Rethymno Town – Unique with a Picturesque Fortress and Seaside Taverns

The beautiful town of Rethymno is built on top of the site of the ancient city of Rythimna. Many excavations around the old town have revealed the rich history of the area. Rethymno town is a harmonious combination of an old-time aristocratic style and a modern aspect. Visitors are always captivated by its traditional atmosphere and the rich cultural heritage.

Beautiful cozy street in Rethymno, Crete Greece
Picturesque street in Rethymno Old Town

Where is Rethymno Greece?

Rethymno, the capital of the prefecture of Rethymno is in Crete, 80 km west of Heraklion and 60 km east of Chania. Rethymno Town has around 32,000 inhabitants, many of whom are are engaged with trade and tourism. Being a university city Rethymno has a nightlife all year round.

What is Rethymno like?

Rethymno city with the fortress of Fortezza, Crete Greece
Rethymno Town with the fortress of Fortezza

The old town, which is built around Fortezza, the imposing Venetian fortress, has retained its elegance and unique architecture characterized by arches, Turkish fountains, and beautiful Byzantine churches. The mixture of historical styles contributes to the charm of this lovely town, like the arched doorways, the municipal gardens, the beautiful Venetian buildings, and the Hellenic and Roman remains.

What to do in Rethymno?

Travel to Rethymno, Crete - Rethymno Habor
The old Venetian habour of Rethymno

In the modern part of Rethymno town you will find all the tourist facilities located around the natural bay. Spend the afternoon and evening at one of the many seaside taverns and restaurants located at the busy waterfront. It is also here that you will find all kinds of accommodation and shops.
A Wine Festival is held there annually at the beginning of July. Another festival, in memory of the destruction of the Arkadi Monastery, is held on 7–8 November.

Rethymno – Where to eat?

Lobster served with vegetables on white plate. Rethymno, Crete, Greece
Lobster served with vegetables at Rethymno waterfront

In Rethymno Town, the places to eat and drink are many and they attract a great many visitors every night. Of course, you will find great restaurants in the nearby villages as well as in secluded beaches. Usually, the village restaurants serve traditional dishes cooked by the delicious Cretan recipes, but you will find very cozy restaurants, cafes, and bars in the Old Town of Rethymno, as well.

How to reach Rethymno?

Right in the middle of Rethymno you will find the picturesque Venetian port, which is the most romantic spot in town. Nearby ferries depart for the port of Souda and the port of Heraklion. During the summer months the narrow streets of Rethymno are buzzing with life from all the tourists arriving in town from all parts of the world.

Ferries to Rethymno

To reach Rethymno by ferry you will have to reach Chania or Heraklion first, as there is no direct ferries to Rethymno outside Crete. You can easily reach Chania or Heraklion from Athens by ferry, as there is a daily route from Piraeus port, all year around. During summer, Heraklion is connected with Santorini on a daily basis and with Mykonos, Paros, and Milos once per week. Three times per week Heraklion is connected with Rhodes, Karpathos and Kassos. Chania is only connected with Piraeus port. Upon arrival you can reach Rethymno by KTEL bus, taxi or by car.

Nearest airport to Rethymno

Rethymno venetian port and fort, seen from the air
Rethymno Venetian port and fortress seen from a plane

The nearest airports to Rethymno are Chania International Airport “Ioannis Daskalogiannis” and Heraklion International Airport “Nikos Kazantzakis”. Chania receives domestic flights from Athens and Thessaloniki all year round, and seasonal flights from many European cities. Heraklion receives domestic flights from Athens, Thessaloniki, and Larnaka, as well as seasonal flights from different European countries. The flight duration from Athens to either Chania or Heraklion is approx. 45 minutes. Upon arrival you can reach Rethymno by KTEL bus, taxi or by car.

Young woman reading a book at the beach while the sun rise, Hersonissos, Crete Greece

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Rethymno – Where to sleep?

You will find many luxurious hotels in the suburbs of Rethymno town and along the beach of the main town. These areas are quite convenient for excursions in northern Crete. In Bali, Gerani, Panormos, and Adelianos Kampos you will find gorgeous beaches, ideal if you are looking for lively Rethymno hotels close to the beach and with all tourist facilities.

Beaches near Rethymno town

Famous summer resort in Bali village, near Rethymno, Crete, Greece
Famous summer resort in Bali village, near Rethymno
  • Bali beach – a nice sandy beach surrounded by a wild landscape with a couple of monasteries in the area. It tends to get quite popular during the summer months. Bali beach is located 32 km east of Rethymno Town.
  • Enetiko beach – is a sandy beach in walking distance from Rethymno city centre. It is located 1 km from Rethymno Town.
Aerial view of beautiful natural big rock arch Kamara Geropotamou, near sandy beach and river, Rethimno, Crete, Greece
Aerial view of the beautiful big rock arch Kamara Geropotamou, near sandy beach and river in Rethymno
  • Geropotamos beach – is a small beach with a river delta on the way to Panormos. It is non-organized and secluded and therefore never really gets crowded. It is located 18 east of Rethymno Town.
  • Panormos beach – is fully organized with taverns and accommodation. It has crystal clear water and a stunning view over the sea. It is located 22 km east of Rethymno Town.
  • Perivolia beach – is a long and sandy beach, located just 2 km east of Rethymno Town. It gets very popular and often crowded during the summer months.
  • Pigianos Kampos beach – is a sandy beach, organized with sunbeds and umbrellas, located 8 km east of Rethymno Town.
  • Platanias beach – is a long, organized beach surrounded by many tourist facilities. It gets very popular during the summer months due to its soft sand and short distance to Rethymno Town. It is located just 4 km east of town.
Coast of Greece Crete island Rethymno town with waves on the beach
Rethymno town beach with waves
  • Town beach – is long and sandy with some parts organized with sunbeds and umbrellas. It is in waking distance from the city centre.

History of Rethymno

Rethymno was built in antiquity (ancient Rhithymna and Arsinoe) but was never a competitive Minoan centre. It was, however, strong enough to mint its own coins and maintain urban growth. One of these coins is today depicted as the crest of the town with two dolphins in a circle.
This region is rich with ancient history, most notably through the Minoan civilization centered at Kydonia east of Rethymno. Rethymno itself began a period of growth when the Venetian conquerors of the island decided to put an intermediate commercial station between Heraklion and Chania, acquiring its own bishop and nobility in the process. Today’s old town (palia poli) is almost entirely built by the Venetians. It is one of the best-preserved old towns in Crete.

Rethymno Town – What to see?

Travel to Rethymno, Crete - old town
Rethymno, Old Town

Rethymno still maintains its old aristocratic appearance, with its buildings dating from the 16th century, arched doorways, stone staircases, Byzantine and Hellenic-Roman remains, the small Venetian harbour and narrow streets. The Venetian Loggia houses the information office of the Ministry of Culture.

Lake Kournas with the villages of Kavallos and Mouri and Georgioupolis as well as the sea and lots of olive grove and farming nearby in Chania region Crete, Greece

Rethymno, Chania & Kournas lake


Venetian castle, Rethymno citadel, Crete, Greece
Venetian Fortress of Fortezza, Rethymno citadel
  • Fortezza – the Venetian-era citadel of Rethymno, is one of the best-preserved castles in Crete. It was constructed in 1573 by the Venetians to protect the town from enemy invasions and it was conquered by the Ottomans in the 17th century. Today it is the trademark of the town.
  • Ibrahim Han Mosque – is in the center of the Fortezza. Originally a Christian church dedicated to Saint Nicolas, it was later turned into a mosque when the town was conquered by the Ottomans. Today it only opens to host musical events.
  • Neratze Mosque – was originally a Christian church, later converted into a mosque by the Turks. Today it houses the Municipal Odeon of Rethymno. Its minaret is the tallest in Rethymno.
  • Great Gate (Porta Guora) – or the Big Door is one of the many marks on Rethymno Town left by the Venetian and Ottoman dominations of the past.
  • Rimondi Fountain – a small classical structure stands in the square of Petichaki in the heart of Rethymno old town, close to Loggia. It was built in 1626.
  • Venetian Loggia – a 16th century building located in the middle of Rethymno Old Town. In Medieval times it used to be the meeting point of the Venetian noblemen. Today it hosts the gift shop of the Archaeological Museum of Rethymno.
  • Municipal Garden – is the public park of Rethymno, a lush green area in the center of Rethymno. It is a favorite stroll for locals and visitors. It hosts a small zoo with species of the animals in Crete.
  • Archaeological Museum of Rethymno – is housed in a building at the entrance of the Fortezza. Here you will find exhibits from excavations held in the prefecture of Rethymno. The exhibits present the history of the prefecture from the paleolithic era till the Roman times.
  • Historical and Folklore Museum – established in 1973 and housed in an elegant Venetian building. The exhibits come from private collections and donations, including ceramics, jewelry, traditional clothing, coins, tools, and more.
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Rethymno – A university town

View of Rethymno from the fortress

Today Rethymno’s main income is from tourism, and many new facilities having been built in the past 30 years. Agriculture is also notable, especially for olive oil and other Mediterranean products. It is also the base of the Philosophical School and the University Library of the University of Crete and the School of Social and Political Sciences having 8.000 students on its university campus per annum at “Galos”, where the Academic Institute of Mediterranean Studies is situated.

Travel to Rethymno, Crete, Greece
Rethymno lighthouse and harbour

Weather and climate in Rethymno

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Average monthly temperatures in °C and average rainfall in mm in Rethymno, Crete