Between crossing dramatic gorges, swimming in crystalline waters, trekking in mighty mountains, solving ancient mysteries and experiencing the joy of life, you’ll never have a moment’s boredom in Crete – no matter what season you choose to visit.
If you missed your chance to come this summer – no worries. Crete in Autumn is a multifaceted delight – with still nice weather, nicer prices and the bonus of the hordes of tourists gone. Here’s all you need to know about visiting Crete in Autumn.
Visiting Crete in Autumn – Must Do’s
It’s hardly a secret that September and October – along with May – are the best months to visit Crete. Thanks to its advantageous geographical position, at the southernmost corner of Europe and quite close to the northern African coastline, the weather in Crete is still warm, and the sea, at around 23 °C, is suitable for swimming. But compared to August, the slightly cooler temperatures make sightseeing (and sunbathing!) much more enjoyable.
Consider packing all summer essentials, including shorts, t-shirts and swimsuits – and don’t forget your sunscreen and hat! Make sure to bring a couple of jumpers, long pants or leggings and a light jacket – you’ll certainly appreciate them when you’re sitting outside in a kafeneio on those chillier autumn evenings.
Hike the Kings
Most Cretan gorges are closed to the public by the end of October, as the rains in November get heavier and tourist traffic wanes down. But September and October are perfect for trekking Samaria – Europe’s so-called “Grand Canyon”, which usually gets crowded in summer. The cooler autumn weather is ideal for handling the required 5 to 7 hour trek – make sure to check the forecast in advance to avoid encountering any rain.
Explore the icons – tourist-free
Autumn in Crete is the best time to explore Crete’s world-famous iconic sights without the crowds. Whether you’re delving deep into ancient history with a tour of the Minoan Palace of Knossos or experiencing the exotic sands and waters of Balos and Falassarna beaches – you’re in for an adventure that’ll leave you with stories to share. Just make sure to bring your camera along!
Hunt for bargains
Most shops in the tourist resorts are getting ready to close for the season, and many of them offer discounted prices and even some incredible bargains. Search for unique artwork, paintings, ceramics and sculptures inspired by the Cretan landscapes and life to give as gifts or adorn your home with. You’ll also find some handsome deals in Chania’s boutiques and stores – keep an eye out for special offers in fashion, leather goods and jewellery.
Get immersed in local life
Cretans rely heavily on tourism for their sustenance – but with most visitors now gone back to work or school, life returns to its normal rhythms and cadences. The last weeks of October mark a special moment in the locals’ calendar. This is the time for producing their trademark drink – the potent raki or tsikoudia. After weeks of fermenting under the sun, the grapes remaining after the wine harvest are put to ferment in a special cauldron to distillate raki.
Held in almost every village, “Rakokazana” is a Dionysian-like experience which involves folk music and copious amounts of food and drink. Travellers with an appetite for the authentic are welcome to partake!
Experience a Cretan panigiri
With a centuries-old history, “panigiria” are traditional feasts connected to a religious celebration or, as is the case more often these days, dedicated to a particular type of food or drink, such as honey, olive oil, graviera cheese, wine or chestnut. Spiritual or commercial elements aside, they also serve a vital social purpose – this is the chance for locals to take a break from their everyday troubles, let it all go, flirt and socialise. Therefore, for a “panigiri” to be successful it must invariably feature good music, tasty food and plenty of local wine and raki – all typically summing up to ecstatic dancing until dawn and beyond. If you find yourselves in Crete in autumn, check out the Chestnut Festival in Elos village on the south of Chania, usually held in mid-October.
Celebrate with the locals
At the end of this month, don’t miss the Oxi Day Parade in commemoration of Prime Minister Metaxas’ famous “No” (Oxi) to the Axis powers in WW2. One of the nation’s most important public holidays, Oxi Day on the 28th of October, celebrates the Greeks unfathomable spirit, courage and determination with elaborate school and military parades held nationwide. Crete is no exception – since Cretans played a pivotal role in the struggle against the Nazis. The anniversary day’s celebrations are full of pride, ceremony and pomp – a sight that leaves no one untouched.
Did you like our post about Crete in autumn? Stay tuned to the Oscar Suites & Village blog for more tips and ideas for discoveries in and around Chania and for more local insights and suggestions on what to see and do on the fabulous island of Crete!