Rethymno Beaches Crete: 20 Best to Visit

From vast sandy beaches to a rocky pirate's fjord, here's our guide to the best Rethymno beaches.

Rethymno beaches Image of Rethymno city beach at sunset Crete Greece
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Rethymno beaches are among the most beautiful beaches in Crete. Rethymno province occupies the central-west part of Crete, including both the north and south coasts and an amazing variety of beaches.

The beaches of Rethymno range from the vast, popular city beach in Rethymno itself to smaller resorts along the north coast. The wondrous scenic beaches of south Crete are a revelation, and also considerably quieter, providing a complete escape from the modern world for a while.

We lived in Rethymno for over two months, and explored many of the beaches around Rethymno during this time. Our long stay also gave us time to explore the beaches in Rethymno province on the stunning south coast of the island.

Our Rethymno beaches guide includes our top 10 beaches in Rethymno region, followed by a selection of beaches by area, beginning on the north coast and concluding in the scenic, secluded south. Enjoy!

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Rethymno Beaches – An Introduction

Image of Kalypso Beach Rethymno Crete
Looking down on Kalypso Beach near Plakias

The beaches in Rethymno province include some of the best beaches in Crete

Rethymno province includes parts of both the north and south coasts of Crete

Rethymno province is located in the west and centre of Crete island – Chania province occupies the westernmost part of the island, and borders Rethymno to the east

The province to the east of Rethymno is Heraklion, which includes the capital of Crete, after which it is named

Image of Rethymno town beach Crete Greece
Rethymno city beach at sunset

The busier Rethymno beaches can be found on the north coast, parts of which have been highly developed

You’ll find wilder scenery, quieter beach villages and much less tourist development on the rete south coast Rethymno beaches

Most of the Rethymno beaches we describe can be reached by bus from Rethymno bus station

Love beaches in Crete? Check out our guide to the Best 30 Chania Beaches.

Rethymno Beaches – Our Top 10

Kalypso Beach

Image of Kalypso beach Crete
An overview of Kalypso beach
Image of the footbridge and clear waver at Kalypso Beach Plakias Crete
You come to Kalypso Beach for the swimming and snorkelling – and scenery, of course

Kalypso Beach is unlike any other beach we’ve seen in Europe. Crete isn’t exactly the place you’d go looking for a fjord, but there is Kalypso, a few miles over a mountain from Plakias.

It’s a rock beach where you come to swim, snorkel or marvel at the setting beneath a towering cliff. Our family fish assures me that it’s the clearest water she has ever swum in. It’s part of the Kalypso Cretan Resort & Spa, and the accommodation is set back 100 metres or so from the beach.

Preveli Beach Rethymno

Preveli Beach Crete is one of the most famous – and striking – beaches on the island, and is undoubtedly one of the best few Rethymno beaches.

Also known as Preveli Palm Beach, it is a small sandy estuary beach at the entrance to the Kourtaliakos Gorge and its pristine palm forest. It remains untouched without the usual umbrellas and other facilities – all you have is the wild, spectacular location.

Buses from Rethymno make the regular 30 km run to Preveli Monastery, from where it’s a fairly descent to the main viewpoint over the beach and the small western side of the beach. Bear in mind that it isn’t possible to cross from one side to the other unless you pay a boat to ferry you across.

The alternative approach – to the larger expanse of sand on the eastern side – is driving to Drimiskiano Ammoudi and walking the short distance from there.

Rethymno Main Beach

Iamge of Rethymno beach Crete
Rethymno beach in late evening light
Image of boy looking out to sea at Rethymno beach Greece
Our Little Man at Rethymno beach

One of the main things to do in Rethymno is spend some time on its vast main beach, which stretches around 10 miles to the east of the town.  It’s very wide, well over 100 metres from entrance to shoreline, and you can either pay for your sun lounger or sit for free on the soft golden sand.

Rethymno beach is one of the best town beaches in Europe, and there are great views to the west to Rethymno Fortezza, the Venetian fortress overlooking the Old town, and the unforgettable rich Rethymno sunset skies in summer.    

Spilies Beach

Image of Spilies beach Crete
Spilies beach is another great place to go snorkelling

Spilies Beach is hidden away off the Rethymno-Heraklion highway, a pebbly cove barely 100 metres across with spectacular stratified cliffs either side.

Also known as Mariou to Riaki beach, the one road sign to it is barely visible from the highway. Although it’s quite secluded, it’s a well ‘organised’ beach with sunbeds and umbrellas for hire from the excellent taverna.

The clear water is perfect for snorkelling, and in the afternoon, the cliff provides wonderful cool shade from the searing Cretan sun.

Karavostasi Beach, Bali

Image of Karavostasi beach Bali Crete Greece
Karavostasi beach in Bali, Crete

There are five Bali Crete beaches this gorgeous sheltered bay in the east of Rethymno province, and Karavostasi beach is the pick of them. It’s also the furthest of them from the main Heraklion-Rethymno-Chania road, a 1.5 mile (2.5 km) walk, drive or tourist train trip away. 

Iamge of Karavostasi beach Bali Greece
Karavostasi beach and the view towards the mountains

The setting of Karavostasi beach Bali is breathtaking, surrounded by dramatic cliffs and mountain scenery. There is a tiny secret beach just around the headland beneath the cliffs, and the only way to get there is by swimming.

We can also recommend the food at Karavostasi Taverna, set just back from the beach.  

Geropotamos Beach

Image of Geropotamos beach Crete
Geropotamos beach – the view from the highway
Image of the Kamara sea arch near Rethymno Greece
A closer view of the Kamara sea arch

Geropotamos Beach, a short walk from Spilies beach, is much easier to spot than its neighbour. The highway passes by with a full view of the beach, a wide sweep of golden sand with a sea arch a short distance beyond the beach.

The beach, within walking distance of a large resort, never seems to get very busy as it’s so spacious. there are sun loungers and umbrellas clustered around a beach bar, and there’s also a very good taverna just above the beach. 

Triopetra Beach

One of the most iconic Rethymno beaches, Triopetra beach is named after the three large rocks at the southern end of this spacious, beautiful beach on the Crete south coast. This is one of the best areas in Crete to visit, with the Agios Pavlos sandhills (see below) to the south and Ligres beach to the north.

You see pictures of the main Triopetra beach on postcards and in guidebooks all over Crete, and it’s worth the hour or so journey from Rethymno, or indeed further afield. There is a taverna just back from the beach, and another at the cove just to the west close to the rocks called ‘Small Triopetra’.

Skinaria Beach

Skinaria is one of the best beaches in Rethymno region, on the south coast of the island around 6 km from Plakias and 3 km down a narrow road from the village of Lefkogia, a little beyond Damnoni and Ammoudi beaches.

Skinaria is our pick of these, with a remote, wild feel (despite the umbrellas and loungers). the views along the coast from here are breathtaking and the deep blue and turquoise water as clear as at nearby Kalypso beach, just across the bay and around the headland. The small taverna completes the scene. A magnificent place.

Damnoni Beach

Image of Damnoni beach Creve Greect
Damnoni beach near Plakias

Damnoni Beach is the first of a run of three great west-facing beaches a few km east of Plakias.  It’s a fantastic beach, a curve of golden sand with turquoise seawater, and rugged mountains all around.

It’s considerably more ‘organised’ and developed than nearby Skinaria, but a great bet if you want more of a choice of places to eat, drink or even stay.

Agios Pavlos Sandhills Beach

Not to be confused with Agios Pavlos beach near Agia Roumeli in Chania province, with its thousand-year-old Byzantine church, this amazing beach – and landscape – is located close to the Rethymno village of Agios Pavlos.

The sandhills are extraordinary, rising almost directly out of the inviting turquoise sea.  It’s a very secluded beach, despite being close to the village – and beach – of Agios Pavlos, Rethymno, where there is more accommodation and places to eat.

Rethymno Beaches – West Of Rethymno

Gerani Beach

Image of a lamp at sunset at Gerani beach Rethymno Crete
Sunset at Gerani beach

One of the smaller beaches near Rethymno, Gerani beach (not to be confused with its larger namesake further west beyond Chania) is tucked away below cliffs below the main road to Chania.

It’s a wonderful little beach, a scenic rocky cove with a whitewashed church just above the shoreline. Our local friends suggested the water may be a little colder than at some of the other Rethymno beaches, but we didn’t notice much difference.

There is also a great taverna next to the beach, a great place to relax afterwards with excellent food.  

And just to the west of Rethymno province – check out the superb beach and ‘chapel in the sea’ in Georgioupolis Crete

Rethymno Beaches – Rethymno City And Around

Koumbes Beach Rethymno

Image of Koumbes beach Rethymno Crete
Koumbes beach on the outskirts of Rethymno

Koumbes beach is a small locals’ beach within sight of Rethymno Fortezza, just to the west of the Old town and bus station. there is a small section of sand and some rockier areas. A pleasant spot if you prefer to get away from the crowds and not have to pay for the privilege of spending time at the seaside. The rock reefs also provide shelter when the sea is a bit rough.

Platanes and Adelianos Kampos

Platanes and Adelianos Kampos are resorts to the east of Rethymno that have developed close to the massive beach that extends from Rethymno.

Both are mainly sandy, with some small pebbly sections, and they are also used for jet-skiing and kite-surfing.

Rethymno Beaches – East Of Rethymno

Panormos Beaches

Image of Panormos beach Crete
Panormos beach

Panormos is a quiet fishing village that is now largely given over to tourism, though it’s very low-key compared to the busy strip between the main Rethymno beach and Old town.

There are three small beaches – two sandy, one pebble and gravel – very close to each other in the centre of the village. You’ll also find several cafes and restaurants serving Cretan cuisine and boat trips from the harbour breakwater. 

Bali Livadi Beach

Image of Livadi beach Bali Crete
Busy Livadi beach

Bali Crete has five beaches packed into two miles of coastline, and these in turn can get packed with people looking for a couple of square metres of space on the sand.

Livadi beach is the most exposed of the Bali beaches, picking up more wind and waves from the north than the other beaches in the village. Every grain of sand is occupied by sun loungers, deck chairs and umbrellas – fine if you’re going to soak up the sun and heat all day and cool down with the occasional drink.

Bali – Mythos and Harbour Beaches

Image of Mythos and Harbour Beaches Bali Crete
Picturesque but packed – Mythos and Bali Harbour beaches

Mythos and Limani (Harbour) Beaches are almost adjacent beaches, separated by a narrow cliff. Both offer great views of picturesque Bali harbour, and have the usual loungers and umbrellas where you can linger for the day.

The beaches in Bali Crete are crowded all the way through the main season, so there’s very little space, but these two beaches share a wonderful setting, and it’s not difficult to see why people return here year after year.

Rethymno Beaches – Crete South Coast

Plakias Beach

Image of Plakias beach Crete
Plakias beach

Plakias is one of the main villages on the Rethymno part of the Crete south coast, with regular direct buses from the regional capital.

It’s home to a gorgeous wide sandy beach, part of which is ‘organised’ with umbrellas and sun loungers, and also has plenty of tavernas and restaurants from which you can choose.    

Souda Beach

Souda beach is one of the best south Crete beaches. It’s the westernmost of the Plakias beaches, 3 km west of the local hub, and sheltered from westerly winds – unlike others in the area – by the rugged mountains behind.

Not to be confused with Souda Bay harbour near Chania, this sand and pebble beach is ideal for sunbathing with full facilities, with plenty of quiet spots to wander, and great clear water for snorkelling.

Ligres Beach

Ligres beach is immediately north of Triopetra beach, and just the sort of place to head if you don’t want your beaches ‘organised’. There is a taverna at the northern end, and very little else – just a long expanse of coarse sand, facing west towards the mountains. If you visit Triopetra, try to stop by here too.

Rethymno Beaches – Final Words

I hope you have enjoyed my guide to the best Rethymno beaches and that you have found it useful.

We loved Rethymno and found it a fantastic place to stay. It’s also a great base for exploring central and western Crete.

As well as this guide, I have also written individual guides to Spilies Beach, Geropotamos Beach and Panormos Crete, all just to the east of Rethymno.

As for the southern Rethymno beaches, check out my guide to the remarkable Kalypso Beach Crete, and nearby Damnoni Beach. Both are near Plakias, another great base on the south Crete coast.

Also check out my guide to the Bali Crete beaches further east on the road to Heraklion.

If you venture a few miles inland, you’ll also reach Arkadi Monastery, scene of the heroic last stand against Ottoman troops in 1866. And for somewhere closer to Rethymno, see my guide to the Mili Gorge Crete hike for a great afternoon out.

There are many more great day trips from Rethymno, to the south and west of the city. Georgioupolis Crete has a great beach and gorgeous white fishermen’s chapel on a causeway in the harbour. It’s also very close to the village and waterfalls of Argyroupoli and the freshwater Kournas Lake.

Rethymno’s location means many of the top Crete attractions are within reach as day trips. Check out my guide to the best things to do in Chania, for me the most beautiful city in Crete.

You can also take day trips to the most popular beaches along the remote west coast. The tropical lagoon of Balos Beach Crete and pink sands of Elafonissi Beach are the most popular. But don’t miss extraordinary Falassarna Beach, which we rate one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe.

Image of David Angel found of Delve into Europe Travel Blog / Website

David Angel is a Welsh historian, photographer and writer. He is a European travel expert with over 30 years’ experience exploring Europe.

He has a degree in History from Manchester University, and his work is regularly featured in global media including the BBC, Condé Nast Traveler, The Guardian, The Times, and The Sunday Times. 

David is fluent in French and Welsh, and can also converse in Italian, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Czech and Polish.

Check out more of our Crete articles by following the links below:

  • Pink Beaches In Crete – discover the magical pink sand beaches of Crete
  • Falassarna Beach – a little unheralded, but one of the best beaches in Greece and the whole Mediterranean
  • Balos Beach Crete – perhaps the most famous Crete beach of all, a gorgeous beach with a lagoon on one side and the turquoise Mediterranean on the other
  • Elafonissi Beach – the magnificent remote series of pink beaches in the south-west corner of Crete
  • Hersonissos Beaches – 15 of the best beaches in the busy Crete resort town
  • Malia Beaches – the complete guide to the beaches in Crete’s other party town
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