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Best things to do in Rethymnon

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Where in the world: Europe  /  Greece  /  Crete  /  Rethymnon Prefecture  /  Rethymnon

Top 15 things to do in Rethymnon

1. Rethymnon Old Town

Nestled between the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean and the remains of a 15th-century fortress, Rethymnon Old Town offers a labyrinth of narrow backstreets, soaked in history and lined by balconied private homes. Built almost entirely by the Venetians, this "palia poli" (old town) maintains its aristocratic medieval appearance, featuring graceful arched doorways and stone staircases. Indisputably one of Crete's best-preserved old towns, this neighborhood also contains the ruins of Byzantine and Hellenic-Roman structures, as well as a 17th century Islamic mosque located inside a building that once served as a Venetian church. Start your exploration at the neighborhood's landmark Venetian loggia, which houses the town's tourist information office.
Suggested duration: 1 hour
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2. Monastery of Arkadi

Resembling a fortress, the Eastern Orthodox Monastery of Arkadi served as an important site of Cretan resistance against the Ottoman rule. During the Cretan revolt of 1866, women, the elderly, and children sought refuge from battle in the monastery's powder room. When the Ottomans reached the powder room, the hidden Cretans lit the gunpowder, killing themselves, as well as many Turkish soldiers. Explore this important national site and admire the varied architecture of the complex. Make sure to spend time in the 16th century church. The striking construction was heavily influenced by Renaissance art. Take care to be respectful of the many pilgrims who come here for spiritual reasons.
Suggested duration: 3 hours
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3. The Venetian Fortezza

A relic of the Venetian occupation of Rethymon, The Venetian Fortezza stands in the center of town, offering 360-degree views of the coast below. In 1580, more than 107,00 Cretans were forced to help build the fort to protect the Venetians' last overseas colony. Unfortunately, several flaws, such as the lack of buttresses and a ditch, made the walls easy to scale without a ladder. In 1646, the Ottomans seized the fortress and settled the area inside. Many of the interior buildings have been destroyed, but the exterior fortifications remain intact.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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4. Off-Road Tours

Suggested duration: 2 hours
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5. Heraklion Archaeological Museum, Heraklion

A vanished culture comes alive at Heraklion Archaeological Museum, which holds the remains of the 3,000-year-old Minoan civilization. The museum's famous collection of artifacts spans more than five millennia, from the Neolithic period to Roman times. The museum's twenty rooms display the most important and representative finds uncovered at several different excavation sites on Crete, including an enigmatic clay disc from the second millennium BCE. Its meaning and purpose have been disputed since its discovery in 1908; the disc remains one of archaeology's most famous unresolved mysteries. For a better understanding of the lost culture represented here, opt for a guided tour of the collection plus a visit to the archaeological sites near the city.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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6. The Palace of Knossos, Knosos

Built over a Neolithic town, The Palace of Knossos represented the ceremonial and political center of Minoan civilization on Crete. English archaeologist Arthur Evans made his name by working on the excavation and partial restoration of this ancient palace for over three decades, beginning in 1900. The palace complex contains a maze of living spaces, workshops, banquet halls, shrines, and storerooms, built around a central square sometime between 2000 and 1350 BCE. To gain a glimpse into the wealth and sophistication of the Minoan culture, hop on a bus in nearby Heraklion and join a guided tour of the palace's labyrinthine corridors, so vast they gave rise to the popular legend of King Minos and the Minotaur.
Suggested duration: 3 hours
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8. The Holy Monastery of Preveli

Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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9. Old Venetian Harbor, Chania Town

A remnant of the Venetian rule in Crete, Old Venetian Harbor sits at the heart of Chania's old town. Although this part of the city suffered massive damage during the bombing raids of World War II, the medieval harbor remains one of the most picturesque urban districts on the island. This old waterfront neighborhood contains some of Crete's finest Venetian mansions, restored and upgraded in the last few decades to accommodate boutique hotels, trendy restaurants, and elegant bars. The remains of the Venetian city walls frame a network of narrow backstreets extending from the harbor, where you can often find local artisans selling handmade crafts.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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10. Old Venetian Harbour of Rethymno

The beating heart of Chania, Old Venetian Harbour of Rethymno was once an important port. The Venetian shipyards still stand, but today they're home to hip restaurants and bars constructed to follow the curve of the harbor. The wide pathways around the harbor provide room for the crowds of visitors that come for romantic strolls near the water. A small mosque in the center hosts traveling vendors offering traditionally made handicrafts. Consider a stay at one of the many hotels with a view of the sea.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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12. Historical Museum of Crete, Heraklion

Gain an understanding of Cretan history through exhibits spanning from the Byzantine era to World War II at Historical Museum of Crete. Founded in 1953 in a neoclassical building formerly known as the House of Kalokerinos, the museum showcases the Nikos Kazantzakis collection, featuring the study and library from the author's home in Antibes, France, manuscripts of his works, and first editions of his books in various languages. Two of the finest exhibits are the only paintings by El Greco in Crete: The Baptism of Christ (1567) and View of Mt. Sinai and the monastery of St. Catherine 1570). Ceramics, sculptures, coins, jewelry, and a wide range of heirlooms highlight the everyday life on Crete during various historical periods. Rent an audio guide for more information about each exhibit and take a break with a sea view at the cafe deck.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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13. The Natural History Museum of Crete, Heraklion

The Natural History Museum of Crete remains dedicated to the plant and animal life of the Eastern Mediterranean region, with an emphasis on Greece and Crete. View fascinating exhibits like the representations of ecosystems; an elephant-like, nearly complete skeleton of one of the largest species that ever lived on earth; an earthquake simulator; and interactive discovery displays for children. Do not miss the living-animal exhibit with small aquariums housing native creatures.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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14. Aquaworld Aquarium & Reptile Rescue Centre, Hersonissos

Discover the wild side of Crete at Aquaworld Aquarium & Reptile Rescue Centre, which displays both local sea life and exotic reptiles. Founded in 1995, this natural history museum provides a safe home for animals injured in the wild, as well as unwanted pets. The aquarium features 15 tanks, two pools, and several terrariums which serve as recreated natural habitats for various species of snakes, sea turtles, frogs, lizards, and fish. You can have your picture taken with most of these wild animals, or learn about their feeding and breeding habits from the staff. Join a daily guided tour to gain insight into the local efforts to protect and care for Crete's native wildlife.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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