Panormos, Crete: Complete Guide by a Local

Panormos Crete - port

A delightful coastal village on the northern coast of the Rethymnon region, Panormos is a popular destination with a calm, laid-back atmosphere.

Boasting a picturesque harbor, beautiful winding alleys, and seaside fish tavernas, Panormos is surrounded by a scenic landscape and offers a more authentic Cretan experience than bustling (and often overpriced) tourist resorts in other parts of the island. If you plan to visit, keep this Panormos guide handy during your trip!

Posts include affiliate links to products or services. I might earn a commission if you make a purchase.

Things to Do in Panormos Crete

panormos crete

>> Join our Facebook Group!

Be sure to book ahead of time to ensure availability!

🛎️ Find the best hotels in Crete here

📍 Top tours I recommend on the island:
Boat cruise to Balos Lagoon & Gramvousa
Ticket to Knossos Archaeological Site

🚘 The best way to get around Crete is by car. Check rental car rates for Crete here.

📲 Book a consultation call if you need help planning your trip to Crete!

Get your copy now and unlock Rethymnon’s secrets like a local!

Essential Things to Know about Panormos

panormos crete

Panormos is a delightful coastal village on the northern coast of Crete, in the region of Rethymnon and about 22 kilometers east of Rethymno Town. 

Panormo’s harbor is the lively heart of the village, housing colorful fishing boats bobbing in the clear waters of the shore.

panormos crete

Essentially a tranquil and traditional settlement, the place offers a limited but delightful range of activities to make your visit relaxing and memorable.

Panormos retains its authentic charm throughout the year, although it becomes livelier during summer. It’s a popular destination for those seeking a peaceful, laid-back coastal retreat away from larger tourist crowds.

Where is Panormos

panormos crete

The village is on the northern coast of Crete in the region of Rethymno. It stands about 55 km west of Heraklion, the capital of Crete, and 22 kilometers east of Rethymno town.

Its coastal location provides access to beautiful beaches, while its somewhat central position on the island makes it a perfect base to explore the western region of Chania, the eastern regions of Heraklion and Lasithi, and the southern coast of Crete.

How to Get There

panormos crete

You can reach Panormos by car, bus, or private transfer from nearby Rethymnon town, West Crete (Chania), or Heraklion.

From Rethymnon town, the journey by car takes approximately 30 minutes along the National Road (E75) eastwards. Public buses connect Rethymnon to Panormos regularly throughout the day. The journey takes around 40 minutes, and buses leave from the main bus station in Rethymnon.

You can travel from Chania to Panormos by car, which is about 90 minutes (about 83 km).

There are no direct bus routes connecting Chania and Panormos, so your best bet is to take the bus to Rethymnon’s main station and then change to a local bus to Panormos.

panormos crete

The most convenient way to reach Panormos from Heraklion is by driving. Depending on traffic conditions, the journey takes approximately 1 hour (59 km). As always in Crete, renting a car allows you to explore the area at your own pace.

Public buses operate between Heraklion and Panormos, providing affordable transportation. The service runs regularly throughout the day, but the frequency may vary depending on the season.

The journey takes around 1 to 1.5 hours. Buses depart from Heraklion’s central bus station.

>> Which car rental service is the best to choose? If you want to rent a car for your trip, consider Discover Cars, a worldwide car rental booking engine.

Best Things to Do in Panormos, Crete

panormos crete

Panormos is a great place to stay in Crete, with a few interesting things to do. The place is quiet and relaxing; you don’t need to do any of these if you’d rather spend the whole vacation by the sea!

However, if you feel like exploring and moving around after a few days of total relaxation, you won’t be disappointed. The region is rich in history, natural beauty, and cultural attractions. These are some of the things you should consider.

Panormos Beach

panormos crete

The main beach of Panormos is a sandy stretch located in the village. It offers clear turquoise waters and a relaxed atmosphere.

The shore is quite shallow, and the bay is sheltered, two ingredients making it a great beach for families with kids.

panormos crete
Unorganized part of the beach near the harbor.

Panormos Beach is organized with sunbeds and umbrellas, and there are tavernas and snack bars nearby where you can grab a refreshment or get everything you might need for a whole day by the sea.

The beach has a mix of fine, dark sand, some pebbles, and crystal-clear waters, and it is a good place to go snorkeling. 

Besides featuring an organized area, you will find some quiet spots along the shore to lay out your towel and unwind. 

Check out Panormos Port

panormos crete

Small but incredibly picturesque, the small harbor of Panormos is another spot to visit.

Head to Panormos’ harbor early in the morning for fantastic photo opportunities or to watch the fishing boats come and go.

panormos crete

Take a peaceful walk along the waterfront promenade at sunrise or sunset, or sit at a waterfront cafe for a relaxing moment while taking in the beautiful views.

Watersports in Panormos

panormos crete

Although not as popular as on other coastal settlements north of the island, Panormos offers various water sports.

For instance, you can go jet skiing, paddle boarding, or take a boat tour to explore the coastline and nearby coves. Check out local tour companies to find out more.

Try Some Authentic Cretan Seafood

panormos crete

Although Crete’s gastronomy emphasizes meat and vegetable dishes, Panormos is a great place to visit if you’re looking to enjoy fresh seafood and fish. 

The local restaurants and taverns deserve a special paragraph regarding this kind of cuisine. They specialize in super-fresh seafood and fish. When you visit, try the local sea bream, which locals call tsipoura. It’s delicious.

panormos crete

They also have a wide choice of vegan and vegetarian dishes made with seasonal produce sourced from the area. Seaside restaurants in Panormos are the perfect setting to soak in the coastal ambiance of the settlement.

Discover the Cretan Spirit of Panormos Village

panormos crete

Panormos is truly picturesque, with winding alleys, some steep and heading down to the sea.

They feature old traditional houses built with local stone and respect the architectural style of the island. These houses have yards and balconies, Venetian arches, and are built with local stone.

Most homes feature thick walls, which help keep the interior cool in hot summers and warm in winter.

panormos crete

The houses often have two or three floors, balconies, terraces, or enclosed courtyards or patios adorned with potted plants, herbs, flowers, and sometimes trees.

Houses in Panormos are often painted in earthy tones, and their facades feature colorful doors and shutters and other decorative elements like arches and stone carvings.

panormos crete

A walk in Panormos allows you to soak in the atmosphere of the village, with its typical sense of neighborhood and connection.

The houses’ proximity fosters a close-knit community feel that’s common in the more secluded villages of Crete, often located in the mountains.

panormos crete

This unique atmosphere, not common in a seaside village, is enhanced by the common sight of neighbors sitting and chatting outside their homes or engaging in daily activities.

Overall, the village houses of Panormos exude a sense of history, tradition, and local character.

Their architecture and design elements reflect Crete’s cultural heritage while providing comfortable and inviting spaces for residents and visitors alike.

Experience Local Festivals

panormos crete
Cretan music

Especially if you visit during summer, you may have the opportunity to witness traditional festivals and cultural events that are the essence of the Cretan spirit.

These festivals often include music, dancing, traditional costumes, abundant local food, and rivers of local wine.

These traditional celebrations (locally known as panigiri) prove a real glimpse into Cretan traditions and celebrations.

Purchase Cretan Souvenirs

panormos crete
Souvenir shop in Panormos.

Souvenir-hunting can also be fun in Panormos. Although there are a few souvenir shops in the village, they mainly focus on local products, including dry herbs, carob and carob-derived products, thyme honey, homemade jams, local cheese, and extra virgin olive oil.

You can also purchase local ceramics and typical Cretal fabrics and embroidery here.

Visit the Old Town of Rethymno

panormos crete
Veli Pasha Mosque, Rethymnon.

If you’re discovering Crete for the first time and want to experience its picturesque cities, you must visit the Old Town of Rethymnon. Rethymnon City is within easy reach from Panormos (Rethymnon is 21 km west of Panormos)

The small old town features a big pedestrian area with narrow cobblestone alleys, ancient Venetian and Turkish houses, and beautiful mosques.

panormos crete
Rethymnon’s Fortezza.

In Rethymnon, you can explore the ancient Venetian Fortezza, the old port, and the lighthouse, as well as the Archaeological Museum of Rethymnon (you can check out all Rethymnon’s museums here) and some of the best restaurants on the island.

Explore Perama

panormos crete
Perama (via Wikipedia by C Messie).

Approximately 10 kilometers east of Panormos, Perama is a small town and an important commercial hub in Rethymnon serving the surrounding area. Besides, it has recently become a popular tourist village as well.

Here, you will find shops, restaurants, and convenient services, including doctors, pharmacies, and banks. Perama is also home to the Historical Museum of Crete, an interesting place to visit during your stay.


Minoan Horns, Minoan Palace, Crete

While this important archaeological site is located a bit further away (about 90 km east of Panormos) and can be considered a whole-day excursion, if this is your first visit to the island, I highly suggest visiting the ancient Minoan Palace of Knossos.

Especially if you’re a history buff and want a unique insight into Crete’s ancient civilization.

There are plenty of organized tours of Knossos available. However, you can also visit with a copy of my guide to Knossos on your phone.

Visit the Early Christian Basilica of Agia Sofia

panormos crete
(Courtesy Tripadvisor).

The Early Christian Basilica of Agia Sofia, also known as the Church of Agia Sofia, is a significant archaeological site in the southern area of Panormo.

Believed to have been built between the fifth and sixth centuries AD, the ruins of the ancient church are an important example of early Christian architecture in Crete.

The basilica was discovered during excavations in the 1940s. Considered one of the largest basilicas found in Crete, it was 54 meters long and over 20 meters wide.

Experts believe that a Saracen invasion in the seventh century violently destroyed it, but it remained an active church for a few more centuries.

Day Trips and Excursions from Panormos, Crete

panormos crete
Preveli Monastery.

Enjoying a strategic central position on the northern coast, Panormos is a great base from which to explore the region of Rethymnon and the surrounding area.

Just a short distance from the village, you’ll find scenic hiking trails for long walks among the olive groves and trees. Alternatively, you can rent a car and venture further into the mountains to discover traditional Cretan villages.

These are some of the places close to Panormos that are ideal for a day trip.


panormos crete
Margarites, Crete.

This is one of the most popular traditional villages in Rethymnon and Crete. It is known for its pottery craftsmanship.

The village is easy to reach since it’s only 13 km inland from Panormos. Here, you can discover the island’s ancient pottery tradition, visit old Byzantine churches, check out the Margarites Gorge, and taste some incredible Cretan food in the village’s main square.

  • Margarites is 13 km from Panormos.


panormos crete

Another amazing place to discover in the Rethymnon area is the mountain village of Spili, famous for the unique central square where dozens of lion heads give life to one of the most beautiful fountain complexes ever made by the Venetians.

The traditional village is about 50 minutes from Panormos, is perfect for a mountain day trip, and is an excellent destination to purchase Cretan souvenirs such as embroidery, honey, and locally made tsikoudia.

If you’re visiting Plakias or Preveli Beach in the region’s south, stop in Spili along the way!

  • Spili is 47 km from Panormos.


panormos crete

Not far from Panormos, Bali is a popular coastal settlement home to several beautiful villages. If you don’t wish to travel far, Bali can be an excellent day trip from Panormos; in fact, it is only a ten-minute car ride from Panormos.

  • Bali is 13 km from Panormos

Preveli Monastery

panormos crete
Preveli Monastery.

Head south to discover one of the most beautiful beaches on the island (Preveli Beach) and the ancient Preveli Monastery, about 50 km south of Panormos.

The place played a vital role during all the battles Crete fought for its final independence. For instance, during the Battle of Crete (1941) against the invading German forces, it functioned as a shelter for the Allied soldiers on the island.

Besides visiting the monastery, you can also hike to the palm tree beach and discover the unique beauty of the place where a mountain river meets the coast and reaches the sea.

  • Preveli Monastery is 53 km from Panormos.

If you want to learn about more excursions from Panormos, head to this complete guide to Bali village in the same region.

Where to Eat in Panormos, Crete

panormos crete

Since Panormos is a popular destination among visitors, there are many places to eat in town. Panormos offers different dining options that cater to all tastes. Here are some recommended places to eat.

  • Kastro Cretan Cuisine: This is one of the most popular and best-reviewed places to eat in Panormos. This traditional taverna in the heart of Panormos serves authentic Cretan cuisine, focusing on fresh seafood. The menu features grilled octopus, stuffed vegetables, and many other local specialties. Check out the website and the reviews.
  • Taverna Geronymos: Outstanding Cretan food and super kind service are just two of the everyday things clients must say about the family-run tavern. Their affordable menu includes local delicacies such as kalitsounia and grilled meat. Check out the website and the reviews.
  • Porto Parasiris: Genuine local dishes with a modern twist, this is a top place to eat in Panormos. The place is also suitable for cocktails, and the views are to die for. Check out the menu and the reviews.

Breakfast and Bakeries in Panormos:

  • Vinzi Cafe Cocktail Bar is a great place to enjoy a delicious breakfast by the sea and afternoon cocktails. Check out the website and the reviews.

These are just a few suggested places to eat in Panormos. Exploring the village and trying different tavernas will allow you to discover more about the local cuisine!

Best Areas to Stay in Panormos

panormos crete

Since this is a small village, there are no distinct neighborhoods to choose from. However, some locations in the settlement offer convenient access to the different amenities and attractions.

Panormos Beachfront

One of the most popular choices is to stay close to the sea, beachfront properties sell fast!

This part of the village offers easy access to the beach and features a wide range of hotels, resorts, and apartments for rent. A stay here guarantees stunning sea views and proximity to beachside taverns and coffee shops.

Village Center

You can also pick a more central location in the heart of the village that is close to souvenir shops and popular tavernas.

The area features a more traditional atmosphere and gives you the chance to experience the authentic character of the village.

panormos crete

Port of Panormos

The harbor area is another good option for accommodation. This picturesque setting offers easy access to the village’s waterfront tavernas.

The place is ideal for enjoying fresh seafood and watching the sunset over the harbor with the dozens of colorful fishing boats on the waterfront.

Surrounding Countryside

If you’re seeking a more secluded experience, consider staying in the countryside surrounding Panormos.

There are many incredibly beautiful villas and apartments among olive groves and organ trees, offering peace and privacy within a short distance from the village center and the beaches.

Since Panormos is truly a small village, you’ll likely have convenient access to the beach no matter where you choose to stay.

Where to Stay in Panormos Crete

panormos crete

There are many varied places to stay in Panormos that suit all preferences and budgets.

Since the village is popular among visitors returning to Crete year after year, I recommend booking in advance to find the accommodation that best suits your needs.

These are some of the popular and best-rated properties available in town:

I publish new content about Crete almost every day! Bookmark my Crete and Practical Guides pages to learn more before your trip.

Are you dreaming of a getaway to Crete but feeling overwhelmed with planning?

  • You can join my Facebook Group, Things to Do in Crete, a friendly gathering of Crete enthusiasts.
  • With my consultation call services, I have assisted countless travelers in crafting the perfect Crete experience. Email me for more information!

Don’t forget travel insurance!

Although Crete is a safe destination, consider purchasing travel insurance to protect yourself and your loved ones from unexpected situations.

>> Join our Facebook Group!

More resources to enhance your Crete adventure

Start by checking this guide to plan a trip to Crete. Remember to explore the articles on prices in Crete, common mistakes to avoid, and helpful insider secrets. This comprehensive Crete packing list ensures you have everything you need.

When it’s time to plan, explore the best places to visit on Crete Island, discover my tours and activities, and be amazed at Crete’s incredible beaches. If you are exploring specific areas like Rethymnon or Chania, I’ve got detailed guides to help you make the most of your time.

Suggested accommodation in Rethymnon

More useful travel resources

  • Check out all the digital travel guides I’ve specifically written about Crete. They are affordable and practical to check from your mobile.
  • Welcome Pickups offers a convenient pre-paid airport transfer service.
  • To book adventures, tours, and cultural experiences, I always recommend Get Your Guide.

Pin this Complete Guide to Visit Panormos, Crete!

panormos crete

About me:

Gabi Ancarola | The Tiny Book

Gabi Ancarola

I have lived in Chania, Crete, since 2016. As a local, I have an intimate knowledge of the island. I host culinary and concierge tours and experiences in Crete and write about the island for several travel media. During the last five years, I have helped many travelers plan the perfect holiday in Crete. I co-authored DK Eyewitness Top 10 Crete and had more glasses of frappe than any regular person could ever handle.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *