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What is it Like to Live in Rethymno?

What is it like to live in Rethymno in Crete? We sat down with Stella, a local business owner and big fan of Rethymno Town, to share with you the best things to do and see in her hometown. 

Stella
Stella

Who is Stella?

Stella is the owner of Catwalk Accessories, a boutique in the centre of Rethymno, in the Old Town, which is where she also resides. “I love my hometown so much, I absolutely adore living here and I always want to come back to this place wherever I may go.”

 

Rethymno is a town which can be explored entirely on foot, and wherever you look you can find places and things to admire. There is endless beauty hidden in the narrow alleys of the Old Town, with its historic buildings, picturesque windows and door frames, colourful pots of flowers, wandering cats lazying around on window sills.

Rethymno - Photo by Stella Chatzidaki
Rethymno - Photo by Stella Chatzidaki

Shopping in Rethymno

“I honestly have difficulty choosing what to recommend first on one of your visits to Rethymno! What I can say for certain, though, since it is also my field of experience, is that the Rethymno shopping market is exquisite. You can walk around the small paved streets and discover the hundreds of unique shops of our town, mostly small, family-owned businesses, open all year round. 

 

Our shops host a plethora of Greek designers and their one-of-a-kind creations. During your stroll through the market, you can take a break to enjoy an iced coffee or some ice cream in the many delicious spots around.”

 

“If you are a shop addict, our market will surely not disappoint you! It’s no wonder that people from the neighbouring cities of Chania and Heraklion also visit our town’s shops for the unique items they can find here.”

Rethymno - Photo by Stella Chatzidaki

Visit the Fortress

“So, when you are finished with your shopping and wandering the streets of the Old Town, you can walk around the Fortress of Fortezza and drink up the amazing view of the Cretan Sea from above. It’s on the foot of this castle that the whole of the Old Town had been built. I recommend you take this stroll on a hot day, as the light breeze at the top of the fortress will help you cool off.”

 

“For you to see the inside of the Fortezza Fortress, there are four main entrances, all of them little ascending paths from the Old Town going up to Fortezza. Whichever of them you might choose, the route will be most rewarding, as they are adorned with bougainvillaes, jasmines, and the stone path is an easy ascend for everyone to try, so do not hesitate! Of course, if you feel you need a refreshment, you can always enjoy one in the cool shade of one of the many welcoming little traditional cafes along the way!”

Rethymno - Photo by Stella Chatzidaki

Walking in Rethymno Old Town

“My advice to you is to leave your map at the hotel and let the little picturesque streets of the Old Town guide the way. It’s impossible for you to lose your way as, looking up, the sight of the Fortress overhead will constantly show you the right path.”

 

“Apart from the stunning view from the top of the fortress, you can do some exploring on the inside as well. There, you will also find a small, Greek Orthodox church where you can light a candle in prayer. It’s worth noting that the great, open-air stage of the Erofili theatre, located in the heart of Fortezza, becomes the venue for numerous theatrical plays as well as art exhibitions every summer. Artists from all over the country and the world come to this place to perform and showcase their work, so make sure to catch a performance during your next visit!”

 

Another must-see is the town’s Old Venetian harbour, with its monumental lighthouse, a trademark of Rethymno. You can climb the steps to the highest point and yet again enjoy a different, spectacular view of the town.

Rethymno - Photo by Stella Chatzidaki

Food in Rethymno

How can I now speak to you of the food here in Rethymno? For me, Rethymno is a true beacon of gastronomy. What I have always said is that, no matter which far-flung or humble place you choose to eat, you will certainly eat well. The three food places closest to my heart, though, are definitely worth a mention.

 

Pigadi

“My first choice is the traditional restaurant ‘to Pigadi’, located in a picturesque little Old Town alley, with tables for you to dine at both inside (where you can see an actual well) and outside the restaurant.”

“Its dishes are beyond words: rooster with noodles, buffalo burgers, salad wrapped in traditional Sfakian pie, to name but a few. At the end of your meal, don’t forget to order a freshly made, local Sfakian cheese pie with delicious rich local honey, it’s an absolute must!”

Pigadi - Photo by Stella Chatzidaki

Nostos

“My second favourite place to eat is called “Nostos”, overlooking the majestic coastline of Rethymno, which is renowned for its variety of fresh fish and seafood. The people of  “Nostos” are always ready to welcome you and offer you a unique dining experience, with a cosy and friendly atmosphere. Oh, and one more thing: my mother, Maria, an amazing Cretan cook, has admitted that the moussaka you will eat at this restaurant matches her own (perhaps it has even bested it!)”

Pantermo

“The third place I want to share with you is the so-called “pirate-deli” Pantermo. Hidden in a cool little Old Town alley, it’s so inviting as it allows you to sit under the bougainvillaes bushes and leisurely enjoy aromatic coffee and delicious bugatsa, a kind of sweet custard traditional Greek pie.”

Rethymno’s Unique Culture

“One of the most important things to bear in mind as you discover all these little treasures during your exploration of the Old Town, is that the streets of Rethymno carry the memories, life experiences, and the very essence of the local people. It is worth mentioning that the great Melina Merkouri herself had spoken of Rethymno as a place of exquisite beauty (‘kallos‘).”

 

“From a historical point of view, people of many different cultures have left their mark on this city: Franks, Venetians, Turks, Germans, each of them leaving traces of their civilisation which can still be seen all around the town.”

Rethymno in the Winter

“But what the town has to offer visitors is not only limited to the summer months. During winter, the town is just as warm and hospitable for anyone who visits it. As this town is also home of the University of Crete, more than 7000 students live and study in Rethymno every year, making it a youthful and vibrant place.”

 

“The town’s little cosy taverns are always full of young people and locals enjoying the traditional tastes that Crete boasts of, and this lively atmosphere combined with the ever-mild and sunny weather all -year-round, make this place a must for winter-time travellers.”

Rethymno - Photo by Stella Chatzidaki
Rethymno - Photo by Stella Chatzidaki

A Closing Note From Stella

“Whenever you choose to visit this town, in summer or in winter, one thing is certain: Rethymno is a place you come back to again and again, as people have found that they return to it several times in their life!”


“It’s the place of my heart, and I’m sure that a single visit is enough for our little town to find its way inside your hearts, as well. We will be happy to welcome you to our beloved town, which will definitely become one of your favourite destinations, as well!”

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