Rethymno (Crete)


Rethymno is a small city in Crete with ties to the island's rich history since antiquity. The city famously served as Latin Catholic bishopric and Latin titular see. Rethymno was originally built during the Minoan civilization (ancient Rhithymna and Arsinoe) and was prominent enough to mint its own coins and maintain urban growth. One of these coins is today depicted as the crest of the town: two dolphins in a circle.  Rethymno's ties to Italy are very strong, as the Venetian era shaped it to what we see today. Notably, today's old town (palia poli), one of the best-preserved old towns in Crete, was almost entirely built by the Republic of Venice. 
The city stretches along the coastline and sandy beaches like Geropotamos, Damoni and Spilies are worth experiences. Soaking up the local culture is a great part of any vacation, so the Museum of Folk Art is strongly recommended. The Venetian heritage left behind a number of sights one should see, such as the Old Town, the Venetian Fortezza, the harbor and the Rimondi Fountain. If you are willing to go a little bit outside the city, you will have some tough choices to make as the Biotopoi Nature Park, the dune buggy trails and the hike to Mount Ida are all wonderful ways to experience Crete.

Perhaps the best reason to visit Rethymno is authentic Cretan cuisine. Mediterranean ingredients locally grown in a unique way combine to create a majestic culinary experience. Soft Cretan cheeses, honey, green vegetables and a pallet of spices underused everywhere else, become a bridge that connects Greek food with Anatolia.

The best time to visit Rethymno is during the summer, when the town is lively with locals and tourists alike and the sea is at its warmest. For those who would like to focus on the cultural and local life of the island but are prepared to risk some rainy, windy days and an colder weather with fewer tourists, November to April is a great period, with December to February being the coldest months. It should be noted that during the winter a lot of the shops and restaurants are closed.

Rethymno is not very easy to reach as its port includes routes only to and from Mykonos, Paros, Santorini and Tinos, which render the town a great destination to start an island hopping adventure. Alas, the town is only an hour away from either Heraklion or Chania which can be reached quite easily either by ferry or plane.

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crete aegean Islands