8 must-see things to do in Rethymnon

Aux alentours de Réthymnon

Visit Rethymnon: what are the best things to do and see in this town, considered one of the most beautiful in Greece?

Located on the northern side of Crete, between Heraklion and Chania, Réthymnon is a city to discover without further ado. It’s the third largest city on the island of Crete, and for some, one of the most beautiful! Its rich history, strong cultural identity, contrasting landscapes, varied gastronomy and numerous activities attract large numbers of visitors every year.

You’ll be seduced by its timeless charm from the moment you arrive, and for the duration of your stay, which promises to be exceptional! Ancient remains, water sports, museums, trekking or lazing on the sandy beaches… We tell you everything there is to see and do in this paradise-like city!

1. The old town

A visit to Rethymnon means a visit to the old town. Indeed, its colorful alleyways are brimming with unmissable sights.

The Venetian loggia

La loggia vénitienne - visiter Réthymnon

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Jean-Pierre Dalbéra

This majestic rectangular building, adorned with semicircular arches, was built in the mid-16th century. This former entertainment and meeting place for Venetian nobility is not to be missed if you visit Rethymnon.

The Rimondi fountain

La fontaine Rimondi

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Cezary Wojtkowski

Looking for something to do in Rethymnon? Come and admire this beautiful limestone public fountain. It’s certainly one of the city’s most photographed monuments. Water flows from the mouths of three lions’ heads carved into the stone.

It is located in Petychakis Square, in the old town, and is named after Alvise Rimondi, the Venetian governor of Rethymnon when it was built in 1926.

The old port and its lighthouse

Le vieux port et son phare - visiter Réthymnon

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Irina Demenkova

The old Venetian port is a very pleasant place to stroll around if you’re visiting Rethymnon. It is home to a number of fishing boats and other tourist vessels. The latter offer tours and excursions to other ports on Crete.

Its many terraces, bars and restaurants make it a lively place in high season. The Egyptian lighthouse, built in the 1830s and a true emblem of the town, stands proudly in the middle of the port.

The church of Agios Frangiskos

The church of Agios Frangiskos, with its wooden roof, is one of the most beautiful monuments to see in Rethymnon. Located next to Mikrasiaton Square, it was built in the 1500s as a monastery for Franciscan monks. It was rebuilt and carefully renovated in 1971.

La Fortezza, the Venetian fortress

L'église d'Agios Frangiskos

Photo credit: Shutterstock – ImagesGR

If there’s one thing you won’t want to miss when visiting Rethymnon, it’s the Fortezza. Dating from the 17th century, this fortress covers an area of almost 1,400 m² and is located at the very end of the old town, on the hill of Paleokastro.

Today, only the walls of this Venetian building are still visible, but you can easily imagine its original grandeur when you see it. What’s more, it offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the city and the sea.

The Guora gate

La porte Guora - visiter Réthymnon

Photo credit: Shutterstock – chasdesign

This impressive gate can be seen on Ethnikis Antistatis street. Built between 1540 and 1580, it was used to enter the city walls.

La Dame des Anges » church

The Church of the Lady of the Angels, also known locally as Mikri Panagia, is located in the old town, at the intersection of Nikiforos Fokas Street and Thessalonikis Street. Built during the Venetian occupation, this immaculately white edifice is of great beauty.

The Neratzé Mosque

La Mosquée Neratzé

Photo credit: Shutterstock – islavicek

Still wondering what to do in Rethymnon? Don’t miss this mosque, with its imposing minaret. Once the Venetian church of Santa Maria, it was converted into a mosque in the 17th century, becoming the largest mosque in the city.

2. Museums

Les musées - visiter Réthymnon

Photo credit: Wikimedia – Tomisti

Whether you’re an enthusiast or an amateur, the city is packed with museums of all kinds. Among the must-see museums in Rethymnon is the Archaeological Museum, located opposite the entrance to the citadel. Its magnificent archaeological finds are displayed in chronological order.

The Museum of Contemporary Art of Crete is located just below, offering around 1,000 m² of exhibition space. The Paleontological Museum is 300 million years old, and will delight fossil enthusiasts. Finally, the Historical and Folklore Museum, housed in a Venetian building, perfectly depicts the unique rural and urban life of 17th-century Cretans.

3. Church of the Four Martyrs

L’église des Quatre Martyrs

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Andrei Nekrassov

This church dates back to 1975, and is the successor to 2 other churches demolished in the past. As its name suggests, it is dedicated to the four local martyrs: Angelis, Manouil, Georgios and Nikolaos. Martyred in 1824, they were recognized as the town’s patron saints by local society. A must-see little gem in Rethymnon.

4. The Municipal Garden

Le Jardin Municipal - visiter Réthymnon

Photo credit: Wikimedia – Benoît Prieur

Located in the heart of the city, it’s a great place to stroll with the family if you’re visiting Rethymnon. The municipal garden boasts rare plant species, to the delight of plant and nature lovers.

It’s also a pleasant place to stroll or exercise, and an ideal playground for children. It is also the scene of numerous cultural events.

5. The beaches

Les plages

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Alina_Mag

A vacation without a bit of lounging on a beach wouldn’t be a real vacation, would it? So if you’re still looking for something to do in Rethymnon, you should know that the town has a main beach where you can relax. It stretches for 20 kilometers along a magnificent promenade. It passes through the villages of Perivolia, Sfakaki, Platanes, Adelianos Kampos and Skaleta.

On the west side of town, you’ll find Episkopi Beach, lined with bars and restaurants, where you can enjoy a gourmet break at the end of the day. If you’re a sports fan, this is the place for you!

Of course, there are other beaches in the vicinity of Rethymnon, such as Panormo, 20 km away, or Bali, 34 km away.

6. Kara Musa Pasha Mosque

La Mosquée Kara Musa Pasha - visiter Réthymnon

Photo credit: Wikimedia – Benoît Prieur

Go to the intersection of Arkadiou and Ugo streets to discover the Kara Moussa Pacha mosque, a must-see if you’re visiting Rethymnon. Before being converted into a mosque, it was the first Venetian monastery, named Agia Varvara.

In this magnificent building, you’ll discover a fine exhibition of antique Byzantine objects.

7. Around Rethymnon

Aux alentours de Réthymnon

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Magdalena Zimnik

The area around Rethymnon is full of treasures that would be a shame to miss! So, if you’re coming to visit Rethymnon, don’t hesitate to go out of town and drive a few kilometers, to discover :

  • the village of Armeni, 4.5 km away, famous for its cemetery and Minoan tombs;
  • the Gerani cave with its beautiful stalactites, 6 km away;
  • the village of Adèle, 8 km away, with its beautiful long beach;
  • the sublime beach of Preveli, 35 km away.

8. A boat trip to Santorini

Une balade en bateau vers Santorin - visiter Réthymnon

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Krzysztof Stefaniak

From the old port of Rethymnon, embark on an unforgettable excursion to Santorini! It takes around 2h30 to reach the island by speedboat. Once there, let yourself be charmed by this romantic island of blue and white.

How to get to Rethymnon

Visiting Rethymnon and wondering how to get there? Here are our tips!

By plane

The easiest way to get to Rethymnon from France is by plane. You can choose between arriving at Heraklion International Airport or Chania Airport. Several airlines offer direct flights from France to these two cities. Travel time from Paris is around 3h30. To get the best fares for your dates, visit our favorite flight comparator, Ulysse.

Both airports are about 1 hour’s drive from Rethymnon. You can reach your vacation destination by bus, which is the most economical solution, by cab, or by rental car, which you can hire directly from the airport.

By ferry

There are many private shipping companies operating between Athens and Rethymnon. Most trips are overnight, departing around 9pm and arriving around 6am.

If you’re on a nearby island and want to visit Rethymnon, there are also many routes from Mykonos, Santorini, Naxos, Paros and Ios.

Where to stay in Rethymnon?

If you choose to visit Rethymnon, you need have no worries when it comes to accommodation! Indeed, this pretty tourist town offers a very wide choice of accommodation. Whether you’re looking for a small boutique hotel or a large luxury hotel, on a tight or unlimited budget, in the heart of the city or with a sea view, Venetian-style or Turkish-style… In short, whatever your taste, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for.

And to find the best prices, don’t hesitate to search on an online hotel comparator. And don’t forget Airbnb, where you can find exceptional accommodations and feel right at home.

You now have all the information you need to visit Rethymnon and not miss a thing! Now all you have to do is pack your bags!

Map of hotels and accommodation – Crete