Rethymno is a charming historical city located halfway along the north coast of Crete. Its complex history makes it the perfect time capsule for exploring the Venetian and Turkish periods. The Old Town in particular is a well-preserved treasure trove of attractions, with beautiful cobbled streets, lovely mansions and churches, as well as mosques and a fortress.
Modern Rethymno is built on the town’s ancient site. The city first blossomed during the Mycenaean era, growing into an independent and autonomous town with its own currency. It was then occupied by the Romans, the Byzantines and the Venetians, becoming a buzzing harbour and administrative centre for the area. Each empire left behind its historical footprint, resulting in Rethymno’s fascinating and eclectic history, which you’ll definitely want to explore.
Visit the Rimondi Fountain
Located in the centre of the Old Town, you’ll find the Rimondi Fountain at the north end of Petychaki Square. This monument features four small Corinthian columns on raised basins, which were once used as troughs for animals to drink out of. The fountain is divided into three recesses, the most striking of which is the central one. Its semi-circular alcove displays the crown of Rimondi.
Along with its beautiful external appearance, the fountain has a hidden charm. It is a renovated version of an extraordinary fountain that dates back to 1588. It served as a terrific asset during the Venetian period, providing drinking water to the city’s inhabitants during severe droughts.
Don’t Miss the Venetian Loggia
Built in the 1750s, the Venetian Loggia is situated on the corner of Paleologou and Arkadiou Street. The building features three vaulted walls, each consisting of a semi-circular arch that marks the entrance to the building. While it was first created as an open aired construction, it now has a timber roof and acts as the Archaeological Museum Shop.
Discover the Ottoman Minaret
The Neratze Mosque and Minaret is situated on the corner of Vernaridou and Antistaseos. The minaret was once the home of an Augustinian friary, but now hosts lectures, theatre performances and concerts.
While only the east and north sides of the original building have survived, the elaborate entrance to the north still captures its unique splendour. Today, the roof features three small domes which were added during the Turkish occupation, as well as a minaret built in 1890.
Travel Back in Time at the Archaeological Museum
You’ll find this museum in the centre of Rethymno on Chimaras Street. As you stroll through the exhibits, you’ll revive Rethymno’s complex history from the Neolithic period to the Roman era. Take a step back in time and discover tools, spearheads, figurines and jewellery from the Neolithic period, as well as fine ceramics from the Late Minoan era. If you’ve got a slight obsession with the Egyptians (guilty!) you’ll be pleased to know that there are also Egyptian relics, Roman sculptures and Hellenistic statues on display. The museum ends with an impressive collection of coins from a wide range of regions and periods.
How to Get to Rethymno
Crete is served by two major airports: Chania and Heraklion. There are eight airlines, including British Airways, Thomas Cook Airlines and Aegean Airlines, which offer direct flights from London to Crete.
After a four-hour flight, you don’t want to be fussing over complicated public transport systems or trying to flag down a dodgy taxi. Make sure your transfer to Rethymno is a smooth one by pre-booking a private airport transfer with Shuttle Direct. A friendly driver will meet you outside of the terminal and take you safely and directly to your hotel. If you fly into Heraklion, a transfer will take just under two hours, while the journey from Chania will only take an hour and a half.
Where to Stay
Leo Hotel – This stunning Venetian house is located right next to Loggia, offering excellent views and easy access to the historic site. It dates back to 1450 and combines luxury and antiquity, boasting stylishly decorated bedrooms, modern bathrooms and comfortable private seating areas. You’d also be less than 400 metres from the Fortezza of Rethymno and within walking distance of an array of charming ancient alleys. In fact, this hotel’s biggest selling point is its delicious breakfast, which is served in a picturesque medieval street.
Casa Moazzo – This historic residence is set in a renovated neoclassical building and blends modern elegance with traditional style. Situated in the heart of Rethymno, these exclusive suites are right next to the Venetian Harbour, the Great Gate and the Hall of St Francis. You’ll also be within walking distance of an array of local restaurants and shops.
Palazzino di Corina – The tranquil ancient Palazzino is located on a peaceful street in Rethymno’s Old Town. It’s ideally situated near the Venetian Harbour and the Fortezza of Rethymno, while also providing access to the sandy beach. All rooms have been restored and boast beautiful antique furniture and large spa baths. There is also an outdoor pool to cool off in at the end of the day. And, to top it all off, there’s a full English breakfast on offer each morning – just in case you start to feel a little homesick!
About Shuttle Direct
Shuttle Direct, one of the finest airport transfer providers in Europe and North Africa, is known for its comfortable and stress-free service. Before jetting off to Rethymno, simply pre-book a ride on their easy-to-use website, and reap the benefits when you arrive at the airport. Upon meeting your friendly and experienced driver, all you’ll have to do is sit back, relax and get into holiday mode!