Come to the enchanting resort of Rethymnon to discover a town of contrasts. Here the bustling harbour front and vast expanse of sun-kissed beach vie with hushed narrow alleyways cooled by the shadows cast by beautiful old Venetian and Turkish buildings. Its historical architecture is today the captivating backdrop to the lively, everyday hustle and bustle taking place in the numerous shops, bars and tavernas around the bay and along the delightful seafront promenade.
Who holidays in Rethymnon?
Couples and young families are attracted by the relaxed charm and abundant activities offered by Rethymnon, where everything required of a jolly good holiday is close at hand.
Rethymnon is edged to the north by a long, sandy, palm-fringed beach and promenade, stretching eastwards as far as the eye can see. Here happy holidaymakers throng in the sun, enjoying a dip in the clear, warm sea, perhaps trying their hand at the one of the numerous watersports on offer. Hotels, tavernas, bars and shops cluster along this attractive coastline, offering all the discerning tourist could wish for - a place to stay suiting every pocket and preference, and, naturally, plenty of friendly establishments to eat, drink and be merry, in buzzing tavernas and inviting open air restaurants.
You'll find great value accommodation in the pretty villages around Rethymnon, where you're never further than a few peaceful places from a captivating cove, or beautiful beach, and the livelier attractions of town can be reached in a jiffy on public transport or by taxi. Whether you choose self-catering, like the Thalassi Hotel Apartments, just 2 kms from the town centre and close to the glorious sands of Thalassi bay, or the Axos Hotel, where roomy self-catering apartments are combined with all the advantages of a well-run hotel, you will find the flexibility and variety available from a holiday to Rethymnon hard to beat. The region also caters for the luxury end with a smattering of up-market resort hotels such as the Aquila Porto Rethymnon located opposite a large and lovely sandy beach, just one km from the cobbled streets and Venetian facades of the fascinating old town. This and others such as the Sentido Aegean Pearl Hotel or the Iberostar Creta Marine Hotel offer a tempting array of facilities and services for your pleasure and entertainment.
Alongside the whirl and spin of contemporary life, it's nevertheless easy here to cast yourself back to the slower pace of ancient times. Crete's third largest city, Rethymnon has been described as the island's cultural capital for its wealth of history and archaeological attractions - a source of great pride to its inhabitants. A fascinating melange of ancient and modern, the evidence of Venetian and Ottoman rule is all around providing entranced tourists a maze of narrow streets to explore. In the attractive harbour, the Fortezza (the original Venetian fortifications) proudly stand, enhancing the shoreline view. Then, following the cobbles of a narrow alley from the centre of the harbour you arrive at the Loggia, an ancient meeting place where Venetian nobility and officials argued out the political issues of the day. They would no doubt head for the clear, fresh waters gushing softly from the mouths of stone lion heads at the Rimondi fountain, a short distance away, to soothe their parched throats - it has been reviving passers by since it was built in 1626 and continues to do so today.
The open-air market is a bustling scene of business-as-usual, and local artisans ply their crafts with enthusiasm; the traditional customs from long ago are intentionally perpetuated in the modern way of life. Rethymnon is also home to the University of Crete, cultivating a thriving year-round programme of entertainments and activities to keep a young population amused.
With activities galore, sunshine and scenery to die for, along with a heritage of culture and history which few places can rival, a holiday in Rethymnon ensures fun and relaxation to suit all members of the family.
Book your holidays to Rethymnon with Olympic Holidays the leading specialist tour operator to Greece with over 50 years expertise in offering quality holidays at great value. As well package holidays to Rethymnon, we offer an excellent range of hotels in Rethymnon. For great savings on holidays to Rethymnon book online or call our reservations team, lowest price guaranteed!!!
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- Traditional charm
- Long sand & shingle beach
- Many restaurants, tavernas and several bars/discos
- Good shopping in town centre
Things To Do
Popular activities during holidays in Rethymnon include:-
- Jet skiing
- Scuba diving
- Rock climbing
- Walking and hiking
Fun Excursions while on Rethymnon Holidays
Make your holidays to Rethymnon extra special by booking one of our wonderful excursions, we have a range of excursions that have been selected to cater for everyone's interests. Some of our most popular excursions are:-
Chrissi Island: An exceptional day to a tropical paradise set in the crystal clear waters of the Libyan sea. Sunbathe on the unusual coloured sand of one of the beautiful beaches.
Cretan Night: If you like nothing better than to eat, drink and dance, then this is the trip for you. On this night out, you will be transported into a world of Cretan entertainment and merry-making as only the Greeks know how.
Knossos Palace: (See above: Things to See.) An absolute must on any visit to Crete, the Palace of Knossos is steeped in the history of Crete's Minoan rule - where European civilisation began.
Jeep Safari: Travel off the beaten track through traditional mountain villages - a chance to savour the authentic Greek flavour.
Spinalonga Island: Made famous as the setting for the film Who Pays the Ferryman, Spinalonga island attracts thousands of visitors every year to see the ruins of the Venetian Fortress and its leper colony. Hop on a boat to the island and take your time exploring or find a quiet, sunny spot for restful day away in the sun, tucking into the authentic Greek barbecue and taking a quick dip before heading back.
Unknown Crete: Travel through unspoilt villages where donkeys and mules are still the favoured form of transport. Visit a local winery and see how wine is made. You will be able to try some and buy a bottle or two afterwards.
Beach Party: Join your Olympic Reps on a private sandy beach for an afternoon partying in the sun. An hour and half of free drinks will have everyone in the mood for some wickedly wild games.
For further information and to secure your place on all the above exciting days and nights out, see your Olympic representative in the resort. The best time to book would be at the Welcome Get Together on the day after arrival.
Things To See
Chania: Stroll through the streets of Chania's old town, an intact neighbourhood of the original Venetian buildings. The fortifications date from the 13th century and its picturesque Venetian harbour is well worth seeing. Enter the 16th-century Venetian Church of San Francisco and lose yourself amid this vast collection of finds in the Archaeological Museum, dating from the neolithic to the Roman era. See jewellery, floor mosaics, statues, vases and painted sarcophagi from a late Minoan cemetery. There is also a Naval museum, as well as the Historical Archives of Crete.
Cretaquarium: Situated at Gournes, 15 km east of Heraklion is this huge indoor aquarium installed at a former US Air Force base. The artificial underwater world is home to over 2500 Mediterranean and tropical sea creatures with interactive educational multimedia activities. Buses run every 30 minutes from Heraklion.
Dikteon Cave: According to legend, the infant Zeus was born in this cave, and hidden here to avoid him being eaten by his father Cronos. It has an upper and lower section and a huge stalagmite known as the Mantle of Zeus. It can be reached by a steep walk from the village of Psychro, with some lovely views of the verdant plateau of Lasithi, or you can pay to go up by mule.
El Greco House and Museum, Fodele: Browse this small collection of memorabilia in a house dating back to the time of El Greco (1541-1614). Included are reproductions of his work which was influential in 20th century art and beyond. El Greco (real name Domenikos Theotokopoulos) is believed to have been born in the old village of Fodele, surrounded by orange and lemon groves. There is a lovely park with a small river, ideal for a picnic, and the village is well catered for with souvenir shops and kafenion. There is also a Byzantine church with remnants of frescoes, and the Monastery of Agios Panteleimon, reached by following the Cypress-lined river bed which makes its way through orange groves. Great for views down to Heraklion and the coast.
Heraklion Archaeological Museum: This museum in Heraklion is renowned for its huge collection of Minoan treasures and artefacts and is the place to visit to become immersed in the ancient civilisation which began on Crete and, for centuries, dominated the Aegean islands.
Historical Folk Museum of Rethymnon: A collection of handicrafts including weaving, embroidery, lacework, pottery, basket weave, bread-making, metalwork, coins, costumes and so on, all in a townhouse representative of the period at the end of the Venetian occupation.
Knossos Palace: The ruins and treasures of Knossos, in a beautiful spot 5 kms southeast of Heraklion, had lain buried for centuries, but were unearthed in 1900 by Sir Arthur Evans, a British Archaeologist who spent 35 years excavating and reconstructing the Palace. It is the most popular of Crete's tourist attractions with thousands of visitors each year. Guided tours of roughly 90 mins give visitors a fascinating insight into the sophistication of the Minoan civilisation which dominated Europe, ruling large parts of the Aegean, in the Bronze Age about 4000 years ago.
Lato Cultural Festival: If you are visiting during July and August, you may catch some of this annual festival of concerts by local and international musicians, with folk dancing, mantinades (rhyming couplets), theatre and art displays.
Nikos Kazantzakis Museum, Myrtia: Dedicated to the author of Zorba the Greek, here you can listen to a short documentary about Kazantzakis before scrutinising film posters, letters, photographs and other personal effects of Crete's most famous writer. Afterwards, enjoy a coffee in one of the many kafeneios surrounding Myrtia's town square.
Samaria Gorge: Slicing through the White Mountains, or Lefka Ori, of Crete, this is reputedly the longest gorge in Europe and second in the world only to the Grand Canyon. It was made a national park in 1962 in order to protect the endangered kri-kri, a timid wild goat, which lives in the gorge. An area of outstanding scenic beauty, the gorge teems with wildlife including an incredible wildflower display in spring months.
Spinalonga Island: Made famous when used as the setting for the film Who Pays the Ferryman, thousands of visitors come every year to see the ruins of the Venetian Fortress and former Leper colony. (See Things to Do, below.)
Toplou Monastery and the palm forest of Vai: One of the most important and beautiful monasteries on the island, Toplou stands impressive amid an arid landscape, its 33-metre high belfry contrasting with the giant wind turbines of one of the first wind farms in Crete. From Rethymnon, it is a drive of about 3.5 hours on the National Road to Sitia, but worth the journey if you're a history lover, as the Monastery houses priceless, 15th-century icons illustrating the development of the Constantinople School of Art which in turn influenced Cretan art. Excellent, organic Toplou wine, raki and olive oil - the enterprise of the Abbott - can be purchased. Combine a visit here with a wander through the palm forest of Vai , 250,000 square metres of palm forest, the largest in Europe, sweeping on to a large, clean, sandy beach - a wonderful spot to spend a few hours in the sunshine.
Zakros and the Valley of the Dead: Situated at the eastern end of Crete, the village of Zakros is the starting point for a trail through Zakros Gorge, otherwise known as Valley of the Dead, due to the abundance of caves which are ancient burial sites. Follow it down to Kato Zakros, on the coast, for some spectacular scenery culminating in the partly submerged ruins of the Minoan Zakros Palace and a pebble beach where tavernas provide refreshments.