The main stretch of sand in the area is Rethymnon Beach, which is centrally located by the harbour. There are shallow waters here which make access to the sea easy, and there are plenty of amenities nearby to stock up on beach essentials. The sand is soft and golden in colour, and you can hire sun loungers and parasols if you’re planning on spending a relaxing day sunbathing with a good book.
Rethymnon Bay is one of the most important places in Greece for loggerhead turtles, who lay their eggs on the local beaches. While you may spot some on the main Rethymnon Beach, you’ll usually have better luck at one of the area’s quieter stretches of sand. Try Pigianos Beach or Platanes Beach, which are just along the coast to the east. Pigianos is great for snorkelling, thanks to the rocky coves here.
To enjoy fantastic views of the castle, head west from Rethymnon to Koumbes Beach. You can get here easily even if you don’t have a car, as it’s just a 20-minute walk from the Old Town. The beach is a mixture of sand and pebbles, and there’s a wooden walkway which can make it easier to get around. This is a hotspot for watersports enthusiasts thanks to the Meltemi winds.
Thanks to the warm Mediterranean climate of Crete, many fruits and vegetables grow across the Rethymnon area. Restaurants take full advantage of this fresh local produce, with grilled veggies drizzled with olive oil being the superstars of the menu. These light side-dishes are often served up alongside freshly caught fish, with Reythymnon’s prime coastal location making it a popular fishing destination.
In the Old Town, and within the small hillside villages of the Rethymnon area, you’ll find traditional Greek tavernas hidden away down the tiny, cobbled streets. In the more modern areas, however, these old tavernas give way to contemporary meze bars. These offer authentic Greek Islands cuisine in beautiful and breezy beachside settings. Be sure to try the graviera, a local alternative to Greek feta.
Crete has many dishes that it’s proud to call its own, such as kataifi, which is a mix of nuts, honey, and pastry. It’s a sweet and sticky dessert that the little ones are sure to love. However, the highlight of Rethymnon cuisine is dolmades. The popularity of these stuffed vine leaves is a nod to the important wine-growing region of Rethymnon. They’re usually filled with a blend of rice, minced meat, and herbs.
In the villages of the Rethymnon area, you’ll find traditional tavernas and restaurants nestled away within the old Venetian architecture. Closer to the beaches are more contemporary restaurants and international cuisines. If you’re looking for a restaurant with a view, check out the eateries in the western part of Rethymnon Town, where you can dine while gazing out over the impressive Fortezza Castle.
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