One of the most gorgeous of them all, with an astounding history and a unique, iconic look and feel to it is none other than Rhodes.
Also known as “the knights’ island”, Rhodes is where you want to be if you are a lover of history or medieval romance, lush nature, breathtaking beaches, and surprising versatility in your vacations.
Here is everything you need to know to get the most out of your vacation in Rhodes!
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- Rhodes Quick Guide
- Where is Rhodes?
- How to get to Rhodes
- How to get around Rhodes
- Rhodes’ weather and climate
- A brief history of Rhodes Island
- Things To Do In Rhodes Island, Greece
- Explore Rhodes Old Town
- Explore Rhodes New Town
- Visit the Palace of the Grand Master
- Visit the Hospital of the Knights / Archaeological Museum
- Explore the Fort of St. Nicholas
- Take a stroll at Mandraki harbor
- Visit the Acropolis of Rhodes
- Go for a tour at the Valley of the Butterflies
- Visit Rhodes’ Castles
- Visit Filerimos Monastery and Panagia Tsambika Monastery
- Hike to Profitis Ilias Chapel
- Visit Lindos Village
- Visit Ancient Lindos and Kamiros
- Take a trip to the Seven Springs
- Visit the Thermal Springs of Kallithea
- Hit the beaches
- Take a day trip to Symi Island
Rhodes Quick Guide
Planning a trip to Rhodes? Find here everything you need:
Looking for ferry tickets? Click here for the ferry schedule and to book your tickets.
Rent a car: Compare prices and book your car.
Top-Rated Tours and Day Trips to Do in Rhodes:
– From Rhodes Town: Boat trip to Lindos with swim stops (from € 30 p.p)
– From Rhodes: Symi Island Full-Day Trip by Boat (from € 30 p.p)
– East Coast of Rhodes Sea Kayaking and Snorkeling Activity (from € 75 p.p)
– 7 Springs Valley, Kallithea, and Filerimos Bus Tour (from € 35 p.p)
– Hop-on Hop-off Sightseeing Bus Tour (from € 12 p.p)
Where to stay in Rhodes: Kokkini Porta Rossa(Rhodes Town), Aqua Grand Exclusive Deluxe Resor (Lindos), Lydia Maris Resort & Spa (Kolymbia)
Where is Rhodes?
Rhodes is part of the Dodecanese island cluster, situated in Southeast Aegean. It is the biggest island in the Dodecanese and is considered the island cluster center.
How to get to Rhodes
There are many ways to get to Rhodes, including by plane and ferry.
If you opt to go by plane, you can fly directly from abroad to Rhodes as it has an international airport (“Diagoras” International Airport), especially during the high season. You can also take a flight from Athens or Thessaloniki to Rhodes. That flight takes about 50 minutes.
The airport is situated about 16 km from Rhodes Town, so it’s best to book a taxi to get to Rhodes Town once you arrive.
If you choose to go by ferry, you can take one from Piraeus port. The trip lasts 16 to 18 hours, so make sure to make it part of your vacation rather than just commuting if you opt for that. There are lines connecting Rhodes by ferry from nearby islands, such as Patmos, Leros, Kos, and Simi to mention a few.
Alternatively, if you are coming to Rhodes from Turkey, you can take the ferry from Marmaris.
Find below the ferry schedule and book your tickets.
How to get around Rhodes
Rhodes is one of the biggest islands in Greece. If you want to explore the island the best way to do it is by renting a car. On the other hand, if you would like a more relaxed beach vacation with a few trips around the island you can do it with the public buses or by joining a guided tour.
While there are buses and taxis that will take you to basic places, a car will give you more freedom, flexibility and will take you to more off-the-beaten-path places. Click here to check the bus schedule.
I recommend booking a car through rentalcars.com where you can compare all rental car agencies’ prices, and you can cancel or modify your booking for free. They also guarantee the best price. Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.
Rhodes’ weather and climate
Just like all of Greece, Rhodes’ climate is Mediterranean, which means that the summers are very hot and dry while the winters relatively mild and very rainy.
Temperatures during summer can are about 30-35 degrees Celsius on average, while during heat waves they can reach up to 40 degrees. During the winter, temperatures average 5-10 degrees Celsius, which can go lower depending on winds or heavy rain.
The best time to visit Rhodes if you want to swim is from early June to late September when the sea is warm enough to enjoy. It is also the high season, so be advised that there will be more crowds, especially during July and August.
Though the sea tempers the heat somewhat, don’t be taken in: always have your hat and sunscreen on, to avoid the relentless scorching sun!
A brief history of Rhodes Island
Rhodes has been inhabited at least since the Mycenean times, and probably earlier. Because of the island’s extremely strategic position, it became a strong bone of contention for various forces over the course of history. It also became quite prosperous.
After the Persian wars, Rhodes became part of the Delian League in 480 BC and then under the rule of Alexander the Great. After Alexander’s death, the island fought fiercely for its independence and managed it.
During this period, around 300 BC, we have the renowned Colossus of Rhodes construction: a giant statue straddling the harbor of Rhodes and part of the ancient 7 Wonders of the World. The Colossus collapsed during an earthquake, but Rhodes continued to prosper until Roman times when Roman rule took over.
During medieval times, Rhodes was successively conquered by the Ottoman Turks, the Saracens, and the Venetians. Venetian rule had a great influence on the island, through the Knights of Saint John who fortified it throughout, building castles and citadels, including the Palace of the Grand Master.
Finally, in the 1500s and up until 1912, the island fell back under Ottoman Rule. Rhodes was then overtaken by the Italians during WWI and after WWII, in 1947, it finally became part of the Greek state together with the entire cluster of the Dodecanese.
Things To Do In Rhodes Island, Greece
No matter what type of vacation you prefer, from the cosmopolitan to the adventurous to the intellectual, Rhodes has a lot for you to enjoy and discover. Here are some must-see things you can’t miss out on!
Explore Rhodes Old Town
Rhodes Town is a living, breathing museum and history capsule. Divided into Old Town and New Town, Rhodes Town will give you the feel of walking through the swift passage of centuries and the different parts of the island’s history.
The Old Town segment of Rhodes Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, for the excellent preservation of its medieval architecture and general heritage. You enter the Old Town through the Gate of Freedom and immediately, you will find yourself in an old, medieval castle city.
There are fortress-style buildings complete with bastions, narrow streets with high stone walls and narrow windows on either side, beautiful archways and iconic town squares that make it feel like you are in a Byzantine castle city in some areas, and then a slightly more modern Venetian fortress in others, and still slightly less ancient Templar Knights’ quarters.
The buildings in Old Town were built from around the 7th century AD to around the 14th century AD, and they are gorgeous samples of excellent Byzantine and Venetian stonework and fortification architecture.
Walk in the Street of the Knights to the Hospital of the Knights which houses the Archaeological museum these days. Visit the various churches, including the Orthodox Cathedral which was then converted into a Catholic Cathedral, and is currently yet another museum, the Byzantine museum. Stop at Sokratous street for your refreshments, as it is the designated street of picturesque cafés and restaurants!
Explore Rhodes New Town
Outside the Gates of Freedom, you will find the New Town, with its gorgeous neoclassical buildings meshing seamlessly with old Venetian as well as current, modern architecture.
Pay a visit at the post office, not only to send postcards to your loved ones but also to admire a remarkable building of iconic architecture. The post office was once the Italian Governor’s Palace and it was built based on the Doge’s Palace in Venice, so it’s a must-see for architecture lovers.
Have your promenade at Mandraki with the iconic deer statues guarding the entrance to the marina and enjoy the view of the windmills.
Explore the multicultural amalgam of Rhodes’ New Town by visiting the various landmarks such as the Murat Reis Mosque and the Grand Albergo delle Rose, which houses Rhodes’ casino.
Visit the Palace of the Grand Master
Imposing and iconic with its round turrets, this stunning building looks like it came out of a romance medieval novel. The Palace of the Grand Master features unique gothic architecture and is open for you to explore, including the pretty interesting Byzantine museum being housed inside.
A lot of the building materials with which it was made were sourced from ancient temples as it was originally built in the 14th century on the foundations of the ancient temple of Helios, the ancient Greek sun god.
Of its 158 rooms, only 27 are open to the public, with iconic medieval furniture and items of the era. There are also beautiful frescoes for you to admire and several floors paved with Byzantine and Roman art.
Look out for various events and festivals held there during spring and summer!
Visit the Hospital of the Knights / Archaeological Museum
This impressive and excellently preserved building was built in the 15th century by the Knights as their Order’s hospital. The hospital had great renown for offering high-quality medical services and being very hygienic.
The building was designed in a gothic Romanesque style, with impressive reliefs depicting angels watching over the knights and their patients.
Explore the hospital’s many wards and learn of their medical practices which were quite advanced for their time.
Then, visit the Archaeological Museum, with artifacts from the entire ancient up to the medieval history of Rhodes and the Dodecanese, which is currently housed in the building and its beautiful gardens.
Explore the Fort of St. Nicholas
Built by the Grand Master Zacosta in the mid-15th century, the Fort of St. Nicholas was extremely important for Rhodes’ defense. It was said that whoever managed to take the Fort could control Rhodes.
Located at the edge of Mandraki bay, it is an imposing presence when you enter the harbor, just as iconic as the deer statues of Mandraki’s marina.
During the 17th century, the Fort also acquired its famous lighthouse. You can explore and visit the premises but pay attention to opening hours!
Take a stroll at Mandraki harbor
Iconic with its deer statue sentinels, Mandraki harbor has been in use since the most ancient eras of Rhodes, and it shows. There are remnants of each of Rhodes’ historical eras for you to discover under the looming presence of iconic windmills with their stone circular structures and red roofs.
It’s a perfect opportunity to enjoy the sunset and have a romantic promenade as you wind down from your day.
Visit the Acropolis of Rhodes
The ancient Acropolis of Rhodes is situated at the top of Monte Smith hill, and it is one of the best samples of ancient Greek architecture.
It isn’t fully excavated yet and already it is stunning with even the remnants of its imposing temples and other sacred buildings.
Make sure you visit not only for the gorgeous views from the top of the hill but also for the ancient Greek temples such as the Temple of Athena and Zeus Polias. It is in the Doric style and has four massive column drums where Rhodians recorded treaties. The Temple of Pythian Apollo is also quite impressive, as are the Stoa and Odeon which you will find scattered on the hill.
Also make sure you visit Nymphaia, with its cavernous structures cut into the rock and the iconic foliage.
Go for a tour at the Valley of the Butterflies
This unique and iconic natural reserve is perhaps one of the most famous sites in Rhodes. It is about 600 acres, 5 km from the village of Theologos on the west side of the island. You can drive to the valley following a very picturesque route through verdant hillsides and winding roads.
There is a low fee to enter the valley, through which you can walk along the beautiful river Pelekanos. The valley is lush and full of thick, vibrantly green foliage, which is a perfect habitat for the butterflies. They belong to the genus Panaxia.
Just make sure you are very quiet and as discreet as possible so as not to disturb the butterflies. They rely on conserving energy to reproduce and the more they fly off when they are startled or disturbed, the less efficient they are. That’s why there has been a decline in the population in the later years.
To see the butterflies, make sure you visit the butterflies from May and up to August before they lay their eggs but after they have emerged from their caterpillar stage.
Make sure you also visit the Natural Museum located at the entrance of the valley to enjoy exhibits of all the rare species endemic to the valley in the simulation of their natural habitat.
Visit Rhodes’ Castles
Apart from the iconic Palace of the Grand Master, Rhodes boasts several more castles scattered all over the island. Many of them are quite well preserved and are worth being explored for their intriguing architecture as well as their amazing views, as they are often built upon hills or on high, commanding locations.
Some of the most iconic Rhodes castles are:
Archangellos Castle: Its name means “Castle of the Archangel” and it is south of Rhodes Town, near Archangellos village. It was built in the 14th century and is being renovated as an official monument.
Monolithos Castle: Built on the top of a craggy rock, this castle promises a breathtaking view as it overlooks a sheer drop down to the sea. It was built in the 14th century and has a small white chapel inside its ruins.
Medieval Castle of Kritinia: This castle is a fusion of Byzantine and western medieval architecture, built by the locals for protection from intruders and pirates. Inside its walls, you will find ruins of a Catholic church and other more modern buildings.
Visit Filerimos Monastery and Panagia Tsambika Monastery
Just over the town of Ialyssos, about 10 km from Rhodes Town, you will find the beautiful Filerimos monastery.
This monastery is unique compared to other ones in Greece because it is built in a gothic style on the foundations of a yet older Byzantine one. It was built by the Knights of Saint John in the 15th century.
The monastery itself is beautifully made of stone and with lush foliage complementing the gentle ochre of the walls. That it has survived the sacking by Ottoman Turks and a bombing during WWII is astounding!
From the monastery there begins the road to Golgotha’s. If you walk on that road you will climb up towards a hill where there is a huge cross, and on the other side, there are engravings representing the passion of Christ. Even if you are not religious the walk is worth it for the stunning view from the top of the hill!
Then, make sure to pay a visit to the legendary monastery of Panagia Tsambika, 26 km east of Rhodes Town. Legend has it that an icon miraculously revealed itself with a bright light to a shepherd there when it was supposed to be in Cyprus. The icon was taken to Rhodes Town but it miraculously returned to the location where it was found each time. That’s when the church and resulting monastery were built.
Hike to Profitis Ilias Chapel
This chapel stands at the highest point of Rhodes, as tradition requires chapels dedicated to the Prophet Elias. The chapel is known for its beautiful frescoes and its lush vegetation with a shade that will cool you down if you choose to trek to the location.
There is also a small village there by the same name. Trekking there is extremely picturesque, full of resplendent nature and its beautiful sounds, including the roaring sea when you get to the village!
Visit Lindos Village
Lindos village is a traditional fisherman’s village about 47 km from Rhodes Town. It is built in the traditional islander style, with paved streets and byways, whitewashed houses as well as houses with impressive stonework, and an abundance of lush foliage and greenery to decorate it all.
Lindos is a joy to explore with a pretty vibrant nightlife. Don’t neglect to visit its historical buildings, like the Castle of the Knights of St. John and the church of the Virgin Mary of Lindos.
A great way to get to Lindos from Rhodes Town is by boat tour that makes some great swim stops on the way and leaves you enough time to explore the village and the Acropolis of Lindos.
Visit Ancient Lindos and Kamiros
The ancient Acropolis of Lindos is perhaps the most impressive archaeological site of Rhodes. It is very well preserved. The acropolis is actually a complex of several different eras of buildings, from the 10th century BC to the Byzantines and the Knights. Make sure you explore the remains of its beautiful temples as well as impressive reliefs and the Hellenistic stoa.
On the west side of Rhodes, you will find the archaeological site of Ancient Kamiros. This ancient city is quite well preserved, with remnants of houses, marketplaces, gathering places, and temples waiting for you to explore them. The ancient city is thought to have existed since at least the time of Mycenean Greece.
Take a trip to the Seven Springs
Ancient trees cast their cool shade over these gorgeous springs making it a real oasis, a refuge from the scorching, unrelenting summer sun of Greece.
Seven Springs is a Natura-2000 protected zone and it is ideal if you are looking to reconnect with nature! Water from the springs flows around the year and a dam built by the Italians creates a lovely, crystal-clear lake in which you can swim. Just be warned that it’s quite cold even during the hottest months!
Access to the Seven Springs is by regular road.
However, you can get to the spring through a 186 meter-long, narrow, dark tunnel if you have a knack for adventure. This tunnel was constructed in 1931 to lead water from the Loutanis river to the lake, so you will be trekking with cool water splashing at your feet.
Visit the Thermal Springs of Kallithea
If you are looking for a relaxing and therapeutic reprieve, Kallithea springs is where you need to be. The springs are 8km from Rhodes Town and were appreciated for their qualities since ancient times. Enjoy the bathhouses in their iconic architecture and the renovated, modern facilities as you relax!
Hit the beaches
Rhodes is full of gorgeous beaches of all kinds for you to enjoy and explore. With iconic turquoise, emerald, or sapphire waters that clash beautifully with the lush green of the seaside, you will be amazed by the sheer beauty that will surround you in each one. From rocky to sandy to pebbly, there is a beach you will call your favorite- though it might be a hard choice to make!
Some of the most iconic beaches are:
Anthony Quinn Beach: This beach was named after the actor who absolutely adored this small quaint bay with the emerald waters when filming The Guns of Navarone there! The beach is of hard rock from where you slip inside the water. It may not be very family-friendly for that reason but it is ideal for snorkeling!
St. Paul’s Bay: Believed to be the site where St. Paul landed in 51 AD, this beautiful sandy beach is perfect for families. The bay splits the beach into two and offers a great view of both if you climb on its rocky outcroppings. There is some organization so you will find umbrellas and sunbeds.
Tsambika beach: One of the most beautiful and biggest beaches of Rhodes, Tsambika beach boasts fine golden sand and gorgeous cerulean blue waters. It is so big that even in high season it doesn’t appear crowded. There are water sports and food hubs, and decent organization with basic amenities. You can also do summer sports like beach volley but you need to protect your feet from the scorching sand!
Prasonisi beach: At the southernmost end of Rhodes you will find the impressive Prasonisi beach. This one is unique because its two sandy coves separate it in such a way that extreme sea sports fans will be delighted. There are all kinds of windsurfing, surfing, sky gliding surfers, kayaking, and more. Even if you are not that active on the beach, you will enjoy the show as many are very skilled!
The island of Symi is less than 2 hours away by boat from Rhodes making it a great day trip. Symi is definitely one of the most beautiful Greek islands with its colorful neoclassical houses, crystal clear waters, and the impressive Monastery of Archangel Michael Panormitiss.