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Guide to Rethymno’s Colourful Old Town

Rethymno is considered one of the most beautiful cities in Crete. Located between Chania and Heraklion, it’s very close to magnificent beaches and natural landscapes.

This romantic city with a relaxing atmosphere boasts picturesque alleyways, a stunning mix of architecture, history and cultural influences in styles ranging from Venetian to Ottoman Empire.

Old Town of Rethymno 

Featuring bright Venetian mansions, charming courtyards, historic churches, minareted mosques, elaborate fountains, and ornate doorframes; the Old Town is worth a visit any time of year- where you can explore a place that’s filled with rich history, friendly locals, and a delightful range of places to eat. 

Insights Greece - Guide to Rethymno’s Colourful Old Town
One of Crete’s most beautiful towns

Discover History & Landmarks

– A walk around the Old Town of Rethymnon allows visitors the chance to view the magnificent Venetian Architecture, that was mostly built by the Venetians in the 16th century. Strolling around the picturesque alleys of Rethymnon, you can admire the imposing Venetian buildings with their distinct style. 

Insights Greece - Guide to Rethymno’s Colourful Old Town
Alleyways filled with a rich history

-The Venetian Loggia is a 16th-century Venetian building situated right in the heart of the Old Town. Originally open and covered with a wooden roof, the Loggia was a meeting place for Venetian officials.

-Continuing down Ethnikis Antistaseos, you arrive at the Church of St Francis, built by the Venetians as a Franciscan Friary church. The building now houses Rethymno’s Archaeological Museum. 

-The Neratzi Mosque with its huge minaret (built in 1890) and three domes is an impressive building that was originally the Katholikon (main church) of an Augustinian monastery and today, it is also known as the Minaret/Odeon of Rethymno– a music hall that hosts concerts. 

-At Platanos Square, you’ll walk past a range of wonderful eateries and then arrive at the famous Rimondi Fountain. Constructed in 1626, it supplied Rethymno with fresh water from Mount Vrysinas and is one of the most popular spots of the Old Town. What makes it even more special is that the three lion heads of the fountain still spill water into their basins, as they did when the Venetians built it in 1626. 

Mikrasiaton Square is one of the most modern parts of the town; on the western side of the square, you will find Makri Steno (Long Alley), otherwise known as Nikiforou Foka Street. This is one of the most charming alleyways in Rethymno- with Venetian houses, stone fountains and the charming Church of Kyria ton Angelon, which is a must-see. 


Be sure to make time for the Historical and Folklore Museum, situated in a 17th-century manor house, and the Archaeological Museum, opposite the main gate of the Fortezza. Here you will discover ancient artifacts and items that reveal so much about the Cretan history and Cretan Folklore culture.

Local Delicacies & Dishes

Rethymno allows visitors to taste authentic Cretan flavours and cuisine, at the many taverns, restaurants and cafes that serve delicious Cretan recipes and local products. One of the best things to do is to walk around and discover traditional eateries housed in old buildings with charming gardens, Rakadika- that serve mezedes that accompany local raki, and quaint little tavernas that are run by locals. 

Insights Greece - Guide to Rethymno’s Colourful Old Town
Cretan delicacies

Definitely try 

  • Antikristo (roast lamb)
  • Skioufixta (traditional Cretan pasta)
  • Staka (Cretan dairy product)
  • Kalitsounia (traditional sweets)
  • Apaki (smoked pork)
  • Dakos (Cretan rusks topped with tomato and cheese) 
  • Gamopilafo (‘Wedding’ pilaf with goat or rooster)
  • Tsigaristo (slow-cooked lamb)
  • Hochli (snails)
  • Apaki (cured pork)
  • Boureki (courgette and potato pie)
  • Raki (Crete’s famous spirit) 
Insights Greece - Guide to Rethymno’s Colourful Old Town
Lemonokipos Restaurant

Where to Eat 

-At 30 Vernardou Street, you will find the workshop of Mr. Hatziparaschos, the last traditional phyllo master who is well-renowned for making ultra-thin phyllo pastry. Here you can watch the talented master in action and also try his famous pastry. 

Laiki (open market) If you are in town on a Thursday or Saturday morning, you can check out the open-air market, called the Laiki, while those in town on Wednesday afternoon can visit the farmer’s market.

– Avli restaurant, a wonderful restaurant where you will experience true Cretan cuisine and hospitality. 

Insights Greece - Guide to Rethymno’s Colourful Old Town
Avli Restaurant | Image by Melissa Peltenburg (Copyright)|

– Veneto Restaurant is another great spot that serves dishes using fresh, seasonal and local Cretan products.  

Lemonokipos is an all-day family restaurant in the centre of town and offers authentic Cretan and Mediterranean cuisine.

Hasika, is a quaint restaurant in the old town of Rethymnon, with head chef Michalis Chasikos serving Cretan cuisine with a nod to the rest of Greece. 

Castelo in the heart of town is a classic restaurant serving modern Cretan cuisine. 

-For coffee or brunch head to Cul de Sac, Living Room, or Fraoules. 

– For sweets and pastries make your way over to Mona Lisa Skartsilakis, Yaourtaki, Fournos Apostolakis and Fournos Sampson

Where to Shop

-The archway of the Guora Gate opens up to Ethnikis Antistaseos Street, which leads onto Platia Mikrasiaton and is the heart of the historic centre, filled with a range of shops. 

Insights Greece - Guide to Rethymno’s Colourful Old Town
Meiz Concept Store

Souliou Street, here you will find a range of locally made jewellery, art, sandals and other fashion accessories as well as books, pottery, beauty products, plus herbs, honey and food items. 

Meiz Concept Store in the heart of town is a lovely boutique that stocks a range of fashion items made by local Greek designers. 

Muses Rethymno is another great boutique for those in search of unique Greek designer fashion. 

-For contemporary souvenirs make your way over to Greek Unique

Where To Sleep 

– Avli Suites is a wonderful place to stay in the heart of the old town of Rethymno with one of the best restaurants in Crete.

Insights Greece - Guide to Rethymno’s Colourful Old Town
Palazzino Di Corina

The historical Palazzino Di Corina is located in a quiet street in the heart of Rethymno’s Old Town. It offers a 24-hour front desk, nearby parking, and an outdoor pool.   

-Set amidst the Renaissance Venetian architecture of Rethymnon Old Town, Rimondi Boutique Hotels is located in a narrow, quiet alley next to Rethymno’s charming old town.

-Mythos Suites Boutique Hotel, is a superb boutique hotel featuring 15 stunning rooms and suites with unique character. 

How to get to Rethymnon

There is no airport in Rethymno. From Athens, you can fly to Chania and then drive to Rethymno, which takes around an hour. You can get to Rethymnon by ferry from mainland Greece and the Cyclades. In the winter, the ferry route from Piraeus to Rethymnon is operated with Heraklion or Chania as an intermediate station. Then, Rethymno is a 1-hour drive from both Cretan cities. In the summer, there are direct ferries to Rethymnon from the ports of Piraeus and Rafina.


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