Rhodes (Greek: Ρόδος, Ródos) is one of the largest and most fertile of the Greek Islands, and is one of the most visited because of its combination of beaches, archaeological sites, and extensive medieval town. The climate is particularly good, with the weather typically sunny and mild. The island is usually counted as one of the Dodecanese, but due to its importance for travelers is considered separately here.
The rock-rose is so prolific here that it has been named the 'Island of Roses,' though modern scholars doubt the ancient theory that the island's name comes from the Greek word for rose. While the northern coast is renowned for its lively tourist resorts the south offers tranquil beaches and a slower, more simple pace of life.
Cities, towns and villages
- 1 Rhodes (Ρόδος, Ródos) - the biggest city on the island and seat of the local government
- 2 Afandou (Αφάντου) - one of the big villages on the island. The golf course of Rhodes is situated in this area along with a long beach
- 3 Archangelos (Αρχάγγελος, Arhangelos) - the second largest town on the island
- 4 Asklipio - inland village, site of an old church and a castle
- 5 Faliraki (Φαληράκι) - Rhodes' action resort. Go there to party, everything else is better somewhere else. The hotels north from Faliraki are much quieter. Hotels near the water park do not interest clubbers, and are really family friendly. Nice beaches, a lot less winds than on the west coast and really good public transport.
- 6 Fanes (Φάνες) - Rhodes' wind surfing and kite surfing resort. A small fisher's harbour, one five stars hotel, a lot of surfing. The hotel is really family friendly. Nice beach, summer winds, small tavernas and good public transport.
- 7 Gennadi (Γεννάδι) - around 64 km from Rhodes Old Town and nearby to Prasonisi, attracts several keen surfers. Among the last unspoiled stretches of coastline left on Rhodes.
- 8 Haraki (Χαράκι, Charaki) - small former fishing village next to Lindos. A chain of restaurants surrounds an enclosed beach.
- 9 Ialysos (Ιαλυσός) - blue waters, a seemingly endless organized beach, big hotel complexes as well as smaller friendly ones, shops of all kinds, and many night-clubs. The ideal conditions of the region, important international windsurfing competitions often take place here. It also includes a seaside resort village Ixia, which is close to Paradisi, Tholos, and the airport.
- 10 Kalithea (Καλλιθέα) - village north of Faliraki, famous for the spa built by Italians, snorkelling and resort hotels.
- 11 Laerma (Λάερμα) - inland village near some monuments, contains a few restaurants, inland from Lindos via Lardos. This village has been continuously inhabited since the Pre-Hellenic period. The Monastery Taxiarchis Michail is 4 km southwest of Laerma and is the largest monastery on Rhodes
- 12 Lardos (Λάρδος) - the market square of that town has restaurants and shops, nearby to Lindos.
- 13 Lindos (Λίνδος) - picturesque village, site of important ancient acropolis.
- 14 Pefkos (Πεύκος) - a smaller tourist resort close to Lindos. It started as a small collection of farms and private residences, but has grown into a town in its own right.
- 15 Theologos (θεολόγος or Tholos) - a traditional village
- 1 Castle of Monolithos - the medieval castle, built on top of a 100m rock in 1480 by the Knights of Saint John to protect the island from attacks. Getting there: if you are staying on the east coast, drive to Gennadi. North of the village, take the road across the island via Vati to Apollakia. The drive can be windy for moped riders, but the beautiful vistas make up for the work. Apollakia is not very special but has a couple of nice tavernas if you feel like having a refreshment. South of the village is a gas station, which you should use in case you are on a moped. Go on to Monolithos. Behind the village there is the actual attraction, which you will see from the road: the Castle of Monolithos on a 240-m-high rock. The castle does not offer much architecture-wise, but provides you with splendid views across the west coast. To the north-west, you can see the Castle of Kalki.
Rhodes is a major tourist attraction for the seekers of sunny beaches. While many of its beaches are gravel, not sand; the island can boast 300 or more sun days in a year. Consequently, you will stumble into tourists and hotels and beaches full of deck chairs for rent, into shops and restaurants that cater to these tourists. It can be overwhelming at times. If this bothers you, Rhodes is probably not for you. Still, there are some areas where mass tourism has not yet penetrated too much. And there are advantages too, accommodation on Rhodes itself can be purchased for relatively low prices, and most of the locals speak at least English and German and often some other languages, like Swedish, French, Turkish, Italian or even Finnish. Look for bays, beaches frequented by Greeks and areas at or beyond Lindos.
Rhodes has one of the longest and most splendid histories of any place in the world. Inhabited since Neolithic times, the island had important Bronze Age settlements, and at the dawn of the historical era was already famous for its three powerful cities of Lindos, Ialysos, and Kameiros, as mentioned in Homer. In 408 bce these three cities joined to found the island's capital city, also called Rhodes. Rhodes city and island played a vigorous role in subsequent ancient Greek and Roman history, its most memorable episode doubtless being the prolonged siege of the city by Demetrios Poliokertes in 305 BCE. In Hellenistic times Rhodes became extremely prosperous through trade and was one of the most influential cultural centers of the Greek world. Later as a province of the Roman empire Rhodes' influence declined, though it was still an important regional capital and was one of the earliest centers of Christianity.
Rhodes later became part of the Byzantine Empire and from the 7th century on fell under the general eclipse of the Dark Ages. Later in the Middle Ages, Rhodes' importance again increased, as it came under the influence first of the Venetians, then of the Genoese, and finally of the Knights of Saint John, an organization of Crusaders who took over parts of Palestine but were later expelled by the Saracens and the Knights Templar and took refuge in Rhodes, wresting control of the island from the Genoese in 1306, ruling for two centuries, and building Rhodes once again into a major maritime power, until the island was conquered by Süleyman the Magnificent in 1523, becoming part of the Ottoman Empire.
The local tourist information office for the Dodecanese Islands is in Rhodes city at Makariou & Papagou Corner (opposite the New Market). ☎ +30 2241 410 44335, +30 2241 410 44336, (Fax +30 2241 026955).
Greek is the native language of the people of Rhodes. However, due to the high level of tourism English, and to a lesser extent German, is likely to be spoken by most people the traveler comes into contact with. The local dialect can be described as a 'sing-song', with strong Turkish and Italian overtones. Many words used by Rodites (Rhodians) will not be readily understood by mainland Greeks.
Cruise ships dock at the Commercial Port, east of Rhodes's Old Town.
All ferry and high-speed ferry companies: schedules, connections, availability and prices, between Rhodes, other Greek islands, Turkey (Fethiye, Marmaris or Bodrum) & Piraeus port (Athens) is here. Only one ferry company which is Yeşil Marmaris has daily schedule from Rhodes to Marmaris.
The island is served by Rhodes International Airport, "Diagoras" (Greek: Κρατικός Αερολιμένας Ρόδου, "Διαγόρας") or Diagoras International Airport (RHO IATA). The airport is situated on the west coast about 14 km from Rhodes Town.
There are regular flights to and from Athens, Thessaloniki, and Crete. During the months of July and August Astra Airlines  flies from Thessaloniki. There are daily flights from Athens airport by Olympic Air and Aegean Airlines. Also from Crete (Heraklion) there are daily flights by Sky Express. During the months of July and August Astra Airlines flies from Thessaloniki.
From May till October charter airlines fly directly to Rhodos from many European airports.
- Ryanair operates flights from Milan-Bergamo, Bournemouth, Frankfurt-Hahn, Pisa, Kaunas and Rome;
- Transavia flies from Amsterdam (AMS).
All public bus lines radiate from Rhodes town and reach almost every relevant place throughout the island.
The main bus terminal in Rhodes city is the Neá Agorá (New Market). Buses run by both companies stop there, but ticket booths, as well as timetables and prices, are distinct. Rhodes town lines are run by Roda, but have a separate stop, along Mandraki sea promenade, across the street from the new market. One interesting line is n° 5, which goes up to the Achropolis, price €1.
Tickets can also be bought in the bus from a cashier or directly from the driver. Keep your ticket until the end of your voyage. The price of a bus ticket will depend on the destination. For example, a trip from Rhodes city to Faliraki will cost €2.
Bus stops on the road are marked by a sign, but do not hesitate to signal a bus driver that you wish to board. The buses are often very full and so remember to be actively moving backwards in the buses. Sometimes the driver jumps out and peeks in from the middle door to urge tourists to move backwards. Only part of the bus stops have the timetables displayed, and the buses are often late. Also, note that most villages and resorts have more than one line passing through and stopping in different places. For example Faliraki has got three, one along the main street, one at the town center, and one right along the sea promenade. make sure your bus goes to your preferred stop, or you'll need to walk a bit.
Taxis on Rhodes are dark blue with white roofs. There is a list of expected taxi charges you can obtain from the tourist information office. For example, a trip from Rhodes city to Faliraki should cost around €18; the trip from the Airport to Rhodes city about €23. The minimum fare for each trip is €4, the taximeter starts at €1.22. Never let the driver turn off the meter. Each suitcase will be also be charged, €0.50-0.60 each.
You can radio a taxi via telephone number ☎ +30 2241 069800. This adds a standard surcharge of €1.90. Waiting fare is €11.14 per hr. Between midnight and 05:00 you will have to pay twice the normal rates. You can book ahead to avoid delays at high traffic times such as weekends.
Within Rhodes city limits, fixed rates are applied. If you get a taxi from one of the taxi stations or stop one in the street, the fare is €5. At the main taxi station, close to the New Market (Mandraki), there are hosts that try to cut down waiting time by making sure that the taxis doesn't leave half empty - especially if you are going a bit further. If you share a taxi within the Rhodes city limits the fare is €4.
It is not worth the hassle to bring your own car to the island, although it is in theory possible. You can rent a car at the airport or via any hotel and at many local dealers. Asphalt highways will allow you to reach the entire island, although roads in the interior - especially the south - may turn out to be little more than dirt paths.
Motorbikes and mopeds are popular alternatives to cars. Especially mopeds are frequently used by local youths and can go to many places that cars cannot go - for example the twisted narrow streets of Rhodes city. An additional advantage is that they are cheap to rent - €10-15 a day is the usual price.
If you start a day-trip with a moped, make sure you do so on a full tank, as gas stations are sometimes hard to find. An extra stop at a gas station can save a lot of nerves. When renting a moped, check if the profile of the tyres is ok and if the brakes work properly. If it is the last vehicle in store, be suspicious - it could be the one that needs a repair badly. Though helmets are not required on the streets, (although you might well be stopped and fined €50 if you are not wearing a helmet on the main roads) it might be a good idea to ask your rent-a-bike for one, especially if you intend to drive on streets with more traffic.
No trip to Rhodes is complete without at least briefly seeing the walled fortress of medieval Rhodes. A UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the best preserved medieval walled towns in Europe, the crusading knights were based here for a while before the city was captured by the Ottomans. Impressive on the outside, the Palace of the Grand Masters is not worth the entry fee, so head to the Archaeological Museum and then explore the back streets on foot.
If you're into castles, Rhodes has a lot to offer with its medieval history. Lindos, Kastellos and Monolithos all have castles. There are medieval remains at Filerimos Hill including a monastery and a chapel, and good views over the north of the island.
- Asklipio (inland from Kiotari.) In the little church there are fascinating displays, honoring the continuity of the cult of healing from ancient times to a modern midwife and nurse. In Greek mythology, Asklepios was the son of the god Apollo who created the art of medicine.
- Cape Prasonisi. The southernmost tip of Rhodes. There is a peninsular connected to the main island by a sand bar. Unless you have a 4x4, think twice before driving your car across the sand bar. It becomes progressively less solid and it is easy to get stuck there in the sand.
- Epta Piges. (Seven springs) and that is literally all there is to see there except for a short forest walking trail. In the hot summer months, the cool shade provides a pleasant respite from the sun.
- Kamiros. Ancient ruins.
- Tsambika Peak.
- The Valley of the Butterflies. Since the butterflies - which are actually coloured moths - in this area need quietude for their procreation and since the area is visited by many tourists, the population of the Petaloudes "butterflies" is constantly on the decline; even to a degree that it does not make any sense anymore to go there, as you will hardly see any of the moths. It is still a beautiful area regardless.
- Surfing and 'kitesurfing on the west coast and especially on the south end of the island
- Many hotels will offer activity programs
- Most tour operators will offer excursions
- Climb Mt Attavyros. A challenging 2-3 hr climb to the island's highest point (1215 m). On leaving Embonas on the road towards Siana, drive up one of the agricultural roads on the left and find a place to park. On foot, you continue up through the wine growing area in the obvious direction. There is no explicit marked path but red paint on rocks towards the top marks the best route. It is a steep climb with many large loose rocks. The descent can be especially tricky. It is also possible to drive up the mountain: the approach road comes from the South.
- Prasonisi Surfing and quiet un-spoiled beaches distant from the main tourism areas. This coastal region beach is beginning to develop with new hotels and villas belonging to people from Rhodes. The sandy shore from Gennadi to Prasonisi is among the last unspoiled stretches of coastline left on Rhodes.
- Kamiros and Mt. Profitis Ilias
There is a good variety of beaches on Rhodes. The east side of the island has almost continuous sandy beaches with calm waters. Beaches on the west are mostly more stony. The wind mostly comes in from the west and also the sea tends to be somewhat rougher to the west so that side of the island is better suited to surfing or kite boarding. Some beaches in Rhodes are also unofficial nudist beaches.
- Rhodes Town.
- Lindos. The stunningly beautiful town beach on the bay. Very trendy, so wear your thong bikini here if you want to fit in.
- Kalithea. Just north of Faliraki, this spa was built by Italians. It is very pleasant spot but can be crowded. Work is ongoing to build what looks like it will be a modern spa adjacent to the original buildings. A number of separate beaches, each seemingly with their own taverna lie just south of the spa.
- Faliraki. A long sandy beach with plenty of tavernas to choose from. There is also no shortage of people to rent jet skis from or to organise other activities. At the southern end, there is a quiter, more rocky beach but the sea there is inconveniently shallow for swimmers. The only legal nudist beach on the island which has excellent facilities including sunbed hire, toilets and food and drink outlets is also found to the south of Faliraki.
- Ladiko Beach (Anthony Quinn Bay). This is a very scenic spot. On one side of the bay is a relatively small beach. The other side is rocky but a man made platform provides further space for sunbathing and access to the sea.
- Afandou Beach
- Kolymbia Beach.
- Tsambika Beach. On the far right of the beach near the rocks nude sunbathing is tolerated.
- Gennadi Beach. This area and nearby Prasonisi attracts surfers. The village resort is peaceful and quiet. Virgin sands, hotels, and beach bars are a feature. Gennadi only began to be developed relatively recently. The main coastal road along the beach is developing with new hotels and villas belonging to people from Rhodes. Unexplored beaches stretch along the sandy shore from Gennadi to Prasonisi. This area is among the last unspoiled stretches of coastline left on the island.
- Agia Marina Beach.
- Ceramic watch for the many "Keramik factory" outlets along the roads).
- Olive oil
- Bottle of wine- local wines are famous (e.g. CAIR) and tasty
- Religious icons
- Jewelry stores are common, particularly in Rhodes Town
- Umbrellas - manufactured by the two large industries of the island (there is, though, a popular "joke" souvenir - on an island with 300+ sun days a year, these are rarely needed)
- Colorful sea shells are a popular souvenir item, but very many of them are actually imported, and have no authentic connection to the island whatsoever.
- Many brand name products for sale in the tourist shops may be fakes and/or unlicensed (t-shirts, towels, hand bags, and so on)
See the Eat section under each town or region of Rhodes for specific listings.
The tap water is drinkable and restaurants will serve glasses of ice water upon request. Local drinks include Mythos (beer) and Ouzo. Local wine is cheap and excellent.
Bars and restaurant listings can be found in the articles covering the different towns and regions of Rhodes
Rhodes is generally, quite safe, however vigilance is required in Faliraki, infamous for the lewd behavior of young, drunk, mainly British partiers attracted to the cheap alcohol and large numbers of small nightclubs. A string of crimes committed by these young tourists against locals, as well as against other tourists, gained national attention in the summer of 2003; they ranged from vandalism to serious acts of violence. Following this the local Police increased their presence to successfully crack down on such behavior - zero tolerance of bad behaviour is now in place. Expect a night in the cells and some heavy handed handling from the commando trained officers. For families with young children the best times to visit would be daytime even up to 22:00 local time when the clubbers tend to come out en masse.
- Daily excursions via boat to all the Dodecanese Islands (Symi, Tilos, Halki, Kos, Leros, Kalymnos, Kastellorizo and other islands are offered from Rhodes city
- A ferry to Marmaris in Turkey is also available