Rethymno (Greece)

Rethymno is the third largest municipality of Crete with 63,000 habitants. It accommodates more than half a million tourists and attracts more than 1.5 million visitors on day tours and cruises annually. Therefore, the municipality is building up an integrated approach to face the rising challenges of both growing sectors: mobility and tourism. Rethymno has been a member of the Covenant of Mayors since 2011 and sustainable mobility is one of the strategic pillars of the Municipal SEAP. Rethymno is also involved in the European Reference Framework for Sustainable Cities.

Municipality area397 km2
Population density158 inh/km2
Gender balance52% female, 48% male
Average life expectancy

Female: 84.7, male: 79.4

Car ownership rate

69.6% of the adult population

45.5%: one (1) car

20.3%: two (2) cars

3.8%: more than two (2) cars

Accident rate23 accidents; 25 injured and 10 deceased (2015)

Mild Mediterranean climate with mild winters and hot summers.


Rethymno Today

Rethymno – a medium-sized Mediterranean City, located on the northern coast of the island of Crete, in Greece, is a popular tourist destination which accommodates more than 500.000 visitors annually. 1.5 million visitors explore Rethymno Municipality on day tours and cruises, due to its archaeological landmarks, (especially the Old City Historical Centre), remarkable beaches, traditional villages and worldwide famous gastronomy. Since 2007, Rethymno Municipality has set the vision of Sustainable Development. Rethymno’s policies and strategies are always aligned with sustainable mobility to serve the needs of citizens and visitors.

Rethymno has been a member of the Covenant of Mayors since 2011 and sustainable mobility is one of the strategic pillars of the Municipal SECAP. 

Electromobility which is a slow-growing sector in Greece, is strongly supported and continuously promoted. Rethymno leads the way among other Greek municipalities introducing electric vehicles at a local level, installing the first Electric Vehicle ChargingStations in the region providing free charges. Electric Vehicles are integrated into Municipal and Public Transport fleet with an electric minibus and a municipal electric car. E-mobility is also combined with sharing systems with the introduction of shared e-scooters and e-bikes. The promotion of electro-mobility was enhanced with test drives, advertorials, social media posts, public events, leaflets and postcards. This integrated campaign resulted also in unlocking ERDF for more fast chargers and for the procurement of a photovoltaic car-port and Electric Vehicle and micro mobility chargers.

Rethymno innovates at a national level by developing smart systems to provide useful data to urban planners and upgraded services to citizens and tourists.

Eleven thermal sensors and five environmental monitoring stations were installed in selected city locations in the Municipality of Rethymno, in order to correlate critical traffic and environmental indicators.  The new Smart Car Parking Management System, incorporated the new 600 sensors into an IT platform with a combination of smart applications and management tools. The web-based application provides real time information about available parking spaces. This implemented system is the biggest and most completed in national level.

Rethymno is combining new infrastructure and strategic mobility plans for schools and the University, while promoting the engagement of public stakeholders by integrating behavioural change activities to increase safety and the use of sustainable transport modes within the school community. Eleven mobility plans for primary, secondary and higher education schools in Rethymno and a two-year integrated action plan were implemented with the participation of more than 4.500 students. A great success story for Rethymno Municipality. The most important was that, Rethymno managed to secure 400.000€ of national funds for road safety interventions and mobility plans for schools in the city centre. 

An online platform to support sustainable mobility plans for selected routes, accessible through web/mobile devices developed, aiming to achieve a modal shift towards cycling and, walking public transport. It supports the uptake of the new mobility services for greener transport offered by the municipality, such as the new electric bus.

Rethymno’s objective is to create a more attractive and accessible tourist destination. To this end, increased accessibility and safety for disabled people with the installation of state-of-the-art equipment and infrastructure (ramps, countdown timers, SEATRAC system, systems for blind people) is always a priority.

Rethymno involving its vision of Sustainable mobility in each decision, strategy, or policy is becoming progressively appealing to the private sector. The first cooperation between an investor for the e-bikes sharing system in 2018, attracted another private investment for e-scooters sharing system in July 2019 (with the availability of 300 e-scooters). The private investors of the e-vehicles sharing schemes, are in close cooperation with the Municipality of Rethymno, trying to ensure a win-win situation and build a strong foundation in the mobility systems of the city.

The most successful cooperation in public-private level was among Rethymno Municipality and Public Transport Operator which is a private company with the launch of E-BUS. The Public Transport Operator was actively involved from the design phase, and this resulted in the integration of another bus route to the existing public transport services. Several municipalities reached out to the municipality of Rethymno to learn more about the procurement process and the experience from its operation.

Mr Georgios Marinakis – the Mayor of Rethymno – has the opportunity to become an active member of CIVITAS Political Advisory Committee (PAC) since 2018, ensuring and strengthening Rethymno’s involvement in crucial CIVITAS activities and policies.

Rethymno – through an integrated approach – developed two related and complementary plans, the Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP) and the Sustainable Freight Logistics Plan (SULP) to meet tourists’ and citizens’ expectations for sustainable, affordable, secure and reliable transport services and a healthier urban environment. The SUMP demonstrates mobility solutions that improve the city’s accessibility and attractiveness combining emerging technologies, policy-based and soft measures with a strong replication potential, and serves as a best practice example to other Greek cities. Establishing the mobility baseline, measureable performance and impact indicators along with a monitoring framework, smart applications and ICT tools will prove essential for managing, fine-tuning and enhancing the approved SUMP.  In the SUMP, priority measures have triggered studies to attract funding from structural funds. Rethymno has already unlocked funding to implement large scale interventions supporting its Road Safety Strategic Plan.


Modal Share



Walking: 20%

Cycling: 5%

Public transport: 10%

Taxi: 5%

Car: 60%




Behavioural change
  • Reduce private car dependencies
  • Address the position and inertia of the citizens/local businesses
  • Engage key stakeholders to a sustainable growth model
  • Inspire sustainable mobility habits
  • Improve soft transport modes
Upgrading of transport system
  • Address seasonal fluctuation due to tourism
  • Attractive and convenient PT services
  • Convenient access choices to main attractions
  • Improved links between PT, cycling and walking networks
  • Better coordination of inter-regional and airport transportation
Urban environment
  • Reduce traffic congestion and high environmental impacts (GHGs, urban noise)
  • Improve municipality image and functionality
  • Improve convenience for citizens / visitors
  • Design greener and safer public spaces


Transport Infrastructure

Car network

Approx. 650 km.

Cycling network

20 km. cycling network in the city of Rethymno.

The cycling network in Rethymno prefecture includes 22 inter-regional cycling routes, 12 of them connect Rethymno with key attractions nearby.

Public transport network

Approx. 400 km.


Rethymno after DESTINATIONS

Civitas Destinations has strengthened the image of our city as an attractive touristic destination that has improved the quality of life both for its residents and visitors. Now, Municipality of Rethymno is lead partner of PLASTECO | Interreg Europe- a 4-year project for peer learning, joint research and development of territorial plans on plastic waste management.  Also, Municipality of Rethymno is partner and demonstration city promoting electromobility powered by RES in INCIRCLE - an Interreg Med project which mission is to enhance the sustainability and attractiveness of MED touristic insular and low-density areas through Circular Tourism.


Increased PT use: 20%

Increased use of public bikes: 10-15%

Reduction of congestion events: 10%

Increased satisfaction of residents and visitors: 30%

Accidents reduction: 20%

Behavioural change of local community and tourists towards sustainable modes of transport

Improved skills for drivers, including PT and freight



Studies on Sustainable Urban Mobility planning:  

Traffic Study A

Traffic Study B

Rethymno tourist guides and accessibility information for people with disabilities


Mobility solutions




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George Marinakis
European Mobility Week
Smart Cities Marketplace
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