The town of Rethymno (alternative spellings Rethymnon or Rethimno) lies in central Crete, in the prefecture of the same name. East of Chania and west of Heraklion, the town is a brilliant mix of old and new.
It has a young and vibrant nightlife, largely due to the student population who study at the University of Crete. In the daytime you cannot fail to be submerged into its history - a monument and testimony to bygone days and differing cultures.
Some of the best beaches in Crete are found in and around the town including Rethymno Town Beach, Bali Beach and Preveli Beach, which are included in our Best Beaches Guide.
As is the norm in Crete, Rethymno (pronounced RETH-im-no) has an abundance of places to eat and drink. Traditional tavernas serving a variety of recipes that make up the Cretan Diet sit along up-market restaurants serving international foods to suit all tastes. Small cafes, coffee shops and chic cocktail bars tempt the passer by as you wander around this impressive but very laid-back town. You may need an extra notch put into your belt after a visit here.
An enchanting blend of Byzantine remains, Venetian grandeur and fine Ottoman buildings are a treat for those who love history. The old city stands almost intact with many restored buildings being cleverly utilised for modern day needs.
The Fortetza Fortress
Built after 1573 by the Venetians the fortress named the Fortetza is the one of the biggest, and best standing fortresses in Crete. Built to protect the town's population, it comprises four bastions and three entrances.
The Mosque Neratzes
During Venetian occupation the mosque Neratzes, which today is used as a music school, was the Augustinian church of the Holy Virgin. In 1657 the Turks transformed it into the mosque and later added a large minaret with two galleries. The chapel of the Holy Virgin, situated at its west side and dedicated to the Body of Christ, was also transformed into a seminary. Outstanding elements of this building are the doorframe and the three domes.
Centrally situated in the centre of town is the Loggia. This 16th century magnificent building is most characteristic Renaissance monument of to be found in the area and the most important architectural reminder of the Venetian occupation.
The Rimondi Fountain
Rebuilt in 1626 on the foundation of the earlier one, the new fountain is architecturally and sculptural ornate. The water runs from three spouts in the shape of a lion's head into three sinks.
Aghios Frankiskos was the catholic monastery of the Franciscan order. It has a single sloped wooden roofed basilica with an impressively decorated entrance. Apart from the temple two chapels have been preserved which are situated east of the church.
Take a leisurely evening stroll around the Venetian harbour of Rethymno harbour, which is lined with shops and restaurants. The large lighthouse was built by the Turks but the buildings lining the harbour are Venetian. Order a fresh fish dinner from any one of the charming sea front restaurants and you won’t be dissapointed.
Local Feasts & Festivals
Rethymno host many festivals throughout the year. These include wine festivals, carnivals, and cultural celebrations that visitors are very welcome to attend.
The Cretan Wine Festival
This celebration in the public park lasts three weeks in the heart of summer and attracts thousands of visitors. Free wine is abundantly consumed and the visitor will find choices of wine from the largest wine producing companies of Crete and given the opportunity to try almost all the varieties of the famous Cretan wines.
The Rethymno Carnival
The local carnival, held at the start of Lent every year, has been revived in recent years and it can be regarded as Crete's best carnival.
The Feast of Klidonas
An historic celebration every June, which maintains an interesting custom of burning the flower wreaths, which were made on first of May.
Two museums of note are found in Rethymno.
The Historical and Folk Art Museum is found in a restored Venetian building, listed by the Ministry of Culture as a historic monument with conservation status, which is a building well worth seeing itself. The exhibits display costumes, hand woven textiles, embroideries and laces and traditional pottery and metal work. It is well worth a visit for a glimpse into the lives of Cretan generations gone by.
The Archaeological Museum of Rethymnon is located in the pentagonal building just in front of the central gate of the Fortetza (eastern gate). The exhibits display local archaeological finds from the late Neolithic and Minoan periods and include pottery, tools and statuettes. The late Minoan period is represented by various finds, mainly excavated from the ancient cemeteries of the area. The Museum also houses a good collection of coins of various periods.
Rethymno is accessible from the mainland and the whole of Europe through either Chania airport or Heraklion airport.
You can get by ferry to and from Piraeus (Athens).
Car Hire in and around the area
There are a number of really good car rental companies in and around the area that can give you the freedom to explore central Crete or give you the option to discover east Crete and west Crete.
A brilliant and cheap bus service KTEL connects the Town with many of the villages and towns of central Crete including Gerani, Agia Galini, Plakias, Preveli and Panormo.
The excellent and varied choice of accomodation in and around Rethymno makes this vibrant town the perfect place to stay for a holiday in Crete. A wide range of top luxury hotels, waterside hotels, suites and comfortable apartments and studios are available in this perfect town.
Living in Crete
If you are thinking of living in Crete and buying a property here, you will find some excellent real estate agencies to help you with your choice.
Check out our Crete Property Guides for property throughout the island.
Whether you are looking for a permanent home, thinking about buying a holiday home in Crete or an investment property there are some really good and inexpensive Crete properties for sale on this the biggest and best Greek Island.
Check out our What, Where and Why to Buy in Crete Guide.
It might be useful to take a look at our Crete Property
Frequently Asked Questions FAQ.
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