Rhodes, the largest island on the Dodecanese complex, is known for its beach resorts, ancient ruins and remnants of its occupation by the Knights of St. John during the Crusades. It is also known for its breathtaking beauty, exuberant nightlife, and its welcoming locals, making it one of the top Greek island destinations, no visitor of Greece should overlook. As if you need any more persuasion, here are our suggested things to do in Rhodes and reasons to visit Rhodes island that will help even the most demanding of travelers realize that visiting Rhodes is an obvious must.
Of course, the reasons why you should visit any Greek island are way more than 5! They are dozens, hundreds even, however, no one wants to read a 100-points list, so 5 will have to do. Enjoy!
1. Explore the charming old town of Rhodes
Rhodes and specifically the Medieval City of Rhodes, built by the Christian military order Knights Hospitaler is listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Site and we have every right to brag about it! Famously one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Europe, the Medieval City of Rhodes offers insight into the glorious past of the popular island, gathering an impressive number of significant landmarks and monuments one can admire, such as the Collachium, built by the Knights Hospitalers, the Grand Masters' Palace, St. John's Cathedral, St. Mary's church, several other Byzantine churches that were turned into mosques after 1523 and various city ramparts.
It is located inside a 4 km-long wall, due to the Knights of St John of Jerusalem transforming Rhodes Town into a fort. All sides of the town are equally dense with monuments, with the south-southeast area having the Court of Commerce, the Archbishop’s Palace, the Hospice of St. Catherine, among others. What’s more, the development of the island resulted in Islamic elements being introduced to the town, such as mosques and traditional baths, with most churches being transformed into Islamic mosques, like the Mosque of Soliman, the Kavakli Mestchiti, and the Abdul Djelil Djami.
The prime condition of Rhodes’ Medieval City can be attributed to the constant maintenance and remodeling that transpired between the 14th and 16th centuries under the Grand Masters. As you’ve probably already gathered, the impressive Byzantine architecture and the old-time charm that is prominent throughout the city make the Medieval Town an obvious must-visit, which is booking a Medieval Rhodes and the Jewish Quarter walking tour is one of the wisest choices you can make during your stay on the island. I promise the incredible setting of Rhodes’ Old Town will leave you in awe!
2. Discover the rich heritage of Rhodes
Impressively, the vast history of Rhodes is not limited to its Medieval Town as the island has been at the center of people’s attention since antiquity with numerous tales of Greek mythology referring to it. Legend has it that when Zeus along with the other Olympian gods decided to divide the land, they forgot to keep a lottery for the god Sun who was missing as he was performing his daily tasks. When the Sun reported injustice, Zeus was ready to repeat the drawing process, but the Sun saw a fertile land emerging from the sea and didn’t let him. Instead, he asked from Lachesis, the second of the three Fates of Greek Mythology, and Zeus to swear that when this island had fully emerged, it would become his forever, as it did.
3. Visit the top sights of Rhodes island
Regardless of the countless mythological tales, such as this one, that have survived to this day, there are a number of monuments that contribute as evidence to the thousand-year-old history of Rhodes and every visitor of the island should visit. In fact, there is probably not a single stone you won’t find a story underneath. The Acropolis of Rhodes, the Acropolis of Lindos, ancient Ialysos, ancient Kamiros, the Archaeological Museum in Rhodes Town, Elaphos and the castles of Monolithos, Kritinia, and Feraklos are some of the top archaeological sites in Rhodes that will reveal to the island’s the evolution of the island from the ancient times to today, highlighting the most notable moments of its glorious past!
4. The striking nature of Rhodes
Apart from being one of the most historically rich Greek islands, Rhodes happens to also be one of the most beautiful ones, covered in luscious vegetation that is a result of the island’s geographic position and climate. Specifically, the island of Rhodes belongs to the Eastern Mediterranean Basin and is in close proximity to the coast of Turkey, resulting in the flora and fauna of the island being an interesting blend of both Mediterranean and Asian features. As a consequence, on Rhode’s land, one can find a fertile part, where visitors can admire lush crops, orchards, and groves, a dry part dominated by the coastline and coastal rocky areas, inland cliffs, sea cliffs, and rocky shores, a woodland, foresty part, and a wetland, full of rivers, and streams.
Because of its mild climate and its abundance in water supplies, most of Rhodes is green and blooming. Despite that, the island hosts the highest mountain in the Dodecanese, Ataviros, which reaches an impressive height of 1215m and is located in the western part of the island, aligned with its coast. Due to the intense geological diversity of Rhodes, wherever you turn your head to you will be confronted with an entirely different landscape.
5. Wander around the Rhodes Villages
When gazing at the eastern part of Rhodes, you will see the woods, when gazing at the southern part you’ll see a comparatively bland, flat land that has given up the tall trees for bushes, and lastly, when gazing at its western part you will come across some of its most picturesque mountain villages that remain unspoiled by the mass tourism the island has seen in recent years, such as Archangelos, Archipolis, Empona, Koskinou, Arnitha, Messanagros, Eleousa, Siana, Monolithos, Laerma, Kritinia, and the famous Lindos, which we give you the opportunity to explore by embarking on a Lindos village tour with a luxury motor yacht.
There is a variety of beautiful places visitors should visit to truly appreciate the rich nature of the island, such as the world-renowned Valley of Butterflies, famous throughout the world, the Seven Springs, which offers the best getaway from the summer heat, the Tsampika Monastery, with its extraordinary views out to the rest of the island and the Aegean Sea, Prasonisi, the Marine Aquarium, the Profitis Ilias and Akramitis mountain, ideal for hiking ort walking paths.
To top it all off, similar to most of Greece, Rhodes has a pleasant, mild climate that is not prone to extreme heat or cold and can be defined as subtropical. Refreshing western winds mitigate summer heat, with winter being almost always mild; about 300 days a year the sun prevails on the island, while light, cool northwestern breeze makes the climate pleasant even in July and August. Rhodes invites you to take a deep, relaxing breath and take in the striking setting around you with the glorious sun shining down on its beauty!
6. Taste the delectable cuisine of Rhodes
I’m sure it comes as absolutely no surprise that Rhodes offers a world of culinary bliss. Rhodian cuisine hides gastronomic treasures, with traditional Rhodian recipes coming from the depths of the island’s long history. Most of the traditional dishes are based on olive oil, wine, cereals, and legumes as well as local livestock products, with traditional desserts heavenly featuring Rhodian honey, sesame seeds, and almonds. A distinctive element of Rhodian cuisine is the heavy use of cumin, which funnily enough the local call ‘lingering smell’, and is usually added in meat fillings, stuffed vegetables, sauces, bread doughs, or even in cookies and rusks! Cereals also play a major role in the diet of the inhabitants of Rhodes, while pasta dishes such as ‘Archangel's Koulouria’, ‘Machi’, ‘Loukoumi’, and ‘Strifts’, among others, are the star of the table, especially during weddings and other celebratory feasts.
In Rhodes, all pasta is made using wholemeal flour, it is egg-free, and it is usually cooked with, lamb, pork or chicken. In fact, the famous dessert of ‘Matsalo’ is made from the ‘Machi’ pasta by adding milk, sugar, and cinnamon in the saucepan; the perfect dessert for all rice pudding lovers! The ancient Greek dish of ‘trahana’, which is a fermented mixture of grain and yogurt or fermented milk, made throughout Greece follows the same recipe in Rhodes and is mainly cooked with goat in the clay oven like the traditional dish of ‘chuka’ or in the pan like ‘lacan’ in the Rhodian village of Laerma.
What’s more bulgur replaces rice in almost all Rhodian recipes; in the stuffed vegetables, in soups, in meat fillings, adding nutritional value to all local recipes. Of course, one cannot overlook the importance of legumes in the diet of Rhodes’ locals. Rhodes’ ‘lopia Katavias’, a traditional PDO bean variety, are small-grain beans with delicate peels that boil very quickly. ‘Lopia Katavas’ is the main ingredient of the cult-classic ‘lopada’ soup, which is cooked in a clay pot in the oven, usually accompanied with goat and tomatoes, and has an unforgettable taste every person who has the luck to taste raves about. Following the same technique, if you put chickpeas in a clay pot along with plenty of tomato paste, onion, garlic, olive oil, and optionally goat meat, and you cook it in the oven for several hours, you get the traditional dish of ‘chuka’.
One of the tastiest local recipes is the one of ‘Rifiki’ that consists of a baby goat stuffed with wheat or rice, liver, onions, tomatoes and spices. Something similar is Rhodes’ Easter dish of ‘pashatis’, which consists of stuffed lamb roasted in the oven. These are only some of the trademark dishes of Rhodes. There are so many more recipes to discover and taste for yourself during your stay on the island, in regard to appetizers, main courses, and desserts, that it would be pointless to even try to include all of them here. If you’re interested in getting to know the local gastronomy, maybe a cooking lesson in Rhodes is exactly what you’re looking for; one thing is for sure; Rhodian cuisine is bound to rock your world and make you reconsider your devotion to any other cuisine around the world - consider yourself warned.
7. Visit the sandy beaches of Rhodes
Sandy beaches as far as the eye can reach, secluded bays with crystal clear waters, and exhilarating water sports; Rhodes offers its visitors some of the most magnificent beaches in Greece and invites you for endless summer dives! With 24 of its organized shores winning the Blue Flag this year, the Island of the Knights has viable beach options for both families and daring solo travelers; just make your research and you will undoubtedly find the one that better fits your need; what better way to enjoy a taste of genuine Greek summer?
Rhodes' most famous beaches are located on the east coast of the island, with most -but not all- of them being organized with sunbeds and umbrellas.
- - ‘Elli’ has been described as one of the best beaches in the Mediterranean and hosts a large number of visitors every year. It is the most lively and secular beach in Rhodes town and is organized, with umbrellas, sun loungers, while also having a trendy beach bar on its shore.
- - ‘Afandou’ beach has a more family-friendly profile. Located right outside the homonymous village, at the eastern part of the island, its long length makes it extremely versatile; lie on its pebbly shore and enjoy a Rhodian sunset submerged in the refreshing waters of the beach, take your towel and seclude yourself away from the rest of the swimmers, or enjoy a sport, like beach volleyball and beach soccer.
- - Additionally, ‘Ladiko’ beach is one of the most picturesque beaches of the island. It is a quiet creek, surrounded by rocks, leading to turquoise waters. The beach is organized with sun loungers and umbrellas and its fine sand is ideal for young swimmers.
- - ‘Anthony Quinn’ beach became famous from the filming of the movie ‘The Canons of Navarone’; it was dearly beloved by the protagonist and famous actor Anthony Quinn and eventually got his name. Anthony Quinn beach is ideal for underwater diving because of its underwater morphology and attracts many boats as it has a small jetty where they can be easily docked. It is surrounded by rocks, giving a pool-like aesthetic to its crystal clear waters.
- - One of the must-see destination when visiting Rhodes is the famous fountains of 'Kallithea', which have set the stage for some of the most famous Greek films and continue to fascinate locals and tourists alike. The small successive beaches of the area are surrounded by pine and palm trees, while here, one can find the hot springs of Kallithea as well.
- - To the north of the island, the 8km-long beach of ‘Ixia’ is particularly popular among surf enthusiasts. The strong winds that blow in the region during summertime, known as ‘meltemia’, create the ideal conditions for all kinds of water sports. It is often argued that Ixia is the coolest beach on the island.
- - ‘Ialyssos’ is another popular beach, a bit too popular during the high-season months, as it stretches along Heraklides Avenue, where some of the largest hotel units on the island operate. It is also a beach that favors surfing and its waters deepen.
- - Going deeper into the southern part of the island, you will find ‘Kiotari’, a long, organized beach with fine sand. Enjoy the sea and water sports and choose for your meal one of the traditional tavernas you will find along the seafront.
- - Unless you live under a rock, you’ve already heard about ‘faliraki’ beach. Four kilometers long, one of the most organized beaches of the island, with water sports and bungee jumping facilities, umbrellas, sun loungers, beach bars, restaurants, cafes, and water parks, is fourteen kilometers southeast of the city of Rhodes.
- - A beach that should definitely be on your itinerary for Rhodes, is ‘prasonisi’, on the southernmost tip of the island. It is essentially a rocky island, connected to the rest of Rhodes island by a narrow 1 km-long strip of sand. The two beaches formed by the winds merge and cover the land, creating an image of unique beauty. The area is considered a paradise for surfing enthusiasts, as strong winds blow there especially in July and August. Beneath the beautiful settlement of ‘Lindos’ are two beaches with quiet, crystal clear waters, sheltered by the picturesque bay. Swim in the organized beaches, admiring above you the white settlement and the castle, which dominates the hill.
- - Last but surely not least, one of the most beloved beaches on the island is the beach of ‘tsambika’. It is located in the southeast of the city of Rhodes, under the rock that houses the famous monastery of Panagia Tsambika. In this golden sandy beach with crystal clear waters, you will enjoy family dives as well as water sports. It is organized with umbrellas and sun loungers and has canteens that are sure to come in handy when hunger strikes.
For those of you who do not have a car, a good alternative is to take one of the boats that leave the city and take daily cruises to the beaches. For the most adventurous, I highly suggest you join or semi-private Jeep safari in Rhodes, which will take you around the island’s highlights in a cool, unconventional way. Any way you choose to explore the beaches of Rhodes, you’ll be awed by the unmatched beauty of the landscape and the sparkling waters of the sea. Just bring plenty of sunscreen and comfortable attire and nothing will be able to stop you from having the time of your lives!
So there you have it, a list of amazing things to do in Rhodes, ready for your next holidays. Truly diverse, delicious and beautiful, it is the gift that keeps on giving. Being easily accessible either by ferry or by plane adds to the allure of the island making it the perfect Greek island destination for both locals and foreigners. Here's to a brilliant summer ahead full of Rhodian beauty!