RETHYMNON (Island Of Crete)
A romantic arrival, below honey-coloured Venetian fortifications, welcomes you to the historic heart of Rethymnon. Sandwiched between the sprawling city of Heraklion and the pretty old town of Chania, Rethymnon offers history and gorgeous swathes of wide sandy beaches. Delve into the area's heritage, beauty and mythology - surrounded by legendary caves where Zeus is said to have lived, monasteries that perch on mountain slopes, and gorges that slice through dramatic island scenery.
Hours slide past at the beautiful Venetian harbour, where coffee cups are cradled and conversations linger in the sun, as occasional fishing boats bob by. The 1830-40 era lighthouse sparkles in the sunshine nearby, while the overlooking 16th-century fortress is a stunning, fortified highlight. Towering minarets point to the Ottoman influence, among the Venetian flourishes. Rethymnon is one of Crete’s prettiest places, and wandering the old town, soaking in the charm, is a day well spent. Stop off at ivy-tangled cafes in hidden courtyards, and admire colourful, ornate doorways. Wander to the sparkling water of Rimondi fountain, which has quenched the thirst of locals since 1626.
To the east, Rethymno Beach unravels with well-maintained facilities and plenty of room to relax or swim in the warm Aegean’s embrace. Episkopi Beach is another leisurely option unwinding to the west. Outside of Rethymnon, farms cultivate olives and grapes on the sunned slopes - best enjoyed with freshly baked bread and a selection of sheep’s cheese. A splash of local raki – a moreish brandy shot - will also go down a treat. Or, dig deep into Crete’s rich archaeological past and Minoan history at Knossos’s ancient city, and the world-class Heraklion’s Archaeological Museum.