Rhodes - my Highlights on the Island in the Dodecanese
Off to Rhodes
After numerous trips to Greece, it was time to visit Rhodes, the country's fourth-largest island in the Aegean Sea. Wonderful sandy and pebbly beaches, an incredibly historic capital, and the spectacular town of Lindos have made the main island of the Dodecanese one of the most popular in Greece. During my five-day stay in October 2023, I checked out some of the top sights, which I present to you here.
This little town of just over 50,000 people is pure history. Who has yet to arrive? Byzantines, Knights of St. John, Ottomans, and Italians - and all have left their mark on Rhodes. No wonder the old town, surrounded by a mighty city wall, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Behind the walls are numerous winding alleys that remind me of an oriental bazaar. Mosques, souvenir shops with lots of bric-a-brac, quaint cafés, and taverns, as well as some chic restaurants, are lined up here. I just let myself drift in the car-free old town of Rhodes and had to keep taking pictures of picturesque corners. Even in mid-October, it was still pretty lively here.
The medieval Knights' Alley (Odos Ippoton), whose well-preserved buildings were once used as hostels for pilgrims and knights, is a worthwhile photo opportunity. At the end of this alley is the top sight in Rhodes Old Town.
At the beginning of the Knights Alley, you will find the Archeological Museum which used to be the hospital of the Knights.
Grand Master's Palace
Built in the 14th century by Crusaders, it was later a residence and prison until it was severely damaged in 1856. It was lavishly restored by the Italians until 1940. It was even intended as a summer residence for Mussolini, who, however, never visited the island. In the courtyard, you can admire Roman and Greek sculptures. For 6 euros per adult (as of October 2023), you can visit 18 of the almost 300 rooms and enjoy beautiful views over the old town of Rhodes. Tip: Book a skip-the-line-e-ticket, and discover all the stories about the palace with an audio guide.
Just behind the old town is this charming little harbour, dominated by Venetian buildings. I parked my rental car here and walked to the old town in about ten minutes. The famous Colossus of Rhodes, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, is said to have stood where there is now a statue of a stag and a deer (the emblem of Rhodes). Not to be overlooked is the massive Agios Nikolaos Fort, built around 1460, and the three windmills in the harbour, one of the most popular photo motifs in Rhodes Town. In Mandraki, you can book boat excursions to Lindos and to the little island of Symi.
Casino / Grande Albergo delle Rose
Stroll from the Mandraki harbour towards the new town. You will automatically see the casino of Rhodes Town, where the luxury Albergo delle Rose is located. In the 50s and 60s, celebrities like Maria Callas, Irene Papas, and Anthony Quinn came and went here. Today, the Albergo delle Rose has 33 rooms, most of them with a sea view. I absolutely had to look at the many historic photos in the lobby - worth seeing!
The Beach in Rhodes Town
From the casino, you are only a few minutes away from the beautiful beach promenade with many hotels from the 70s. The somewhat outdated aquarium was closed, but in the lovely late summer weather, I prefer to stay outside anyway. During my stroll, I discovered a charming café just opposite the casino. I had denied myself my usual piece of cake on Sunday due to the high sugar consumption on Rhodes. However, I found a stevia-sweetened cake on the menu, which was an excellent excuse! So, I treated myself to the little calorie bomb with a view of the casino and the pretty little park. Later, I discovered the Opera Grande a few streets away, a restaurant/ bistro worth seeing and apparently a meeting place for the chic people of Rhodes Town.
I would have liked to visit the Museum of Modern Greek Art, but it was closed this Sunday.
This place is located 9 kilometers from Rhodes Town, so it can be combined with a visit to the capital. The Kallithea Springs perfectly combine architecture and nature. The sulfurous thermal springs have been known for their therapeutic properties since ancient times. Crystal-clear water in the picturesque bay invites you to snorkel and swim. In the bar directly by the sea, you can enjoy a drink and the magnificent view. Kallithea has also been the setting for several international films. Admission costs 5 EUR per person (as of October 2023).
Oh, what can I say - I fell in love with this picturesque little town on the east coast! Even the drive there is spectacular. Just before you reach Lindos, there's a viewpoint (you can't miss it) from which you have a fantastic view of the bay, the town, and the Acropolis towering over everything. Yes, there is an Acropolis on Rhodes, too!
The ascent to the Acropolis on the 116-meter-high rock is a bit of a hike but a must for the view alone. The entrance fee of 16 euros per person (as of October 2023) is also worth it. The ruins of the various buildings are located on several plateaus connected by stairs. You can save yourself a workout in the gym on this day! The highlight is the temple of Athena of Lindos with the adjacent theatre from the fourth century BC, whose stage can still be seen today. I don't even want to talk about the breathtaking views - Instagram is calling!
In October, the place was more relaxed than in high season. If you travel to Rhodes in July or August, I recommend the morning hours for your visit to Lindos.
After all the scrambling, I rewarded myself with a delicious smoothie at the tiny Café Ginger. From the roof terrace, you have a spectacular view of the bay; what a treat for the senses! By the way, it is advisable to leave the main alleys of Lindos, which are reminiscent of arcades, with their many shops. The side streets are quieter and hold some architectural treasures. Behind imposing doors are often luxury apartments and some fine boutique hotels like the Melenos Lindos Luxury Suites. There are also beaches in Lindos if you want to refresh yourself in the sea after your explorations.
What would Greece be without cats? In Lindos, you'll meet the purring kitties almost everywhere - wonderful photo motifs guaranteed!
The Beaches of Rhodes Island
Faliraki, with the famous Anthony Quinn Bay (named after the actor who filmed a movie on the island, fell in love with it and wanted to buy the bay), is undoubtedly the most popular place on the island. However, I preferred to look at some of the lesser-known beaches. I was most impressed by the Prasonisi peninsula in the far south of Rhodes, connected to the main island by a gigantic sandbank. Due to the strong winds, the beach, about one kilometer long, is a paradise for surfers. You can also swim in a small area. Tip: Make sure you climb the highest hill; the view from there is magnificent. There are tavernas, accommodation, and a supermarket in the small settlement. Important: Sun protection and comfortable shoes!
The bay of Vlycha, about 7 kilometres from Lindos, is also magnificent. For the pebble beach, I definitely recommend bathing shoes so that you can really enjoy the sea. Water sports enthusiasts will get their money's worth here; in addition to boat tours, stand-up paddling, diving, and water skiing are offered here. Information about Tsambika Beach can be found in the next paragraph.
Rhodes Tips from a Local
During my five-day stay, I didn't get to see all of Rhodes' top sights; after all, I wanted to hang out by the pool and swim in the sea, too. Dimitra Grigoropoulou, Director of Sales & Marketing of the luxury Lindos Hotels, has more tips for your Rhodes trip:
Best spot to watch the sunset in Rhodes? Monolithos village! You will find a ruined medieval castle where you can cliff and enjoy one of the best sunsets of your life over the Aegean Sea!
On Rhodes Island, you can also visit the chapel of Pangia Tsambika, located on the very top of a hill, 300 steps up. The name Tsambika of Virgin Maria is after the word Tmambi, which in Rhodian Dialect is the flame since the story says that someone found a holly picture of Virgin Maria on the top of the hill thanks to the flame coming from this picture. Based on the tradition Panagia Tsambika helps couples to have a baby when you pray at her, and that’s why many people in Rhodes are named after her Tsambikos or Tsambika. A name that you can only find on Rhodes Island and nowhere else in Greece. Not to forget: Tsambika has one of the island´s best beaches!
How do you get to Rhodes Island?
Numerous flights from European airports, such as British Airways, Corendon, Easyjet, Edelweiss and Eurowings. The island's international airport is 16 km southwest of Rhodes town. The Rhodes Airport Bus connects the airport and Rhodes Town in 40 minutes several times daily (One-way-ticket EUR 2.50 per person as of October 2023).
On the Road on Rhodes Island
Because of the many sights, I recommend a rental car. I booked mine through Hertz Greece and was very happy with the condition of the rental car. The road network on Rhodes is generally good; there is no motorway in that sense.. Suppose you don't want to drive yourself. In that case, there is a relatively good bus network (although the buses are often overcrowded in high season). In the harbour of Mandraki, there are numerous boat tours, e.g., to Lindos.
What is the Weather like on Rhodes Island?
The sun shines on the island for about 300 days. In July and August, it is almost always over 30 degrees Celsius. In 2023, it was even 40 degrees C and more for weeks. In high summer, the water in the Aegean Sea is between 25 and 27 degrees. It hardly ever rains during this time. During my trip in mid-October, the temperatures were comfortable, and the sea was ideal for swimming. Even in winter, the temperatures on Rhodes are still pleasantly mild. Hence, some hotels in the city are open all year round.
Sleeping in Rhodes
I spent two nights at the Gennadi Grand Resort and three more at the Lindos Grand Resort & Spa, belonging to Lindos Hotels, a family-run local luxury hotel chain. An article on these hotels will follow shortly - I can only reveal that I had a wonderful time at both establishments. Otherwise, there is, of course, a vast range of simple to luxurious accommodation on Rhodes; best check out the Discover Greece page.
Eating and drinking on Rhodes Island
You will find cafés and tavernas with typical Greek food everywhere. I have two recommendations for Rhodes Town: Auvergne Café at the entrance to the old town (wonderful courtyard) and Sissitio - fine international cuisine in historic walls close to the Grand Master's Palace. Of course, there are also very reasonably priced small restaurants and bars on every corner, especially in town. A special tip for ice cream and cakes: Gelo Blu in Lindos.
For an exceptional experience, I recommend Thalatta Fine Dining in the Lindos Grand Resort, considered one of the best restaurants in Rhodes. Exquisite Greek cuisine with stunning views from the terrace is a dream. Thalatta Fine Dining is open daily from April to October except Sundays (7.30pm to 10.30pm).
The Yannis Bar in Lindos is very chic. Unusual cocktails, a cool interior and a terrace with a selfie point.
A Word about the Forest Fires
Here and there, the consequences of the fires in the summer of 2023 are still visible. Still, new trees are being planted everywhere in the appropriate places. This did not affect my stay at all. Kathy Minettos, owner and CEO of Lindos Hotels Group, explains: "We were still lucky that our hotels were spared from the fires. We also only had to close for a fortnight. It is absolutely positive there was no human loss, and the helpfulness of the locals was incredible. No tourist was left in the stick." This is also what makes the legendary Greek hospitality.
So, when will you visit this beautiful Greek island? Off to Rhodes. Lots of history, culture, dream beaches and Greek hospitality await you (and the cats, of course...)!
Should you need a photographer during your stay, I highly recommend Aris of Rodos Art.
My stay on Rhodes Island was by invitation of the Lindos Hotels Group. This has in no way influenced my hotel evaluation.