Rethymno Things to Do

We have gathered a list of the Best Things to Do in Rethymno, which includes the absolute must-sees and must-dos of the captivating prefecture of Crete: places to visit, sights, beaches, tours, where to eat, activities, and more.

In brief, the top things to do are to walk around the streets of Rethymno Town and admire the elegant Venetian buildings, swim in the crystalline waters of the gorgeous beaches and savor mouthwatering Cretan recipes in one of the local restaurants.

Open the table of contents to see our suggestions for the 16 best things to do once in Rethymno.

1. Stroll around the charming Town

Category: Villages

There can be no better way to start your visit to Rethymno than a leisurely stroll around Rethymno Town, which captivates visitors with a rich architectural heritage that fuses with its more modern aspect. The Venetian and the Ottoman rule have left their indelible touch on Rethymno, with the impressive Venetian Fortezza dominating the Old Town. Thus, wandering around the historical center and marveling at its elegant, arched buildings, beautiful churches and Turkish fountains is, without doubt, the very best thing to do in Rethymno.

To find out more about this part of Crete, take the time to visit the Archaeological Museum and the Historical and Folklore Museum, the graceful Venetian Loggia, the Mosques and the Ottoman baths. Scattered around the seafront and the quiet streets of the Old Town, you will find numerous shops, bars, cafes, and restaurants, where you can pause and rest after your sightseeing expeditions. At sunset, the picturesque Venetian harbor and the marina are the best spots for a truly romantic walk.

Explore Rethymno Town

2. Swim in magnificent waters

Category: Beaches

Crete is renowned for its stunning beaches, and Rethymno does not disappoint. Along its northern and southern coasts, you will find a plethora of popular and secluded beaches with pristine azure waters and fine golden sand, which is why exploring them is definitely one of the best things to do while in Rethymno.
- Located right at the exit of the Kourtaliotiko Gorge, at a delta formed by a river that opens into the sea, Preveli Beach is definitely the most idyllic beach in Rethymno. Surrounded by a lush palm tree forest, it looks like an exotic lagoon with crystalline turquoise waters and fine soft sand. It can be combined with a visit to the nearby gorge, where you can also take a dip beneath an impressive waterfall.
- For families looking forward to a relaxing vacation, Agia Galini is just the place to go. Surrounded by huge cliffs and spectacular water caves, this beach boasts amazing turquoise waters and a wide range of water sports facilities. From Agia Galini, boats also depart for other destinations, such as Preveli and the Paximadia islets.
- Another popular choice is Platanias Beach, which is only 4 km from the main town. It is well-organized, with ample choice in terms of food, drinks and accommodation.

Discover the beaches

3. Stay at one of the best hotels

Category: Hotels

Looking for a place to stay in Rethymno? The island offers many lovely options! These are our favorite hotels and accommodations in the area:

• Ideally located a stone’s throw away from Rethymno Town Beach, the modern Nautilux is a great choice for those looking for a luxury holiday; this 5-star resort combines indoor and outdoor pools with mesmerizing spa facilities and a fully-equipped fitness center.
• For a more relaxing holiday, away from the hustle and bustle of Rethymno Town, Jasmine Holiday Villa is just the place for you. Located in the quiet Episkopi village, it is housed in an elegant 19th-century building standing less than 1 km from Kavros Beach.
• Another place that allows you to experience the cultural heritage of Rethymno is the Hamam Oriental Hotel. Situated in an old Ottoman hammam within walking distance from Rethymno Port, it boasts stunning interior designs fusing Eastern and Western elements.
• If a mountainous setting is more your kind of thing, consider staying at Perachori Apartments. Located in the village of Anogia, this set of spacious stone-built studios guarantees an authentic experience in a traditional setting.

Find the best hotels

4. Sample mouthwatering Cretan recipes

Category: Eat & Drink

Cretan cuisine is renowned all over the world with good reason. Several local products, including virgin olive oil, delicious cheeses, fresh vegetables, and aromatic honey form the basis of delectable dishes that can satisfy even the most demanding palate. Thus, your experience of Rethymno would be incomplete without tasting such dishes as antikristo, siglino, apaki, gamopilafo, stew served with honey, or the famous dakos salad, which is commonly known as koukouvagia in Rethymno. Other unique delicacies served all over Rethymno include stuffed zucchini blossoms and various kinds of sweet or savory pies, such as sarikopites and kalitsounia.

Though there are plenty of excellent taverns and restaurants in Rethymno, some of our favorite ones are Avli and Pigadi in Rethymno Town, Mili Gorge Tavern in Myli village and Arodamos in Anogia.

Our selection of the best restaurants

5. Hike along scenic trails

Category: Sports

Thanks to its mostly mountainous terrain, this part of Crete is bound not to disappoint trekking enthusiasts. Characterized by rugged gorges and caves, beautiful green valleys and small rivers, it offers a number of hiking trails suitable for hikers and nature enthusiasts of all skill levels. One of the best things to do is to hike through the Kourtaliotiko Gorge, where you can marvel at cool ponds, a spectacular waterfall and a lush palm tree forest. Other popular routes include Myli Gorge, a verdant oasis not far from Rethymno Town that is filled with charming pre-industrial watermills, as well as Prassano Gorge, a relatively unknown but highly impressive gully with narrow steep walls.

Hiking trails in Rethymno

6. Go on a day trip to Santorini

Category: Tours

Of all the Cycladic islands, Santorini is the closest one to Crete. Seize this unique opportunity to go there on a full-day trip to Santorini and experience the unique charm of the most popular Greek island. While on the island, you can take a boat tour of the caldera and see the renowned volcano that destroyed the Minoan civilization up close. If you choose to spend your day on land, you can travel to the island’s northernmost tip and visit the quaint village of Oia, where you can walk along its fairytale streets, marveling at its white and blue houses and taking in the sublime views of the crescent-shaped caldera.

Book the tour

7. Experience the lively nightlife

Category: Nightlife

Rethymno boasts a particularly vibrant nightlife, which is mostly concentrated in Rethymno Town. As soon as the sun sets, the port and the narrow alleys of the Old Town come alive with a number of taverns, bars and clubs, offering something for all tastes. One of the best things to do for a truly authentic experience is to immerse yourself in traditional Cretan music and dancing in one of the Greek nights hosted in the town’s taverns. Alternatively, you can head for Rethymno’s quaint villages, where you will find some excellent restaurants.

See the best bars

8. Go on a full-day trekking trip to Samaria Gorge

Category: Tours

Thanks to Rethymno’s proximity to Chania, one of the best things to do in order to make the most out of your stay there is to go on an unforgettable trekking tour to the 16-kilometer-long Samaria Gorge, the second longest hiking path in Europe. The hike lasts around 5 hours and, though certain parts of the route can be challenging, the experience of passing through verdant narrow paths and awe-inspiring rock formations is truly rewarding. Samaria Gorge abounds in rare flora and fauna species, some of which cannot be found anywhere else in the world, and, with a little luck, you may even catch a glimpse of its most celebrated inhabitant, the kri kri Cretan wild goat.

Various pickup location options are available throughout Rethymno so booking a tour is pretty easy. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to have a mindblowing walking experience that will stay with you for the rest of your life!

Join the trip

9. Try exhilarating water sports

Category: Sports

Along the northern coast of Rethymno, you will find plenty of water sports centers that can provide the whole family with endless fun. Some of the most popular activities include parasailing, crazy sofas, banana rides and jet skiing, while a speedboat tour to beaches and breathtaking sea caves that can only be reached by boat is also highly recommended.

See the best watersports centers

10. Go on a safari tour of Rethymno

Category: Tours

One of the best things to do to experience off-the-beaten-track gems of the Cretan countryside is to go on a safari adventure across the mountains and the traditional villages of Rethymno. Witness the grandeur of the White Mountains, swim in the pristine waters of the Libyan Sea and indulge in delicious local recipes, pampered by authentic Cretan hospitality.

Book a safari tour

11. Visit Heraklion and the Minoan Palace of Knossos

Category: Tours

Though the island is strewn with ancient ruins, no archaeological site is as majestic as the Minoan Palace of Knossos. Covering over 20,000 square meters, this is the oldest and largest of all Minoan palatial structures and constitutes the birthplace of such thrilling myths as that of the Labyrinth and the Minotaur. If you’d rather avoid the hustle of arranging your transport, numerous organized day trips are available, combining a visit to Knossos with a tour of Heraklion Town and the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion.

Book the Knossos and Heraklion tour

12. Watch a film at an open-air cinema

Category: Other

Open-air cinemas are the trademark of Greek summer nights. In Rethymno, you will find the historic Asteria, which has been running since 1964, putting on a choice selection of films. Located in a verdant spot under the shadow of the imposing Fortezza Fortress, it matches the colors and the romantic summer mood that are so typical of open-air cinemas. Thus, one of the best things to do on a warm summer night is to get an appetizing snack from the cinema cantine and watch a film of your choice under the starlit sky, surrounded by the fragrant aroma of jasmine and other flowers.

13. Join the parade during the carnival

Category: Events

With a long history that goes back more than one hundred years, the Rethymno Carnival deserves to be called the “Carnival of Crete”! With a plethora of exhilarating events that take up a whole month, it culminates in a vibrant parade of carnivalists and floats along the most central avenue of Rethymno Town. On the very next day, on Clean Monday, the inhabitants of Rethymno revive a series of quaint customs like the Camel, a Dionysiac custom that made a comeback in the 19th century. So, one of the best things to do if you find yourself in the area during Carnival time, is to join the parade and experience Rethymno’s unique and hilarious traditions!

14. Try scuba diving

Category: Sports

The crystal clear waters of Crete, with their colorful reefs and rich marine life, are ideal for trying your hand at scuba diving; whether you’re a complete beginner or an advanced diver, you are sure to find a program that will help you take your skills to the next level.

Discover the diving clubs

15. Take part in a cooking workshop

Category: Workshops

One of the best things to do in order to take back home with you an experience that will truly stay with you for a lifetime is to have a cooking workshop with a local chef. Learn how to make a selection of traditional Greek appetizers, main courses and desserts, like kalitsounia and a variety of pies, and explore the secrets of the world-renowned Cretan cuisine. At the end of the class, you will have the chance to dine in your local host’s home and taste all the delicacies you will have cooked, to the accompaniment of excellent wine or raki.

Book a cooking workshop

16. Attend the Rethymno Renaissance Festival

Category: Festivals

A variety of cultural and religious festivals are hosted in Rethymno every year, allowing visitors to take part and acquaint themselves with Cretan culture. The one that really stands out, however, is the Renaissance Festival, which takes place in the Erofili Theater, inside the imposing Fortezza. Inspired by the town’s Venetian legacy, this colorful event proposes series of theatrical performances, concerts, dance shows, film screenings and art exhibitions that aim to promote both the Cretan and the European Renaissance. Over the years, it has put up all the works of the 16th and 17th-century Cretan playwrights, as well as a number of plays by Shakespeare, Moliere, Goldoni and the Commedia dell’ arte with the participation of artists from all over the world. This is definitely one of the best things to do to immerse yourself in Rethymno’s Renaissance ambience.

More festivals in Rethymno

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But that's not all! There are a lot more things to do, from taking a yoga lesson to enjoying a cup of traditional Greek coffee or a freddo at one of the numerous cafes!
We invite you to explore even more options that the island has to offer:

DISCOVER MORE ABOUT RETHYMNO