Another popular destination in Crete that usually entertains a substantial amount of tourists during summer is Rethymno. It offers beaches galore, historical attractions and beautiful architecture. The touristy gimmicks at the beachfront can get overwhelming at times but all you have to do is to explore the Old Town and the nearby villages and you can easily get lost in their charms.
Rethymno boasts of approximately 12 miles of stunning coastline. With such a long stretch of silky sandy beach, finding your own perfect spot should not be a problem. You can spend hours on end basking under the glorious Grecian sun and enjoying the crystalline Mediterranean waters, however you might want to leave your bliss for a moment to explore the area’s historical gems.
First, visit the picturesque 13th century Venetian harbour and take lazy strolls along the waterfront lined with lovely Venetian and Turkish buildings. There are plenty of tavernas scattered around and they usually offer al fresco seating especially during summer. So pick a good spot where you can sit down, chill out and watch the passers-by.
From there, head to the nearby car park where the steps to the looming 16th century Fortezza Castle can be found. Climb uphill to Palaiokastro to explore the remains of a splendid Venetian castle where you will discover interesting crumbling ruins, some tanks and artillery, a magnificent mosque, and panoramic views of the town and the coast. The site also makes for a romantic and scenic walk especially during sunset.
Also easily accessible from the harbor is the 16th century Venetian Loggia that still remains incredibly preserved to this day. It served as a meeting place for the nobility, politicians and other VIPs back in the day but it now houses the Archaelogical Receipts Fund. It is the place to go for history buffs who want to get their hands on a good archaeological guide book or an impressive cast souvenir of famous Greek sculptures.
From the Loggia, head straight along Paleologou Street then turn right to Platanos Square where the Rimondi Fountain can be found. The decked-out fountain was built back in 1626 and continues to serve passersby with fresh water since then.
Continue your walking tour of Rethymno’s Old Town and check out the impressive architecture of the church of Our Lady of the Angels, the Nerantze Mosque, and the church of St. Francis. If you love the elegance of Venetian mansions, you do not miss a stroll along Arkadiou Street where some of the most beautiful examples are prominently displayed.
Love museums? Drop by the Archaelogical Museum where you will experience a plethora of valuable collections of artifacts from the Neolithic to the Roman Period. There is also the Historical and Folk Art Museum where you can check out elaborate historical costumes, exquisite embroideries, ceramics and historic photographs, among many others. If you are still looking for more, the Centre of Contemporary Art, the Marine Museum, and the Ecclesiastical Museum may be of interest to you.
If you want to find out something more about Cretan flora and fauna, you can visit the Biotopoi Nature Park. Biotopoi Nature park is located near a historical center of the city. The Park has the concept of a rich biodiversity ecosystem of Crete. The visitors will be guided though the rich wild vegetation of the park with the plants of Cretan traditional cookery, the aromatic medical herbs, the beautiful wild flowers from Crete and a lot of animals that live in this ecosystem.
Finally, the charming villages near Rethymno are also worthwhile visiting. Bali and Plakias are perfect side trips for those who love to go beach-hopping away from the main crowd. And, the lovely village of Margarites is also a must-visit for its exquisite ceramics.