The 20 best sights of Rethymnon – descriptions and photos

Attractions in Rethymnon

The Cretan Sea Melidoni Cave Arkadi Monastery Fortezza Fortress Georgioupolis Beach Preveli Palm Beach

The site contains Rethymnon attractions – photos, descriptions and travel tips. The list is based on popular travel guides and is presented by type, name and rating. Here you can find answers to what to see in Rethymnon, where to go and where to stay at popular and interesting places in Rethymnon.

Sea of Crete

The Cretan Sea (photo)

The Sea of Crete is amazing because it is part of another sea, in this case, the Mediterranean Sea. It lies between the island of Crete, hence apparently the name, and the islands of the Cyclades. To the north it borders the Aegean Sea, apparently because of this there is often a misconception that the Sea of Crete is part of the Aegean. The Cretan Sea is very warm, reaching 26 degrees Celsius in the summer. The sea gradually comes to the shore, so the entrance to the water is gradual, not abrupt. In late summer, it is the Indian summer velvet season, and the sea stays warm until October.

There are ports almost everywhere on the Cretan Sea, so you can reach any island fast and comfortably by water.

Coordinates: 36.00027800,25.07083300

Melidoni cave

Melidoni Cave (photo)

The Melidoni Cave is one of the most famous and at the same time the most mysterious cave in Crete.

In ancient times the cave was considered sacred and during the Minoan period the bronze giant Talos – the patron of Crete was worshipped here, as evidenced by the fragments of pottery, figurines, animal bones and other artifacts found here.

In 1823, almost 400 Cretans took refuge here during the Turkish conquest, but their hiding place was discovered and the story ended very sadly – the entrance of the cave was burnt and the brave Cretans died in the smoke and flames. The memorial sarcophagus with the remains of the heroes is in the first hall of the cave.

The cave is very beautiful – a majestic palace, created by nature herself – and with its rich history and the remaining inscriptions, it is of great interest not only to speleologists and archaeologists, but also to all curious visitors of Crete.

Coordinates: 35.37877200,24.73755200

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Arkadi Monastery

Arkadi Monastery (photo)

The history of the foundation of the monastery is shrouded in mystery, because the date of its foundation is unknown exactly, but there are two versions. According to one version, the monastery was built during the time of Emperor Flavius Arcadius of the Eastern Roman Empire. Other sources say that the construction of the monastery began under the Byzantine emperor Heraclius I. But a legend survives that says that the wandering monk Arcadius, wandering in the neighborhood, saw something sparkling at the top of the hill. He came closer and discovered an icon, the rim of which glittered in the branches of an olive tree. The monk took this as a sign and decided to build a monastery on this spot. This is even evidenced by the oldest inscription in the monastery, dating back to the fourteenth century.

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For more than two hundred years Crete was part of the Ottoman Empire, and in 1866 the Christians of Crete rebelled against the Turkish yoke. The inhabitants of the local villages were forced to flee behind the walls of Arkadi Monastery.

Now the monks continue to live here. They maintain the monastery and the church with its ancient icons. Also at the monastery there is a museum with unique relics.

Coordinates: 35.31015200,24.62943500

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Fortress of Fortezza (photo)

Fortezza is a Venetian fortress in Rethymnon, built by the Republic of Venice in 1573-1580 after the Battle of Lepanto. It is located in the center of the old city on the hill of Paleokastro.

The fortress has been restored and is a monument of Italian fortress architecture. Nowadays there is a museum in the fortress, and its monuments and grounds are used for various cultural manifestations. The annual summer Renaissance festival is held here.

Inside the fortress, you can see the remains of several medieval Muslim churches, an administrative building, a prison, an armory and a functioning Orthodox church.

Coordinates: 35.36666700,24.46666700

Beach of Rethymno

Rethymno (&Rho &theta &upsilon &mu &nu &omicron , Rethymno) is a huge sandy beach located in northern Crete in the city of Rethymno. Rethymno beach is equipped with umbrellas and sun loungers, cabins for changing, showers and toilets. There are plenty of taverns and cafes and it is possible to rent a house here.

Mili Gorge

Mili Gorge is a beautiful green oasis, close to Rethymno. It is a deep ravine, covered with a huge number of trees and grasses, a true botanical garden. The gorge is located north of the village Chronomonasteri and south of Xero Sxorio.

Beach Georgioupolis

Georgeoupolis beach (photo)

Georgioupolis beach is a seaside resort located 38 kilometers east of Chania and 21 kilometers west of Rethymnon. This 2 kilometers long sandy beach has large dunes and shallow waters, so it is well suited for holidays with small children.

Here you will find everything you need for a comfortable holiday: sunbeds, umbrellas, showers, cafes and bars that are located right on the beach. Here you can enjoy water sports and even go horseback riding.

East of the port, 700m away, the beach is divided in two by the Perastikos river. The area next to the river has an attractive lush vegetation, but unfortunately, the sea is cold and not suitable for swimming.

Coordinates: 35.36210600,24.26325600

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Palm Beach Preveli

Palm Beach Preveli (photo)

Palm Beach Preveli has been one of the most picturesque and sparsely populated beaches in Crete for years.

Located on the south coast of Crete, Preveli is mainly famous for its palm grove, which is located very close to the beach.

The beach is the end of one of the many Cretan canyons, through the bottom of which flows the mountain river. By the way, because of this river the temperature of the sea water in Preveli area is slightly lower than in other areas of the island.

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There is no direct access to the beach, you have to walk down. However, the walk doesn’t take long and the bonus is the stunning sea views of the island.

Coordinates: 35.15258300,24.47389100

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The 20 best sights in and around Rethymnon


What is interesting for tourists in Rethymnon, Crete? Attractions of this town are due to its ancient history and geographical location. Rethymnon is beautifully set in the foothills of the mountain range Psiloritis, about half way to the northern coast of the island.

It is the third largest city of Crete after Heraklion and Chania. The periods of Venetian and Turkish occupation left their indelible mark on the history of the city, as you can find both Venetian mansions and churches as well as Turkish mosques and fortresses in almost every street.

Old Town

Old Town

Old Town. | Photo: Romtomtom / Flickr.

Walking along the cobblestone walkways of Rethymno Old Town you literally go back in time. The old city, built on the principle of neighborhoods, perfectly reflects the history of the city through a variety of architectural styles. There are sights like the 16th century Venetian Loggia, the 17th century Rimondi Fountain with its three stone lion heads, the tall Ottoman minaret of 1890, some vivid graffiti and the modern cafes and restaurants, which are always full of students.

Sometimes the styles combine – the beautiful townhouses from the Venetian era have wooden balconies completed by the Turks. Today, the most touristic area of Rethymnon is the old harbor, full of expensive seafood restaurants that are particularly pleasant to eat in the evening.

Address: Mavrokordatou Alexanrou 6, Rethymno 741 00, Greece


Sultan Bin Ibrahim Mosque

Sultan Bin Ibrahim’s Mosque | Photo: Arjan Veen / Flickr.

Towering over Rethymno, this star-shaped Venetian fortress inspires total impregnability – just look at its massive walls and bastions. Nevertheless, this did not help it to withstand the onslaughts of the desperate Turks in 1646.

Over time, an entire village formed on the site, much of which was destroyed during World War II. The views from here are spectacular, from where you can view the ramparts, palm trees, and nearby buildings.

The Sultan bin Ibrahim Mosque with its massive dome draws particular attention.

Address: Fortezza Fortress, Rethymno 741 00, Greece.

Venetian Harbour

Venetian Harbor

Venetian Harbor.| Photo: Γιάνννης Χουβαρδάς / Flickr.

The small historic harbor of Rethymno is dotted with many tourist taverns and cafes, but the 19th century lighthouse, built by the Egyptians, gives a special atmosphere to the place. To get there you have to walk past the fishing boats along the walls of the harbor.

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Address: Venetian Harbour, Ενετικό Λιμάνι, Greece.

Late Minoan Cemetery of Armeni

Late Minoan Cemetery of Armeni

The Late Minoan Cemetery of Armeni.

Wandering through this cemetery, created by the Minoans between 1600 and 1150 BC, you can literally feel the presence of innumerable souls buried in more than 200 rock-cut tombs.

Today, their long corridors (dromos) leading to the damp chambers are open for exploration – Graves 159 and 200 are particularly impressive. Some of the artefacts found in Armeni, including pottery, bronze ornaments, weapons and a boar’s fang helmet, are now housed in the Rethymno Archaeological Museum.

Address: Postminoan Cemetery, Armeni 741 00, Greece

Preveli Beach

Preveli Beach

Preveli Beach | Photo: Gilbert Sopakuwa / Flickr.

Some of the most beautiful beaches of Crete are located on the remote southern coast, stretching to the Libyan Sea. This beautiful pebble beach, hidden under the monastery of Preveli, located 36 kilometers south of Rethymno, is at the mouth of a river and is surrounded by a lush palm grove.

A visit to this beach is a must if you find yourself in the area. If you walk along the gorge through the grove of palm trees, you will find a small waterfall.

Getting to the beach itself is quite difficult. You have to walk a narrow stony path along the coast from the parking lot and then take a long flight of stairs. There is a small tavern on the beach itself where you can get snacks and rent sun loungers.

Address: Preveli Beach, Επαρχία Αγίου Βασιλείου, Rethymno, Greece.

Rethymno Archaeological Museum

Rethymno Archaeological Museum

Rethymno Archaeological Museum | Photo: wikimedia.

In May 2016, after the excavations at the Venetian prison near the fortress stopped yielding any value, the Rethymno archaeological collection was moved to the former church of St. Francis. This beautifully decorated shrine showcases the highlights of the major archaeological excavations in the province of Rethymno, including the cemetery at Armeni.

Major relics include a 4,500-year-old chalice, a Minoan goddess figure, a Roman bronze lamp and a miniature Hellenistic donkey.

Address: Rethymno Archaeological Museum, 74131, Αγ. Φραγκίσκου, Rethymno 741 00, Greece.

Church of Agios Spiridon

The Church of St. Spiridon

The church of Agios Spiridon.

It is a tiny church built right in the rock below the Venetian fortress. It is filled with richly painted icons, swinging bird candlesticks and the sound of the rumbling surf.

In crevices near the stone cliff, you’ll see pairs of shoes and children’s sandals left as prayer offerings for the seriously ill. The chapel can be reached by stairs on the west side of the fortress.

Address: Saint Spiridon Chapel, Κεφαλογιάννιδων, Rethymno 741 00, Greece.

Palaeontological Museum

Paleontological Museum

Paleontological Museum.

Dwarf Cretan elephants and hippos are unlikely to cause a stir among tourists, but the museum is definitely worth a visit, if only because it is located in the restored 17th century temple of Mastaba (Veli Pasha Mosque), surrounded by beautiful gardens.

Its silhouette is formed by nine domes, on which falls the shadow of the oldest minaret of the city, and the gardens smell pleasantly of thyme and oregano. The permanent exhibition features tusks and fossils of hippos which were hunted by locals until their extinction.

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Address: Paleontology Museum, Δημοκρατίας 18, Rethymno 741 00, Greece.

Moni Arkadi Monastery

Moni Arkadiou Monastery

Moni Arkadi Monastery.| Photo: Bart Jekel / Flickr.

The Monastery of Moni Arkadi, dating back to the 16th century, located about 23 km southeast of Rethymno, is of great importance to the Cretans. The place where hundreds of cornered natives killed both themselves and the Turkish invaders, is a striking and powerful symbol of the resistance and struggle of the island for freedom from the Turkish occupation.

Address: Arkadi, Moni Arkadiou 741 00, Greece.

Museum of Modern Art

Museum of Modern Art

Museum of Modern Art.

The basis of the permanent collection of this art museum, founded in 1992, are oil paintings, watercolors and graphic drawings by local resident Lefteris Kanakakis.

Over time, he has collected enough works to present his work in Greece since the 1950s. The museum’s temporary exhibits can also generate a lot of interest. The entrance is located on the side of Mezologiou Street.

Address: Museum of Contemporary Art, Μεσολογγίου, Rethymno, Greece.

Rimondi Fountain

Rimondi Fountain

Rimondi Fountain | Photo: wikimedia.

Among the many vestiges of Venetian rule, the Rimondi Fountain with its lion heads and Corinthian capitals, which was built in 1626 by the city head, Alvise Rimondi, holds a place of honor.

Address: Rimondi Fountain, Mavrokordatou Alexanrou, Rethymno 741 00, Greece.



Loggia | Photo: wikimedia.

This beautifully restored 16th century landmark originally served as a meeting place for the Venetian nobility to discuss politics and money, but during Turkish rule the place was turned into a mosque. Today, this pompous building with graceful arches houses a store that sells copies of ancient sculptures.

Address: Ενετική Loggia, Arkadiou, Rethymno, Greece.

Historical & Folklore Museum of Rethymno

Historical and Folklore Museum of Rethymno

Historical and Folklore Museum of Rethymno.

In a beautiful Venetian mansion from the 17th century the traditional country life of Crete is on permanent display in five rooms, with clothes, baskets, textiles, pottery, weapons and agricultural tools, which were and are still being used by the locals.

Address: Historical and Folklore Museum Retimino ρέθυμνο 741 00, Greece.



Walking along the old pier mentioned earlier in the Venetian harbor you can come across the tall lighthouse. It was built in the 1830s, when Crete was ruled by Egypt. Later, in 1840, the British were forced to return it to the Turks.

The address is Φάρος Ρεθύμνου, Ενετικό Λιμάνι, Rethymno 741 00, Greece.

Nerattses Mosque.

Neratzes Mosque

Neratzes mosque.| Photo: wikimedia.

This three-domed mosque began as an Augustinian church and was converted to a mosque by the Turks in 1657, although its newly restored minaret was not added until 1890. Today the building is a music conservatory and a venue for public shows and concerts.

Address: Neratzes Mosque, Emmanoil Vernardoy 2, Rethymno 741 00, Greece.

Guora Gates

Giora Gate

Guora Gate.

This arched stone gate, on the southern edge of the old quarter, is the only thing left of the Venetian city wall. It was built at the end of the 16th century and originally bore the Venetian coat of arms, the Leo of Saint Mark.

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Address: Porta Guora, Antistaseos ke Dimakopoulou, Rethymno 741 00, Greece.

Ancient Eleftherna

Ancient Eleftherna

Ancient Eleftherna.

7 km east of Moni Arkadiou is the archaeological site of Ancient Eleftherna. This pre-Roman settlement was one of the most important in the 8th-7th centuries B.C., it also experienced a second boom in the Hellenistic and Roman periods.

Excavations have been going on since 1985 and archaeologists keep announcing more and more new finds. The news of the discovery in 2010 of the gold-embellished remains of a woman in a double tomb 2700 years old was an international sensation.

Address: Ancient Eleftherna, Eleftherna 740 52, Greece.

Melidoni Cave

Melidoni Cave

Melidoni Cave | Photo: Shadowgate / Flickr.

What to see in Rethymno for those who love mysticism? Perhaps the best option is to go to Melidoni. This cave, located about 2 km from the village of Melidoni, is of eerie beauty and has an equally eerie historical past.

In ancient times the cave was a place where ancient gods were worshipped and in 1824 during the Turkish occupation, a terrible tragedy took place there that claimed the lives of 370 people. The Turks lit a fire at the entrance of the cave and all the people inside suffocated from the smoke – among them 340 women and children.

Before exploring this memorable underground world of stalactites and stalagmites, visit the Hall of Heroes.

Address: Melidoni Cave, Μυλοπόταμος 740 52, Greece.

Sphendoni Cave

Sfendoni Cave

Sfendoni Cave.| Photo: wikimedia.

You’ll go down 270 meters underground and pass through seven stone halls with fancy names like “Sanctuary of the Fairy” or “Palace of Zeus.” The cave is full of illuminated stalagmites and stalactites, which are shaped like organ pipes, domes, curtains, waves and other strange formations.

More than 400 bats live in the cave and can even greet you separately if you come here early in the morning. Tours run about every 45 minutes and take about 40 minutes. The new track is 270 meters long and makes it accessible to everyone.

Address: Sfendoni Cave, Σπήλαιο Σφεντόνη, Anogia 740 51, Greece.

Mount Psiloritis (Ida)

On top of Mount Psiloritis (Ida)

At the top of Mount Psiloritis (Ida).| Photo: ccdoh1 / Flickr.

Towering at 2,456 meters, Psiloritis (also known as “Ida”) is the highest mountain in Crete and the second highest mountain in Greece after Mount Olympus. The mountain is sacred to Greek mythology because it is here that the legendary Zeus, the king of the gods, was allegedly born. Various agencies organize day tours from Rethymno and Heraklion.

Most of them will lead you to a scenic starting point and then you will begin your hike through an interesting, rocky landscape, following a clearly marked path to the summit, which is crowned by the Chapel of the Holy Cross.

It usually takes three to four hours to reach the summit, and you need to be in good shape. Buy good athletic boots and take plenty of water with you. The view from the top is breathtaking and offers a view of the entire island.

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