Rethymnon is the least celebrated of Crete's 4 prefectures. Its natural endowment trails the wonders of Chania, its historical sites are no match for the Minoan ruins of Heraklion, and its hotel infrastructure, although first class and extended, cannot compare with the top luxury hotels of Lassithi. Nevertheless, it leaves nothing to be desired in terms of natural beauty and man-made sites of interest. Squeezed between the White Mountains of Chania and the Psiloritis mountain of Heraklion, Rethymnon is the narrowest of Crete's regions and the north-to-south drive is no more than 35-45 minutes and, as in Chania, it passes through beautiful agricultural country, pretty villages, and breathtaking gorges.
The town of Rethymnon was largely spared by the invading German forces in 1941 and today is a living monument to Crete's turbulent past, albeit with a pinch of some of its tacky tourist present thrown in for good measure. Nonetheless, the town is so charming and alive, that the various "Souvenirs from Greece" shops that line some of its streets cannot mar this impression.
The whole south coast, from Rodakino ("Peach") to Agia Galini ("St Tranquility") is dotted with unforgettable beaches and nice little hamlets. The villages that lie on the west slopes of Mount Psiloritis offer a glimpse of Old Crete, in the days before tourist development. The village of Anogia is the quintessential Cretan village: men in black, at the cafes, sipping Greek coffee and raki throughout the day, the smell of lamb "ofto"-style filling the air, and everybody ready to joke around and answer any question as long as you accept their offer "to drink a raki" together. This is Crete at its best.
Finally, one simply has to see the Idean Cave, about 35 km south of Anogia, the birthplace of Zeus, the father of the Gods, according to the ancients. A gigantic hole on the side of the mountain, where temperature drops by about 5 degrees Celsius at the bottom of the cave and it really feels that something awsome could have happened here back in the mists of the beginning of time.