Rhodes is a land of glorious contrasts: crusader castles rub shoulders with frescoed churches; medieval walls skim past modern villas; Art Deco buildings sit alongside ancient stones. Dating back to 408 BC, the capital city is a cultural jigsaw whose many layers of history can be pieced together through the varied architecture styles – Byzantine, Ottoman, Italian.
However, there’s more to the largest Dodecanese island than its history: miles of sugar-white beaches ring the coastline, while the mountainous interior conceals hidden waterfalls and springs. So if you’re looking for fun things to do, the best beaches to visit or just need some holiday inspiration, we’ve got you covered. Here’s our Rhodes travel guide, so you can make the most of your next holiday.
When to go?
Visit Rhodes in April, May, September or October for warm, sunny days and pleasant evenings, without the high mercury and even higher prices of peak summer.
How to get there?
British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair all run direct flights between the UK and Rhodes. The airport is a 40-minute bus ride to Rhodes Town.
Art and culture
Rhodes is the birthplace of art and culture. The capital city dates back to 408 BC, with a mix of Byzantine churches, theatres, mosques and monuments built by colonisers of every period. Julius Caesar and Cicero studied philosophy and rhetoric in the renowned schools of Rhodes Town, while archaeological sites across the island give clues to sophisticated ancient cultures. If you’re unsure what to do in Rhodes first, make a beeline for the ruins of Kamiros and the Lindos Acropolis. Next check out more contemporary art at the Museum of Modern Greek Art – the largest collection outside Athens – and at painted churches across the island; don’t miss Photis Kondoglou’s splendid neo-Byzantine frescoes at Evangelismós Cathedral.
Rhodes has a complicated and at times oppressive history. Its people are proud and traditional despite, or perhaps because of, numerous invasions over the years. The legacy of the Knights of St John is etched across the Old Town, when the crusaders used the island as their base from 1309 to 1522. The Ottomans then occupied Rhodes until 1912, when the Italians seized control of the island. In 1945, Rhodes was liberated and three years later was united with Greece. A couple of our favourite historical things to do in Rhodes is to visit the Archaeological Museum, housed at the Hospital of the Knights, and the Museum of the Castello, set in the Palace of the Grand Master – a medieval castle built by the Knights Hospitaller.
From craggy bays to picturesque caves and sandy stretches, Rhodes beaches are dramatic and diverse. At the southern tip of the island, Prasoníssi is one of the best windsurfing spots in Europe, with a sandspit at the point where the Aegean and Mediterranean seas collide. The head-high waves on the Aegean side lure expert windsurfers and kitesurfers, while the calmer Mediterranean side is suitable for beginners. A handful of centres offer lessons; try Prasonísi Center. If chilling out with a book is more your bag, the east coast is your best bet; hotfoot it to the silky sands of Tsambika, one of the best beaches in Rhodes. (We could have filled our Rhodes Travel Guide with stunning beaches but we thought we’d give them the justice they deserve and dedicate another blog to the best beaches in Rhodes.)
- Ask any local foodie what to do in Rhodes and they’ll recommend trying the freshly baked baklava of Fournariko (Dinokratous 1-9), a little bakery with an age-old wood oven, in the Old Town.
- While today the Mandraki Harbour is your standard port, it’s believed to have been the original site of the Colossus of Rhodes – a statue of the Greek sun-god Helios. Look out for the pair of deer statues – Elefos and Elafina – thought to mark where the colossus’ two feet once stood.
- Southwest of Lindos is another sugar-cube village, which has surprisingly slipped under the radar of tourists. Asklipió has just a couple of tavernas and a ruined hilltop medieval castle, but there’s a secret up its sleeve: it’s believed to be the birthplace of Aesculapius, the Greek God of healing.
- One of our favourite things to do in Rhodes is eat authentic local food. For a flavour of Greece, head to the tiny village of Vati on the southeastern coast to feast on plates of dolmades (stuffed vine leaves), fava and pitaroudia (fried mashed vegetables) at family-run Taverna Platanos.
What to do?
Go back in time in the Old Town
The Old Town of Rhodes is a living museum. Medieval walls wrap around the historic core, concealing a labyrinth of cobbled streets that will transport you to the Byzantine era. The best way to explore is to simply lose yourself in the warren of alleys, lined with buildings built by the Knights of St John. Here locals still live and work today as they did centuries ago.
Explore Lindos, a town where time stands still
Lindos is the typical Greek village you see on postcards: a glorious huddle of whitewashed cubes tumbling down to the topaz bay below. One of the best things to do in Rhodes is climb to the hilltop 4,000-year-old Acropolis, perched on a 116m-high rocky plateau. It was built in honour of the Goddess Athena, and the remains include the temple of Dionysus and a theatre. Down below, a clutch of excellent restaurants (don’t miss Mavrikos) and bars cling to the hillside alongside the tiny sea captains’ houses.
Discover crumbling ruins and painted churches
Rhodes is peppered with archaeological sites, the legacy of its complicated past. The Knights of St John created a wide-reaching network of castles used as lookout points; the best-preserved is Kastéllo Kritinías, whose ruins offer stunning views of Dodecanese islands all the way to Hálki. For frescoes galore, head south to the Thárri monastery, one of the finest churches in Rhodes, dating back to 1300.
Now that you’ve had a taste of all things Rhodes, why not take a peek at our luxury villas in Rhodes? Can’t face the task of choosing a holiday home? Our friendly concierge team will help you find the perfect place to stay, give us a call and we’ll do the rest!