Rethymno has a lot to explore, in this article we’ve listed best few best things to do in this town of Crete. We recommend to add them to your bucket list for best experience in Crete.
Crete is an island that offers different possibilities and everyone can find what suits them best. That is why this destination is more and more often on the lists of travelers around the world, and the Greeks are happy because they can host a large number of visitors.
You will feel the famous Greek hospitality in full splendor if you choose to stay in Rethymno. This part of Crete offers you various activities that you can try alone or together with friends. Choose the ones that appeal to you, and Rethymno is a young city whose energy you will love on the first sight.
Here are the best things to do from our list.
1. Rethymnon to Margarites
Are you one of those people who like to rent a car, pack only the essentials and go on an adventure? If yes, then rent a car and head to Margarites which are located around 25 km from Rethymnon.
This is one of the most scenic villages where you can learn pottery making. You know that the most beautiful feeling is when you create something with your own hands. Take the opportunity and make pieces of dishes that you can use while preparing food for your loved ones or simply as a souvenir for the living room.
Margarites is a very well known village for its clay but no bank or the post office. You can shop around multiple ceramic stores in Margarites and take some memories back home.
2. Rethymnon To Spili
Once you have rented a car, you can go on another trip the next day. The advantage of Rethymno is that it is located in a good location and everything is close.
Only about thirty kilometers drive from Rethymno is Spili. Located at the base of mount Vorizis habited by mostly farmers, ranchers, and merchants. However, it is a very active destination for foreigners and Greeks. Drive to Spili and spend some time at prime spring, which is a series of 25 fountains and enjoy authentic Cretan cuisine.
At the end of the day, order a great Cretan coffee, and shop from folk art shops. Don’t forget to take back inexpensive souvenir products during your way back to Rethymno because memories is what are worth the most.
3. Explore Museum of Eleutherna
There are different types of tourists. Those who explore everything before traveling to a certain destination because they like to know what awaits them. This way they can prepare and organize their trip to the smallest detail.
There are others who plan accommodation and travel and deal with other things when they arrive. They open their minds to all experiences and surrender to the destination without expectation. Both will return home richer for a new experience, and one of the most memorable can be provided by the first archaeological museum in Crete.
This museum is famous for its exhibition of many unique findings from the ancient cities. The settings are permanent and you don’t have to worry about missing something.
4. The Arkadi Monastry
About a 25-minute car drive to the southeast of Rethymno, Arkadi Monastery will take you back in the 13th century. Go back in history and spend some time there.
Although you are not a believer, it will be interesting for you to hear stories about the life of a monk. Their way of life has always been mysterious to other people from the outside world, and that is why you should take the opportunity to ask them everything you are interested in.
Learn about Arkadi tragedy back in the 17th century and indulge yourself in some historical tourism. The story of struggle and suffering is something that everyone should hear. If you love history, this is a must to visit place when in Crete.
5. Explore Rethymnon Old Town
No matter how you imagine your stay in Rethymno, you should spend a whole day and visit the Old Town. We often leave it for the last day when we have to go home, so it is easiest for us to buy souvenirs.
Spend a day in Rethymno, stroll around the town narrow alleys, don’t miss out on historical and artistic cafes in the corner, and music on the street while you are busy collecting memories back from your Crete trip.
These are a few things you can do if you choose to stay in the Rethymnon area in Crete, there is much more in beautiful Rethymno. It’s affordable to stay here, and it’s less crowded compared to Chania.
You can still hire a car and visit Chania there are things of historical importance and Venetian harbor is a must visit, you can checkout our list of best things to do in Chania in case you decide to stay in Chania for couple of days.
6. Explore The Beaches
What kind of beaches do you like? Those sands, where can you sit comfortably while enjoying the sun’s rays? Do you feel the warm sand under your feet, do you see clean, transparent water and people enjoying a wonderful day in front of you?
Or do you prefer those where there are few stones, so you jump from foot to foot until you reach the water, and the children around collect stones and make towers?
The good news is that Rethymno offers both. Preveli beach is considered by many to be one of the best in Rethymno and it fully justifies the name. The water is clean and the environment soothing.
The second beach is considered unusual, and that is Kalypso beach where there are rocks all around you, and the water is perfect for diving.
There are still plenty of beaches in Rethymno, but we’ll leave it to you to explore them yourself and choose your favorite.
7. Daily Cruise Trip To Santorini
One of the excursions we recommend is a visit to Santorini. You’ve probably heard of this island, and if you haven’t, you’ve already seen those bright blue roofs on the houses. It belongs to the island group of the Cyclades, and it is possible to reach it from Rethymno.
White walls and blue roofs, it is a combination that enchants when you look at those houses next to each other on the rock. You have the feeling that a movie is being shot in front of your eyes, in which the main characters are the sea and a colorful sunset.
This is definitely a must-see if you are on vacation as a couple. The cruise lasts a little less than three hours, and upon arrival on the island, you will see that it was worth every minute.
This island is considered one of the most romantic and you will have enough time to see everything you want before returning to Rethymno in the evening.
8. History & Maze Tour
You know that feeling when you arrive in an unknown city and you want to get to know everything as soon as possible? You haven’t even unpacked yet, and are you already thinking about how to find a good restaurant for lunch and enjoy delicious food?
What to order, how will you know that it will suit you? Maybe you should rely on the recommendations of the waiters and try their dish at home, or would you still check something?
The best way to get to know the culture of a nation is to make friends with the locals. What is unknown to you, is their everyday life and they will gladly give you advice on where you can eat great food and buy souvenirs that are not overpriced.
We recommend that you book one of the tours where you can learn a lot about history and that with snacks. It is part of the Greek tradition and is mostly a serving that includes cheeses, ham, and olives. Your guides will take you to the places, and the gourmet in you will be grateful.
9. Biotopoi Nature Park
You will not see animals trapped in cages here, on the contrary. There are almost no animals, just a few turtles or a chameleon. The flora and fauna are truly enchanting in this park.
It may not be for visits with smaller children, because they will get bored, and adults will be thrilled when they see rare plants that grow only in Crete. They probably expect to see interesting animals in such places, and there is no such thing here.
Visitor’s experiences are positive, it is open every day from half past 10 to 13:30. Entrance and guided tour are not paid, except for a donation of some 5 USD, but if you want, you can leave more.
10. Museum Of Contemporary Art Of Crete
The modern museum in the Venetian building with works by Lefteris Kanakakis and other Greek artists is something you should visit when you come to Rethymno.
Admission is free every Thursday and is located in the heart of the city, close to the Archaeological Museum. Exhibitions are organized here every year, and if you want to create something, it is possible.
During the visit, you can find out which workshops are on offer during that period and how you can join. This is a museum that both your children will love because both adults and children can participate in the workshops.
Children can experience first hand how the most famous Greek artists created sculptures, and that is a valuable experience that is worth giving them.
11. Porta Guora
All the cities that had a rich and turbulent past, especially the Mediterranean, are surrounded by walls. These walls protected cities and the population from enemy attacks, and today, in peace, they have a different role.
They stand as silent witnesses of the past, but if you know how to listen, they will tell you everything.
One such monument is Porta Guora, the great gate through which one enters the Old Town. The Venetians, but also the Turks, left a big mark on the life of this city, and parts of this fortress testify to those times.
Few parts of the fortress have been preserved, which only adds value to this part. This gate was named after its rector, and when you pass under its arch today, you step right into the market.
12. Neratze Mosque
If you are a fan of religious tourism, then in addition to monasteries and churches, of which there are many in Greece, you will be interested to visit mosques. One of the largest and most famous in Rethymno is Neratze Mosque.
There is an interesting story about its origin. What we see today is a mosque, but a church was originally built on that place. The Venetians first built a church, then a monastery was built, and with the Turkish conquests, it was turned into a mosque.
However, when the period of Turkish rule ended, it regained the function of a church. Today it has a purpose that suits members of all religions. It has been turned into a music conservatory where numerous ceremonies are held. Due to its location, it is also attractive to tourists, especially when they discover its past.
13. Mili Gorge
Another recommendation that will delight lovers of nature, fresh air, and hiking. The adventure you need to embark on does not always have to be far from the city and inaccessible. The proof is Mili Gorge, a walking area located only four to five kilometers from the Rethymno city center.
Spring may not be the best time of year for this activity because the land will still be wet from the rain, but summer is ideal to escape from the high temperatures and crowds in the city. If you do not have your own car, you can call a taxi to get to the starting point. Sometimes there is organized bus transportation for those interested, but this should be inquired on the spot.
When you get to the starting point, all you have to do is indulge and enjoy a small jungle-like environment. Don’t worry, there are no wild beasts and it is completely passable and safe.
The tourist attraction we recommend you to visit is the lighthouse. It is nine meters high, and access to it is very easy. You can take a walk after dinner and take a few photos.
The story of him is very interesting. It was created during the Egyptian occupation of Crete. It is officially the second-largest preserved lighthouse on the island, and the first is located on Chania. Both are extremely beautiful and you can see them on postcards as important monuments of the place.
You know that there are always a few actors in romantic stories. A couple in love, the sea, wine, and a lighthouse. It is a place that has always been used for meetings and secret visions when it gets dark. How many forbidden loves do lighthouses remember, a whole novel should already be written about that.
15. Zefyros Family Fish Tavern
Even if you are not a great connoisseur of Greek tradition, you know that taverns are special places that you must visit. Especially if you are at sea, then the experience is authentic. With seafood and wine, after a long walk or excursion, summarize your impressions. The restaurant we recommend you visit is Zefyros Family Fish Taverna. In their photographs, a common motif is precisely this lighthouse we talked about.
The prices are affordable, and the quality of food and the kindness of the staff is at a very high level. You can try home-made dishes and house specialties and what is certain is that the food will always be fresh and carefully prepared. The hosts are as kind as only the Greeks can do, and the view of the harbor is enchanting. What more do you need for the end of the day?