Crete in Winter
Crete in winter ... a beginning
"Out of season" and "off-season" the right time to enjoy Crete's more peaceful nature. A good time to pursue interests, studies, hobbies and hikes. By winter, we mean November until late March.
Winter months offer the chance to explore the uncrowded vision of Crete. In some years there is significant snowfall in the mountains (the highest peaks always receive some winter snowfall).
The winter of 2004 saw record-breaking snowfall during the month of February.
Vistas open up in the winter and you can meet local people, experience hospitality that is offered so genuinely when you pause on your journey around the island. Don't expect to bask in sunshine every day, but on those lucky sunny days you get a bonus of bright island light.
Crete is an island of drama, something the weather often reflects. Come prepared for driving winds and rain, then enjoy the bright spells. (If you are concerned about the weather, have a look at our weather page).
Rent a car- visit villages, museums, shops - walk/hike, play tennis - see the natural beauty of Crete, the snow-capped mountains, uncrowded roads and be here when travel seems as civilized as it did decades ago!
You will find below some more good hotels or places we would be happy to stay in, that are open year round.
Note: some hotels use air-conditioning for heating, whereas some have proper central heating. Hotels or villas with pools may have their pools emptied or unheated (unless we write otherwise). Ask if you need more information about winter facilities.
Crete winter warmers: We have a delightful place for you to stay in Crete, in a village near Heraklion, our Thalori Traditional Village
Tip: Browse the full, up to date list of hotels we offer that operate in the winter here.
Or find below some more good hotels or places we would be happy to stay in, that are open year round.
As a mountain village in the heart of Crete, near Anogia - this is the place that is most steeped in history, rich in archaeological finds and filled with hospitality and heartland feel.
, on the edge of the village, is actually a collection of 3 apartments/maisonettes and 3 studios, tastefully decorated in traditional style. The hotel overlooks the village and valley and the family that owns and runs it provide some of the warmest and genuinely Cretan hospitality on the island.
after a total make-over and renovation, is now a most desirable and stylish place to stay in Heraklion. Family-owned, designer hotel, with rotating displays of contemporary Greek art in rooms and public areas. Conveniently located between the Venetian Koules Fortress and Eleftherias Square. Most of its rooms have direct, remarkable view of the fortress, harbour and Dia island across the sea. Balconies or terraces, air-conditioning/heating , double-glazing, local internet access provided in every room, and satellite TV. The dining room serves breakfast and full meals and there is an elegant and comfortable bar for drinks and coffees. Workout room, steam room and Jacuzzi, roof terrace for guests. Open year round.
Around Heraklion (within 30 Kilometres /18 miles):
New winter additions near Heraklion:
in Anopolis, traditional stone village house with real character, comfortable interiors & good views. Heating by fireplace and air conditioning. Price range: H2. Review, photos, rates & reservations with CreteTravel.com.
Villa Creta in Malades (near Profitis Elias). Two totally secluded big houses in hillside estate. Big cast-iron fireplaces, picture windows. (Pools are empty in the winter). Price range: H1+/H0. Review, photos, rates & reservations with CreteTravel.com.
Close to Heraklion (15 km), up in the hills - a really old village and a restored traditional house in 3 units (Agioklima)
. Furnished very comfortably and with great views, these units are in a really old village poised above rolling hills of vines and olive trees. Units for two to four people. The village has a couple of Kafeneia, so you can prepare meals "at home" or drive over to a village 2 km away for local taverna fare. Special and different, part of the real Crete.
South coast traditional villas & houses
- a collection of villas and houses in the areas around Matala, Kamilari, Kalamaki, Listaros, Kommos and Sivas on Crete's south coast. With traditional flair and decor, homely, with fireplaces.
. Rooms/suites individually decorated, in the streets just behind the Venetian harbour, wonderful employees. WINTER price range H1/H2. Casa Delfino has been created with the kind of attention to detail, sense of quality and atmosphere that's much in demand in Crete. Open for its first winter season in 1992, it has since appended a second original Venetian building - suitably refurbished and decorated. Though it would be tempting to stay either in your room, or sipping coffee at breakfast looking onto the hotel's courtyard, the attractions of Chania and surrounding area beckon.
Porto Veneziano. 1st class. Neat and functional rooms and balconies - front ones face the Venetian harbour and lighthouse - dining room - bar - WINTER price range H3/H2. This hotel is a member of the Best Western selection and does it proud. It is well run, well staffed with knowledgeable friendly people. In a wonderful position, the quieter part of the harbour, with some great restaurants nearby. It is well-heated and a great and comfortable base camp.
Porto del Colombo Hotel
. Traditional Hotel, Venetian building, price range H3. Provides another charming choice nearby the Venetian harbour. Porto del Colombo is a nine room and suite hotel configured out of an old Venetian building, with style and atmosphere.
New winter additions near Chania:
in Douliana, Samonas Inn in Samonas village, Apokoron Villas (all three in the Apokoronas/Vamos area), Villa Sevi in Melisourgio village, near Kissamos, Falasarna Villas, above Falasarna beach.
And the luxurious "SK Place" Villas in Almirida, with floor-to-ceiling windows that bring in the spectacular sea views.
Alma's Villas (in Akrotiri) - Close to Chania and the airport (15 and 10 minutes). Modernistic, eco-tech villas, with broad sea views, renowned nearby beaches and sites (pools unavailable in the winter). Original designs and open airy feel.
Villa Kalliani near Herethiana village (Kissamos, west Crete). A three-bedroom villa with spectacular, panoramic views of the bay - in the winter, views of dramatic weather & sunsets too. Very private. (Pool might be emptied in the winter).
Lefkoritis Mountain Resort:
(40 min from Chania, 20 min from Sfakia) Unique in Crete, much sought after mountain resort/hideaway. Beautiful stone-built suites of one or two bedrooms with mountain views. Quality and style includes marble bathrooms, elegant furnishings, some fireplaces. Hunting game, skeet shooting and the range of sports provided in Lefkoritis' own facility. Horse riding, mountain walks and climbs. The warm south coast is a short drive, the E4 path and Imbros gorge minutes away.
Recreated traditional Cretan village. Houses and rooms built out of local and national stone, wood beams, set in the well-wooded mountains between Elafonisi and Kissamos. Many walking trails and peace and quite. An alternative venue with a taverna serving foods made with local healthy ingredients. Unique setting. Off the beaten track - the last kilometre is a mildly rough road, you can do it in a rental car! Price range: H3/H3+. Review, photos, rates & reservations with CreteTravel.com.
Avli Luxury Suites:
7 wonderful suites, with flair and atmosphere, in restored Venetian buildings. Very romantic, honeymoon perfect. Gourmet restaurant and wine-bar. In the heart of the old town. Price category: H1+. Review, photos, rates & reservations with CreteTravel.com
Palazzino di Corina:
High quality, charming small hotel. Close to Rethymno harbour. Peace and calm with quality. Comfortable, fine suites with antique decor and central heating. Delightful indoor breakfast patio and outdoor courtyard with heated pool.
Veneto Suites: When a wealthy Venetian merchant invites you to stay in his home - this is it. Traditional suites of character in a faithfully restored building. In the centre of Rethymno's old town. Suites have cooking facilities, central heating and the hotel has a fine restaurant.
New in Rethymno: Vetera Suites, and Civitas Hotel, both in the Old Town.
New winter additions near Rethymno (houses): Villa Lucia in Episkopi village.
has two traditional, adjoining, wonderfully restored village houses. A beautiful countryside location, with wood beams, fireplaces, terraces & courtyards, garden, open views (a swimming pool is available only April to October). Being on the edge of Roustika village, near Rethymno, makes Abelos a convenient, not too isolated nest & base for exploration.
Kastellos Village: (near Lake Kournas, 25 min from Rethymno and Georgioupoli). Restored house dating from 1910. Chania and Rethymno within easy reach. Provides two units, exposed wood, stone and delightful terraces. Surrounded by fruit trees and gardens. Views across trees and old village to the sea. Atmosphere and comfort. Fireplace and central heating.
: a large stone-built house of 4 bedrooms, near Georgioupoli. Good location for exploring east & west, easy access to main road. Fireplace. Central heating might be possible to arrange for 2 weeks+ stays.
Plakias (south coast):
Apartments: Delight in your own bright apartment, looking out to sea, catching the sun's winter rays and the changes in the weather, typical on the south coast in winter. You will have peace and quiet, you can buy supplies, and eat when you please at one of the few places that will be open in Plakias itself. Thalassa House is by the seafront at the edge of the village. For walking and driving trips, multiple choices exist - all the way to Sfakia, where small villages, small local shops, kafeneia and a handful of tavernas serve local people. Stavros, the owner, provides discreet, knowledgeable assistance with walks, maps etc.
Agia Galini (south coast)
: Just the place to feel the joys of having your own beach, yet being able to easily walk to find somewhere to eat and drink. These select few apartments face the sea across private gardens which lead straight on to the sand. The village, though quiet, is a 10 minute seafront walk from your balcony. It has enough local residents to mean that you can eat well and enjoy a coffee or a drink in the company of locals. A great place for solitude, softened by the fact that the family owners are around to offer hospitality and local knowledge (they speak english, german and greek). Nearby: Phaestos (must visit), Zaros village and gorge, the village of Pitsidia, near Matala, with both local and international residents and a creative feel.
Reputation for mild winters, but on the north coast midway between Agios Nikolaos and Sitia. The small fishing-village with archaeological ruins on the islet opposite. There are one or two tavernas open all winter and a small village store. This makes for a peaceful retreat, with sea, often a chance of sunny days and a real local atmosphere. Be one of the few, instead of one of the crowd.
You need a car or motorcycle to get to and from Mochlos and for worthwhile drives and visits to villages on the spectacular "Riviera-like" coast road between here and Sitia (an hour and change, away).
: Great apartments with a sea view - set out like a small hotel, in gardens with more flowers than you can count! On the edge of the village, ten minutes walk from the small beach and seaside village centre.
Meltemi Rooms: Sea view cluster of five rooms, some kitchenette facilities. 5 minutes walk from the village and its taverna-fronted seashore.
New in Zaros: Eleonas,
an inn with lots of activities on offer, including horse riding, and a good restaurant at hand.
In its own grounds just outside the village. Small mountain hotel, in the foothills of impressive mountains, near scenic villages, Zaros gorge and lake. The hotel has a gymnasium, indoor and outdoor swimming pools (although these seem to be open erratically) and pleasant landscaped gardens. The rooms are simple and basic. A 45 minute drive to some good south coast beaches for the days when the sun sparkles in a cool breeze. To explore, catch up on reading or writing - a good winter base for taking in the best of the un-crowded seasons.
In the village of Zaros. Charming simple rooms and truly special breakfasts of home made dainties, pastries and more. A modest price for a really warm and friendly place. Again, providing a superb base for the walks, drives and deserted-beach visits that the winter season offers.
Makrigialos (south coast)
Here, you are staying in a real old Cretan hamlet...very old! A few minutes from the pace of Makrigialos on the south coast, ages away in feel. One of the calmest and most relaxing places just "to be". This really is back to nature and it has to be said also "back to beauty". A unique experience.
, a small boutique-style hotel in the small village of Sisi offers comfort and style 350 metres from the beach with design flair, suites individually styled, ranging from double to family size. Swimming pool and smaller pools for exclusive use of special suites, cafe and restaurant, in quieter (just away from sea) part of the village.
St Nicolas Bay Hotel
is a Small quality hotel in Agios Nikolaos. If it is to be a special hotel, we say it should have some atmosphere, character and style - St. Nicolas Bay achieves all of this together with very high standards of service, location and design. The flavour of Crete with much natural stone, contrasting with with white walls and numerous magical "areas" to lounge, read, whisper, cuddle or relax. Indoor heated pool, delightful natural outdoor pool area. Lounge chairs on natural rock platforms hover at sea's edge from which you step onto the small sandy private beach.
Both in the centre of Sitia
& seafront. Walk or really just step, to tavernas and cafes, shops, the Fortezza - visit Vai when no-one is there, Kato Zakros and the Toplou Monastery. Christmas here, with company, can be fun too. You'll feel more like a pioneer than a tourist, but you'll receive good hospitality and places are open. On several days over Christmas, we have happily breakfasted outside (with the help of transparent screens and those marvelous outdoor heaters) at cafes by the harbour.
Ierapetra (south coast)
Dorovinis Country Houses
are two of the finest stone-built houses, with Libyan sea views. A large three-bedroom house (Pasiphae) and a one-bedroom 'honeymooner’s nest' (Kallirhoe), 100 m from each other, in the old Anatoli village. Expertly restored, finest quality, furnished in good taste. Antiques, warmth, comfortable, quiet, cozy and romantic. Several inspiring terraces with countryside and sea views.
, a large three-bedroom house (Pasiphae) and a one-bedroom 'honeymooners nest' (Smaragda), 100 m from each other, in the old Anatoli village. Expertly restored, finest quality, furnished in good taste. Antiques, warmth, comfortable, quiet, cozy and romantic. Several inspiring terraces with countryside and sea views, all set in a lovely village.