The island of Crete is an extremely popular area, visited by lots of tourists every year who want to enjoy the long beaches, scenic landscapes, and mountainous villages. Rethymno, in particular, is an area of great historical importance and natural beauty, with many sites worth to visit. The historical Monasteries of Preveli and Arkadi are very important places to visit in Rethymno. Visitors should also not miss a stroll to the Old Town of Rethymno with the Venetian style and the picturesque old port, as well as to the Fortezza above the town. Apart from the sandy beaches, very beautiful are the seaside villages of Rethymno, such as Bali, Agia Galini, and Plakias.
You can see below the best Sites in Rethymno: Ancient sites, Museums, Churches, and more. You can filter them by category and location.
Do you want to learn about available activities? Check the best Things to do in Rethymno.
The Fortezza of Rethymno was constructed in 1573 by the Venetians to protect the town from enemy invasions and it was captured by the Ottomans in the 17th century. Today it is an impressive construction and constitutes the trademark of the town.
The historic Monastery of Preveli is located about 40 km south of Rethymnon Town. It stands by a bridge over Kourtaliotikis River and it is surrounded by lush vegetation. The monastery has two buildings with a distance of 3 km between each other. It was originally built in the 17th century and it played an important role in all the Cretan fights for freedom.
The Venetian Loggia is a 16th-century building located in the heart of the Old Town of Rethymnon. It used to be the meeting point for the Venetian noblemen in the Medieval times and now it hosts the gift shop of the Archaeological Museum of Rethymnon.
The Archaeological Museum of Rethymnon is housed in a building right at the entrance of the Fortezza. It houses exhibits from excavations held in the prefecture of Rethymnon, presenting the history of the area from the paleolithic till the Roman times.
The Monastery of Arkadi is the symbol of the Cretan Revolution. In 1866, Crete had revolted against the Ottoman Turks who ruled the island. Many fighters were trapped inside the monastery and the Turkish army was besieging it. To avoid capture, they exploded the monastery and killed themselves and the Turks outside it.
This mosque is located in the center of the Fortezza. At first, it was a church dedicated to Saint Nicolas but then, when the town was conquered by the Ottomans, it was turned into a mosque. Today it is closed to the public and opens only to host musical events.
The Museum of Cretan Lyra is strongly connected with the tradition and music of Crete. This is actually a workshop of Cretan lyras and one room has been hosts a large collection of lyras and other traditional musical instruments.
Ideon Cave is located about 20 km south of Anogia village, Rethymnon. According to mythology, this is the cave where god Zeus was raised, hidden from his father Cronus. Cretan men named Kourites was guarding him and a nymph goat was feeding him with milk.
In the remote village of Zoniana, 45 km from Rethymno, there is an interesting wax museum with figures from all over the Cretan history. Established in 1998, this Wax Museum is housed in a space of 1,000 sq.m.
Ancient Eleftherna, one of the most important archaeological sites in Crete, is located about 30 km southeast of Rethymnon Town, at the foot of Mount Psiloritis. This town was inhabited from the prehistoric till the early Christian times. Archaeologists have unearthed a town, a necropolis, and the Acropolis.
The Historical and Folklore Museum of Rethymnon was established in 1973 and it is housed in an elegant Venetian building. The exhibits of the museum come of private collections and donations. They include traditional clothing, tools, ceramics, jewelry, coins, and other items.
Villa Claudio, a lovely mansion of Venetian architecture, was recently restored and it now houses an interesting Military Museum. This museum was inaugurated in May 2010 and hosts military uniforms, weapons of various ages and army vehicles in the yard.
The Monastery of Arsani is dedicated to Saint George and it was probably built in the 16th century. The monastery has a small museum with ecclesiastical clothing, Byzantine icons and holy crosses of the 17th century.
The Monastery of Panagia Antifonitria is located in Miriokefala, a mountainous village in the borders between Rethymno and Chania. Founded in the 11th century A.D., this is among the oldest monasteries in Crete.
This lovely Museum of Marine Life displays numerous shells, sponges, fish, and other marine items. It includes the private collection of Panagiotis Moschakis.
The Museum of Papa-Mihalis Georgoulakis is located in the village of Asomatos, southern Rethymno. This museum, that stretches for eight rooms, gives visitors a deep insight into traditional life in Crete.
Contemporary Art Gallery
In this gallery, visitors will be able to admire a rich collection of works from local artist Lefteris Kanakakis, and a collection of representative pieces of modern Greek art. Various exhibitions of modern art are regularly organized in the gallery.