Fancy a day at the beach? Boat tours to Gramvousa Island will whisk you off along some of Crete's most beautiful coastlines, with swimming and sunbathing both on the cards. Departing from Rethymno with door-to-door hotel transfers, these trips make the island's remote shores easily accessible.
Gramvousa Island lies off the northwestern coast of Crete. After a short drive to Kissamos, you'll board the boat and cruise to Balos Lagoon on the mainland peninsula. Seals and turtles are sometimes spotted so keep an eye out for wildlife during the ride.
Relax in the sun or take a dip in the turquoise water before embarking on the 20-minute boat trip to Gramvousa. Stretch your legs with a hike up to the 16th-century Venetian fortress. The views from here are incredible so don't forget your camera.
Finish your adventure with a refreshing swim in the crystal-clear waters or have a go at snorkeling and see what lies beneath the waves. Chill out on deck during the return journey to Rethymno after an idyllic day out.
The pink sands of Elafonisi Island have to be seen to be believed. Lapped by emerald waters, and carpeted by lush greenery, this colorful isle is just made for photos. Elafonisi is just a short hop from Rethymno, so it's a popular day trip from town.
Many guided tours make bonus stops at the traditional villages of Elos or Topolia for photos and some friendly Cretan hospitality. Other highlights include the Agia Sofia Cave and the Topolia Gorge where your camera will be working in overdrive.
On arrival at Elafonisi Beach, you can cross to the island at low tide using the picturesque sand bank. Then it's time for all the sunbathing, swimming and exploring you can handle. Admire the shimmering pink sands and go snorkeling to meet the resident marine wildlife.
Before leaving, don't forget to check out the nature reserve – this protected area is home to local flora and fauna. Beach taverns offer light meals and snacks to keep your energy levels up during your adventures.
The best way to appreciate the natural beauty of Crete is on one of the hiking tours available from Rethymno. For the sheer wow factor, choose Samaria Gorge as your destination. This dramatic ravine offers intrepid explorers unrivaled views as well as a sense of achievement after completing this full-day trek.
Samaria Gorge is a World Biosphere Reserve, formed by a river carving through the White Mountains down to the sea. On these guided Rethymno tours, you'll hike the length of the gorge, checking out the wildlife and geology as you go.
As you venture through the gorge, you'll discover traditional stone bridges, abandoned ghost villages and plenty of endemic plant life. If you're lucky, you may see the kri-kri, which is a rare wild goat only found here in Crete.
At the end of your expedition, you can enjoy a well-earned swim at Sougia Beach or Agia Roumeli. Then treat yourself to a hearty Cretan gastronomic experience at a traditional tavern before being transferred back to Rethymno.
Rethymno tours around the Old Town are a must if you're staying in the area. Exploring the atmospheric streets with a local guide will give you a better understanding of the culture and heritage of the settlement.
Excursions take place on foot, as much of the Old Town is pedestrianized. This is the best way to delve into the hidden back roads and get off the well-trodden tourist trail. Comfortable shoes are essential while navigating these ancient alleyways!
Some experiences begin in style with a traditional Cretan breakfast of sfakianopita cheese pie and jam in a quaint café. Then, fueled up for your walk, it's time to hit the streets. Stop for photos in squares filled with orange trees and enjoy the refreshing sound of the tinkling fountains.
Highlights of walking tours in Rethymno Old Town include the 16th-century fortress, several Venetian mansions and the colorful architecture. Some trips also take you to the Arkadi Monastery or include bread-making workshops and honey or olive oil tasting.
If you feel the need for speed, there's nothing more freeing than exploring a new destination by quad bike. These thrilling Rethymno tours take you off into the unknown, with something different to discover around every corner.
You'll be collected from your hotel in Rethymno and transferred to the base for a safety briefing. If it's your first time, you'll be shown what to do by your expert guide. Then it's time to head out for your Cretan adventure.
Some excursions take you up into the beautiful mountains of Maroulas. Test your driving skills as you power up the slopes and be rewarded with sweeping views from the summit. You'll stop for refreshments at a local coffee shop and take photos overlooking Lake Potami.
Other tours focus on the gorges and rivers near Georgioupolis, passing through traditional villages along the way. On these experiences, you'll learn about local culture in this rural region and visit the Kryonerida Cave as well as an olive oil factory.
Get back to nature and explore the back roads of Crete on these lively Rethymno tours. If you want to get off the beaten tourist trail and discover a lesser-known side of the island, this is the trip to take.
Jeep excursions are an exhilarating and authentic way to sightsee in rural Crete. You'll plunge deep into the wilderness with your trusty guide, learning about history and habitats along the way. Many tours last around 8 hours for a fun-packed day out.
The most popular trip takes you on a journey down to the rugged south coast. You'll drive through traditional towns like Spili, check out the Kourtaliotiko Gorge and enjoy a cool dip at Preveli Beach. A delicious Cretan lunch with plenty of local wine is the icing on the cake.
For something a bit different, some jeep safaris head to the charming town of Georgioupolis. Here, you'll come across tranquil beaches, rural villages and ancient archaeological sites for a flavor of the real Crete.
Chania is the former capital of Crete, and well worth a visit during your stay on the island. Located just along the coast from Rethymno, the historic city of Chania is famous for its Venetian port, ancient streets and waterside taverns.
During these excursions, you can indulge in a bit of shopping as well as taking in all the main landmarks. The Old Town of Chania is where you'll be based, with history at your fingertips. Inhabited over 4,000 years ago, this is one of the oldest cities in Europe, so there's lots to see.
Tours include bus transfers between Rethymno and Chania as well as a guide to show you around. You'll also have plenty of free time so you can explore at leisure and see the places that interest you the most. Traditional neighborhoods, museums and churches are all on the agenda.
The harbor is a real highlight. Here, you can stroll along the waterfront, taking photos of the colorful houses and enjoying lunch at local cafés.
Preveli Palm Beach is one of the most coveted destinations in Crete and is a popular feature on many Rethymno tours. The sandy bay and clear waters make it easy to see why. This is the place to come if you want to spend the day relaxing, swimming and hiking in the wilderness.
You'll find Preveli down on the south coast, just 35 kilometers from Rethymno. On these excursions, road transfers are taken care of for an easy day out. Enjoy views of the dramatic Prasses Gorge on the drive down.
Once you arrive at Preveli Palm Beach, it's time for some exploring. A lush palm grove lines the river, tempting curious adventurers and offering a bit of respite from the heat. After your hike through the tropical forest, take a dip in the Libyan Sea and dry off back on the beach.
Some trips also make a stop at the beautiful Damnoni Beach for scenic sunbathing and swimming. The water here is particularly clear, and the rocky headlands are just made for photos.
The Sea of Crete is the perfect place for a boat tour from Rethymno. The coastline is dramatic, the beaches are golden and the sea ripples in all shades of turquoise. You can sail on everything from a catamaran to a pirate ship, so there's something for everyone.
Relax on deck and soak up the sun as you cruise along the Cretan shores. Life on the ocean wave doesn't get better than this! Lunch on board is often included, with grilled fish and fruit both on the menu.
The boat will anchor in sheltered coves for swimming and snorkeling. Pull on your mask and meet the residents of Crete's marine kingdom or hop on an inflatable unicorn and take on the waves. Have a go at paddle boarding or fishing too if you like.
You can also choose to pilot your own vessel for the ultimate sea adventure – some charters do require you to have a boat license. A pilot will lead the way to the best swimming spots along the route.
Rethymno tours to Heraklion are a must for history buffs and culture enthusiasts. Crete's capital is a port city up on the north coast, just 80 kilometers from Rethymno. Day tours include round-trip transfers, so you don't need to worry about any transport logistics.
Many excursions to Heraklion also make a stop at the archaeological site of Knossos. Known as being the center of the Minoan civilization, this complex takes you on a journey through time. Highlights include seeing the ancient palace frescoes and listening to tales of the mythical Minotaur from your guide.
After checking out Knossos you'll head into Heraklion. Enjoy a guided tour or opt for some free time if you prefer. The Heraklion Archaeological Museum should be top of your list as it will shed more light on the intricate history of the area.
Stroll around the harbor and head down to the Fortress of Koules that overlooks the port. It was built by the Venetians to store military equipment and later became a prison under Ottoman rule.
You'll find Rethymno up on the northern coast of Crete, about halfway between Chania and Heraklion. It's a charming town, with bags of history and medieval architecture. The old Venetian Harbor provides a focus point for locals and tourists alike, and there's plenty to see and do among the atmospheric cobbled streets.
Rethymno dates back to the Minoan era but only came to prominence under the subsequent Venetian and Turkish periods of rule. These settlers opened the island up to Mediterranean trade and the town prospered. You can still see many of the Venetian mansions and Ottoman buildings today as you stroll around the historic center.
The town is a treasure trove representing the different cultural influences laid down here over time. As you explore Rethymno, you'll spot everything from churches to mosques – the architecture is what makes this place so special.
Being centrally located, Rethymno makes a great base for day trips around the island. If you're not looking for a beach resort and want to sleep in the heart of history, this is the place to come. You can fly into the airports at either Chania or Heraklion, or take the ferry from Piraeus in Athens to Rethymno.
If you're stopping in Rethymno, it's easy to get around the Old Town on foot and taxis are available for longer local journeys. For travel across the island, guided tours are a hassle-free option. Alternatively, if you'd like to check out the public transport, there are frequent buses connecting the town with other key destinations in Crete.
Hiring a car is also a fun way to explore if you want to remain independent. Just be aware that if you're staying in the pedestrianized Old Town in Rethymno, you'll need to park your vehicle outside this area.
When it comes to accommodation, there are lots of boutique hotels and guest houses in the Old Town. Here, you'll be surrounded by historic sites, traditional restaurants and dreamy sea views. If you prefer to be right on the sandy coast, then head east of the town to Missiria Beach for seafront resorts and sunbathing.
You can visit Rethymno all year round but be aware that some places do close down in the low season. Between June and September the weather is ideal for sunbathing and sea swimming, or opt for visiting during spring or fall to miss the crowds.
The Venetian Harbor is one of the main attractions in Rethymno's Old Town. Here, you'll see fishing boats bobbing on the water, and lively taverns along the shore. It's a popular stop on many Rethymno tours, along with the Venetian Fortress and the Arkadi Monastery.
Wine tastings in Rethymno are a fun way to spend an afternoon and give a tasty insight into the culinary culture of the island. You'll get to explore vineyards and learn about wine production in the idyllic Cretan countryside. Sampling the final product is, of course, the best bit.
Want a change of scenery? Rethymno makes the perfect base for discovering the rest of Crete, with Chania, Samaria Gorge and Knossos being popular destinations. You can even enjoy day trips to Santorini from Rethymno and take in a whole new island.
Rethymno is a great place for budget travelers, with plenty of attractions that are friendly on the bank balance. It's free to visit the Gardens of Rethymno for a stroll in the shade and to admire the Greek sculptures. There's no charge to see the colorful Church of the Four Martyrs either.