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Rethymno

Round-trip distance is 85 kilometers

Bernard Gagnon, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Lighthouse, Venetian Harbor, Rethymno. Bernard Gagnon, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons
Bernard Gagnon, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Lighthouse, Venetian Harbor, Rethymno. Bernard Gagnon, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons
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Rethymno is a short 42-kilometer (26-mile) drive from Gavalochori. With a population of 40,000, the city offers you a variety of experiences. A very walkable city that greatly restricts the use of cars, the city has retained a great deal of its Venetian architectural character and has one of the best preserved old towns in Greece. There are many things to see and experience in Rethymno, and you’ll want to augment the suggestions below with an updated book or online travel guide on the city. You can enjoy much of Rethymno in a day, but a deeper dive into the city could easily consume another day or two.

 

 

Major Historic Sites

Fortezza

The well-preserved Fortezza is a large fort complex that was built by the Venetians during the 16th century to protect the town. The walls of the fort enclose a number of buildings, including a mosque, some churches, the houses of political or religious leaders, and an armory.

Rimondi Fountain

Located in the heart of Old Town, the Rimondi Fountain is an elaborately designed structure dating to 1626. Fed by springs, the fountain has served as a source of water for centuries. According to legend, if you drink water from the lion-head spouts, you will be granted eternal youth.

Neratze Mosque

Like many religious buildings in Crete, this mosque, located in the center of Old Town, was initially built as a Christian church. With the conquest of Crete by the Turks, it became a mosque and then was reconverted into a church. Today, it serves as a center for musical performances. 

 

 

Museums

Archaeological Museum of Rethymno

This museum covers the Neolithic through the Roman periods on Crete. Although small, it contains several impressive exhibitions. It is temporarily housed in the Church of Agios Frangiskos until a new museum can be constructed.

Paleontological Museum

Housed in a former mosque, the museum contains an array of fossils and geologic specimens related to Crete.

Ecclesiastical Museum

This museum contains exhibits that showcase the ecclesiastical and cultural history of Rethymno, including carved screens, ornaments, clerical vestments, icons, and manuscripts. It is opposite the cathedral in Mitropoleos Square.

Museum of Contemporary Art

This modern exhibition space housed in a Venetian building offers rotating exhibitions by contemporary Greek artists.

 

 

Shopping

The Old Town area of Rethymno and the streets radiating off of it have a wide variety of shops and fewer low-end souvenir shops than many towns and villages on Crete. The pedestrian-friendly streets and alleys of this area allow you to enjoy both the architecture of the city and to shop unhindered by traffic. 

Rethymno also has a non-tourist shopping district frequented by the locals that you can find along Kountouriotou Street.

 

 

Restaurants

Rethymno has a wide array of restaurants. As in all cities, the quality of restaurant food varies, and restaurants come and go in somewhat unpredictable ways. It’s worth spending a bit of time researching restaurants in Rethymno so you don’t miss establishments that offer exceptional food. Here is a link to a good site that explores restaurant options.

 

 

Open-Air Cinema

If you spend a day in Rethymno during the tourist season, you might want to stay for a movie in its open-air cinema, the Asteria, which is located on the edge of Old Town. It operates in late spring through early fall with an ambitious selection of new and old films, many of which are subtitled. Movies start at sunset (usually at 8:45 or 9:00 p.m.), and there is often a second showing at 11:00 p.m. More information is available here.

Rethymno is a short 42-kilometer (26-mile) drive from Gavalochori. With a population of 40,000, the city offers you a variety of experiences. A very walkable city that greatly restricts the use of cars, the city has retained a great deal of its Venetian architectural character and has one of the best preserved old towns in Greece. There are many things to see and experience in Rethymno, and you’ll want to augment the suggestions below with an updated book or online travel guide on the city. You can enjoy much of Rethymno in a day, but a deeper dive into the city could easily consume another day or two.

 

 

Major Historic Sites

Fortezza

The well-preserved Fortezza is a large fort complex that was built by the Venetians during the 16th century to protect the town. The walls of the fort enclose a number of buildings, including a mosque, some churches, the houses of political or religious leaders, and an armory.

Rimondi Fountain

Located in the heart of Old Town, the Rimondi Fountain is an elaborately designed structure dating to 1626. Fed by springs, the fountain has served as a source of water for centuries. According to legend, if you drink water from the lion-head spouts, you will be granted eternal youth.

Neratze Mosque

Like many religious buildings in Crete, this mosque, located in the center of Old Town, was initially built as a Christian church. With the conquest of Crete by the Turks, it became a mosque and then was reconverted into a church. Today, it serves as a center for musical performances. 

 

 

Museums

Archaeological Museum of Rethymno

This museum covers the Neolithic through the Roman periods on Crete. Although small, it contains several impressive exhibitions. It is temporarily housed in the Church of Agios Frangiskos until a new museum can be constructed.

Paleontological Museum

Housed in a former mosque, the museum contains an array of fossils and geologic specimens related to Crete.

Ecclesiastical Museum

This museum contains exhibits that showcase the ecclesiastical and cultural history of Rethymno, including carved screens, ornaments, clerical vestments, icons, and manuscripts. It is opposite the cathedral in Mitropoleos Square.

Museum of Contemporary Art

This modern exhibition space housed in a Venetian building offers rotating exhibitions by contemporary Greek artists.

 

 

Shopping

The Old Town area of Rethymno and the streets radiating off of it have a wide variety of shops and fewer low-end souvenir shops than many towns and villages on Crete. The pedestrian-friendly streets and alleys of this area allow you to enjoy both the architecture of the city and to shop unhindered by traffic. 

Rethymno also has a non-tourist shopping district frequented by the locals that you can find along Kountouriotou Street.

 

 

Restaurants

Rethymno has a wide array of restaurants. As in all cities, the quality of restaurant food varies, and restaurants come and go in somewhat unpredictable ways. It’s worth spending a bit of time researching restaurants in Rethymno so you don’t miss establishments that offer exceptional food. Here is a link to a good site that explores restaurant options.

 

 

Open-Air Cinema

If you spend a day in Rethymno during the tourist season, you might want to stay for a movie in its open-air cinema, the Asteria, which is located on the edge of Old Town. It operates in late spring through early fall with an ambitious selection of new and old films, many of which are subtitled. Movies start at sunset (usually at 8:45 or 9:00 p.m.), and there is often a second showing at 11:00 p.m. More information is available here.

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