If you’re looking for a beautiful and historic city to explore in Crete, look no further than Rethymnon. This city is home to some of the best attractions on the island and has retained its beauty and architectural heritage throughout the centuries. This makes it the perfect place to relax and soak up the Mediterranean atmosphere. So if you’re planning a trip to Crete, here is a list of 14 Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Rethymnon.
1. Wander the Old Town
One of the best things to do in Rethymnon is simply to wander the old town. Here, you will find a fascinating mixture of Venetian and Turkish architecture. Even the old town walls are interesting, taking you back to Rethymnon’s long history. The streets in the old town are narrow and twisty, each with new surprises to discover around every corner.
As you wander through the old town, you will feel as though you have been transported back in time. I found myself stopping every few minutes to take yet another photo of the beautiful streets and buildings. The main highlight of this old town includes the 16th-century Venetian loggia, the Ottoman minaret from 1890, and the 17th-century Rimondi Fountain.
Rethymnon is a busy town bustling with tourists from all over the world, yet it still has that lovely laid-back Greek atmosphere. The old town is simply beautiful, and it’s fascinating to walk around and explore this complex maze of streets. I’d recommend wandering here for an hour or two in the early evening when the town is really starting to come to life.
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2. The Rimondi Fountain
The Rimondi Fountain is an iconic landmark in Rethymnon and the city’s most famous symbol. This elaborate fountain was built in the 17th century to supply Rethymnon with water, and it is located in Platanou square. The square itself is a peaceful place to relax, with a number of shops and an open-air cafe.
The fountain is formed by three beautifully carved lion heads, which pour water from their mouths. The fountain still does its job of providing water, and you can drink from the fountain and fill your bottle.
This place is simply beautiful for an evening stroll, and the fountain is a lovely place to relax after a day of sightseeing. I couldn’t help but sit and watch the sunset over the sea from this peaceful square, with the fountain as a lovely backdrop.
3. Explore the Venetian Fortress of Rethymnon
The Venetian fort of Fortezza is one of the top attractions in Rethymnon for history lovers. This grand fortress dates back to Venetian times when it was used to defend the town against any Turkish invasion. However, the Turks conquered the town in 1646 and captured the fortress. Although much of it was destroyed during the war, what you can see today is still amazing.
You can wander around this fascinating fortress and explore the main buildings, including a mosque, a dungeon, and a small open-air theatre, which often hosts live concerts in the summer. To really get a feel for this fortress, climb up the ramparts to the highest point and take some great photos of the town. I was particularly impressed by the spectacular views of Rethymnon.
This is a popular place for tourists and locals to come and relax in the evenings. It’s a wonderful place to wander around, with plenty to see, do, and photograph. I was fortunate enough to be there during the town’s annual carnival. If you are lucky enough to be here during this time, I’d definitely recommend attending and taking part in the activities.
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4. Dine on the Old Venetian Harbor
My next suggestion for things to do in Rethymnon is a little different. This seaside town has a lovely little harbor, which is a popular place to enjoy some delicious Cretan food as the sun sets over the water. This atmospheric spot offers a wide choice of fine Greek dining, all set against a wonderful backdrop of boats bobbing gently in the port. It’s a lovely place just to sit back and watch the world go by or even enjoy a romantic meal for two.
I would recommend arriving here as early as possible in the evening to grab yourself a good seat, as it is popular with tourists and Greeks alike. All of the restaurants serve excellent food. But if you prefer to eat in a less formal setting, take a stroll along the harborside, where there are plenty of places to buy snacks from.
This is definitely the perfect place for dinner before heading out to enjoy some of Rethymnon’s nightlife, which is just a short stroll away. So make sure to give this a try on your next visit.
5. Public Park of Rethymno
The Public Park is another one of the top attractions in Rethymnon. It is very popular with tourists and locals alike, who come here to relax in the pleasant surroundings. And I think this is the best place to go if you want to enjoy some fresh air and natural beauty on your holiday in Rethymnon.
The park has an extensive range of plants and trees, as well as a small zoo. The gardens are beautifully maintained, and there are plenty of benches to sit on if you want a rest. In the middle of the park is a lovely fountain, surrounded by a pretty pond. This park has a children’s playground, and there are also a couple of cafes surrounding the park where you can enjoy a drink or something to eat.
This park holds a three-week Cretan Wine festival during summer, with plenty of folk dancing, Cretan music, and wine. This is a nice event to go to, especially if you enjoy tasting local wines. And don’t forget to try plenty of delicious Cretan specialties.
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6. Shopping in Old Town Rethymno
The old town of Rethymnon is a fantastic place to shop and wander, and each street has its own flavor. It’s hard not to fall in love with the lively atmosphere, and some of Rethymnon’s streets are simply gorgeous.
The famous shopping street is the Souliou. This is the best place to start your shopping because it has a great selection of souvenir shops. You’ll also find jewelry stores here that sell beautiful gold, silver, and semi-precious stones. For some more unique shopping experiences, take a stroll down Arabatzoglou Street. This little street is one of Rethymno’s hidden gems, and it has some really interesting shops that you won’t find anywhere else.
I spent several hours wandering around the streets of Rethymno’s old town, just taking it all in. It was certainly an interesting experience, and it felt kind of surreal to actually be shopping in a real-life version of ‘Game of Thrones.’
7. Arkadi Monastery
Located 23 kilometers southeast of Rethymnon is the Arkadi Monastery. This monastery is one of the most popular places to visit in Crete and one of the top attractions in Rethymnon. It dates back to the 16th century and played a great role in liberating Greece from Turkish occupation.
This monastery rose to fame during the Cretan uprising against the Ottoman Empire in 1866. Instead of surrendering to the Turks, a group of women and children chose to fight to the death in a suicide attack. They killed many Turkish soldiers before blowing themselves up. This incident became known as the Arkadi Massacre and greatly inspired Greek patriots to fight harder to rid themselves of Ottoman rule.
Today, you can visit the monastery and see where it all took place. It’s a fascinating place, and a visit here is definitely one of the most interesting things to do in Rethymnon. You could easily spend a few hours here exploring the monastery grounds and enjoying the views from its garden.
8. Rethymnon Beach
Within Rethymnon, and close to the old town, is a lovely stretch of sand. This is Rethymnon Beach, and it’s a great place to relax and take in the summer rays or spend an afternoon. The sand here is golden, and there are plenty of beach umbrellas for shade, plus sunbeds for hire.
The water here is clean and ideal for children, with gentle waves. For most of the day, you will find tourists and locals swimming and playing volleyball or basketball. In addition, there are lifeguards here who make sure everyone is safe. This beach is also popular for evening strolls and watching the sunset.
The beach promenade is lined with bars and restaurants where you can sit and enjoy a refreshing drink or delicious meal. There are lots of water sports opportunities available on the beach, and you can even try your hand at windsurfing here. The best thing about the beach is that it’s right next to the city center, so you can wander back into the town from here at any time.
9. Historical & Folk Art Museum of Rethymnon
Another of Rethymnon’s top attractions is the Historical & Folk Art Museum, a place to visit if you want to learn more about traditional Cretan life. Housed in a 17th-century townhouse, it features a truly fascinating collection of items that highlight the region’s traditional culture. Gold and silversmiths’ work, traditional folk costumes, pottery, embroidery, weapons, photographs, collection of traditional musical instruments, and more than 1,000 other exhibits are all here.
Here, the highlight for me was the traditional costumes, complete with folk hats. The collection includes items dating from the 18th to 20th century used by locals during their wedding ceremony, dowry presentation to the groom’s family, walking to church, and those worn during festivals. The best thing is that the exhibits are so well laid out, making it easy to learn about the art, culture, and traditions of Crete.
All In all, it’s a fascinating place to visit, one that gives you a real insight into how the people of this region once lived. You could easily spend an hour or two exploring this museum.
10. Archaeological Museum of Rethymnon
Out of all the museums in Rethymnon, the Archaeological Museum is the best. It’s definitely one of the best places to visit In Rethymnon, and it should not be missed. This museum houses the most extensive collection of historical treasures from the city. It covers all periods of history, from Minoan times to Roman times.
The highlight of this museum is its collection of Minoan art and artifacts found in the city and other locations nearby. The museum is divided into chronological sections, and it is easy to spend a few hours here exploring all of the treasures on display.
I visited this museum as part of a guided tour, and I was not disappointed. In fact, this is one of the best things to do in Rethymnon. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and gave us a thorough insight into what we were seeing. It is definitely worth taking one of these tours, as you will learn so much more than if you visit on your own.
11. Military Museum of Chromonastiri
If you’re a fan of war history, then the Military Museum of Chromonastiri is an ideal choice. This museum has been ranked as one of the top tourist attractions in Rethymnon, if not in all of Crete. It is housed in an old 17th-century Venetian house, which belonged to the homonymous noble family.
Recently, the building was restored and now houses a collection of military memorabilia that dates all the way back to the period of Turkish occupation. I was particularly impressed with the collection of war paintings here, as well as the weapons and uniforms used by Cretan soldiers during various battles. There is also a substantial collection of photos documenting the various battles and skirmishes fought between the Cretan freedom fighters and the Turkish invaders.
The history presented here reveals just how hard-fought the fight for liberation was, and it’s moving to realize how many brave men lost their lives in these wars. This is a great place to gain an appreciation for this era of Greek history.
12. Day Trip to Preveli Beach
A trip to Rethymnon wouldn’t be complete without a day trip to Preveli Beach. There’s nothing like the sun and sand to make you feel relaxed and truly on holiday. This beautiful beach, set against a dramatic backdrop of a hilly landscape, is one of Rethymnon’s attractions not to miss.
Set on the southern coast of Crete, it is one of the most popular beaches in the area. It has soft sand, clear turquoise waters, and a laid-back atmosphere. There is also a natural pool which is popular for swimming, and a river that runs into the sea. There is also a small taverna selling snacks and renting sun loungers by the beach. So you can make a day of it if you want.
However, this beach is quite difficult to reach, as it is only accessible on foot from the car park. Therefore, be prepared for quite a strenuous walk through a narrow rocky path and flight of stairs down the beach. It took me around half an hour to reach the beach from the car park, but it was definitely worth the effort.
13. Hike Mount Psiloritis
There are plenty of fantastic things to do in Rethymnon, but the favorite is definitely the hike up Mount Psiloritis. It’s known as one of the most beautiful mountains on the island of Crete, and it’s also the second-highest at 2,456 meters.
It’s a challenging hike, but it’s also great fun and definitely one of the highlights of any trip to Crete. It takes about 4 hours to reach the summit, so it’s not too difficult if you are reasonably fit. At the summit, you will enjoy the sight of the Chapel of the Holy Cross, as well as the stunning views over the rugged Cretan landscape.
I recommend using an agency to organize your hike up Mount Psiloritis. It’s a wonderful experience, and it’s much easier than trying to do it on your own. Plus, you don’t have to worry about organizing transport or finding a tour guide.
14. Ideon Cave
Another of Rethymnon’s most fascinating attractions is the Ideon Cave, situated just below the summit of Mount Idi. According to Greek mythology, Zeus’ mother Rhea gave birth to him in this cave, fearing his father Cronos, who used to swallow his children when they were born. Today, this is one of Crete’s most important archaeological sites. Archeologists have discovered jewelry, tools, and ceramics dating back to the Middle Minoan period.
The road to the cave is quite dramatic, winding its way up to the cave’s entrance. Once there, it’s down to a network of tunnels and chambers carved out of the mountain. It’s a fascinating place to visit, with stalactites and stalagmites making it quite a magical place.
I absolutely loved exploring this fascinating ancient site, as it is one of the top attractions in Rethymnon. Climbing down to the cave entrance and wandering through the long passageways felt like making a journey back in time. It’s also full of legends and stories, making it just that much more interesting.
Rethymnon is a beautiful town, and it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in Crete. It has a nice mix of history and beautiful architecture, and it’s the perfect place to visit if you’re looking for a relaxed holiday. I have given you a list of top things to do in Rethymnon worth considering. Hopefully, this list will help you plan an enjoyable visit.