Panormo is situated about 20km east of Rethymnon City, in the province of Milopotamos. It is a tranquil seaside village, which has met a fast development during the last decades, without however losing its traditional character. The wild beauty of the pure Cretan landscape, the picturesque village, the beautiful beaches, and easy access have contributed to this development.
In Panormo there are actually two main beaches and a few smaller ones. As its Greek name implies (means a place with a natural port), Panormos is a natural harbor with calm water. The harbor (Limanaki) beach serves as the port of the area. It is sandy and the sea has clear water. It is ideal for families with small children, as it is shallow and its cement pier protects it from waves. It is well organized with umbrellas, showers, water sports, and many options for accommodation and food around. Adjacent, on the east, there is a smaller sandy unorganized beach, not preferred by swimmers.
The second main beach named Limni is located just 200m west of the village. Similarly to Limanaki Beach, it’s sandy, and well protected by a rocky pier (there are actually two separate beaches). Even further to the east, there is a small cove with a pebbly beach in the north direction, ideal for seclusion and snorkeling when the sea is flat. You can access Panormo with direct bus services from Rethymnon, but also with suburban bus services between Heraklion and Rethymnon. Moreover, excursion boats run from the local harbor.
Brief history of the area
Panormo is situated in a historic place and is believed to be on the site of the ancient city of Panormus. The existence of an ancient city is confirmed by the discovery of the imposing basilica of St. Sophia (around the 6th AD Century) 500m southwest of the village. The basilica is considered one of the greatest Christian churches in Greece and the largest in West Crete. Moreover, Panormos is called Kastelli of Milopotamos (i.e. Castle of Milopotamos), because it was fortified by the Genoese, who conquered it in 1206. The fort, however, fell a few years later at the hands of Venetians. Traces of the Fort of Milopotamos are still visible next to the harbor.
In modern history, Panormo was a center for the transportation of goods produced in the wider region. The area produced large quantities of olives and carbs. You can still visit the renovated old carob mill, which is nowadays used as a cultural center. During the German Occupation, Panormos was bombed. The new national road that was constructed in the 1970s running next to the village and the construction of the marina in 1980 contributed to the touristic development of Panormos. Three festivals take place here every year: Ascension, St. John on June 24, and St. Nicholas on December 6.