Rethymno is the third largest city in Crete and a fast growing urban centre still retaining the character of its Renaissance appearance. Without exaggeration, it is one of the most attractive cities in Greece preserving its wealth of history and one of the best surviving Venetian cities.
In the old town, Renaissance architectural elements of the Venetian era co-exist with Ottoman structures while the rich history of the city is in step with the development of modern tourism. In the summer, Rethymno attracts visitors from all over the world who base themselves here for the exploration of the greater area and indeed the whole island, whilst in the winter the students of the local University bring a buzz to the place.
Rethymno maintains its long cultural tradition with events such as the Renaissance Festival that is being held every summer. Also, the Rethymno Carnival has witnessed a great development in the recent years drawing lots of visitors every spring.
When taking a walking tour around the city, one realizes the main attractions are all concentrated in the old town which is worth exploring without any preconceived route but by just walking along the narrow alleys and discovering the picturesque spots and the architectural treasures of the Venetian times. However the most relaxing and laid back part of the city is the waterfront esplanade with its numerous cafés and bustling restaurants scattered over the sandy shore.
Rethymno is not directly connected to the rest of Greece however one can use the airports and ports of the cities of Heraklion and Chania from where there are daily scheduled flights and ferries between Athens and many other major European capitals.
- The Fortezza: The Venetian Fortress- Rethymno’s landmark, the renowned “Fortezza” that stands imposingly on the hill of Paleókastro overlooking the Cretan Sea, as well as the impressive cityscape. Here you can admire beautifully preserved buildings, such as the armory with its four arched openings, Erofyli theatre, the ruins of the Episcope Palace, the Mosque of Sultan Ibrahim and the Holy Temple of St. Theodore of Trihinas. Continue to explore Rethymno until you reach the old Venetian Harbor.
- Archaeological Museum: Visitors will have the opportunity to admire the exhibits from the late Minoan period, the Geometrical era and the Classical period. The museum also proudly displays a large collection of coins from various periods of History. Located in front of the Fortezza main gate.
- The Rimondi fountain: Cretan towns have always had a water supply problem. This was faced by the Venetians by constructing numerous aqueducts and fountains. Eight fountains survive today. One of them dates back to the Venetian era and it is the Rimondi fountain, also known as “vrysakia” to the locals. The fountain was built in the heart of the city and it is the most frequently photographed corner of the old town, as well as a favorite meeting point for the Rethymnians.
- Historical & Folklore Museum: The museum is housed in a restored 17th Century Venetian mansion and its collection originates from donations and purchases. It numbers over 5.000 exhibits. The permanent exhibition areas extend into five rooms and mostly include traditional handicraft and folk art objects.
- Melidoni Cave: Located about 31 km from Rethymno, close to the Melidoni village. Its archaeological findings are displayed in the Archaeological Museum of Rethymno. The cave was the mythical home of Talos – the giant bronze protector of Crete. According to the myth, the sorceress Medea removed his protective bronze peg from his ankle and he bled to death. Talos is one of the best-loved legendary characters in the ancient world and one of the protector of Minoan Crete.
- Preveli Monastery: There is no better place to catch a magnificent view of the Libian Sea, 33 km drive from Rethymno. You can admire the wood carved chancel with religious icons that are real masterpieces and represent detailed scenes from the Bible. Some of these icons date back to 1750. The chapel is a two-aisled popular art church, built in 1836. The old abbey is currently used as a guest house. A small museum exhibits ecclesiastical art from the 19th century.
Visit the village of Anogia: The picturesque village of Anogia is located 55 km drive from Rethymno. Its history reaches the end of Centuries as indicated by the Doric expressions used in the local dialect. The people of Anogia helped significantly in the fight against all conquerors. The village was destroyed twice, the first time in 1822 by the Turks and the second in August 15th 1944, by the Germans. The people of Anogia are very different from the other Cretans. They keep tradition alive as far as clothing, food, dialect and social gatherings are concerned. The local costume is very famous here. From Anogia, one should visit mount Psiloritis and Idaion Andron. Do not miss the chance to eat at a local tavern and experience impeccable Cretan hospitality.