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Best things to do & places to stay:

Last updated: 08 December, 2022
Expert travel writer: John Malathronas

Rhodes is equally renowned for its sun-drenched natural beauty – curvaceous swirls of powder sand, endemic flora, and wildlife ranging from butterflies to loggerhead turtles and miniature horses – as well as its lengthy history, attracting in equal measures both beachcombers and history wonks.

Lying on the crossroads between the Mediterranean and the Middle East, many civilizations have left their mark in every aspect of island life: Greeks and Romans, Byzantines, the Crusader Knights of St. John, Ottomans and, post-World War I, Italians, before Rhodes joined Modern Greece in 1947.

Orientation

The largest island of the Dodecanese, rising just 11 miles off the coast of Turkey, stretches like a leaning lozenge from north to south.

The capital, Rhodes Town, and most hotel infrastructure lie at the northern tip; the forested, mountainous interior is sparsely populated, while the southern coast is more pristine and uncrowded.

Rhodes Town is divided into the medieval Old Town – a UNESCO Heritage site – and Niohori (New Town) which was the focus of the Italian colonial administration and sports some astonishing architecture.

The key hubs of the island are:

Old Town

A UNESCO World Heritage site and the best walled medieval town in Greece, Rhodes Old Town is pock-marked by monuments built by the Knights of St. John who ruled the island for 200 years after the Crusades.

Visitors enter this time bubble through the moated gates of St Amboise, St Athanasios or St John, ambling along the cobbled Street of Knights full of 15th- and 16th-century buildings, and marvel at the superbly preserved Knights Hospital.

Niohori

The northern part of Rhodes Town was partly rebuilt by the Italians, during their post-World War I occupation, in a colonial style that merges the sensuality of Orientalism with the flamboyance of late period Mussolini.

As Rhodes Town was supposed to become the capital of a Fascist Mediterranean Empire, it’s awash with grandiose constructions.  The Town Hall, The Municipal theatre, the Casino, the New Market , the University and the Post Office are all visually stunning and stylishly unique.

Lindos

Whitewashed, donkey-ridden and narrow-laned, this Rhodian village could have just been plucked out of the Cyclades and magically transported below the acropolis. Dignified mansions overlook the streets and finely frescoed churches crown the cul-de-sacs, for trading Lindians survived passing invaders and prospered throughout their history.

Kameiros

Although not as spectacular as Lindos, Kameiros was abandoned early and, lying in the windswept north-western coast, was not recolonised, leaving for posterity a well-laid out ancient town with a cistern and a water network, an open square, villas with coloured plastered interiors, and much more.

Food & Drink

Rhodes has a distinctive cuisine, with many dishes spiced by cumin such as Lakani (lamb or goat in the oven with yellow split peas) and pitaroudia (fried split-pea flour patties).

Greek cuisine connoisseurs who think they’ve tasted everything, should try the local version of dolmades (stuffed vine leaves), called yiaprakia, made out from the tenderest of leaves and takakia, an ostensible precursor of baklava.

What to try

Honey is a Rhodian speciality so much so that there is a bee museum on the island – buy some jars for home.

Also see John’s round-up of the best traditional Greek foods you must try in Greece.

Other worthwhile experiences in this destination if you have the time or the interest

Acropolis of Lindos
Experience

Acropolis of Lindos

Rhodes, Greek Islands, Greece

Rising in a dramatic setting, up a 116m high clifftop and a stiff climb from Lindos village, the Lindos Acropolis dedicated to the goddess Athena is the best-preserved archaeological site in the Dodecanese.

Best for ages: 13+ | Free

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Overview >
Agios Pavlos Beach
Experience

Agios Pavlos Beach

Rhodes, Greek Islands, Greece

Maybe the most picturesque of bays on the island, this is the cove that St. Paul was shipwrecked on during his proselytising voyages. Up towards the Acropolis you can discern the Cave Of The Virgin that served as a secret Christian place of worship, complete with 3rd-century inscriptions.

Best for ages: 4+ | Free

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Overview >
Archaeological Museum
Experience

Archaeological Museum

Rhodes, Greek Islands, Greece

This small, compact museum – the best in Rhodes – is well laid out and full of interesting exhibits. Don’t miss the dainty statue of Bathing Aphrodite – so modern, it could’ve been fashioned by Bernini – and the head of God Helios that served as a prototype for busts of Alexander the Great.

Best for ages: 18+ | £7

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Overview >
Butterfly Valley
Experience

Butterfly Valley

Rhodes, Greek Islands, Greece

A 600-care nature reserve where Jersey tiger moths congregate between June and September to mate (and subsequently starve themselves to death). They nestle in droves on branches of the indigenous gum tree forest and fly about in their black- and orange-tinted wings creating a surrealistic spectacle.

Best for ages: 6+ | Free | 4 months

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Overview >

Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay in this destination

Limeri Traditional Guesthouse

Rhodes, Greek Islands, Greece

A mountain inn, with ten rural-luxe rooms, strategically located in the island’s crossroads at Monolithos – a perfect, inexpensive base to explore Rhodes (with a car).

Official star rating:

Marco Polo Mansion

Rhodes, Greek Islands, Greece

This quiet, charming 500-year-old Ottoman mansion in the centre of Rhodes old town is a designer jewel, with a restaurant offering Michelin-quality food.

Official star rating:

Melenos Art Boutique Hotel

Rhodes, Greek Islands, Greece

A lavish yet genteel luxury boutique hotel in the style of a 17th-century Lindos mansion, with sweeping panoramas of the beach and coastline below.

Official star rating:

Allegory Boutique Hotel

Rhodes, Greek Islands, Greece

A beautifully-restored heritage boutique hotel set in a historic townhouse in Rhodes Old Town. A cultured alternative to the typical Rhodes beach resort.

Official star rating:

When to go

Rhodes overflows with tourists in July and August and, unlike other Greek islands, the weather gets extremely humid during those months.

As it is the Greek island with the longest tourist season, you’d be better off in April-May or September to, yes, early November, when the sea is still relatively warm.

Getting there and away

Rhodes’s international airport – the fourth busiest in Greece by passenger numbers – is located in the northwest of the island, 14km from Rhodes Town.

It’s served by regular buses to the capital and taxis are readily available, although many resorts will pick you up for free and the rest will arrange transport for a fee.

There are numerous ferries from Rhodes Town to the rest of the Dodecanese, Crete and Piraeus, although the long crossing times (the quickest clocks 12hrs+ to Piraeus) make flights more convenient.

Getting around

Island buses are punctual and cheap, connecting Rhodes Town to all settlements south. In the shoulder season timetables change weekly as more routes are added or subtracted, so don’t plan too far in advance.

Taxis are pricey and picky as regards the destination. It’s worth renting a car or a scooter to get around unencumbered.

Where to stay

As all roads lead to Rhodes Town, you don’t have to stay there to discover its history; many of the resorts are bunched up within a short bus ride from the capital.

The north-western shoreline is teeming with shoulder-to-shoulder resorts, but it’s also very windy. The eastern and southern coasts offer better shelter.

Lindos is undoubtedly the most spectacular Instagrammable spot, Prasonissi at the southern tip has the best Robinson Crusoe vibe, whereas loud Faliraki with its permanently drinking and partying 18-30 target demographic is best avoided.

Where to eat or drink

Rhodes Town has the highest concentration of upscale restaurants, both in the Old Town and in Niohori, but there are many good options all over the island.

Where to shop

You can bump into many family stores in the Old Town that produce their own leather goods, decorative plates, plus handmade gold and silver jewellery.

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