A guide to Street Photography in Rethymno, Crete

A guide to Street Photography in Rethymno, Crete

Bye bye pirates

Introduction

Since the summer of 2009 I have been living in the lovely little town of Rethymno in Crete, Greece. Rethymno is a small town that is located on the north shores of Crete in the mid-west part of the island. Rethymno is also the name of the county that Rethymno town is located in. Rethymno county is much larger and covers a big area from the north to the south shores of the island. I like Rethymno because of the old part of town that has a strong Venetian influence. Most of the old buildings there are still inhabited, mostly by older people or families and the narrow paths and small squares are almost always full of children playing or of older people relaxing. The reason for this is that no cars are allowed in the Old Town and this makes it safe for families to let their kids have fun in the streets, just like kids had fun in the old days. Those narrow streets and little alleys, the squares and the seaside road are where I practise my art. This is where everything started for me.

Top 5 Locations for Street Photography in Rethymno

Please check out our Top 5 Street Photography locations in Rethymno Google map.

Summary

I know that most of you will never visit my town, it is but a small dot on the map of the world, however it does offer some really beautiful spots for Street Photography and has some of the most amazing characters that can enrich your compositions. So, today I will be sharing with you all the best places that you could visit in order to get the most out of your Street Photography when visiting Rethymno. There are not many places that you need be concerned about which is a good thing. I am pretty sure that if you follow this guide you can cover pretty much every corner of the town in less than a week and get some really cool shots.

Top 5 Locations

You can literally do Street Photography anywhere you like in Rethymno, but not all places are worth it. For this reason I am going to focus on the 5 Top most locations for you to use if you ever visit my little town. So here goes.

1. Old Venetian Port

The old Venetian port is one of the most beautiful places in all of Rethymno. As the name implies it is an old port that was built a long time a go by the Venetians. One of the most beautiful features is the old Lighthouse that towers over the little port. In the background, behind the lighthouse, if looking at it from the centre of the port, you can also see a lovely, big mountain. That is mount Ida a.k.a. Psiloritis, the 2nd tallest Greek mountain, the tallest in Crete and the supposed birthplace of Zeus. Anyway, if you visit the Venetian port in the summer, you will probably find it packed with tables and chairs. All the restaurants are operational during tourist season and in my opinion all the mystery of the place just vanishes. The best time of the year to shoot street here is during the winter months. The port is completely empty of chairs and tables and you can really admire the beauty of the old Venetian architecture. All around the port, there can be found steps leading up to homes that can be used for a better POV. Also there are a couple of little alleys that end up on the port that can be used as a place to frame and shoot without being noticed.

Rethymno Venetian Port

Hot tip: Take advantage of the amazing backdrops offered at this location and frame your shots based on those elements. Just let a person walk into your shot and you will make a lovely photograph. For more information about Backgrounds in Street Photography, you can read our post The importance of choosing a background for your shots.

2. Peripheral road & Fortezza

The Venetians also built a big fortress during the years they had occupied Rethymno. That fortress is called Fortezza by the locals, which means fortress. Inside that amazing place you could shoot some street photography, but I can’t really say I have tried it. It feels more like travel photography to me, but there are some battlements and turrets that you can shoot out of, aiming at the peripheral street below that will give you an amazing POV for a totally different street photo. People seen far below from high above are a new favourite style of mine that I highly recommend you try out. Once you have tried that, you can walk out and around the Fortezza, on the peripheral road and shoot some photos with stunning backdrops of people enjoying the view by the sea, or enjoying themselves walking to the sound of waves splashing on the rocks.

Rethymno peripheral road

Hot tip: Try and capture your subject on the peripheral road with the Fortezza towering over him/her in the background. The result will be quite dramatic.

3. Rethymno garden

The central garden of Rethymno is located just outside the Old Town to the South. On the North side of the Old Town is the sea. The garden is the place where people gather mostly during the summer to enjoy a nice cool evening amongst the trees. Crete is a hot place generally so the garden serves as a nice relaxing spot for families, older people and people that like to run. Inside the garden there is a very, very basic canteen for refreshments. So, if you choose to visit Rethymno, take a walk in the Rethymno garden with your camera and take advantage of the layout of the place and make some street photos.

Rethymno garden

Hot tip: If you ask for permission from most old people sitting on benches to take their photos, they won’t mind. Especially if you are not a local. So the odds are in your favour if you choose to make some lovely Street Portraits here. For more information about Street Portraiture, you can read our post Posed Street Portraits vs Candid Street Portraits – The differences and how to shoot them.

4. Old Town market

Two Streets matter the most in the Old Town of Rethymno. Arkadiou street and Ethnikis Antistaseos street. These two streets are the main commercial arteries of the Old Town and where you will find people at all times of the day or night, especially during the tourist period. The tourist period most years starts in April and ends at the end of October. These two streets are bursting with life and the opportunities for nice street photos are many. Because of the many people taking a walk, eating, drinking, shopping, etc, the vertical alleys and pathways to those two main streets are usually full of photographic opportunities also. Just pick your location, stay put for 10-15 minutes and the shot will present itself to you, no doubt about it. Then move on, choose another location and have fun. The people found walking on these streets during the summer especially, are of all shapes and sizes.

Old Town market of Rethymno

Hot tip: The absolute best time of the year to visit the Old Town is during the Carnival weekend. This is the best time of the year in Rethymno! Carnival is one of the main reasons why the rest of Greece knows about our town. If you visit during this time of the year, you will make amazing street photos, with a unique character. People gather from all over Greece and the party goes on for days! During the last day of the Carnival, it is totally wild everywhere. You will need a clean SD card and 2 to 3 batteries for your camera. Then, put a mask on, and hit the streets!

5. Old Town seafront & Rethymno beach

The Old Town seafront starts from where the East side of the Old Venetian port ends and extends for kilometers to the East of Rethymno. After a while it just goes on and on as Rethymno Beach, since the Old Town isn’t really that big. This part of town is where I met Dirty Harrry, world famous Street Photographer that is also based here in Rethymno. This is one of his favourite shooting places. To walk this route, from the Old Venetian port to the end of the beach, you will need at least 30-40 minutes (without stopping for photos). It offers amazing opportunities!

Old Town seafront of Rethymno

Hot tip: Walk slow and take in all the visual info. Something is always happening here, especially during the warmer months of the year. There is no way you will not make a nice photo while walking on the Old Town seafront & Rethymno beach.

Conclusion

Rethymno is a little town in Crete with a long history, warm people, great food and very good places to shoot Street Photos. It is like a Chameleon that changes colours and appearance very often, but is always the same old Chameleon, just changed. Shops, cafes, restaurants, open and close, change names, owners, styles, the streets change colours that ultimately change the way Rethymno looks and feels but the walls and streets are the same and so are the local faces. I really feel lucky to live here. It is safe, it is romantic and it has character. If you are ever in Crete, pay Rethymno a visit. You will enjoy photographing here.

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8 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Spyros!
    I am a photographer. And a proud Rethymnian in origin.
    However, due to “historical” bad luck (WW-II aftermath) my father had to leave Rethymnon.
    I came back only once, in 1984 as a kid, during a summer. Your magnificent post touched both two dimensions.

    I am now eager to visit back off-summer season, and delve into the majestic corners that you describe.
    Saying “thank you” would be little. “I owe you” should be the phrase I should tell.

    Spyros, many thanks!

    • Hello Yannis!
      Thank you very much for your comment. I am so happy that you enjoyed my post. When you return to Rethymno I kindly ask you to get in touch with me so we can hit the streets together!
      Stay Sharp & Keep Shooting!

  2. Thanks for this! I’m flying to Crete on Monday for the first time and I plan on spending most of my days there photographing your city so this will be helpful. I’m looking forward to it!

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