About Rethymnon Region
A place of contrasts, boasting a long and remarkable history as well as untouched places of natural beauty and living traditions, the prefecture of Rethymnon is situated on the island of Crete, abutting the Cretan Sea in the north and the Libyan Sea in the South. The prefecture terrain is mostly mountainous with small but interesting morphological changes such as imposing gorges, a large number of caves, lush valleys and small rivers.
Rethymnon is the the province's capital. Ideally situated almost equidistant from either airport this has a mediaeval old town as well as the longest beach on Crete!
The mediaeval old town of Rethymnon, with its narrow streets, Venetian palaces and Turkish minarets has a distinct atmosphere. Along with the numerous seemingly unlimited sights to see and the beautiful old town, with the Venetian “Fortezza” or fortress, the scenic harbour, and the many enticing tavernas, cafes and restaurants with wonderful Cretan delicacies, Rethymnon has one of the most magnificent fine sandy beaches, which stretches to the east almost as far as the eye can see. Altogether between Rethymnon to the town of Prinos there are no less than 8 beaches, which have been awarded the European Blue Flag. There is much to delight in exploring the many different archaeological sites, monasteries, churches, Venetian and Turkish monuments and memorials, and of course there are numerous museums to explore. Because of the central position of Rethymnon and the excellent bus service, there is also the chance, should you wish, to visit virtually all of Crete on days out.
You may prefer to stay in a small village: Bali or Panormos would fit the bill or even Plakias, sandwiched between sea and mountains, with one of the loveliest bays on Crete.
Bali was originally a small fishing hamlet, but over the years has grown into a bustling tourist village, with pretty white houses and lots of flowers set closely around little hillsides, overlooking the little fishing harbour and the sea. The delightful way in which this tucked-away village hugs the coastline of hills and valleys makes it an attractive and romantic spot, with restaurants and tavernas jumbling together close to the water's edge. Life is easy going and simple with lots of opportunity to bask in the sun or to enjoy the sea at a number of tiny sand and shingle beaches, and Bali offers a large choice of tavernas, restaurants, little shops, and a disco. One of the little coves is for naturist sun-bathing. It is 32 km to Rethymnon and about 46 km to Heraklion or a 45 minute drive, with the main highway just about 2 km out of the village and a regular bus service on the highway to both towns. From Bali there are plenty of worthwhile sightseeing opportunities, for example the Melidoni cave in the traditional mountain village of Margarites, or the old pottery works.
The small seaside village of Panormos lies between Heraklion (about 50 min) and Rethymnon (about 15 min) on the north coast of Crete. Visitors have always been welcomed into a warm and friendly traditional atmosphere, which the locals retain to the present day. Panormos is ideal for children, not only because they are given a warm welcome in the village, but because there are small sand and pebble beaches and shallow waters. This authentic Cretan village with its narrow streets and bright geraniums is the perfect place for those who want to escape a little and enjoy the peace and tranquility of Cretan life. There is a good selection of cafes, traditional tavernas, a butcher, a baker and shops where you can sample the local food and drink at reasonable prices. Panormos is the site of an old port used during Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine times, and there is still much to see from the past. The surrounding area is ideal for walkers who wish to explore the countryside. Buses go regularly to Rethymnon or to Heraklion (about 50 minute journey) making Panormos an ideal base from which to explore many parts of Crete. For culturally interested outings you may choose to visit the Monasteries of Arkadi and Preveli, and the world famous Minoan Palace of Knossos. Otherwise you may wish to explore the wilderness wonders of the Samaria Gorge, or simply take time to visit the mountain villages, for example the village of Margarites where traditional pottery and wood carving are still being produced.
The old Cretan fishing village of Plakias with its small harbour, lies in a particularly beautiful landscape between the Libyan Sea and majestic mountains that edge down to one of the loveliest bays on the south coast. It is about one and a half hour’s drive from Chania or Heraklion. Many years ago, there were only a few houses, but today, because of its delightful setting, the village has spread to cater for the growing numbers of tourists, who have told each other of this special place that they have found. However, it still retains its particular Cretan character and has kept its laid back charm. The bay has a long sand and shingle beach between headlands that gets sandier the farther you go from the village. Not far from the old harbour are tiny bays and small coves where you can find quiet spots to sunbathe and swim. Boats sail daily to a variety of beaches, some of which have a good selection of water sports and the whole area is ideal for swimming, and sunbathing in a blissfully uncrowded setting. There is a variety of amenities for visitors and surrounding mountainous countryside. For short trips with minimum effort Preveli, the Venetian fortress at Frangokastello and the Minoan site at Phaistos are all well worth a visit. Further afield to the east you may like to visit the cliff caves of Matala and the ancient Roman capital of Gortys, or to the west the picturesque old town of Rethymnon and the atmospheric old Monastery of Arkadi.
Where to visit
Originally a small fishing hamlet which has grown into a bustling tourist village, with pretty white houses and lots of flowers.
This authentic village with its narrow streets is perfect for those who want to enjoy peace and tranquility.