The cosmopolitan and romantic capital of the Dodecanese is a near-mythical place at the south-east end of the Aegean, with a history that goes back 2400 years. It is one of the most famous tourist destinations in the world and without doubt a very good reason to look for ferries to Rhodes.
The land of the legendary Colossus of Rhodes, the home of some of the most brilliant minds of the ancient world, the headquarters of the Knights Hospitallers (which they ruled as their own state for two centuries), and also the favourite resort of the international jet set from the 1950s to the 1970s, the “island of the sun” offers a dream holiday for anyone and everyone.
Rhodes has it all, from stunning ancient citadels to treasures of world cultural heritage; from fortified medieval towns full of atmosphere to iconic modern architecture; from golden beaches with turquoise seas to green hills with vineyards and mountains with streams and pine trees; from scenes of extreme luxury to picturesque villages with authentic folk traditions; and from nights of crazy entertainment to the opportunity for seclusion and reflection.
This diversity of experiences explains the irresistible charm that the “Emerald of the Mediterranean” has always exerted on its millions of admirers. Why don’t you choose to be one of them, by booking a ticket to Rhodes?
10 reasons to visit Rhodes
Take a ferry to Rhodes to enjoy the gothic grandeur of the Old Town, one of the world’s best-preserved medieval fortress towns and a UNESCO world heritage city since 1988. The atmospheric Street of the Knights and the imposing Palace of the Grand Master seem to have come to life from the pages of a fairy tale.
To enjoy the spectacular sight of Butterfly Valley, a uniquely beautiful natural habitat where thousands of rare and colourful butterflies find a cool refuge every summer.
To walk around the majestic ancient Acropolis of Rhodes on the hill of Monte Smith, overlooking the sea. The beautifully restored Hellenistic Stadium of Diagoras and the Temple of Pythian Apollo are both stunning.
To see the Rhodes of a bygone age brought to life before your eyes at the annual Medieval Festival in early June, a three-day re-enactment of what the Old Town was like during the era of the Knights Hospitallers.
To discover the exotic Prasonisi, a small island covered in pine trees at the southernmost tip of Rhodes, which depending on the weather and the level of the sea, is joined with the main island by a narrow strip of sand to create a stunning beach that is also a paradise for windsurfers from all over the world.
To visit the town of Lindos, a famous resort popular with the international jet set from the 50s to the 70s. Its Cycladic-style white houses, narrow cobbled streets and grand captain’s residences make for a unique setting. From there you can climb up to the Temple of Athena Lindia on the rock of the ancient walled acropolis to look out across the Aegean.
To watch the sunset from the Castle of Monolithos, built on a steep 236-metre-high rock. This impressive “castle of eagles”, built in 1476, offers breathtaking views of neighbouring Halki.
To stroll along the cosmopolitan seafront of the New Town to discover what amounts to an open museum of architecture with iconic buildings from the period of Italian rule, such as the old Governor’s House, reminiscent of the Doge’s Palace in Venice, and the legendary Albergo Delle Rose hotel built between the wars, also known as the “Dream of the East” (today’s Rhodes Casino).
To visit the historic Tsambika Monastery, dedicated to the Virgin Mary (the patroness of childless couples), one of the most important sites of pilgrimage in the Aegean. Built on a 326-metre-high rock, the monastery offers unparalleled views of the Aegean.
To enjoy an unforgettable road trip to the mountain villages of the island. To Embonas, with its vineyards and tradition of winemaking, Archangelos, with its pottery and rare miniature horses, the maze-like Koskinou, with its brightly painted houses, and Kritinia, with its beautiful castle.
The top beaches of Rodos.
Elli: The popular beach of the new town, a favourite of picture postcards, extends right around the northern tip of the island and is prone to strong winds. Described by the British poet and novelist Lawrence Durrell as the most perfect beach in the Mediterranean, its large expanse of sand is filled with colourful umbrellas and sun loungers. It is most notable for its famous “Trampoline”, a concrete diving board in the middle of the sea.
Anthony Quinn: Though small, Vagies is a popular beach thanks to its crystal-clear emerald waters and the rocks and pine trees that come right up to its edge. This is where part of the Guns of Navarone was filmed, starring Anthony Quinn, by whose name it is now known. It is especially popular with young people and lovers of underwater exploration thanks to the morphology of its seabed.
Tsambika: The beach below the rock on which Tsambika Monastery stands is a long stretch of fine golden sand full of umbrellas and sun loungers. People of all ages and nationalities enjoy swimming in its emerald shallows and playing water sports, and it is ideal for families with children.
Saint Paul’s: The small rocky bay below Lindos Acropolis has two beaches with pebbles, sand and green crystal-clear waters. There are umbrellas, sun loungers and a beach bar on one side, while elsewhere it is quiet and secluded.
Afantou: One of the island’s biggest beaches, with sand, small smooth pebbles and deep waters. One part has umbrellas, sunbeds and canteens that organise popular beach parties. It is ideal for beach games such as volleyball and football, but also for sunbathing in relative seclusion.
Don’t leave Rhodes without…
Taking a tour of the Hellenistic ruins of Kamiros, one of the three powerful ancient city-states of Rhodes. Built in the shape of an amphitheatre overlooking the sea, it is often referred to as the “Pompeii of Greece”.
Visiting the excellent Archaeological Museum to admire the stunning “Aphrodite of Rhodes”. The museum is housed in the Hospital of the Knights, a jewel of gothic architecture.
Taking a walk in the beautiful Rodini Park, one of the oldest parks in the world. Wander around a green oasis with dense vegetation of ancient plane trees, wooden bridges and streams. In ancient times, this was the site of the renowned School of Rhetoric established by the Athenian orator Aeschines, and of the Hellenistic necropolis.
Visiting the wonderful interactive Bee Museum in the village of Pastida for a fascinating journey into the ancient tradition of beekeeping on Rhodes. See entire colonies of bees at work through transparent hives.
Discovering the island’s mountainous side on a climb to the top of Mount Profitis Ilias, which stands at a height of 780 metres. The route follows a stone-built path from the village of Salakos to a magnificent pine-wooded location reminiscent of the Swiss Alps. The area is dominated by two Italian-inspired chalets, “Elafos” (Buck) and “Elafina” (Doe), and a number of listed monuments from the period of Italian rule.
Exploring the magical “Seven Springs” and walking through the tunnel that leads to a beautiful man-made lake with crystal clear waters and a small waterfall.
Climbing the pine-covered Filerimos Hill up to the impressive gothic Monastery of the Virgin Mary, notable for its symbolic stone “Path of Golgotha” leading to a giant 18-metre-high cross.
Visiting the famous Kallithea Springs, an architectural complex with art deco and Arabic influences designed in 1929 by the Italian Pietro Lombardi. The pebble mosaics in the white-arched rotunda are a true work of art.
Taking a romantic stroll to Mandraki Port to St Nicholas’ fortress lighthouse and the three picturesque windmills. Stop to admire the columns with the bronze statues of the buck and doe, the symbols of the island, at the entrance to the port.
Taste the famous melekouni (soft sesame seed and mastic bars with honey, almonds, spices such as cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, and sometimes orange zest or bergamot). The healthiest snack for when you’re out and about.
Try the fine varieties of local wines such as the white Athiri and the red Amorgiano (Mandilaria), as well as the sweet Muscat of Rhodes made from Muscat Blanc and Muscat di Trani. Rhodes was reputedly the first Aegean island to cultivate grapes and make wine in ancient times.
Be sure to taste the famous pitaroudia (chickpea rissoles with tomato and mint) accompanied by a chilled souma (the local raki).
Seek out the unique “kamilakia” (dolmades made with cyclamen leaves stuffed with rice in an egg-lemon sauce).
Don’t miss the chance to sample roditiki lakani (goat meat slow-cooked in a clay pot with chick peas, bulgur wheat, cinnamon and cumin in a wood-fired oven).
For lovers of seafood, soupiorizo (risotto made with cuttlefish ink) is a must.
Try the excellent local thyme or sage honey.
Discover the secrets of the island’s traditional cuisine with loukoum pilaf (oven-baked noodles with minced meat and cinnamon), matsi (handmade pasta) cooked in a meat stock with butter and parmesan cheese, beans with garlic mash, purslane braised in tomato sauce, giaprakia (dolmades made with vine leaves, minced meat and rice), courgette flowers (stuffed with goat’s cheese and mint), karavoli stifado (snails stewed in a tomato sauce with onion and cumin).
The Colossus of Rhodes, the bronze statue of the sun god Helios, which once towered over the entrance to the island’s port, was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The giant figure, which stood on a marble pedestal and rose to a height of 33 metres, was designed by the sculptor Chares of Lindos in 282 BC and was destroyed by an earthquake in 226 BC. The imposing work was an artistic and aesthetic masterpiece that defined its age and symbolised the independence of the people of Rhodes. Two thousand years later, it was reputedly inspired the French sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi to create the Statue of Liberty.