Rethymno or Rethimno (Greek: Ρέθυμνο) is a beautiful city on the island of Crete in Greece. It has picturesque small lanes of shops selling mostly tourist goods and a newer area of town with normal shops.
Ferry services go daily from Pireaus (Athens) to either Chania or Heraklion, which leave at night and arrive early in the morning (Note: there are also day ferries during summer.). Ferry tickets may be acquired through the companies that serve them. ANEK Lines is a traditional ferry provider in Crete; its service is mediocre to good. The partially Italian-owned Minoan Lines is also a traditional local company, whose service quality is better than ANEK's, though not as sophisticated. Blue Star Ferries, though non-Cretan, has a joint service with ANEK and is expected to merge with them. Their service is excellent and good value for time, although some delays can be expected occationally. Please note that some companies tend to claim their travel experience as "unique"; please make your own research and choose wisely. During the high season, there are also ferries to Santorini (not daily), directly from Rethymno which take around 2.5 hours. These ferry routes, usually done by a high speed catamaran ferry, are operated by Sea Jets, who claim to have the fasted fleet in Cyclades and even a ship of them has a Guiness record, but the service altogether is average. If you want to take your car with you, opting for the ships from Piraeus to Chania or Heraklion is a better and more reliable option than going from Santorini, even during summertime and though its directly to Rethymno.
1 Marina of Rethymno (Ferry terminal to Santorini).
The distance from Heraklion to Rethymno is 80 km, and from Chania to Rethymno — 56 km. Chania airport is larger, but far less busy than Heraklion airport.
2 KTEL (Bus station to Chania, Heraklion and Rethymno hinderland), Kefalogianni street.
You can get to Rethymno by regular bus lines from Chania or Heraklion (both have an airport). All buses stop at the bus station, just west of the centre of Rethimno. From the bus station it's a 15-minute walk or a 5-minute taxi-ride to the ferry. On weekdays, buses typically leave every hour, though times may vary by day or season. The coaches are operated by two KTEL services. KTEL Chanion - Rethymnou serves West Crete and their service is good, though they tend to be disorganized occationally, while KTEL Irakleiou - Lasithiou serves the eastern half and they're not really that reliable. To get to Rethymno from Heraklion it takes approximately one hour and twenty minutes and costs slightly over €6.
Rethymno is connected to the bigger cities of Chania and Heraklion by the 'New Highway' that runs along the north coast of Crete. Please drive carefully, as the road is steep and twisty, with very few sections to be motorway-like and speed limits going as low as 40 km/h at some parts. Parking for old town is available just north of the lighthouse for €2/hour.
As with most places in Greece, tickets must be purchased at a shop before boarding public buses.
Taxis can be hailed on the streets, but expect to share with strangers who might also hail the taxi on the way to where you're going. Three taxi companies are servicing Rethymno, mostly of good quality but sometimes too-advertized and/or disorganized.
- Historic buildings. Rethimno has many historic buildings remaining from the Venetian occupation of Crete, including the Fortessa and the lighthouse.
- Old Town. Narrow pedestrian streets full of shops and restaurants.
- Boardwalk. Walk around the very well-kept boardwalk by the sea. Plenty of bars and restaurants with great views of the sea.
- Beaches. The good sandy beach begins in the town and extends several miles to the east, backed by hotel developments. In the west, after a little industrial area, a rocky unspoilt coastline takes you towards another good beach 8 km to the west of Rethimno, towards Georgiopoli.
- Parks. There is a small park in the center, with a playground and café
Most important attractions below:
- 1 Arkadi Monastery ((Ιερά) Μονή Αρκαδίου/Αρκάδι), Platane - Arkadi, Amari-Arkadi and Viranepiskopi - Arkadi junction.. It has a museum and a gallery. The local people sacrificed themselves for freedom on this place on the November 8th, 1866 by blewing it up. It is southeast of Rethymno toward Heraklion, on a fertile plateau 23 km from the city. It is still inhabited by some monks and it still has its own Orthodox celebration days. free.
- 2 Damnoni (Δαμνόνι), Agios Vasilios municipality. A beach in southern Rethymno
- 3 Eleftherna (Ελεύθερνα), near the Rethymno - Mylopotamos municipality border. An ancient Greek city (perhaps a city-state) with a preserved archeological site. A museum about it is also near the site.
- 4 Fortezza of Rethymnon (Φορτέτζα/Φορτέτσα), Kefalogiannidon Ave 27 and Heimarras street. The preserverd fortified acropolis of the city. A mosque, though not operating, is still preserved, and so do a few other buildings and walls. Built on a small hill near the coast, it has a breathtaking view of the city and the sea.
- 5 Kotsifou gorge (Φαράγγι Κοτσυφού), Across the road to Sellia and Rodakino. A breathtaking canyon stretching through a local road.
- 6 Mount Ida (Ψηλορείτης), Anogeia Municipality. The largest mountain in Crete at 2400 m and an UNESCO Geopark. Be careful when climbing there due to the unstable terrain.
- 7 Neratze Mosque and Mikrasiaton square (Νερατζέ Τζαμί και Πλατεία Μικρασιατών). A preserved Ottoman mosque with its minaret now used as a concert hall. A square called the Mikrasiaton is near the mosque and the 1st Primary (Elementary) School is visible from the square.
- 8 Preveli (Πρέβελη), Agios Vasileios municipality. A monastery complex 37 km south of Rethymno consisting of two monasteries; the Κάτω (Kato, "lower") and the Πίσω (Piso, "back"). The main one is a Stavropegiac and Patriarchal Monastery dedicated to Saint John the Theologian (Evangelist). Also known as the "great river" (Μεγάλου Ποταμού) monastery, it is known for the revoluition against the Axis during World War II. free.
- 9 Rimondi Fountain (Κρήνη Ριμόντι), Moschovitou street. A preserved Venetian fountain build by an aristocratic family. It has three mask-shaped taps/faucets with constant water flowing. The water, through potable, it is not recommended to drink from there, unless you are 100% sure. Ask a local.
Church of the Arkadi Monastery
The Fortezza citadel
Mount Ida as seen from Phaistos.
There are many options for day trips from Rethymnon, many of which can be organized through travel companies:
- Boat trips from the port to the pirate caves near Panormos are available. A pirate ship replica is used
- There are also bus tours to other places, such as the Arkadi Monastery, where the battle of the same name took place in 1866.
- Also, there's a trackless train that goes to the area's sights.
- Caretta Caretta, an endangered sea turtle species is known to nest on the beach. If you know a thing or two about them, or are interested in species conservation, you can volunteer on the Archelon NGO. More here.
- A carnival is also held before the Clean Monday (Καθαρή Δευτέρα).
During the main summer season, Rethymno is very touristic. Shops and visitors are everywhere, the closer to the beach the more. They offer anything considered "souvenir". Ask your hotel receptionists for recommendations of local shops.
Olives, Raki, Ouzo and wines are common commodities of Crete origin. They are cheapest at the locals supermarkets, away from the hotels and beaches. Aside from oranges and orange juice, fruits and juices are rather expensive.
Very nice restaurants are located inside the city. The restaurants on the beach front are tourist oriented, though food quality is okay (though lower than in most of the small tavernas in the back streets). As the quality changes every season with new cooks and management, your hotel receptionists will be able to suggest good ideas. There are local dishes such as snails, antikristo, pilaf, dakos and cheeses such as gruyere, anthotyro and mizithra. Also, the olive oil that is produced is very good.
Most of the bars close to the Rimondi Fountain are noisy and get very busy, but may be enjoyable if you like to watch the crowds pass. There are more relaxing places in the narrow streets nearby. Various cafes such as Chaplin's Rock Café, Living Room, Exo and Inomena Voustasia are very interesting choices. For a drink you can go either to the first three, which turn into bars at night for a drink or to clubs like Ice.
- Idili Guesthouse (Ξενώνας Ηδύλη), Panormos, Rethymno, 74057 (extra directions if necessary), ☏ +30 28340 20240, +30 28340 20241, fax: +30 28340 20241, email@example.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Guesthouse Idili is in Panormos, a very elegant seaside resort, with careful development of tourism between Rethymnon and Heraklion. The building has been restored to a B class guesthouse, while keeping intact the architectural features of the building and the effects of the Venetian-Cretan architecture. €60-105.
- Jo An Beach Hotel, Adelianos Kambos, Rethymno, 74100, ☏ +30 28310 71487, fax: +30 28310 71110, firstname.lastname@example.org. Hotel Jo-An Beach is near Adele village at a distance of 3 km from the beach.
- Youth Hostel Rethymno, 41 Tobazi St. The 6- to 8-bed rooms are clean, but not really cosy. Except the beds there is no furniture. Off-season one always gets a place, the reception is open until 23:00 (high season: 24.00). The hostel is not an "official" one, no International youth hostel card is needed. It is located close to the Guora Gate, the northern entrance to the Old town. €12 per person per night per bed (dorm). High season price (July-15 September) is €14.
- Adele Mare. Located in the Adele Beach suburb, about 10/15 min outside Rethimno, the 4-star hotel is exceedingly friendly and hospitable. Rooms either in main-building (cheap rooms are towards street) or in Greek style bungalows. Food is breakfast + dinner, much and with good variety (daily changing dinner buffet). During daytime, snacks can be taken at the pool or beach bar. Despite being rather rocky (foot protection recommended), the beach is wonderful. Sun chairs are €2.40/day (pool+beach). After dinner a "last drink" at the pool bar is pleasant. Jet Ski, Banana Boat, etc. are available at Grecotel 100m down the beach.
- Axos Hotel (Ξενοδοχείο Αξός), Maxis Kritis 167 Platanias (extra directions if necessary), ☏ +30 2831054472, fax: +30 2831023513, email@example.com. Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 12:00. This hotel is family-run and has a friendly atmosphere, according to the owners. This is a modern 3-star hotel within 100 m of a sandy beach and 6 km from Rethymno. It’s suitable for couples and for families. It has 44 rooms: 16 apartments which can hold up to 4 persons and 28 studios which can hold up to 3 persons. All rooms have: balcony, air-conditioning, satellite TV, extra long beds, direct telephone line, radio, cooker, kettle, refrigerator, toaster, coffee maker, hair dryer, change towels & linen 2 times per week, baby cot (on request). Reception is open 24 hours a day. €42-110.
- Aquila Porto Rethymno Hotel, Sikelianou & Venizelou 52A (overlooking the sandy beach and the city of Rethymno, 6 minutes' walk from the old town), ☏ +30 28310 50432, fax: +30 28310 50432, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Aquila Rithymna Beach, ☏ +30 28310 71002, fax: +30 28310 71668, email@example.com. Accommodation types from main building rooms, bungalows suites and villas to royal pavilions with private pools.
- Sentido Pearl Beach Hotel 4-star hotel 2 km outside Rethymno. The hotel is on the Rethymnon beach. It has 2 swimming pools with free lounge chairs, and a fitness centre with indoor pool and hot tub. The private beach is in front of the hotel. All rooms are air-conditioned and comfortably furnished. Each has satellite TV, furnished balcony/patio and double glazed windows. Breakfast and dinner are served as buffets at the main restaurant. Menu options are available at Loukoulos brasserie, overlooking the pool and the sea.
- 1 Bali Paradise Hotel, GR 74057 Bali Rethymnon (Oo the southern side of Crete next to the harbour of Bali), ☏ +30 28340 94253, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Camping Elizabeth, 84 Ionias str. terma (At the end of the Ionas road near the beach), ☏ +30 2831 028694, email@example.com. Despite the name it is not just for people pitching tents. Options to stay in a tent (€9), bungalow (€27), or caravan (€31) (tent or caravan provided by them, or bring your own for reduced price of €5/€7). The oldest campsite on Crete, it's situated on the only stretch of beach untouched by touristy, impersonal hotels. Hot shower, drinking water, laundry, and wifi all free, along with a beach-view taverna. Short walk to the city centre. Friendly, multi-lingual staff. Also the home of the local sea-turtle protection group.
- 2 Golden Beach, Adelianos Kampos (20 minutes by bus from the old town), ☏ +30 28310 71012, firstname.lastname@example.org. International and local cuisine. Cleanly, well-designed rooms with safe, TV, A/C and balcony. Family-owned. Large pool and bar area, entertainment program varies daily.
- From the bus station there are regular services to coastal towns on the Cretan south-coast, like Plakias, Preveli and Agia Galini.
|Routes through Rethymno|
|← Chania ←||W E||→ Bali → Heraklion|