Rather than confusing you with fancy meteorological charts (although we do that too), we write this from direct experience so that you get an idea of how it feels to live here year-round. The north west of Crete has its own micro-climate: in winter and spring, the prevailing north-west winds are pushed upwards by the Gramvousa and Rodopos peninsulas, causing clouds to form over the Gulfs of Kissamos and Chania, and provide higher rainfall than in other areas of Crete. Hence the lush green coastal plain and proliferation of vineyards and olive groves, and the concentration of villages in the north west region.
The four seasons
Spring (March – May)
Most days are clear and warm, although you will need to cover up if you want to eat al fresco in the evenings. The last of the winter showers usually finish by Easter. The fields are full of flowers and everything is green. Day temperatures are usually 20-25°C, and the sea is just about warm enough to swim in.
Summer (June – September)
It is unusual to have clouds, let alone rain. Shorts and T-shirt weather, and plenty of sun-cream if you intend to hit the beach. The sea is beautifully warm. Buy a fan for your bedroom and be prepared to wilt sometimes. Smart people wear cotton trousers, tops and open sandals in the evenings. Apart from the vineyards and olive groves, the fields turn brown and crunchy. Day temperatures are usually 25-35°C. The north-west meltemi cool wind is the normal situation, and provides a welcome relief. When occasionally we get a hot southerly scirocco wind from the Sahara, it is not pleasant at all; very sticky and with heat waves up to 40-45°C, usually for a few days in August. The afternoon siesta is not a luxury but a necessity, because otherwise we would be too tired to sit outside talking with our friends until 2am.
Autumn (October – November)
The rains usually start (sporadically) from October onwards. The feeling is much like spring, except that the fields are now brown and the sea is still warm from summer.
Winter (December – February)
This is when we get our rain for the year. A mixture of bright, warm days interspersed with long periods of heavy rain, sometimes horizontal with Beaufort 8+ winds. You will often need to wear waterproofs and warm clothing, and turn on your central heating at night. Snow at lower levels is rare, although it can be seen on the higher mountains. Day temperatures are usually 10-20°C, although it can feel a lot colder in the wind and rain, and at night it can sometimes dip as low as 5°C.