On the Aegean Sea
Panormo is home to two scenic beaches and a small harbour that, come nightfall, lights up the waterfront. Limani Beach comes equipped with sunloungers and umbrellas to spend your days napping upon in the Greek sunshine, as well as a wealth of watersporting opportunities.
On this part of the island, you’ll have your pick of canoeing, windsurfing, scuba diving and snorkelling, with centres taking you out to sea and exploring the underwater wonders of the Aegean.
There’s also the West Panormo Beach, which has equally clear waters as its sister-shores. It’s a horseshoe-shaped cove, just a brief stroll away from the centre of town.
Greece is famous for its epic history, with myths of gods and monsters once walking the earth. And if you’re visiting Panormo, some of those very settings are right at your fingertips.
The Ideon Cave is tucked up on Mount Ida, the tallest spot in all of Crete. This cave is rumoured to be the site where Rhea hid Zeus out of fear his father Cronos would eat him – and thus, the most monumental Greek God was saved. You can join a tour group or drive up on your own before descending into the cave and having a look for yourself – just be advised it’s a very steep trek and not for the faint-hearted.
Another godly spot located an hour’s drive from Panormo is the Bronze Age Knossos, in which the famous Palace of Knossos now lies in ruins. History explains this is where King Minos once ruled, and where Theseus killed the Minotaur. Nowadays, you can tour the ancient ruins that make up the largest archaeological site in Crete, and Europe’s oldest city.
Restaurants and tavernas in Panormo take the romance factor up a notch, with flower-laden terraces and harbour-front locales. Most will give you excellent samples of Greek cuisine, while some offer international bites, low-key pizza and even casual takeaway options.
A lot of the tavernas double as bars in the evening, so you can stick around after dinner for a late-night glass of wine or take to the harbour for a cocktail. There are also beach bars, plus a ritzier hotel option at the Royal Blue Resort and Spa. Wherever you go, you’ll find that nights in Panormo are largely laid-back.
To see some of the local Cretan alcohol in its prime, there’s the Klados Winery. It’s a small centre featuring personal tours by the family that owns and operates it, wine tasting and the opportunity to buy bottles on your way out.
Because Panormo is so relaxed, you won’t find hosts of shopping centres and boutiques here, but a handful of spots that sell local goods and produce. At the centre of town is a village square in which Panormians get most of their daily shopping. You can pick up day-to-day necessities at various supermarkets and grab authentic souvenirs like olive oils, painted pottery and leather goods from local shops.
The historic town of Rethymnon is located only a 20-minute drive from Panormo. Beautiful doesn’t begin to describe its architecture – its skyline includes a mixture of Venetian and Ottoman buildings leftover from the town’s years of switching ruling hands. It comes equipped with a stunning harbour, which is lined with restaurants and tavernas, not to mention the Fortezza, a Venetian castle keeping a watchful eye over the locals.
Days in Rethymnon can be spent lounging on the beach or embarking on boat cruises out to sea. You can soak up some culture and historical knowledge at the nearby monasteries or museums, or get your heart rate going by setting out on a hike through one of the surrounding gorges. Come nightfall, Rethymnon’s after-hours scene is anything but historic, with British pubs and cocktail bars keeping things lively.
If you’re planning last minute holidays to Crete, be sure to make time for some adventures inland as well as by the sea.