• Picturesque, it is also the ideal spot to have something to eat by the water.
    © Olivier Lechat
    The quays of Rethymnon port

    Picturesque, it is also the ideal spot to have something to eat by the water.

Amy Adejokun
Amy Adejokun Expert destination Greece

Located on the northern coast, Rethymnon, the capital of one of the four regions of the island, is located 45 miles west of Heraklion. In spite of the tourism which is gradually becoming more and more intrusive, it is a charming little town which owes its character to the ancient ruins on which it lays. Thus the old city reveals the traces left behind by the Turks and the Venetians: the fortress, some beautiful façades, fountains, a loggia and the little port. In the surrounding area, in order to see the contrast with the touristic coast, you should take a tour in the inland. From the plains and plateaus covered with olive trees to the arid mountains, including the highest (Mount Psiloritis) rising to 8,000 ft in altitude, and the Lake Kournas, the landscape offers a surprising diversity. The old road to the west, leading through the hinterland to the village of Valsamonero, is famous for its Byzantine church. The coast to the east of Rethymnon has been invaded by tourists and, except for the charming fishing village of Bali, it presents little of interest to the visitor. However, the old road that leads to Heraklion sinks through the inland, revealing beautiful mountain landscapes where villages still preserving ancestral traditions are nestled (Margarites, the cave of Melidoni, Axos and Anogia). The panoramic route that leaves from Anogia leads to the high plateau of Nida. From here you can visit the Cave of Ida where Zeus is said to have grown up. On the inland near Rethymnon, it is possible to combine trips that will take you to the Monastery of Moni Arkadi, to the Amari valley and to Khromonastiri and its Mill valley. On the southern coast, about 25 miles away from Rethymnon, the beaches are not very busy because of the difficult access. The monastery of Preveli enjoys a magnificent location on the Libyan Sea. Thanks to its unique environment, Rethymnon is one of the most visited sites of Crete.

Rethymno: what to do?

Excursions offered by tour operators allow you to visit most of the main attractions in Crete. Around Rethymno, you will discover the city of Hania (Chania), an excursion often coupled with a visit to the famous monastery of Arkadi. Peoples' favourite excursion remains the visit to the ruins of Knossos, the first Minoan palace to be discovered and also the only one to be reconstructed. Residence of King Minos, it is said to have housed the labyrinth in which the Minotaur was locked. The visit continues with the discovery of the prestigious archaeological Museum of Heraklion. Among the natural sites to discover, you should pay a visit to the Samaria and Imbros gorges, to the Lassithi plateau (with the visit of Agios Nikolaos and the fortress of Spinalonga), to the plain of Messara (typical villages and palaces of Festos) and to the eastern and wild Crete. All tour operators will offer you the opportunity to spend part of the day in a village along with the Cretans, and in the evening have a party and a traditional meal. More sporty excursions are also organized such as 4x4 safaris in central Crete, scuba diving, hiking and kayaking. Finally, as far as long excursions are concerned, you will have the opportunity to visit Santorini, the most famous of the Greek Cyclades islands.

From the visit to the ruins of the palace of Knossos, to the Minoan ruins of Festos and the palace of Malia, history lovers will find plenty to do. You can also visit the famous Archaeological Museum of Heraklion, which embraces the entirety of the Minoan civilization, or discover Fodele, the village where it is said that the painter Domenikos Theotokopoulos was born, better known by the name El Greco (1541-1614).

  • Diversified hotel services.
  • Beautiful beaches.
  • Its surrounding areas abounding in historical sites.
  • The proximity of Chania.
  • A sometimes destructive tourism.
  • The great distance from wild Crete.


If you arrive in the middle of summer, do not overload your luggage, and make sure to bring along light cotton clothes.

To avoid

Avoid making a call to the UK from your hotel room, otherwise the bill will be quite hefty. Opt for phone cards as there are telephone booths everywhere!

Rethymno: what to eat?

Restaurants are in abundance here. Here you will find typical Cretan dishes such as gyros, Greek salad, slouvakia and moussaka.

Rethymno: what to buy?

On the markets, you can find food, herbs, olive oil and Cretan cheese. In the shops, CDs of local music are sold. The raki is cherished as an institution, taste it and bring a bottle back for your friends.

Rethymno Reviewedhotels
  • 7.95 /10
    Rated by Easyvoyage
    Aquila Rithymna Beach Resort
    Réthymnon - Greece
    Hotel Hotel 5 Etoile(s)

    What a pleasure it is to wander around this hotel with all its ...

  • 7.95 /10
    Rated by Easyvoyage
    SENTIDO Aegean Pearl
    Réthymnon - Greece
    Hotel Hotel 5 Etoile(s)

    The Aegean Pearl faces the sea and offers all the services of ...

  • 7.9 /10
    Rated by Easyvoyage
    Creta Royal
    Réthymnon - Greece
    Hotel Hotel 5 Etoile(s)

    The Creta Royal is an upscale hotel built on the seashore in ...

  • 7.7 /10
    Rated by Easyvoyage
    Sensimar Royal Blue Resort and Spa
    Hotel Hotel 3 Etoile(s)

    This isolated 5 star Cretan village facing the sea combines modern ...

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