In general, the beaches of the north coast are highly developed and stretch along the coastal plain between the major cities. Easily reached from the national highway, most are backed by hotels and are highly organised with loungers and sunshades. The southern beaches are a more difficult nut to crack, often tucked into small bays and coves at the end of dirt roads – strike it lucky and you may even find solitude in peak season.



One of the most famous and most visited beaches in Crete. A blaze of sand is dissected by a mountain stream that cuts through the cliffs supporting a wetland with palm trees and a jungle like atmosphere. Access is difficult via long and steep stairs from the monastery and there are no facilities as the area is protected. Many island tours stop here so try to arrive early or come in the late afternoon.


9 km out of town, this sandy and small pebble beach is very popular with locals and holidaymakers alike. Well organised, there are water sport operators and beach bars that provide beds and umbrellas alongside changing rooms, showers and lifeguard stations. Local buses run past and there is parking off the main highway behind with many options for eating and shopping.

Agia Galini

A popular resort has built up around the pretty coastal village in the sheltered Messara bay. A long pebbled beach stretches for a kilometre until the outlet of a mountain river where the seas are noticeably colder. Organised with tavernas and bars, those who seek solitude should head across the river bridge to another strand favoured by nudists. Opposite are the Paximadia islands which can be visited by tour boats, along with excursions to Frangokastello, Hora Sfakion, Matala, and Preveli.

Agios Pavlos

On the south coast next to the Cape Melissa is the sheltered haven of Agios Pavlos, west of Agia Galini. There is an organised beach with umbrellas and a taverna overlooking the seashore. Sandy with a rocky seabed, it is great for children with clean shallow waters. Over a headland is the second beach with extensive sand dunes behind and idyllic turquoise seas.


A 10 minute walk from Damnoni in a deep blue lagoon with coarse sand, Ammoudi has a beach bar, a scattering of parasols and a tolerant nudist-friendly crowd. The sea bed is rocky and the waters are bright green but shelve deeply so keep an eye on younger swimmers.

Bali – Livadi – Varkotopos – Limani – Karavostasis

A small resort has built up around Bali, half an hour down the coast from Rethymno. Once a fishing village, it is now a busy town full of restaurants, bars, shops and rental agencies. Not quite as exotic as its Asian namesake, it is still pulls the crowds with four sheltered beaches, all sandy and all organised. Livadi is the first beach; long with shallow clear waters it is ideal for families and is surrounded by cafes and tavernas. Next is Varkotopos, reached by an easy staircase, and a paradise for younger swimmers with lifeguards and an inflatable water park metres from the shore. The third lies behind the main port and is known as Limani, there is parking behind but it can get crowded in summer. Finally, the last and the most scenic is Karavostasis; smaller than the other bays and hemmed in by rocks. The reward for climbing the cliffs on the eastern edge is a fine view over the rest of the town.


Close to Plakias in the south of the island, Damnoni is very popular and deservedly so. A long bay with white sand and clear seas, it has all the facilities of a well organised beach with restaurants and bars, showers, and loungers. There is a water sports and diving centre, while to the east there are small sandy coves that offer some privacy.


On the road to Chania, about 7km from Rethymno is the rocky beach of Kamari. Blessed by rocky cliffs, there is plenty of natural shade. The sea is very clear and great for snorkelling, but there are few facilities. There is a taverna next to the beach and the tiny chapel of Panagia Kamariani.


15 km west of Rethymno is a very long strip of shore that is partly pebbled and part sand. The beach has organised areas centred around the tavernas with all the necessary amenities but much of the beach is open and free. The views across to the Akrotiri peninsula and the White Mountains are fine, but be aware that the beach is exposed to the northern winds and can feel blustery in the days of the Meltemi.


Quiet and unassuming, Ligres is ideal to escape the crowds. Sandy with small pebbles that dot the shoreline, the waters are clear and deep and at the western extreme a freshwater waterfall tumbles into the sea. There is a small tavern but bring your own shade.


In between Perivolia and Platanias stretches a long sandy beach which runs until the resort of Skaleta. Well organised there are a number of choices for food and drink. Missiria gets its name from a suburb of Cairo, Misr, with fertile soil, and similarly the village is known for its vegetables and local produce.


A small, sandy ,semi- organised beach with a great sea bed, ideal for snorkelling, the three giant rocks on the eastern side give the beach its name. Actually two beaches split by the rocks, Triopetra and Mikro Triopetra have a few tavernas that dot the shore offering sunbeds and umbrellas, while alternatively there are caves where you can get respite from the sun.


A once sleepy village, Panormos has expanded rapidly but has managed to retain its traditional character. In Roman times it served as the port of Axos, with a natural harbour with calm water. Limanaki beach serves as the modern day dock, sandy with clear seas, it is shallow and well protected by the pier. Organised with showers, umbrellas, and water sports it has many options for dining nearby. Limni lies 200 metres west of the village and again is sandy and sheltered by a rocky pier that dissects the beach, and further on is a small pebbly cove ideal for solitude seekers and snorkellers.


A continuation of the the beach in Rethymno, it was once a separate resort but now it is hard to know where each begins and ends. Far quieter and more relaxed, the sand is bright and fine grained, however there are some areas of pebbles along the waterline. There is a small playground for younger visitors, while adults can enjoy the water sport options. Parking is easy and there are tavernas and cafes along the road that run behind. A nice alternative to the town beaches, Rethymno is easily reached by bus, taxi or car.


A popular spot on the south coast, Plakias is a long sandy beach with umbrellas and beds in front of tavernas and beach bars but there is also ample shade from the tamarisk trees that back the shore. To the east are sheer cliffs popular with climbers, while to the west is Skinos, an area of natural rock pools ideal for kids. Take a look at the forecast though as the southern winds can be blasting here; when the breeze is blowing head to nearby sheltered Agia Galini. The village above, Myrthios, affords stunning views of the bay and coastline.


A beautiful sandy beach stretches out southwest of Plakias. Backed by palm trees, a coarse sand strip is surrounded by plunging cliffs. There is a taverna and the western end of the beach is nudist friendly.


Just outside the city heading east to Heraklion is a spacious sandy beach with easy access to the sea, and a small river that divides it from the town beaches. Organised with beds and umbrellas, the sands are also the breeding grounds for the Caretta Caretta Loggerhead turtle and areas can be partitioned off to protect this endangered species.


A favourite with locals, this little known beach is a quiet little stunner. Sandy with an intense blue-green sea, there are freshwater pools to be explored and around the beach there is a lush, vivid landscape reminiscent of the Tropics. There is a tavern that rents out loungers and shade.


A 15 minute drive from town, there are long, golden sands generally unorganised with umbrellas and sunbeds clustered around the tavernas. The sea can be wavy but it is an ideal escape from the busy town beaches.


At the exit of a steep gorge, the beach is a 40 minute drive from Rethymno. Peaceful and with dramatic rock formations, the beach has a number of small coves ideal for exploring. There are umbrellas and tavernas with parking at the side of the new road.

Town Beach

The city beach stretches from the marina to the suburbs and is well maintained and fully serviced. Sandy with some pebbly areas, the water is clear when the weather is calm but can be a little murky on windy days as the waves stir up the sand. The shore gradually deepens making it ideal for the families who stay in the many hotels that line the shore. There are water sport operations as well as beach volleyball courts, and beach bars rent out umbrellas and sunbeds, generally free if you order drinks or food.

Map of Rethymno’s Northern beaches

Map of Rethymno’s Southern beaches

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A Spectacular Cave Open to the Public on the Island of Crete

The Gastronomy of Rethymno: Flavours and Aromas of the Mediterranean

The wines of Greece – Rethymno: The climate, the wineries, the varieties, the labels