Being married to a Cretan means that I get the chance to visit this beautiful island multiple times per year. I’ve explored a lot of cities, villages and beaches but the fact is that I still have lots to explore! Ugh! Anyways! Today’s post is all about the picturesque city of Rethymno, which lies conveniently between the two large cities of Chania and Heraklion. It has a lot of similarities with the former as the Venetian influence is more prominent than in Heraklion (where they did a pretty good job on not highlighting the dry docks or the fortifications). Its full of picturesque cobblestone streets where you can easily get lost. In a good sense. I’ve visited Rethymno many times during the past few years, so it’s time to compile a guide to the city!
Sightseeing in Rethymno
Rethymno’s Venetian fortress is high on the sightseeing list, as it will provide you with views over the city. The Fortezza, as it is called, is located on Paleokastro hill and it’s a 10-minute walk from the Old Town and the Old Port.
The best part of the city is (you’ve guessed it) the Old Town. You’ll meet colorful houses, interesting restaurants, blooming bougainvilleas (depending on the season), old mosques and quiet squares. A favorite place of mine in the city is the Rimondi fountain. This fountain was built in the 17th century by the Rethymno’s rector at the time, called Rimondi and it was part of the city’s water system.
Where to eat at Rethymno
The city’s waterfront and especially the old port is filled with busy restaurants and cafes but it’s actually not my favorite place to hang out in Rethymno. I prefer the area around the Rimondi fountain, where I’ve discovered a couple of nice restaurants, cafes and ice cream parlors. My favorite restaurant in Rethymno is Avli, which I’d describe as Cretan cuisine with a twist. Their dishes are delicious, the portions reasonable and its courtyard (that’s what Avli means) very picturesque! A recent discovery is Kook, which is an Italian inspired restaurant. Love the interiors and the fried cheese and must go back and try more!!
Now on the ice cream front: you should try Meli, which is located next to the fountain and Gelato.it, located nearby! As far as cafes go, I’ve visited two, also on less crowded streets (that’s the perk when you have local friends)! One is called Bistro 22 and is located on Tsouderon street. Apart from coffee, tea and chocolate, they make delicious desserts; just look at the pictured profiterole and cheesecake!! Then there is Kimolia on 25th March square which is very quiet and a nice place to relax and chat with friends.
Beaches to visit in Rethymno
The beaches I’ve visited and recommend in Rethymno are actually far from the city, but they are worth the trip. First up is Plakias (more specifically Souda cove next to Plakias) which is located in the southern part of Rethymno’s prefecture, and it’s about an hour drive. And if you do go there for I have the perfect tavern for you called Galini! My next beach suggestion is either Panormo or Bali, which are half an hour and 40-minute drive respectively from Rethymno.
When to visit Rethymno and how to get there
Rethymno is a city you can visit year round, but summer is always most popular, since it’s warmer and you can hit the beach as well. Personally I’d avoid the city in July and August as it’s going to be super crowded.
Rethymno doesn’t have an airport and is not connected to Piraeus via ferry, so you’ll either have to fly to Chania or to Heraklion (or take a ferry to get either to these cities) and then rent a car or take a bus to Rethymno. Aegean Airlines connects Athens to both Chania and Heraklion, but bear in mind that Ryanair flies to Chania too from selected European countries.