Sights and Sounds of Rethymnon

Visit the beautiful town of Rethymnon, which is located on the north coast of Crete and is nestled between the wild Lefka Ori and Ida Mountain ranges.

Rethymnon in Crete is conveniently located between Chania (65 km to the west) and Heraklion (75 km to the east). It is a popular holiday destination.

During the Venetian occupation, Rethymnon was established as a city. The Venetians required a port on the north coast to facilitate their ships’ transit from Chania to Heraklion. In addition, they required an administrative hub, and as a result, Rethymnon became the third city in Crete and a significant cultural center. Rethymnon is now home to around 35,000 inhabitants.

Attractions of Rethymnon

Rethymnon is a charming town that has managed to preserve its old aristocratic character. Its buildings, including arched doorways, stone staircases, and remnants of Byzantine and Hellenic-Roman architecture, date back to the 16th century. The town also boasts a small Venetian harbour and narrow streets. For those seeking shade and serenity, the spacious municipal gardens are perfect. Throughout the year, Rethymnon hosts various events that attract large crowds, including the annual Wine Festival held at the beginning of July.

Fortezza – The Mediterranean’s biggest Venetian fortress was constructed in 1573 and offers a stunning panoramic view of Rethymnon. In the summer, there are concerts, traditional dances, and theatrical performances held there, drawing large crowds. The fortress is open from 08:00 to 19:00 Hrs., with extended hours until 24:00 during “special” events, but it is closed on Mondays.

Archaeological museum – The museum is located in close proximity to the fortress, and is situated in the former Venetian Loggia, a social gathering place for the Venetian upper class. It features archaeological artifacts from the Minoan and Roman periods, as well as a significant collection of coins. The museum is open from 08:30 to 15:00 Hrs., but is closed on Mondays.

Various Venetian buildings – Located within the historical center of Rethymnon.

“Rimondi” or “Megali Vrissi” fountain and the “Megali Porta” (big gate).

Ottoman buildings – Adjacent to the Megali Porta in the old town of Rethymnon is a mosque (tsami) and minaret.

Rethymnon’s Surrounding Area

Due to its strategic location on Crete, Rethymnon serves as an ideal starting point for day trips to explore the island.

Arkadi monastery – Located 22 km southeast of Rethymnon, this place is considered the symbol of the Cretan struggle for freedom. Additionally, a small museum is available on site, exhibiting various items used by the resistance fighters who fought against the Ottomans and a valuable collection of icons.

Kournas lake – Located 25 km west of Rethymnon, this is the only freshwater lake in Crete! You can explore the lake by kayak or canoe, and afterward, you can enjoy a refreshing drink at one of the many tavernas located right on the waterfront.

Margarites – Located 26 km to the east of Rethymnon, this village is renowned for its pottery. Visitors can observe the skilled locals as they produce various types of pottery and ceramics.

Melidoni cave – Located 33 km east of Rethymnon, this site is also known as “Gerospilios” and is an organized archaeological site, considered one of the four sacred caves in Crete. Visiting hours are from 08.30 to 15.00 Hrs, and the cave can be visited from June 1st to October 31st.

Palm beach at Preveli and the Preveli monastery – Located 34 km south of Rethymnon, you can either enjoy a leisurely time at one of the most picturesque beaches on the island or visit the monastery which has played a crucial role in many rebellions against the invaders trying to conquer Crete.

Anogia – Located 51 km southeast of Rethymnon, this mountain village is the highest in Crete. It has a rich history of producing brave resistance fighters and is now renowned for its weaving art, warm hospitality, and the influence of two of the most important Cretan music families, Xilouris and Skoulas.

Imvros gorge – Located 52 km southwest of Rethymnon, is the smaller sibling of Samaria Gorge. This is an easy 8 km hike that can be organized independently. Simply park your car at the end of the village near the taverna Porofarago and fuel up with a freshly made Sfakian Pie with thyme honey. Once you reach the end of the gorge, you can hail one of the many pickup trucks to take you back to the starting point.

Samaria gorge – The Samaria Gorge, located 75 km southwest of Rethymnon, is the longest gorge in Europe. It spans 18 km and attracts thousands of visitors to Crete every year who come to hike through it.