Rethymno, located on the northern coast of Crete, is the third largest city on the island after Heraklion and Chania. It is a popular destination for tourists, offering tranquil vacations. Visitors have the opportunity to enjoy a walk through the picturesque alleys of the city, visit the historical monuments of the area, appreciate the natural attractions of the place, and indulge in the sun, the sea, and the hospitality of the Cretan people.
History of Rethymno
The excavations carried out in the region of Rethymno reveal that humans first appeared there during the Late Neolithic period. During the Minoan period, human activity spread throughout the entire area of the prefecture. This period marked a significant economic and cultural threshold for Crete.
From the 5th to the 7th century AD, the region came under the influence of the Byzantine Empire without significant disturbances. However, from the latter half of the 7th century, continuous Arab raids caused turmoil in Crete, and in 827 or 828, the Arabs occupied the area.The year 1204 marks the beginning of a new period for Crete, particularly for the region of Rethymno. After the collapse of the Byzantine Empire, the Venetians took control of the area and established a new political and social order. Venetian rule in Crete lasted until 1669 when the Ottomans conquered the island.
Liberation came with the revolution of 1821, in which the Cretans fought with bravery. Their struggles culminated in the Holocaust of Arkadi Monastery. In 1897, Crete regained its autonomy, and Rethymno, albeit initially with reservations, began actively promoting its development. However, economic and intellectual prosperity halted once again in 1907 when the troops of the Great Powers withdrew from Crete. Finally, in 1913, Crete was united with the rest of Greece. In May 1941, the heroic resistance of the inhabitants led to the execution of hundreds of people and the destruction of entire villages. World War II caused severe damage to the city of Rethymno.
Nevertheless, the residents of Rethymno managed to revive their city and rediscover their culture in the following years.
Beaches in Rethymno
- Sxoinaria: Sxoinaria Beach is located approximately 33 kilometers south of Rethymno, 3.5 kilometers from the village of Lefkogia, and belongs to the broader area of Plakias in the Rethymno regional unit.
- Souda: Souda Beach is situated 41 kilometers southwest of Rethymno, right in the bay of Plakias, and 3 kilometers west of the village in the Rethymno regional unit.
- Fotinari: Approximately 37 kilometers south of Rethymno, between Plakias and Souda Beach, you will find Fotinari Beach in the Rethymno regional unit.
- Triopetra: Triopetra is located about 52 kilometers south of the city of Rethymno and 13 kilometers from the village of Akoumia in the Rethymno regional unit.
- Skinos: Located 36 kilometers south of Rethymno, next to Plakias Beach, you will find Skinos Beach, which belongs to the Rethymno regional unit.
- Preveli: Preveli is one of the most famous beaches in the Rethymno regional unit, situated on the southern coast of the island, approximately 40 kilometers from Rethymno and very close to Plakias.
- Prasonisi: East of the coastal settlement of Agios Pavlos in the Rethymno regional unit, and across from the homonymous green islet, you will find Prasonisi Beach.
- Polyrizos: Polyrizos Beach is located about 46 kilometers from Rethymno and almost 2 kilometers from the village of Rodakino in the Rethymno regional unit.
- Podares: Podares Beach is situated almost 50 kilometers south of Rethymno and just 2 kilometers from the village of Kerame in the Rethymno regional unit.
- Platanias: Platanias Beach is in the Rethymno regional unit and is located approximately 6 kilometers east of Rethymno.
Sights in Rethymno
In the old town of Rethymno, one can enjoy famous landmarks such as the impressive Venetian fortress of Fortezza, the Venetian Loggia, the Rimondi Fountain with the coat of arms of the Venetian governor Rimondi, the Guora Gate which serves as the main entrance to the Venetian city walls, the striking church of Agios Frangiskos, the Church of the Lady of the Angels, and the Venetian harbor.
In the new town of Rethymno, several Turkish buildings and mosques from the period of Ottoman rule are preserved. Visitors can also explore the Archaeological, Folklore, and Ecclesiastical Museum of Rethymno, as well as the Art Gallery.
In Amari, there are notable attractions such as the Church of Agia Anna with its 1225 frescoes, the monastery of Asomaton founded before the 13th century, the Byzantine chapel of Agia Paraskevi, and the ruins of a small tower.
In Anogeia, a mountainous traditional village, you will find the impressive Ideon Andron Cave with its imposing entrance, which holds great archaeological significance. It has been recognized as one of the most important cult sites of the Minoan period. Additionally, Anogeia is home to the Church of Agios Ioannis with its 12th-century frescoes.
Equally significant are the Sfendoni Cave in Zoniana and the Melidoni Cave in Geropotamos. Other areas in the regional unit with landmarks and archaeological sites include Aksos, Arkadi, Koxare, and Chromonastiri.
Activities in Rethymno
- Excursion to "Potamos Dam": To enjoy the rare flora and fauna of the area, you can take a day trip to the modern Potamos Dam, located in the Amari Valley, just outside of Rethymno.
- Biking: Rethymno offers plenty of space for organized and informal bike rides, boasting the largest network of bike lanes in the urban area.
- Discovering an unknown archaeological treasure: Alternative tourism in Rethymno includes a trip to the archaeological site of Ancient Eleftherna, a place of natural beauty and history. The city was founded by the Dorians around the 9th century BCE and was located at the crossroads connecting ancient Kydonia, Knossos, and the sanctuary of Psiloritis.
- Descending the Patsos Gorge (or Agios Antonios Gorge): The route starts just outside the village of Patsos. The gorge is only 5 kilometers long, but it's worth crossing to discover the incomparable natural wealth of the area. Wildflowers, running waters, small lakes, waterfalls, majestic trees, and rich fauna create a captivating landscape.
- Embracing the South: It's time for swimming! How can one describe the exotic beauty of the southern region of the prefecture? From the tropical beach of Preveli to the sandy dunes of Agios Pavlos, stretching over crystal-clear waters, the landscape resembles an African oasis or a summer expedition.
How to travel to Rethymno?
Maritime connections from Rethymno to Santorini are mainly available during the summer. To ensure the fastest possible transportation, this route is exclusively served by high-speed ferries.
The route from Rethymno to Santorini is served by one ferry company, which operates approximately two departures per week. These routes connect the island of Crete with the Cyclades, and the travel time is approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes.
- Rethymno - Santorini Ferry Routes: Rethymno is directly connected to Santorini by ferry. The duration of the journey depends on the ferry and usually ranges from 2 to 2.5 hours. Currently, the only company offering these routes is Seajets.
- Rethymno - Naxos Ferry Routes: The sea connection between Rethymno and Naxos is achieved through the route that links the island of Crete with the Cyclades. Currently, there is only one ferry company that provides services on this route, which is SeaJets. The routes are operated up to two times a week, with an estimated travel time of about 4 hours and 10 minutes.
On booktickets, you can easily and simply find the ferry routes that interest you and book ferry tickets online at the lowest prices, with all the discounts available for both passengers and vehicles!