This active island-hopping itinerary visits two gems in the Aegean Sea—both world-famous for different reasons. You'll start in Crete, largest of the Greek islands and home of ancient Minoan palaces and striking landscapes like canyons, gorges, mountains, and beautiful beaches. You'll then ferry over to the smaller volcanic island of Santorini and have three days to explore its whitewashed cliff-side villages with hiking, swimming, sea kayaking, and, of course, romantic sunsets.
The first thing to notice is how the city's Venetian fortifications mingle harmoniously with contrasting religious structures. You'll find a blending of Orthodox and Catholic churches standing near mosques and mansions sporting Venetian architecture. In the small Venetian Harbor, admire the 13th-century Venetian mole that once protected the city from the wild Cretan Sea. At the end stands the imposing lighthouse, built by the Turks after the 17th century.
Next, walk up to the Venetian Fortezza, an impressive Venetian fortress built in 1573 CE to protect the city. Here you'll find the remains of buildings and churches, plus incredible views of the city and the sea.
Move on to the Archaeological Museum and enjoy exhibits from Neolithic to Roman times. You can also view Archaic and early Christian artifacts from Eleftherna or Minoan items from Armeni and Monastiraki sites.
For something a bit lighter, pop into the Folklore and History Museum. Housed in a restored Venetian building with a beautiful courtyard, the gallery offers eight halls with over 5,000 items dating from the 17th to the 20th centuries. Peruse textiles, basket weaving, embroidery, lace, historical costumes, ceramics, photographs, maps, weapons, coins, and more.
To wrap up the day, take a walk along the waterfront to visit the lighthouse or wander blissfully around the Old Town's cobbled streets. Stop to browse artisan shops or grab a snack at one of the seaside cafes. Either way, embrace the leisurely pace of beautiful Rethymno.
Read more about unique and interesting activities on Crete and cultural experiences in Greece.
Itineraries with Cultural Tour of Rethymno on Crete
Spend two weeks exploring the Greek cities of Athens and Thessaloniki and the island of Crete with this comprehensive itinerary. Start and end in the capital, where you'll tour its neighborhoods on foot and on two wheels, discover its most photogenic spots, indulge in Athenian cuisine, and learn about ancient mythology straight from the source. In Thessaloniki, you'll discover a rich history spanning several eras and visit archaeological sites on a walking tour. Then head to Crete, where you'll roam the quaint Venetian lanes of Chania's Old Town and tour the ruins of the Palace of Knossos.
This two-week itinerary gives you and your school-aged children plenty of time to get their hands on Greek cultural activities in Athens and the major cities of Crete. Start in Athens, where you can paint the Parthenon and exercise like an Olympian at the Panathenaic Stadium. You'll fly to Crete, where you'll participate in mosaic-making workshops, archaeological adventures, and botanical treasure hunts, alongside plenty of time to wander at your own pace or relax on the beach.