December is one of the quieter months to visit Crete. Orange and lemon groves blossom adding a touch of color to the landscape. The island is not as packed with tourists as it is during the summer season, leading to a rather relaxed atmosphere. The island’s mild weather combined with the authentic atmosphere still surviving in this corner of Greece, have turned Crete into the main alternative for those looking for an escape during Merry Season. Here are some ideas for those celebrating the holidays in Crete.
Christmas’ Eve Dinner
Those who choose to spend Christmas’ Eve in Crete can opt for a refined dinner. Our Lato Boutique Hotel, in the center of Heraklion, is presenting a dedicated Christmas Dinner at Brillant. A gala made of unique Greek dishes (like pork ribs marinated in lavender & potatoes with thyme) made from the best local ingredients. The venue will feature the live music of Julie Naoum giving an exciting kick-off to the festive nights. Kids can count on a special menu for them too. Here it is possible to book and take a look at the gourmet proposal.
Our 626 All Day Longe and City Garden, in the premises of the Olive Green Hotel, also celebrates Christmas’ Eve with live saxophone and enchanting traditional dishes such as lamb and crispy bourekakia, and the best Christmas signature cocktails in town! You can check out the menu and book a table here.
Those guests booking the special Christmas package can also take advantage of a free room upgrade, free late checkout, free brunch and more!
On Christmas’ Day
One would usually realize Christmas is approaching in Crete quite late during December. The holiday is celebrated with songs all around the paved neighborhoods of the historical center and events occurring all day long on the streets and cafes! Visits to smaller towns and mountain villages can reserve surprises such as life-size nativity. Wonderfully decorated boats are also typical of the season.
Renting a car and traveling to small hamlets close to bigger towns will allow visitors to discover a side to the Christmas season that has sadly been lost elsewhere.
New Year’s Celebrations
Locals are well-known for the joyful celebrations of New Year all over the island. Greeks exchange presents around New Year’s Day, according to the tradition. This makes it one of the most special nights of the year, both for adults and kids!.
As a matter of fact, Saint Basil (the Greek Santa Claus), visits every Cretan household on New Year’s Eve. However, the fun does not start there. Since very early in the morning, kids from every corner of the island go around their neighborhoods singing the local carols (known as Kalanda) and getting coins or home-made sweets as a treat.
New Year’s Eve is a lucky day for Greeks. Don’t be surprised to find locals playing cards in bars, as well as very busy betting shops.
Dinner with family and friends is also part of the feast. If you visit the island during this special moment of the year, you cannot miss the outdoors music events, the colorfully decorated streets of the capital nor a dinner in style.
For a sophisticated evening, guests can enjoy the music of Julie Naoum in the unique atmosphere of Brillant. For a charming experience, piano and guitar will animate the evening in the 626 All Day City Lounge and Garden. Both venues present exclusively dedicated menus for adults as well as for children.
The Weather on the Island
Temperatures are of course lower during December, and usually rainfall increases, however, sunshine still dominates the local weather. The sea temperatures are cooler now but some people still swim each day throughout December.
Very pleasant temperatures allow for walks on the imposing Venetian walls surrounding the old city of Heraklion and from the Venetian fortress to the lighthouse, just with a light jacket instead of heavy winter wear.
Shopping and Other Activities
During the holidays, shops in every town extend their opening hours even to Sundays. This makes it easy to get the last minute present almost anywhere on the island.
For those who prefer cultural activities instead of shopping, museums and cultural venues are also a great alternative in December.
The capital, Heraklion, but also other cities, boast incredible archaeological museums. with unique pieces of Minoan history. Most museums are open during the season, except -of course – on the actual Christmas and New Year’s days.