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Crete in May: Complete Guide (Weather, What To Do And More)

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a bicycle with a basket on the front of the water in Crete in May
a city next to the water in Crete

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If you’re thinking of heading to Crete in May, then you might have some burning questions about what it’s like to visit at this time of year.

From the weather to what to do, I’m going to answer everything that’s probably popped into your mind – plus things that you probably hadn’t considered – after visiting here with the tourism board during this month.

Let’s jump straight in!

Check out more Crete posts here:

Is Crete worth visiting in May?

a group of boats in a harbor in Crete in May

Crete is such a huge island – in fact, it’s the biggest Greek island – that in my opinion would be worth visiting at any time of year given what it has to offer.

During May, you’re going to benefit from warm weather, fewer crowds and cheaper prices, making it the perfect month to visit for many travellers.

We’ll jump into these aspects in much more detail as we go through the guide, as there are some additional things to be aware of that may sway your decision.

Crete weather in May

A viewpoint in Crete
a woman sitting on a stone wall with a city in the background

The weather is probably top of your list of questions if you’re considering booking a trip here, so let’s cover it first.

As I just mentioned, the weather is warm in May. However it’s important to preface this with ‘it is not warm all of the time’.

During my time here, we had one day that was cold and rainy and the rest was glorious sunshine, but let’s get into the facts and figures for a second:

  • Average emperatures: 17-24 degrees
  • Average rainy days: 4

Whilst the average temperature states highs of 24 degrees, it was definitely higher at times during my trip. And, looking at the weather forecast for the following week there were days as high as 30 degrees, so I’d take these averages with a pinch of salt.

Overall, I think the weather in May is perfect (despite the odd shower if you’re unlucky) for most travellers looking to explore all of the incredible and adventurous things to do on the island as opposed to sitting and sunbathing from morning until night.

Is Crete expensive in May?

a city in Crete with a body of water and a building

Crete is worth visiting at this time of year if you’re looking for cheaper prices, so no, as someone who comes from the UK, it’s not particularly expensive in May – or atleast not compared to later in the year.

But, how much are you really going to save if you’re looking to visit at this time? Well, below is a breakdown of what the accommodation costs look like for the hotel I stayed at throughout my trip.

Average costs for Pilot Beach Resort where I stayed in Chania:

  • May: £240
  • June: £360
  • July: £390

As you can see, you’re going to be saving a significant amount of money on accommodation in May versus the more popular months.

What to pack for a trip to Crete in May

The weather is most suitable for jeans and a t-shirt, or shorts/skirts and a jumper for the majority of the time. In the evening you’ll almost certainly want to bring a jacket to throw on as well.

Below is a list of clothing I’d recommend that you pack.

  • Jeans
  • Trousers
  • Skirts
  • Shorts
  • Activewear
  • Swimwear
  • Jumpers
  • Cardigans
  • Sandals
  • Trainers

What to do in Crete in May

If you’re wondering what to do in Crete in May, then you won’t be short of choice. But, you need to know that Crete is a huge island and it takes approximately 5 hours to drive from one side to the other, which is why it’s a good idea to rent a car in order to see all of the best bits easily.

I stayed in Chania during my trip, but a lot of the things we did were further afield. I’ll cover these, as well as some of the most popular things I know others have enjoyed on the island that were a little too far from my base.

Visit the beaches

a beach with pink sand and rocks
a group of umbrellas and chairs on a beach

Yes, even in May it’s worth visiting the beaches because many of the beaches here offer way more than just a spot to sunbathe. From the infamous pink sand beach to hidden coves, Crete is well-known for having some of the best beaches in the world.

There are hundreds dotted around the island, but the three which I think you should prioritise visiting are:

  • Balos Lagoon
  • Elafonissi Beach
  • Seitan Limania

These are absolutely stunning and without a doubt an activity you should prioritise, but reaching them doesn’t always come easy, so lets take a look at each one in more detail.

Balos Lagoon

an aerial view of Balos Lagoon

Balos Lagoon is insanely beautiful – I’ve never seen waters and landscapes so unique and it’s without a doubt one of the best things to do in Crete (regardless of what time of year).

It’s the perfect spot for snorkelling thanks to in warm and shallow waters and as such, it’s very popular.

However, getting there can be complicated due to its location.

Your options are: 

To drive » obviously the time it takes to get there will depend on where you’re staying, but from Chania, it will take you 1 hour and 20 minutes and due to the last section of the route being over rough terrain, you’ll need a 4×4. If you’re renting a car, you’ll notice that most companies have a clause explaining that you’re unable to use smaller cars to reach Balos Lagoon. 

Once you arrive at the car park, it’ll cost a few euros per person to access Balos Beach which you’ll need to hike to. It takes around 30 minutes and there’s a 300-meter decline down some steep steps (which you’ll need to climb back up later on!). 

To take a boat » taking a boat will mean joining an organised tour and factoring in a full day to enjoy the experience. This is undoubtedly the easier option if you have the time, however of course it is more expensive as the tours don’t include the boat ticket which is 30 euros per adult and 15 euros per child aged 5-12.

Seitan Limania

Seitan Limania with people swimming in the water

Seitan Limania is another beautiful beach that’s completely secluded.

However, there’s a catch—you’ll need to drive and hike to reach it. Don’t worry, though; it’s manageable.

From Chania, it’s about a 40-minute drive to the parking area, and then another 15-minute hike down a fairly steep path to the beach.

This spot is incredibly picturesque and can become crowded during the summer due to its small size, so I’d suggest arriving earlier in the day to secure a good spot on the beach.

Elafonissi Beach

Located 1 hour and 30 minutes from Chania, Elafonissi Beach is the most distant, but it’s breathtakingly beautiful due to the pink strip of sand along the shore.

There are three ways to get there:

Take a bus » the KTEL AC bus for about 20 euros per person.

Drive » rent a car and drive yourself, though be aware of the narrow roads and rough terrain.

Join a tour » join a tour for an easier experience, though this option may be slightly more expensive.

Best rated experience:  Elafonisi & Falasarna Shared Tour with snacks

Alternative option: Day Trip to Elafonisi Island Pink Sand Beach

Hike through Samaria Gorge

Samaria Gorge with trees and rocks

Samaria Gorge is a must-visit destination in Crete – although unfortunately, it wasn’t included in our itinerary by the tourism board because it would have consumed an entire day of our trip.

After doing my own research, I personally believe it would have been a worthwhile addition as it’s listed as one of the top things to do on the island, so I want to share it with you.

Samaria Gorge is located in the renowned White Mountains and stretches approximately 16 kilometres, making it one of the longest in Europe.

The highlight here is the hike through the gorge which offers stunning natural beauty, remnants of ancient settlements, Byzantine chapels, breathtaking views, and much more.

As a national park and UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Samaria Gorge is perfect for nature lovers who can allocate a full day to experience its wonders.

Hiking trail: Samaria Gorge

Visit Chania

a horse pulling a carriage
a woman sitting on a rock by the water in Crete in May

Chania is a picturesque city in Crete that has plenty of things to see and do in the area.

Besides wandering around the Old Town of Chania, getting lost down the narrow and colourful streets, strolling along the Venetian Harbour and admiring the view from the Venizolos Tombs, there are dozens of activities available.

In my opinion, visiting here in May is the perfect time of year as there’s a great atmosphere yet it’s not super chaotic like it could be during the busier months.

I’m not going to jump into everything to do here now, as I have a dedicated post. If you’re considering Chania as your base – or even if you weren’t, but now you’re curious – then I highly recommend that you check it out below, as I have nothing but good things to say about the city.

You could also explore Heraklion which is the capital city of Crete, however, I haven’t personally been there yet.

Explore the traditional villages in Crete

a group of boats on a body of water

Crete has a lot of quaint villages that give tourists a glimpse into what real life is like on the island. Many of these locations also have incredible architecture and some of the best local food.

The most popular villages are:

  • Agia Galini
  • Archanes
  • Anogeia
  • Vamos

If you have a car then it’s better and undoubtedly easier to get around to small places like these and Crete has plenty of major roads that connect these small towns. However, if you’re the type of traveller who prefers not to worry about how to get around, then you’re also able to join an organised tour.

Crete events in May

Throughout May there are a few events which happen all across the island of Crete, so you’re in luck if this is the kind of travel experience you like to enjoy.

I was lucky enough to attend the 260kmemories Festival which was a one-off event held along the Venetian Harbour in Chania to showcase all of the alternative activities available in Crete – many of which feature in my list of best things to do in Chania.

Other events in Crete during the month of May are:

Protomagia (May 1st)

This is the Greek version of International Labor Day, where all of the locals head out into the countryside to spend time with family and friends. Whilst this may not be something you’d do whilst you’re there, it’s good to know that things may be closed or a little quieter than usual on this day!

Battle of Crete Commemorations

Usually around the 21st of May, there are commemorations for the WWII Battle of Crete. If you’re here around this time, then there will be lots of folk dancing, sports contests and ceremonial activities taking place that are good to get involved in!

Tips for visiting Crete in May

a city next to water in Crete
a lighthouse on a small island in the water

Visit towards the end of the month

Although visiting Crete anytime in May is going to be more than fine, it won’t come as a surprise that visiting later in the month will reduce your chances of experiencing the odd shower.

The difference in temperatures can also be quite large – from mid-20s all the way up to 30 degrees!

Bring a variety of clothing

I’ve already covered a bit about clothing, but just to reiterate it’s really worth packing a variety. When the sun is out it can feel much hotter than it is and on the flip side, when it’s cloudy it can feel much colder.

Additionally, during the evening it can feel cold so you’ll almost certainly want to bring a jacket or a warm jumper – particularly as a lot of the restaurants still host outdoor dining areas or have open fronts.

Definitely rent a car if you can

Crete is a big island and the best things to do are spread out. If you want to enjoy everything that’s on offer and you have a driving licence and the budget to rent a car, I would really recommend it.

I always use Discover Cars or Rentalcars.com for car hire as they compare all of the car rental companies on the market to ensure you’re getting a great deal.

Still book things in advance

Although May is a quieter month, it’s still worth booking hotels, flights, activities, and anything else you may need to be secured in advance.

Not only will this mean you’ll land great prices, but it’s always nice to have everything taken care of before you arrive.

🚗 Car rental: Discover Cars or Rentalcars.com
✈️ Flights: Trip.com
🎟️ Must-do activity: Balos Lagoon
🏨 Great hotel: Pilot Beach
📱 Data: install an eSim from Airalo and get $3 off with code ‘AMELIA2423’
🩺 Travel Insurance: at 80% cheaper with just as much coverage than what I was previously paying, I’ll never stop sharing how great SafetyWing is as a full-time traveller!

Is May a good time to visit Crete?

Overall, yes, visiting Crete in May is – in my opinion – a great time to visit. If you’re an active traveller like me then you won’t want the weather to be too hot. You’ll want it to be the exact temperatures that Crete gets in May!

You’ll beat the crowds whilst still experiencing a great atmosphere, and the best part is you’ll get it for a cheaper price. It’s a no-brainer if you ask me!

Conclusion

a city on a small island in the water in Crete in May

And thats a wrap on everything you need to know about visiting Crete in May! I’ve got a whole load of blog posts on Crete which you can check out below, but let me know if you have any other questions in the comments and I’ll happily answer them!

Millie / Stay Wild Travels.