are blessed. 

Experience Heraklion without crowds

January is a great month to explore Crete’s ancient sites in peace, and Heraklion has many of them. For example, the myth-rich, Minoan marvels of Knossos is among the world’s most esteemed archaeological sites.

Heraklion isn’t short of world-class museums, either. Showcasing treasures from the Minoan Civilizations and a scale reproduction of the Palace of Knossos, the Heraklion Archaeological Museum is regarded as one of the most important museums in Europe.

The North Entrance of the Palace with charging bull fresco in Knossos at Crete, Greece © Shutterstock

Knossos Palace, Crete © Shutterstock

Discover nature and adventure

Cooler temperatures make January a good time to get back to nature and discover Crete’s wilder landscapes. You can also enjoy mountain biking, canyoning and horse riding.

We recommend you to drive to the picturesque Lasithi Plateau and explore the traditional villages with their windmills. Enjoy the stunning views, visit the Dikteon Cave, and experience the rural charm of the area.

Inspired by these ideas? Discover more things to do in Greece in winter.

Elafonissi beach in Crete © Shutterstock

 Elafonísi — one of the best beaches in Greece © Shutterstock

Planning your January 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 30.01.2024

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.

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