Although it is the third largest town in Crete, Rethymnon does not feel like a city as Chania and Heraklion do. Instead, it has a provincial air, it moves slowly, and, most important, it preserves much of its Venetian and Turkish heritage. There are two sides to Rethymno catering to two styles of visitors: the endless big beach hotel strip that stretches from the east end of Rethymno, lapping up the coastal "villages" of Perivolia, Platanias, Adelianos Kambos - and - the old town Rethymno with its mix of architecture and history. The Fortress (Fortezza) dominates the city and makes Rethymno very photogenic, its pedestrian streets, strewn with charming old buildings. Venetian influences abound and the minarets and domed mosques remind of the Turkish influence long gone. Not to miss is the Venetian Loggia, an elegant building of the 16th century, that used to be a Venetian gentlemens' club and today houses offices of the ministry of culture. Another important site is the Neratzes mosque formerly the Holy Virgin church, converted into a mosque by the Ottomans. Today it is a music conservatory. And what best place to stay in this romantic environment than a villa that you can rent in the wider Rethymno area.