Rethymnon holidays are like an ice-cream cone with a double scoop of flavours. One minute you'll get the tang of a beach holiday, and the next you'll taste some of Crete's top historic sites.

Best of both

Rethymnon does the splits between old and new. Open-air cafés and restaurants tack onto the beachfront, and the sandy shoreline’s got what it takes for lazy days and watersports alike. Flip the coin, and you’ll see a dot-to-dot of age-old architecture that’s been left over by settlers from centuries gone by.

Time-warp sites

Rethymnon’s a great place for history buffs, with a scroll of must-sees as long as your arm. The clifftop Venetian Fortress tops the pile, with its intact battlements and views of the north coast. Plot a course for the narrow streets of the old town, and you’ll plod through a crumbling entrance known as the Big Door. Market stalls surround it now, but it was once the opening for a mighty castle. Pencil enough time in your day planner, and the 17th-century Rimondi Fountain, Ottoman baths and Neratze Mosque can all be added to the been-there, done-that list.

Boats and beaches

In textbook Cretan form, the sandy beaches here are on top of their game. Intermittent strips of sand sprawl out east of Rethymnon Town, with sunloungers racked up in numbers. Four segments have Blue Flags planted firmly in the shoreline and, come July and August, they’re among the most popular parts for tanners. The Venetian Harbour prods the coastline with an injection of culture – the colourful waterfront here’s like a slither of the stilted city plonked on Greek soil.

At a Glance

  • Sprawl out on Blue Flag sands
  • Grab dinner beside the Venetian Harbour
  • Explore the sight-strewn old town