52 Stunning Things to Do in Rethymnon (Region) for a Fantastic Vacation in Crete!

things to do in Rethymnon region

Rethymnon is a fascinating region in Crete located between Chania and Heraklion. It is a popular place to visit in Crete. It is home to a charming old town and incredible villages, high mountains, mysterious caves, and unique beaches.

The region of Rethymnon is a unique place to discover in any season. Suppose you’re considering spending time in town and exploring the whole region. In that case, this article is all you need to discover more than 50 things to do in the Rethymnon Region. 

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Incredible Things to Do in Rethymnon
(Region Version)

things to do in rethymnon

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Besides being one of Crete’s most hospitable regions, Rethymnon is also an excellent place where most of the island’s traditions have been kept intact.

If you thought visiting Rethymnon would only mean walking next to the Old Venetian Port or snapping a photo in Rimondi Fountain, then I must tell you… There are hundreds of exciting things to do if you’re willing to explore the vast region of Rethymnon.

things to do in rethymnon
Agios Paisios, Damnoni (Rethymnon Region).

Since it boasts quite a strategic location, it is a place that those who come to Crete every year choose as the right place to stay to explore the rest of the island.

Although I live in the region of Chania, Rethymnon is just a short drive from home, so it’s easy for me to jump in my car and visit often.

Rethymnon is a land of fantastic nature and unique traditions, so don’t miss the opportunity to explore all the region offers.

What to Do in the Region of Rethymno, Crete

In this article, you can find the best and most stunning places I’ve discovered in these six (or more) years on the island: this is my list of the best things to do in the Rethymnon Region.

1. Wander the Alleys of the Old Town

things to do in rethymnon

During your stay in Crete, don’t miss spending at least a few hours walking the alleys of the Old Town of Rethymnon.

Get lost while exploring the maze-like roads and alleys while checking out the colorful Venetian homes and Ottoman facades. 

Admire the many minarets and mosques, check out the churches, and soak in this charming seaside settlement’s bohemian atmosphere and ancient history.

Although two hours in town might be enough to scratch the surface, the old city has much to offer.

This article covers a few essential things to do in Rethymno’s Old Town because it is focused on the whole region. However, you can learn more by checking out this specific guide to Rethymnon Town.

If you need specific guides to enjoy different aspects, attractions, and other things to do in town, check out the best things to do in Rethymnon at night or what to do in Rethymnon for free, as well as the best coffee shops or the most delicious restaurants, and the best night venues.

Read more: Amazing Things to Do in Rethymnon Town

2. Get Fresh Vegetables at the Weekly Market

things to do in rethymnon
Local market.

The local laiki, or farmer’s market, is held in different neighborhoods of Rethymnon on different days of the week. It is an institution you cannot miss when exploring Rethymnon.

Depending on what day of the week you’re in town, you can check out Monday’s Farmers Market held every Monday (8 a.m. to 2 p.m.) on Kosti Palama Street, a few minutes from the Old Town.

On Thursdays, the Farmer’s Market is held in a vast parking lot on Dimitraki Street, just a few steps from Tesseris Martires Church, almost opposite Porta Guora, one of the main entrances to the Old Town. 

Here, you can buy and taste fresh and seasonal ingredients that are staples in the local cuisine.

3. Taste Legendary Sweets

things to do in rethymnon
Mr. Giorgos Hatziparaschos.

No place in town is as unique as Mr. Giorgos Hatziparaschos’ workshop. I’ve been there many times, and it’s always a pleasure to return.

Located on one of the many pedestrian alleys of the Old Town, in an ancient Venetian house, you can visit the last traditional phyllo master in Crete. A man has been making phyllo pastry by hand since WWII.

things to do in rethymnon
Having Mr. Giorgos’ baklava outside of his workshop!

During our last visit, his son told us that Mr. Giorgos started working as an apprentice when he was about twelve and went on making this special dough with Middle Eastern roots all his life.

Watching him and his family at work is amazing! His ability captured our children when he tossed the dough in the air, giving shape to an enormous air bubble!

Check out this unique phyllo pastry workshop and taste the kataifi and the baklava. This is truly one of the best things to do in Rethymnon!

  • Where to find him: Emmanoil Vernardoy Street 30, Rethymnon Old Town

4. Have a Coffee in the Public Gardens of Rethymnon

things to do in rethymnon
Rethymnon’s Municipal Garden.

Located outside the Old Town, one of the places you can visit in Rethymnon is the Municipal Garden.

The place is opposite the Four Martyrs Church and Square, a few steps from Porta Guora gate to access the historic center.

The vast green area with a playground, endless varieties of plants and trees, a fountain, and a cafeteria is the third municipal garden to be created in the city (back in 1925). Several festivals, concerts, and exhibitions occur in the area during summer.

5. Rethymnon’s Summer Festivals

things to do in rethymnon

The city of Rethymnon hosts several summer festivals which gather people from neighboring regions and which tourists also enjoy. The most important of them is the Cretan Diet Festival in July. This celebration lasts a whole week and is often held in the Public Gardens on the edges of the old town.

Locals come to celebrate Cretan food with dances, music, wine… and, of course, traditional Cretan dishes and products.

Usually, in late August, you can participate in Rethymnon’s Renaissance Festival – often held in the Venetian Fortress by the sea – where you can witness dozens of different music events.

6. Discover Crete’s History at Arkadi Monastery

Monastery of Arkadi gardens
The courtyard of Arkadi Monastery, fruit trees, and flowers.

I’ve visited Arkadi a few times since moving to the island and always find new things about its history and beautiful architecture.

Arkadi is one of Crete’s most visited religious sites and one of the many things you could do in Rethymnon.

Located only about 30 minutes from Rethymnon, Arkadi is easy to reach, and a visit guarantees a different day, admiring one of the best-known religious places in Crete, with a tragic history that deeply marked the identity of the Cretan people.

Do you want to learn more about this beautiful historic site? Check out my complete guide to visiting Arkadi Monastery.

7. Hands-on: Pottery in Margarites

things to do in rethymnon

Margarites is a gorgeous village in the region, known as the pottery village. Famous for the varied selection of pottery and ceramic workshops in the village, the place is a must-visit colorful settlement and an exciting destination for those who wish to try their hand at the wheel.

Pottery is an ancient craft in Crete, as evidenced by ancient objects found in archaeological sites around the island.

Margarites is a peaceful settlement with picturesque stone houses and a scenic main square with local taverns.

You can discover the traditional village on your own or join an organized tour with a pottery workshop for more fun!

8. Explore the Seaside Village of Bali

things to do in rethymnon

This seaside village is popular among locals and visitors alike. It’s on Rethymnon’s northern coast and houses lovely bays and sheltered beaches.

Bali offers incredible opportunities to explore the surrounding hills, isolated monasteries, and even the Melidoni Cave.

Travelers visit Bali to enjoy the fantastic Cretan tavernas and spend long days by the sea. Water sports, boat trips, and fishing are also popular activities.

You can learn more on this dedicated guide to visiting Bali.

9. Listen to a Cretan Lyra in Anogia

things to do in rethymnon
Main square in Anogeia.

One of the most beautiful and traditional settlements in the region of Rethymnon is located close to Crete’s highest peak, the Psiloritis, and it’s a place to visit for those interested in the Cretan culture.

Behind the peaceful postcard of old women weaving colorful handmade textiles and men wearing traditional black shirts and stivania (Crete’s traditional boots), the village hides a sad history.

Anogia underwent a terrible massacre when a German general was kidnapped and then sent to the village to be kept hidden.

As a countermeasure, the Nazi forces surrounded the village and killed every man who had not escaped to the mountains. The houses were also destroyed and burned during the massacre.

Anogia is also known for being the place of origin of several important Cretan Lyra players of Crete, and music now fills the village’s alleys.

10. Explore the Villages in the Amari Valley

Amari valley - Things to do in Crete
Amari Valley.

Another spectacular thing to do in the region of Rethymnon is to rent a car and set on an adventurous circuit, navigating through the valley to discover small settlements and unique villages where time seems to stand still.

Although Anogeia, Thronos, and Axos are some of the most famous, I encourage you to drive around and discover the villages without any guide.

Have lunch in a local kafenio or taverna, and enjoy the peaceful landscapes of stone houses and tiny chapels. You will discover the heartwarming hospitality of the locals and the unique pace of life typical of the Cretan mountains.

If you’re not an adventurous driver, I suggest you relax and enjoy this food and olive oil tour in Amari.

11. Check Out the Byzantine Church of the Panagia in Thronos

things to do in rethymnon
Byzantine Church, Thronos.

Small and picturesque, the village of Thronos in the valley of Amari truly deserves a stop. Over here, it is possible to visit the ancient and tiny Church of Panagia, dating back to the 11th century, decorated with magnificent frescoes from the same period.

It’s important to note that reasonably recent archaeological excavations in this area shed light on the ancient city of Syvritos, founded during the late Minoan period. The city minted its silver coins during Byzantine times, proving its power.

>> You can read about our visit to Thronos with the kids here.

12. Walk Your Way through Patsos Gorge

things to do in rethymnon
Patsos Gorge.

Another of the gorges in Crete I have ventured into with the kids (even if they were pretty small) is Patsos, which proves how easy it is to walk, even for those without hiking skills!

The beautiful gorge, also known as Agios Antonios Gorge, is just 1.5 kilometers in length, and it has a gorgeous landscape with small streams and green vegetation.

This is a gorgeous hike with dramatic cliffs, rocks, plenty of water, a waterfall, and an ancient cave with a tiny chapel inside.

13. Bake Bread at Aravanes

things to do in rethymnon
Me and the kids making bread in Aravanes.

Aravanes is a tavern and small guest house complex a few meters from the center of Thronos in the Amari Valley. Spending a day with the family that runs the place is a great idea to learn more about the local traditions.

You will not only be able to enjoy a local lunch admiring the imposing Psiloritis, but you can learn to cook (we made and baked bread!), enjoy walks in the village, discover everything about local herbs, feed the animals, and find out a lot more about the way Cretans live in the mountains.

For more information, you can check the official website, which includes opening hours and activities.

14. Check out the Archaeological Site of Eleftherna

things to do in rethymnon
Part of the archaeological site.

One of Crete’s most important archaeological sites is less than 25 km from Rethymno. The Archaeological Site of Eleftherna and the Eleftherna Museum are exciting places to explore.

Eleftherna, which was also known by the name of Apollonia, was an ancient Cretan city-state. The ruins of unique settlements and sanctuaries flourished during the visit from Dorian times until the Byzantine Era.

The city was between the ancient cities of Kydonia (in present-day Chania) and Knossos (in present-day Heraklion). It was undoubtedly contemporary to the Lassithi settlement of Lato, near Agios Nikolaos.

Not far from the site, you can visit the modern Museum of Eleftherna, which houses most of the objects found there. 

You might also want to discover the Most Stunning Archaeological Sites in Crete.

15. Soak in the Views in Argyroupolis Springs

things to do in rethymnon

Argyroupolis is a beautiful mountain settlement with an area similar to many other villages in Crete. However, the main reason for visiting the settlement is not the village but the springs.

The evergreen and incredibly lush landscape of the springs area is the main attraction in town.

Along a curved road lined with immense plane trees, abundant springs with their characteristic refreshing sound and sparkling waterfalls from the high mountains feed endless streams, fountains, and wells.

Some of them are used to breed trout, which are served grilled in the many restaurants scattered around the springs.

16. Learn about Ancient Lappa

things to do in rethymnon

Not far from Argyroupoli Springs, you can explore the village of Argiroupolis, which is thought to be the place where Ancient Lappa once thrived.

Around the village, you can explore the ancient ruins of Lappa, a city believed to have existed since the Geometric Period.

It has been proved that Lappa flourished during Roman times when it was at its peak of power. The settlement had luxurious thermae (hot baths) and minted coins.

17. Go Wine Tasting in Klados Winery

things to do in rethymnon
Talking about Cretan wines with Stelios Klados at Klados Winery.

This small, family-run winery is located halfway through the road that connects Panormos and Skepastì in the region of Rethymnon, about 20 km from the Old Town of Rethymnon.

The boutique winery is focused on creating just a few labels, avoiding a very commercial approach. At the same time, it tries to introduce autochthonous varieties to visitors who are experiencing Cretan wines for the first time.

Tasting tip: My favorite Klados Wine is Klados Rosé (Kotsifali—Cabernet Sauvignon varieties), which has aromas of cherry, plum, and red fruits (fragostafilo), not the typical rosé you might find on Crete

18. Dive in the Turquoise Waters of Kalypso

things to do in rethymnon
Kalypso Beach.

Also known as the Pirate’s Fjord, this enchanting cove on the southern coast is one of the island’s most photographed shores.

This organized beach has rocky walls and quite deep waters. There is also a diving school on site. Although located at the Kalypso Cretan Village Resort & Spa, it is open to the public and has sunbeds and umbrellas on top of the rocks to rent.

There is a small part where you can access the sea from shallow waters. Otherwise, the stairs are directly on the rock (or you can dive!).

Kalypso Beach, facing the Lybian Sea, is included in this guide to the Best Beaches in Rethymnon!

19. Discover Folk Traditions in Poliou House

things to do in rethymnon
Poliou House.

For those looking to discover the most authentic Cretan lifestyle, a visit to Poliou House is a must.

The house is a folkloric museum located in the small village of Asteri, about 15 km from the city of Rethymnon. Here, you can learn about folk traditions and see how houses used to be on the island a long time ago.

Besides learning more about Crete’s peasant life, in Poliou, you can enjoy a relaxed lunch or dinner made with fresh local ingredients at the on-site restaurant… it’s delicious!

Among the best choices are the rabbit stew, the goat, and the salads. Do also taste their cheeses, homemade wine, and raki.

On Thursdays, they also host traditional Cretan nights with dances and music.

You can find more information about Poliu House on the official website.

20. Marvel at the Rock Formations in Triopetra Beach

Greece - Crete - Triopetra beach - Check some of the best tours, excursions and day trips in Rethymnon, Crete and explore the best of the region!

The beach of Triopetra, on the southern coast of Rethymnon, is undoubtedly one of my favorite beaches in Crete.

Triopetra means “three rocks,” and this unique rock formation on the eastern side of the beach is made of three unusual rocks that gave the area its name.

There are two different beaches to check out; the biggest is located west of the rocks. This is a long pebble beach with a few tavernas offering sunbeds and umbrellas.

21. Climb Mount Psiloritis

things to do in rethymnon
Mount Psiloritis.

Mount Ida, or Psiloritis, is the highest peak on the island (2456). In the Minoan period, Psiloritis was a holy place, and the nearby cave known as Idaion Andron is where, according to the myth, Zeus was brought up. Spring is the best season to climb the Psiloritis.

At least four routes reach the summit, and those who know better agree that the route starting in the Nida Plateau is the easiest. Snow can be found on the mountain in May and even June.

22. Descend into Melidoni Cave

things to do in rethymnon

Melidoni is a cave in the Rethymnon region with historical and archaeological importance. The place is one of the most visited sites near Bali and Panormos.

Also known as Gerontospilios, the cave is about one km outside the Melidoni village in Bali’s beautiful countryside.

The cave has colossal stalactite and stalagmite formations, and the main chamber is about 20 meters high. Melidoni was considered a place of worship in ancient times because it was associated with the mythological Talos. This giant bronze automaton was thought to protect the island and live inside the cave.

Melidoni played a vital role during the Cretan Revolution (1824) when about 370 villagers who had sought refuge in the cave were trapped by the Turkish inside the chambers and died.

23. Drive Through Kotsifou Gorge

things to do in rethymnon
Kotsifou Gorge.

Starting in the village of Kanevos and finishing close to the village of Plakias, where the Kotsifos river flows, this is a beautiful but small gorge (less than 2 km) with vertical slopes reaching about 500 in the highest places.

If you’re not up to the hike, which is not hard and doesn’t take more than two hours, you can drive along the paved road that crosses the upper part of the gorge, where you can also check out the tiny chapel of Agios Nikolaos, built on the side of the mountain.

24. Go Scuba Diving in Plakias

things to do in rethymnon

Plakis is one of the most famous beaches in Rethymnon, home to a small village, a few naturist shores, and several scuba diving centers. This is arguably the best spot in Crete for scuba diving, where visibility can be up to 40 meters!

In the area, you can either take your first steps to learn how to scuba dive or join more advanced courses or diving groups with one of the schools in the area. Dive2gether offers a variety of courses for people of almost all ages and every skill.

25. Sunbathe in Rodakkino

things to do in rethymnon

Rodakkino is a fantastic beach about 30 km south of Rethymnon town. The village of the same name is at the exit of a steep gorge known as Rodakkino.

The beautiful settlement stands on the sides of the gorge overlooking the Libyan Sea; the beaches in the area are peaceful and lonely, great for a relaxing time sunbathing or swimming.

26. Get a Better Tan at Rethymnon’s Naturist Beaches

Ammoudaki beach - South Rethymnon, Crete

If you enjoy naturism, you will find several beaches on the island where nudism is tolerated. On the southern coast of Rethymnon, several small coves are a favorite to sunbathe naked.

Most beaches in the area of Plakias are naturist-friendly. Small shores, including Plakias, Ammoudi, Ammoudaki, and Rodakino, have an isolated area devoted to naturism.

Near Ammoudaki, the even smaller Mikro Ammoudaki is one of the most visited naturist beaches in the south.

Check out this article about the best nudist beaches in Crete for more naturist-friendly places on the island.

27. Hike Kourtaliotiko Gorge

Kourtaliotiko gorge in Crete

One of the most thrilling things to do in Rethymnon is to hike the fantastic Kourtaliotiko, a gorge with some rewarding challenges.

Discover the majestic walls hundreds of meters high while you head to the river that shaped the canyon.

On the way, you can check out the small chapel of Agios Nikolaos Kourtaliotis, which adds a scenic touch to the already beautiful landscape.

A popular activity in Kourtaliotiko is canyoning. Some local companies that organize hikes through Kourtaliotiko will even provide neoprene suits and other gear to enjoy canyoning games in the river.

During these activities, people rappel down the steep canyon and try adrenaline jumps in the water. After a short trek on the river, you can continue hiking south to explore the Fairy Cave, which has breathtaking stalactites and stalagmites.

You can book this experience of the gorge to enjoy this adventure safely together with a group and an expert guide.

Hiking tip: In addition to the usual hiking gear, it’s a good idea to bring a change of clothes because you will get wet during the adventure!

28. Hike from Damnoni to Agios Paisios Church

things to do in rethymnon
Agios Paisios.

A moderately challenging trail connects the small village of Damnoni to the scenic chapel of Agios Paisios on the southern coast of Rethymnon. The hike is about a 5-km loop trail that can be completed in about 2 hours.

According to my favorite (and super reliable) site to check out trails in Crete – AllTrails, this short route heads east, circles the hill, and climbs to the top, where you can admire the unique chapel of Agios Paisios.

The trail then descends to reach Ammoudi Beach, and you can return to Damnoni by walking along the coastline.

29. Sip Fresh Water from a Mountain Spring in Spili

things to do in rethymnon

One of Rethymnon’s most visited mountain villages is on the road that connects the city of Rethymnon with the southern beaches of Ligres, Preveli, and Triopetra.

Spili is famous for its central square, which features a unique Venetian fountain made of 25 lion heads (a symbol of the Venetian Republic) from whose mouths constantly flow water from Mount Psiloritis.

In the village, you can visit the Folk Museum of Spili, housing objects such as work tools and examples of local crafts, typically embroidery and lace.

30. Explore Ligres Beach and the Waterfalls by the Sea

Ligres beach at sunset, Crete

Another of my favorite Rethymnon beaches is Ligres. It is about 5 km west of Triopetra and is a perfect place to isolate yourself from the crowds. This long, coarse sand beach with deep shores is perfect for submarine exploration.

On the beach’s western side, a few small waterfalls add a touch of wilderness to the landscape.

Overlooking the beach, an excellent tavern serves drinks, snacks, exquisite fish, local dishes, and fresh salads.

31. Visit Moni Preveli on the Southern Coast

things to do in rethymnon
Preveli Monastery.

Also located in the southern area of the region, this is—like Arkadi Monastery—an important religious landmark that, through its long history, helped shape the path to Cretan independence.

Preveli Monastery is, in fact, a complex of two buildings 1.7 kilometers apart; one of them, Kato Monastiri or Lower Monastery, is now in ruins, while the other, Piso Monastiri or Rear Monastery, is open for visits at all times.

After checking out the gorgeous premises, the church, and the gardens, most people continue along a trail with stairs down to the coast to visit the gorgeous Preveli Beach, one of the two palm beaches on the island 

You can visit the area better by checking out this complete guide to Preveli Monastery.

32. Check Out Preveli Palm Tree Beach

things to do in rethymnon
Preveli Beach.

Preveli is one of the most beautiful beaches in Crete and one of the most visited shores. It is hidden between the mountains at the exit of a mountain river that runs through a gorge until it reaches the beach. 

A fantastic palm forest grows along the river’s banks, making the landscape exotic and different from the usual scenes on the island. 

Preveli is a natural reserve: you won’t find sunbeds, other amenities, or water sports, just a taverna and café serving snacks and drinks.

But a grove of tamarisk trees creates natural shade, which is quite convenient during our hot summers.

The Palm Forest is a must-see! A narrow path leads through the palms to the gorge.
If you are brave enough, you can swim in the cold waters of the mountain river.

33. Discover Agia Galini

things to do in rethymnon
Agia Galini.

Often crowded as a popular destination in south Crete, Agia Galini is a small seaside resort with a long pebbled beach stretching from the port to a river.

Excellent beachfront tavernas and bars offer free sunbeds and umbrellas, and the village is tiny and picturesque.

The beach is not overcrowded, but if you feel like you need more solitude, then you can cross the river bridge, where you will find another beach that is not so popular among tourists. Because Agia Galini’s beach lies in a natural bay, it is often protected from wind and waves.

34. Explore the Traditional Alleys of Panormos

things to do in rethymnon

Panormos is a delightful coastal village on the northern coast of the Rethymnon region with a laid-back vibe. It boasts a picturesque harbor, beautiful winding alleys, and seaside fish tavernas.

The village is located about 22 km from the city of Rethymnon and is an excellent place to choose for a vacation in Crete. A scenic landscape surrounds it and offers a more authentic Cretan experience than bustling (often overpriced) tourist resorts in other parts of the Rethymnon region.

One of the most exciting areas to visit near the center of the village is the ancient Early Christian Basilica of Agia Sofia, also known as the Church of Agia Sofia.

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.

35. Taste Some More Wine at Kourkoulou

things to do in rethymnon
(courtesy of Korukoulou).

As you might already know, many wineries are scattered all over Crete, most of which are in the region of Heraklion. However, Rethymnon is also an important wine area in Crete because it’s home to the island’s most famous grape, Vidiano.

Another winery you can visit in the Rethymnon region is Kourkoulou. This family-run winery is always happy to welcome visitors interested in tasting and learning about the wines produced in the region.

Kourkoulou produces six different labels from 4 different native grapes (Vidiano, Vilana, Liatiko, and Moscato Spinas).

You can find more details and contact the winery for a visit from the official website.

36. Admire the Spectacular Nida Plateau

things to do in rethymnon
(Photo by By Zakango Commons Wikimedia).

Many people who come to Rethymnon and are trekking enthusiasts get here to climb the Psiloritis, Crete’s highest mountains. However, it is also an excellent alternative to hike from the Nida Plateau to Kamares, where the impressive Kamares Cave is.

The area is better known for the famous Vases of Kamares (not exhibited in the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion). With a delicate but elaborate style, these vases are among the finest ancient relics found on the island.

Unlike other highlands in Crete, such as Omalos or the more famous Lasithi Plateau, Nida is not populated; it is just a vast extension of land overshadowed by the high summit of the Psiloritis, which is about 1400 meters high.

In winter, the place is covered in snow, and the surrounding area is known as the ski area of Rethymnon.

37. Marvel at the Mysterious Ideon Andron

things to do in rethymnon
Idean Cave.

Also known as Idean Cave, this one more cave on the island that claims the title of thing the birthplace of Zeus (the other one is Psychro, in the Dikti Mountains).

Although the birthplace is not precisely known, according to the myth, this was, in fact, the place where wild animals raised the mighty god.

No matter what the legend says, archaeological findings prove that the cave functioned as a shrine during the Minoan Era.

The place was also associated with the cult of Zeus in ancient times. It was an ancient pilgrimage center, and it was even visited by significant figures of the Greek world, such as Pythagoras!

38. Fall in Love with the Dunes in Agios Pavlos

things to do in rethymnon
Agios Pavlos.

Although the area has two different beaches, you should focus on one featuring impressive dunes!

This stunning shore is also on the southern coast of the region. Agios Pavlos’ dunes are known for their wild natural beauty!

Besides, the sea is perfect for discovering underwater life. This is an excellent place for relaxing on a beach far away from crowds. And it’s also one of the top-rated natural beaches on the island!

39. Walk Through the Pretty Mili Gorge

things to do in rethymnon
Mili Gorge.

Verdant, lush, and incredibly beautiful, Mili Gorge is one of the loveliest walks in the Rethymnon region. The gorge stretches along the river bed, where water flows every month of the year.

Its name comes from the abandoned villages of Pano and Kato Mili (upper and lower Mili), which you can visit during the walk, and from the ancient mills that exploited the river (mili means mills in Greek).

In fact, it’s said that over 30 mills scattered along the river once supplied flour to the whole Rethymnon region.

The whole hike is about 4 km long, and the visit can take 1 to 2 hours. Along the way, you can explore the ruins of the villages and ancient churches abandoned next to the river bed.

40. Experience Authentic Traditions in Chromonastiri

things to do in rethymnon
Church of Agios Eftyhios (Jerzy Strzelecki – Wikimedia Commons).

Not far from Mili Gorge, another exciting place to visit is the small village of Chromonastiri, about 12 km from the city of Rethymnon.

The village stands at 360 meters and is an old, well-preserved village with only a few residents, where it is possible to see ancient Venetian and Renaissance buildings.

One of the most visited sites in the area is the ancient Clodio Villa, which is thought to have been the summer residence of the noble Venetian family from Rethymnon town.

However, the most remarkable place to visit is the nearby Byzantine church of Saint Eftihios, one of the oldest in Crete.

41. Learn about Woodcarving in Axos Village

things to do in rethymnon
Courtesy of Wooden Museum in Axos

Most people stop at the Wooden Museum in Axos on their way to Anogia because of this remarkable museum. However, the village is also an amicable, relatively small settlement where ancient traditions are still kept alive.

The village is about 45 minutes from the city, and it’s a great place to add to your Rethymnon region itinerary.

The museum houses some unique wooden sculptures, a few of them incredibly big. During your visit, you can talk to the sculptor and learn more about the woodcarving craft. If you want to see more sculptures or get ready for a visit, check out the official website.

42. Spend an Afternoon in Zoniana and Sfendoni Cave

things to do in rethymnon
Sfendoni Cabe.

Zoniana is a famous village in Crete. Some reasons why it’s so well-known include being the place with the highest birth rate on the island and the indomitable character of the locals…

… and some other reasons that are better left unwritten—let’s say that Zoniana’s most essential products are well known in a few coffee shops in Amsterdam. I think that info will be enough!

However, the main reason to visit Zoniana is the delicious Cretan dishes served in the local taverns, but most of all, to visit the famous Sfendoni Cave.

The massive cave is imposing. It should be visited with an official guide (you will find them at the cave entrance, and they will walk with you and explain everything about the cave for a very affordable fee). More information and tours are available here.

43. Check Out the Potamianos Wax Museum of Zoniana

things to do in rethymnon

Although small and not really realistic as many other wax museums you might find around the world, this is an entertaining place you can check out when visiting the village of Zoniana, home to the stunning Sfendoni Cave.

Zoniana is a village closely related to Zeus; in fact, the village was originally named Zeus’ Pit before taking the name of Zoniana.

Over here, other than savoring delicious local meat (the antikristo cooked in the local tavernas is amazing…), you can also pay a short visit to the Potamianos Wax Museum of Zoniana, a family-made exhibition that hosts over 80 full-scale remarkable figures related to the history of the island, including historical characters and artists.

44. Explore the Coast on a Pirate Ship

things to do in rethymnon
(Courtesy Get Your Guide).

This is one of the things that families enjoy during their visit to Rethymnon. The legendary pirate ship that sails along the region’s northern coast is an entertaining trip with swimming stops that kids adore!

The five-hour cruise on a wooden pirate boat departs daily from the port of Rethymnon and sails to Kefalas Bay, where you can swim jumping directly from the boat.

Head here to book a Pirate Boat Cruise with Swimming Stops in Rethymnon.

45. Take Amazing Pictures at the Geropotamos Kamara

things to do in rethymnon

Geropotamos is one of the most excellent beaches in Crete, about 18 km from Rethymno. The nearby river that flows to the sea through the beach gives the area a name.

Moreover, the monk seals Monachus Monachus, another protected species on the island, live in the caves on the west.

However, the most beautiful feature of the beach is the alluring natural arch formation known as Kamara, one of the most stunning places on the northern coast for photography (if you’re a fan, do carry a tripod). The formation is ideal for magnificent pictures, especially at sunset.

The beach is not so famous, despite its beauty. That’s because it gets pretty deep close to the coast, so it’s not the best place for families.

Since the area is often hit by the meltemi (our northern winds), this can make the sea wavy and somewhat dangerous.

46. Relax in Adelianos Kampos

things to do in rethymnon
Adelianos Kampos.

All towns on the north coast of Rethymno offer excellent accommodation a few steps from the sea.

There are convenient Greek tavernas as well. Adelianos Kampos is one of them. I’ve stayed in this village a few times, and I can guarantee that it’s ideal for families with toddlers or small kids: quiet, lovely beaches and lively entertainment.

Few people visit the beaches, so they’re a good spot for a relaxing day by the sea. At night, you can stroll along the main avenue, enjoy a Cretan beer, or even have fun playing mini-golf.

47. Try the Most Unusual Cretan Food in Taverna Tou Zisi

things to do in rethymnon

Don’t miss lunch or dinner at this traditional tavern in Rethymnon if you want to taste native Cretan delicacies such as gardumia (in the photo), splinogardoumo (spleen), glycemia (sweetbread) or sikotaria (liver).

If you’re not easily impressed by strange-looking dishes, you will love the unique tastes. And if you’re not keen on this kind of food, worry not. Traditional Cretan lamb, rabbit, pork, and goat dishes are also available and are excellent. There is also a good selection of vegetarian food, and the sweets are to die for.

This is one of the most popular taverns in Crete, so I strongly suggest booking in advance, especially if you plan to visit during the weekend. It’s a place that both locals and visitors love!

  • Taverna Tou Zisi is located at 63 Machis Kritis Avenue, Rethymno. Although it is a bit far from the town center, it is easy to reach by car. You can read reviews here.

48. Pay a Visit to Monastiraki Archaeological Site

things to do in rethymnon
Photo by O. Tausch Commons Wikimedia).

One more ancient site to explore in the region is Monastiraki. It is an ancient Minoan town in the valley of Amari, about 38 km from Rethymnon City.

According to experts, the site probably belongs to the period of Old Palaces (Middle Mionan), and it was likely destroyed at the same time as other more significant and older palaces on the island

The remarkable archaeological site was not rebuilt after its destruction, which makes it the best example of Middle Minoan archaeology in Crete.

It’s set on a strategically important site, dominating the valley that connects the north of Crete to the Messara Plain. It gives access to Phaistos, one of Crete’s most remarkable Minoan Palaces.

Monastiraki could have been a palace since it has a complex network of buildings, including storehouses and sanctuaries.

49. Kallitsa Psaraki’s Mansion

things to do in rethymnon
(Via Wikimedia Commons).

Head to Apodoulou Village, on the western side of Mount Psiloritis, to explore the partially ruined House of Kallitsa Psaraki. The mansion belonged to Kallitsa Psaraki, the daughter of a local officer.

She was abducted by the Ottomans during the Turkish Era (probably in 1821) and sold to a market in Alexandria, Egypt as a slave.

Once there, an Egyptologist found her and secured her freedom. The man sent her to Britain to get an education and later married her in Malta. After traveling around Egypt for years, they returned to Crete in 1846 and built this house to live in. You can read more about her story here.

50. Check Out the Minoan Cemetery of Armeni

things to do in rethymnon
(Photo via Fotograf/Zeichner – Wikidata).

Located about 8 km from the city, on the road that leads to Spili, Armeni hosts an interesting Late Minoan cemetery, also described as Post Minoan.

On the site, you can check out more than 200 chamber tombs. There is also a Tholos tomb. However, more burial places are expected to be found as excavations are not over.

Curiously enough, the tombs face Mount Vryssinas, which might prove that the site used to be a mountain sanctuary in ancient times. All tombs are connected with different paths.

Findings in the cemetery include pottery, bronze vessels, tools, jewelry, stone vases, seals, and, of course, larnakes, ancient burial cases, examples of which can be found at the Archaeological Museums of Rethymnon and Heraklion.

The cemetery is open daily from 8.30 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Mondays are the closing day).
The entrance is free.

The site Minoan Crete offers a lot more information about this burial site. You can check it out here.

51. Get Dressed for the Carnival

things to do in rethymnon

If you are in Rethymnon late in February or at the beginning of March, then don’t miss visiting the Grand Parade of the famous Carnival that the city has been celebrating for centuries!

things to do in rethymnon
Dancing on the streets the last day of Carnival

Thousands of people in bright and colorful costumes flood the streets while live music and cheerful laughing can be heard from all corners. You can either walk around, pick one of Rethymnon’s many bars and clubs, and dance all night.

It’s a feast of confetti, horns, and whistles that quickly put you in this fantastic carnival mood. Access to the Grand Parade is free, and you can enjoy this party until quite late at night.

Dress ideas? Uff… tons! However, popular costumes are sailors, prisoners, pharaohs, cartoon characters, and pirates. Me? I always go as a pirate or a gypsy!

52. Check Out Hidden Villages on A Buggy

things to do in rethymnon
Courtesy: Get your Guide.

Although you can follow this Rethymnon circuit (Maroulas – Gidospito – Prassies) alone, why not explore Rethymnon with a fun vehicle?

One of the best things to do in the Rethymnon region, especially for families with older kids (teens and young adults) is this fun buggy safari off the beaten track!

The adventure begins with a detailed briefing of the activity, and next up, you’ll find yourself driving off-road and up into Maroulas Mountain.

During the adventure, you will learn about local traditions (such as the Kafenio, the local Greek coffeehouse) in the small and forgotten village of Gidospito. Later, the adventure takes you to the village of Prassies for a quick snack and more unique Cretan sights.

Click here for more information and to book a safari adventure in Crete from Rethymnon.

Have you decided what to do when exploring the Rethymnon region? It’s easy to see that there’s a lot to do and no time to get bored in this part of Crete!

General Information About Rethymnon

Rethymnon, Crete - the old harbor
Rethymnon’s Old Port.

Rethymnon is the third most important city in Crete and the capital of the Rethymnon Region.

The Rethymnon region is located next to the region of Chania to the west and Heraklion to the East. On the south, the coast faces the Lybian Sea and the Cretan Sea on the north.

How to Get to Rethymno

Those arriving at the airports of Heraklion or Chania can reach Rethymnon with the public bus KTEL. Schedules are both online and at the stations. HereYou can find additional information about traveling around the island with KTEL here.

  • Heraklion – Rethymnon: 90 minutes (8,30€)
  • Chania – Rethymnon: 60 minutes (6,70€).

Here’s a foolproof guide to renting a car on Crete since driving to Rethymnon from Heraklion or Chania airports is the easiest and fastest way to get there.

Ktel, the public bus company, manages the local buses. The service is reliable, and the prices are very convenient. 

Where to Stay in Rethymnon

things to do in rethymnon
Rethymnon Old Town.

I’ve written several accommodation guides about Crete, primarily related to types of properties and exciting areas to stay in.

You will also find an accommodation guide for Rethymnon town and region on the blog. For a quick reference, however, you can check out the following places, which are among my favorites for a stay in the Old 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 out my guide to planning your trip to Crete, packed with helpful essential information. Explore the articles on prices in Crete, common mistakes to avoid, and insider secrets. You can also get one of the digital travel guides I’ve written about Crete. They are affordable and practical to check from your mobile.

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 Heraklion, Rethymnon, Lasithi, and Chania, I’ve got detailed guides to help you make the most of your time.

Suggested accommodation in Crete

No time to read all my accommodation guides? Check out these places to stay:

Pin This Super Guide to the Best Things to Do in the Rethymnon Region for Your Next Trip to Crete!

things to do in rethymnon

About the author of this blog:

Gabi Ancarola | The Tiny Book

Gabi Ancarola

Gabi has been living in Crete for the last five years. Here, she juggles being a solo mom, hosting culinary tours in the summer, translating, and writing for The Tiny Book and her other blogs.
She’s written for Greek Reporter, published three travel guides about Greece, and had more glasses of frappe than any regular person could handle.

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