Rethymno town is a rare combination of history and modern-day luxury, with its Venetian-era Fortezza and old town, tropical beaches and exquisite Cretan cuisine
The Fortezza (fortress) sits atop Rethymno’s magical old town like a crown. It’s like travelling back in time, to the period of the Venetians. You’ll climb to the fortress and hear the echoes of the sea. You’ll walk along the Venetian port with its old lighthouse and get lost in the maze of walkways, admiring the ornate doorways and the Venetian crests that decorate them. You’ll visit the mosques and their minarets and hop among the dozens of shops, restaurants and cafes.
One of the most luxurious destinations in Greece, Rethymno will welcome you with its hospitality, high standards of service and Cretan cuisine. To the east, the longest beach in Crete (12km) awaits you. Here your dreams of a luxurious beach holiday will become a reality.
What to do in Rethymno
Landmarks from many eras
At the Neratzi Mosque music conservatory), you’ll mark its sky-high minaret (built in 1890) as the meeting point. The New Square is ringed by grand homes, the Catholic Church of St Francis, an Ottoman mausoleum and an Ottoman school. At Platanos Square, you’ll pass bustling restaurants and cafes and arrive at the famous Rimondi Fountain, constructed in 1626. The renowned Makri Steno (long alley) that leads from the National Park to the Fortezza, with its Venetian homes and marble fountains, is one of the most beautiful streets in Rethymno.
The Venetian port and lighthouse
From Nearchou Road you’ll get to the picturesque Venetian harbour with its restored lighthouse, which was built between 1830-40. Behind the port is the 16th-century Venetian Loggia. Rethymno will surprise you with the beauty, sights and attractions you’ll encounter along its streets.
Rethymno’s tropical beach
The largest beach on the island – 12km – stretches along the east side of the city, from Rethymno to Skaleta. You’ll take advantage of the water sports in the Adelianos Kampos and enjoy a quiet swim in the rocky coves of the Pegianos Kampos. All along the beach you’ll find beach bars with umbrellas and lounge chairs, shops and hotels.
A luxury stay in the Mediterranean
In Rethymno’s old town, Venetian buildings with sea views have been converted into elegant boutique hotels. Alternatively, you can opt for large and luxurious, all-inclusive resorts with pools, restaurants and bungalows in lush gardens outside the town.
Cretan cuisine: authentic flavours, paired with raki
In Rethymno, you’ll enjoy culinary treats inspired by Crete’s flavourful cuisine and traditions. Restaurants in Venetian buildings with beautiful gardens, rakadika where you’ll pair meze with the local schnapps-like drink raki, and quaint little tavernas: all serve Cretan dishes made using fresh, local produce.
Hidden gems of Rethymno
The Fortezza: built for war, dedicated to culture
The restored residence of two Venetian Councillors, the Ottoman mosque built by Sultan Ibrahim Khan (now hosting musical events), the Bishop’s Palace, the Ibrahim Khan Mosque, cannons, bastions, mansions… are just a few of the attractions that await you at the Fortezza, a 16th century fortress. Many of the restored buildings host exhibitions and major cultural events, such as the annual Renaissance Festival.
Museums with centuries of discoveries
The Palaeontology Museum is well worth a visit during your holidayin Rethymno. Inside the mosque of Veli Pasha you’ll find exhibits from Crete’s history from up to 300 million years ago. Be sure to also make time for the Historical and Folklore Museum, situated in a 17th-century manor house, and the Archaeological Museum, opposite the main gate of the Fortezza.
Sunset by the seaside
As the sun begins to set, walk along the sea on Kefaloyianni Avenue, under the city walls, as far as Nomarchias Square. In the distance, the Lefka Ori (White Mountains) seem a misnomer as they turn all shades of pink and purple.