Landscape and climate

Landscape and climate
Apokoronas. Luka Tica, Foundation for Gavalochori

Explore . . .

Crete is the largest island in Greece and is 160 kilometers (100 miles) south of the Greek mainland and 300 kilometers (200 miles) north of Africa. Visitors to Crete often don’t realize how close the island is to North Africa, but experiencing a sandstorm that originates in the Sahara makes that very clear! You also might not be aware that Crete is the southernmost point of Europe because of its Gavdos Island, which is administratively part of Chania and is located 48 kilometers (30 miles) off the south coast of Crete. 

View to White Mountains, Crete. Alexey Komarov, CC BY-SA, Wikimedia Commons
Landscape and climate
Gramvousa Island, Crete. Nadiia,

Size and Shape

Crete is a long, thin island 260 kilometers (160 miles) from west to east and only 60 kilometers (37 miles) at its widest point from north to south. Its unique geographic position linking Europe, Asia, and Africa has helped shape its course both throughout antiquity and in contemporary times.

Western Crete from Space. Hatwiki, CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Geology and Geography

Five hundred million years ago, the land that is now Crete lay at the bottom of the ancient Tethys Sea. It was formed by sediments that flowed into the sea and the shells of sea life that lived there, and as the material compacted, it developed into limestone rock. Metamorphic, volcanic, and additional sedimentary geologic activity created the other common types of stones found on Crete: greenschist, pale phyllite, and marlstone. About 200 million years ago, when Earth’s great single supercontinent, the Pangaea land mass, began to break into separate plates, the land that is now Crete was transformed by various geologic activities to create above-water land with high mountains. This land was further shaped by the wind and the waters of weather systems and a long series of large and small earthquakes.

Many people are surprised to learn that Crete has some serious mountains (some as high as 2456 meters (8050 feet)). In fact, a key geological feature of the island is the mountain ranges that divide the island into three parts—west, central, and east. The White Mountains (so called because the light color of the limestone rocks in the summer and fall give the illusion of snowy slopes) are in the west, Mount Psiloreitis and the Idean Mountains are in the center, and the Diktaion Mountains with Mount Dikti are in the east. The geological upheavals that formed the mountains also created impressive caves, ravines, and gorges (such as the famous Samaria Gorge) throughout the island. The western part of Crete is the greenest part of the island, while eastern Crete is more dry, barren, and rocky. 

The richness of Crete’s geology has been recognized by the creation of two parks on the island that feature the geology of Crete. Nearest to Gavalochori is Psiloreitis Geopark, which is in the mountains south of Rethymno. Much farther away, in the eastern part of the island, is the Sitia Geopark. The information center for this park is located in the village of Zakros.

Landscape and climate
Apokoronas. Luka Tica, Foundation for Gavalochori


The climate of Crete is a temperate Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and mild winters. You might be surprised to learn that Crete is not sunny and warm all year round. It has 300 days of sunshine every year, which means that other kinds of weather are occurring on those other 65 days. 

The winter from January to February has a number of rainy days with temperatures of 8-15ºC (46–59ºF), and, as a result, the island is green in the winter, and you will see some wildflowers emerging. Although it rains on average about 15 centimeters (6 inches) with about 15 wet days in each of these months, you might very well get lucky and enjoy sunny, shirt-sleeve weather during this time as well.

Spring is from March to May, and as the spring progresses, rainfall decreases, and the days turn warm. In March, the average daytime temperature is 20ºC (68ºF), climbing to 26ºC (79ºF) in May. During this period, Crete is at its most beautiful with all of its 1500 wildflowers seeming to bloom at once. 

Summer runs from June through September, and there is almost no rain during this period. The temperature averages between 28 and 35ºC (82 and 95ºF), but recently, due to climate change, Crete has been experiencing heat waves of several days where the temperatures have reached as high as 40ºC (103ºF). The sea temperature in the summer months is over 25ºC (77º F)—perfect for swimming. If you are here in the summer, you may experience the meltemi, a strong, cooling, northerly wind that occasionally sweeps across Crete. Between May and August, you also may encounter the sirocco wind, which blows up from Africa and brings red dust and sand, but it usually only lasts a day or two. 

Autumn is from October through December, and there are many warm days during this period when you can even go to the beach and enjoy a swim. There are more rainy days, however, as the season progresses, with an average rainfall of 10 centimeters (4 inches) and 9 wet days in December. The average temperature in October is 20ºC (68ºF), dropping to 14ºC (57ºF) in December.

Landscape and climate
Elafonisi Beach, Crete. Jarekgrafik, CC0, Wikimedia Commons
US_Navy equipment_Operator_Constructionman operates_a_front-end_loader_to_clear_snow souda bay chania crete
Snow, Souda. U.S. Navy, Paul Farley, Wikimedia Commons
We use cookies to personalise content and ads, to provide social media features and to analyse our traffic. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. View more
Cookies settings
Privacy & Cookie policy
Privacy & Cookies policy
Cookie name Active
  1. Information Collected and Its Uses: When you participate in this site, we may collect the personal information you give us such as your name and email address. We may send you emails about our site and related information about the village of Gavalochori. We may also use your email to survey you about your usage or to collect your opinion.
  2. Obtaining Consent: When you provide us with personal information, you imply that you consent to our collecting it and using it for that specific reason only. If we ask for your personal information for a secondary reason, like marketing, we will either ask you directly for your expressed consent or provide you with an opportunity to say no.
  3. Withdrawing Consent: After you opt in, if you change your mind, you may withdraw your consent for us to contact you or for the continued collection, use, or disclosure of your information at any time by contacting us at or mailing us at: 1788 Glencoe Street, Denver, Colorado 80220, USA.
  4. Disclosure: We may disclose your personal information if we are required by law to do so or if you violate our Terms & Conditions. [INSERT LINK to Terms & Conditions].
  5. Location of Data: Your data are stored through the data-storage system of the Foss-Radich Foundation for Gavalochori. Data are stored on a secure server behind a firewall.
  6. Payment Process: If you make a purchase on our site, we use a third-party payment processor. Payments are encrypted through the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS). Your purchase transaction data are stored only as long as is necessary to complete your purchase transaction. All direct payment gateways adhere to the standards set by PCI-DSS as managed by the PCI Security Standards Council, which is a joint effort of brands like Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover. PCI-DSS requirements help ensure the secure handling of credit-card information by our site.
  7. Third Party Services: In general, the third-party providers we use will only collect, use, and disclose your information to the extent necessary to allow them to perform the services they provide to us. However, certain third-party service providers, such as payment gateways and other payment-transaction processors, have their own privacy policies in respect to the information we are required to provide to them for your purchase-related transactions. For these providers, we recommend that you read their privacy policies so you understand the manner in which your personal information will be handled by these providers. Certain providers may be located in or have facilities in a different jurisdiction than either you or us. If you elect to proceed with a transaction that involves the services of a third-party service provider, your information may become subject to the laws of the jurisdiction(s) in which that service provider or its facilities are located. Once you leave our Website or are redirected to a third-party website or application, you are no longer governed by this Privacy Policy or our Website’s Terms & Conditions.
  8. Links: When you click on links on our Website, they may direct you away from the site. We are not responsible for the privacy practices of other sites and encourage you to read their privacy statements.
  9. Security: To protect your personal information, we take reasonable precautions and follow industry best practices to make sure it is not inappropriately lost, misused, accessed, disclosed, altered, or destroyed. If you provide us with your credit-card information, the information is encrypted using secure socket layer technology (SSL) and stored with AES-256 encryption. Although no method of transmission over the internet or electronic storage is 100% secure, we follow all PCI-DSS requirements and implement additional generally accepted industry standards.
  10. Cookies: We collect cookies or similar tracking technologies—information that our Website’s server transfers to your computer. This information can be used to track your session on our Website. Cookies may also be used to customize our Website content for you as an individual. If you are using one of the common internet web browsers, you can set up your browser to either let you know when you receive a cookie or to deny cookie access to your computer.
    • We use cookies to recognize your device and provide you with a personalized experience.
    • We use cookies to attribute visits to our Website to third-party sources and to serve targeted ads from Google, Facebook, Instagram, and other third-party vendors.
    • Our third-party advertisers use cookies to track your prior visits to our Website and elsewhere on the internet in order to serve you targeted ads. For more information about targeted or behavioral advertising, please visit:
    • Opting out: You can opt out of targeted ads served via specific third-party vendors by visiting the Digital Advertising Alliance’s Opt-Out page.
    • We may also use automated tracking methods on our Website, in communications with you, and in our products and services to measure performance and engagement.
    • Please note that because there is no consistent industry understanding of how to respond to “Do Not Track” signals, we do not alter our data collection and usage practices when we detect such a signal from your browser.
  11. Web-Analysis Tools: We may use web-analysis tools that are built into the Website to measure and collect anonymous session information.
  12. Age of Consent:  You may not use this Website if you are a minor (defined as those who are younger than 18 years of age).
  13. Changes to this Privacy Policy: We reserve the right to modify this Privacy Policy at any time. Please review it frequently. Changes and clarifications will take effect immediately upon their posting on the Website. If we make material changes to this policy, we will notify you here that it has been updated so that you are aware of the nature of the information we collect; how we use it; and the circumstances, if any, under which we will use and/or disclose it. If our site is acquired or merged with another company, your information may be transferred to the new owners so that we may continue to provide information to you.
  14. Questions and Contact Information: If you would like to access, correct, amend, or delete any personal information we have about you; register a complaint; or simply want more information, contact our Privacy Compliance Officer at or by mail at 1788 Glencoe Street, Denver, Colorado 80220, USA.
Save settings
Cookies settings