The island of Crete has always been blessed with blue skies and abundant heat, an outstanding example of Mediterranean weather with strong sub-tropical influences – a mixed climate of semi-arid, semi-desert and humid continental elements. Chania, the north-western gem of this island, experiences over 300 days of pure and unadulterated sunshine every single year.
Chania is one of the top tourist destinations worldwide, its weather split between a long, hot and dry summer, short and varied spring and autumn, and an equally short, cool and wet winter. Yet it never ceases to surprise: in 1981, its highest recorded temperature reached a scorching 42.5°C, and in 2004 it dropped to the other side, all the way down to a freezing -1°C.
Given its antithesis of hot summers and humid winters, this lovely resort experiences a permanently lush vegetation and wildlife. Overall, there are up to 6,000 indigenous species of plants identified in Greece, of which over 250 belong to the island of Crete alone, most of them resistant to weather fluctuations throughout the year. The earth is moist and well fed by the rains from December through to February, and all of Chania flourishes beautifully from March all the way through to September. There are even regular patches of snow atop the central mountainous regions of the island.
Bay of Channia
Spring (March and April)
The holiday season starts early here, from March, and it holds until early October - what more could you possibly wish for, other than sunshine galore and waters warm enough to bathe in even in months like April or late September? Oh yes, add the marvelous vestiges and ruins of Ancient Greece sprinkled all over the island, delicious seafood served at every terrace across the golden shores of Chania, and a bustling nightlife to keep you busy, in case the daytime tanning sessions, bathing, trips and hikes haven't worn you out already.
The springs are shorter than in most European countries with just two months of unstable weather – either it’s rainy and windy, or sunny and warm as the temperatures rise throughout March and April. Between these fluctuations, the entire island blooms and its shores come to life as beach bars and taverns begin to open their doors. Expect up to 20°C on average high temperatures when it’s good, and up to 81mm of rainfall when the sky breaks open.
Cosy street of Channia old town
Summer (May to September)
The 5-month long summers have an accentuated sub-Saharan feel, with average temperatures rising up to 30°C in July, while the nights keep steady averages between 16°C and 22°C and well over, just perfect for those nocturnal walks along the beach. You can even jump in for a quick midnight bath, as the sea temperature simply refuses to go below 20°C during summer. There's barely any rainfall between June and August, reason for which it gets packed with tourists around this time. But many of them will get more than what they bargained for, if they’re not careful to pack enough SPF protection and drinking water, as the temperatures can regularly spike up to 38°C, surprisingly amplified by the Etesian winds, which act against their usual nature of gently bringing down the effects of heat on dry land.
Autumn (October and November)
There are only two months of autumn, both as unstable as spring, ranging from sunny and warm to chilly and humid, as the temperatures begin to drop. Do expect sunny days of up to 20°C even in mid-November though, although precipitation reaches 80mm at this time of year. Humidity jumps to slightly uncomfortable percentages, which explains the high volume of rainfall. The winds cool down and increase their speed up to 2m/s, favoring the collection of clouds around this region.
Winter (December to February)
Winter also spans over just three months – the most humid of all year. The average temperatures in winter start from a soft 10°to 12°C, with plenty of rain – averaging 15 days of up to a whopping 142mm in January. Expect winds and foamy shorelines, with a minimum of four hours of sunshine throughout December and January. The winds are generally tolerable, at 9 knots per hour on average, but when the temperature drops, they tend to “bite”, as the marine climate amplifies the effects of winter in these parts of Europe. In terms of humidity, Chania absorbs up to 65% of Greece's overall rainfall, typical for its semitropical climate. And do not be surprised if February brings in occasional snowflakes – it sometimes gets worse before it gets better.
Chania is the second largest city in Greece and one of the world’s top seaside resorts, so naturally it has much to offer, every month of the year – and especially during the long summer season. The Greeks love their celebrations, both religious and historical, and stay true to their traditions; they love their food and they most certainly love their beaches. In fact, Chania has such a wide selection of splendid beaches to visit, that you would probably need about a month to fully experience them all. Its most popular is probably Balos Beach, the nirvana of photographers worldwide – a turquoise lagoon with white sands and a wild and rocky island that blocks out the stronger sea winds towards the coast.
Expect nothing but high quality services and very good prices for beaches and restaurants anywhere in this part of western Crete. The same goes for their hotels and villas, their hostels and holiday apartments - given that it's such a highly sought after destination, Chania cannot and will not fall short when it comes to quality accommodation for good prices.
Perhaps what makes it truly unforgettable and worth paying a visit though, is the perfect breeze and heart-stopping blue of the Aegean Sea, which makes everything better, from the juvenile hours of the morning until the incandescent hours past midnight. Chania quickly becomes addictive, as part of a cluster of incredible Greek resorts, and it never disappoints – the tens of millions of tourists that visit every year are living testimonials of this fact.