Written by Professional Greece traveler Tony Kariotis @iamgreece
As a well-versed traveler who's journeyed extensively across Greece, including 40 of the Greek island, Rhodes stands out as a compelling destination that effortlessly marries ancient history, sublime landscapes, and a feel of being on the mainland and on an island at the same time. Rhodes is the largest of the Dodecanese islands, boasting a rich historical tapestry that extends back to antiquity, sun-soaked beaches, and a buoyant cultural scene that intertwines the past and present.
From the ancient ruins of Kamiros to the azure waters of Anthony Quinn Bay, and the gastronomic delights found in the Old Town's lively markets, Rhodes offers an enriching travel experience that caters to diverse interests. So, whether you're an ardent history enthusiast, an adventure seeker, a beach lover, or a food lover, Rhodes is sure to have something special in store for you. Let's venture into this picturesque island, delving into its inviting streets, exploring its mesmerizing coastlines, and basking in the warmth and hospitality of its people. Here are the top 10 experiences you simply cannot miss while in Rhodes. Please note, keeping this list to just 10 was extremely difficult, as in fairness I should have bumped this blog article up to 20 for this island!
1. Explore Old Town Rhodes
This UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Europe and is a must-visit when you're in Rhodes.
Walking through History: As you meander through the labyrinth of cobbled streets in the old town, you can almost hear the echoes of knights and nobles from centuries past. You'll discover hidden squares, grand palaces, and vibrant markets, each spot a treasure trove of historical intrigue.
Palace of the Grand Master: Standing tall and majestic at the end of the Street of the Knights, the Palace of the Grand Master is an architectural marvel. Inside, you'll find opulent rooms adorned with exquisite frescoes and mosaics, each detail transporting you back to the time of the Knights of St. John.
Archaeological Museum of Rhodes: Housed in the former Hospital of the Knights, this museum showcases an impressive collection of artifacts from Rhodes and neighboring islands, providing a deeper understanding of the region's rich past.
2. Bask in the Beauty of Rhodes' Beaches
Rhodes is a haven for beach lovers, boasting an impressive array of stunning shores. With over 120 miles of coastline, the island is teeming with beautiful beaches, each with its own unique charm. Whether you prefer lively, family-friendly beaches, secluded bays, or something in between, Rhodes has it all.
Elli Beach: Begin your beach journey in the heart of Rhodes Town at Elli Beach. This popular city beach offers pristine sands, crystal-clear waters, and an array of amenities including sun loungers, umbrellas, and water sports facilities. After basking in the sun, take a leisurely stroll down the beachside promenade lined with cafes and restaurants.
Anthony Quinn Bay: For a more secluded experience, head to Anthony Quinn Bay. Tucked away amidst rocky hills, this charming cove is renowned for its crystal-clear, emerald waters and a beautiful pebbled beach lined with pine trees.
Tsambika Beach: Tsambika Beach, located on the eastern coast of Rhodes, is perfect for families. Its golden sands slope gently into shallow waters, making it a safe and fun choice for kids. The beach is well-equipped with sunbeds, umbrellas, and a variety of eateries nearby.
Saint Paul's Bay: Over in Lindos, Saint Paul's Bay offers stunning natural beauty. Enclosed by high rocks, its clear, turquoise waters are perfect for swimming and snorkeling. The beach itself is a mix of sand and pebbles, and the surrounding scenery provides an idyllic backdrop.
Prasonisi: If you're an adventure-seeker, make your way to Prasonisi, the southernmost tip of Rhodes. Renowned as a wind-surfing and kite-surfing paradise, Prasonisi offers a unique beach experience where the Aegean meets the Mediterranean.
From the lively vibes of Elli Beach to the tranquil charm of Anthony Quinn Bay, the diverse beaches of Rhodes offer a variety of experiences to suit every preference. Don't forget your sunblock, a good book, and a sense of adventure as you get ready to bask in the natural beauty of Rhodes' exquisite beaches.
3. Embark on a Catamaran Day Tour
Unforgettable Voyage: One of the most rewarding ways to truly appreciate the coastal beauty of Rhodes is to embark on a Catamaran day tour. As you set sail on the azure Aegean Sea, you'll experience the island from a completely different perspective, taking in its striking coastline adorned with hidden coves, beaches, and rocky cliffs.
Secluded Bays and Crystal-Clear Waters: A catamaran tour provides a unique opportunity to discover secluded bays only accessible by boat, where you can plunge into the crystal-clear waters, snorkel among vibrant marine life, or simply bask on the deck, soaking up the Greek sun. The island of Rhodes has a rich underwater world, and these tours often include snorkeling gear for you to explore this aquatic wonderland.
Relax and Rejuvenate: As you glide over the gentle waves, the serene environment and the rhythm of the sea can be incredibly soothing. Whether you're looking for a romantic day out or a fun-filled adventure with friends or family, a catamaran tour offers a relaxing and rejuvenating experience. Plus, many tours include a delicious meal prepared onboard, allowing you to sample local flavors while enjoying the stunning sea views.
Remember, no trip to Rhodes is complete without exploring its magnificent waters. With the sun on your face, the wind in your hair, and the sea at your fingertips, a catamaran tour is an absolute must-do experience in Rhodes, allowing you to create memories that will last a lifetime.
4. Visit the Valley of the Butterflies
An oasis of natural beauty and tranquility, the Valley of the Butterflies or 'Petaloudes' is one of the most unique attractions of Rhodes.
Unparalleled Natural Phenomenon: From June to September, the valley is home to thousands of Jersey Tiger moths (erroneously referred to as butterflies). It's a remarkable sight to witness these beautiful creatures resting en masse on the tree trunks, creating a canvas of black and yellow in contrast with the lush greenery. This rare phenomenon happens as the moths gather to mate in the valley, attracted by the Oriental Sweetgum trees.
Tranquil Hiking Experience: Crisscrossed by serene footpaths and streams, the Valley of the Butterflies is a hiker's delight. The trails guide you through the dense forest, passing rustic wooden bridges, cascading waterfalls, and peaceful ponds. The air is filled with the rustling sound of the forest and the babbling of streams, providing a calming backdrop to your exploration.
Informative Museum of Natural History: For the curious souls, there is an on-site Museum of Natural History, offering insights into the local ecosystem. Here, you'll find informative displays on the life cycle of the Jersey Tiger moth, the different stages of its metamorphosis, and the biodiversity of the valley. It's an excellent opportunity to complement your visit with knowledge and make it a comprehensive learning experience.
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5. Experience Rhodes’ Vibrant Nightlife
Rhodes has a reputation for its exuberant nightlife, presenting a variety of experiences to match your mood and preference.
Lively Old Town: The Old Town of Rhodes transforms as the sun sets. The labyrinth of cobbled streets, steeped in history, takes on a different vibe with a string of lively bars, clubs, and restaurants. Known as the Bar Street, it buzzes with energy and laughter, offering the perfect setting for a fun night out. Try local spirits like Ouzo or Raki, or sip on a glass of local wine while tapping your feet to the beats of Greek music.
Lindos by Night: For a slightly subdued but equally charming night scene, head to Lindos. The town offers trendy bars and taverns with rooftop terraces offering mesmerizing views of the illuminated Acropolis and the Aegean Sea. It's the perfect spot to enjoy a quiet dinner, followed by cocktails under the starry sky.
Open-air Nightclubs: Rhodes' beach resorts like Faliraki are famous for their open-air nightclubs. The parties here are legendary, often continuing till dawn. Groove to international and local hits as you party the night away with locals and fellow travelers.
6. Discover Rhodes’ Culinary Delights
Rhodes is a gastronomic paradise, boasting a rich and diverse culinary tradition that you simply can't miss.
Local Cuisine: Rhodesian cuisine is a delightful amalgamation of different influences, marked by fresh ingredients and aromatic herbs. Some must-try dishes include pitaroudia (chickpea fritters), moussaka (a layered meat and eggplant casserole), and souvlaki (grilled meat skewers). Don't forget to try the local cheeses like Pitaro and Armogalo, both unique to the island.
Wine Tasting: Rhodes has a long history of winemaking, boasting numerous vineyards and wineries. Enjoy a wine-tasting tour to sample the indigenous varieties like Athiri, Moschato, and Mandilaria. The experience is not just about the wine; it's also a chance to delve into the island's wine-making tradition and meet the passionate winemakers.
Cooking Class: To delve deeper into the culinary traditions of Rhodes, consider taking a cooking class. It's a fun and interactive way to learn about the island's gastronomy, understand the use of local ingredients, and master some traditional recipes. Plus, it gives you a delicious souvenir to take back home!
7. Visit the Springs of Kallithea
Nestled in a picturesque bay, the Kallithea Springs are known for their therapeutic properties and have been a place of healing since antiquity.
Healing Waters: People from all over the world have been drawn to the Kallithea Springs since the time of the Romans. The waters are said to have curative properties, effective against a variety of ailments. Even if you're not seeking its healing touch, the springs offer a tranquil environment to relax and rejuvenate.
Architectural Splendor: The complex housing the springs is a work of art. Built in 1929, it features a blend of various architectural styles, with Moorish and Italian elements. From the grand entrance to the rotunda and the intricate mosaic floors, every detail in the complex is an aesthetic delight.
Beautiful Surroundings: The springs are set within a stunning landscape of palm and pine trees, gardens dotted with peacocks, and a crystal-clear sea. There are several coves and beaches near the springs where you can enjoy a refreshing dip in the Aegean waters.
8. Visit the Enchanting Village of Lindos
Ancient Wonders and Picturesque Charm: The enchanting village of Lindos is one of Rhodes' true gems. Nestled at the foot of a steep hill and encircled by the stunning turquoise sea, Lindos captivates with its ancient history, white-washed houses, and captivating views. The winding, narrow lanes, adorned with pebble mosaics, are filled with character and provide a charming atmosphere that perfectly blends tradition and style.
The Acropolis of Lindos: Perched atop the hill, the ancient Acropolis of Lindos is a sight to behold. As you climb the steps leading up to the Acropolis, the panoramic vistas of the village, the bay, and the endless Aegean Sea unfold before you, creating an unforgettable spectacle. Explore the Doric Temple of Athena Lindia, the Propylaea, and the ancient theatre, among other ruins, and delve into the rich history that the Acropolis houses.
Beaches of Lindos: Once you've explored the heights of the Acropolis, head down to one of Lindos' beautiful beaches. St Paul's Bay, with its calm, clear waters and stunning surrounding landscape, is a favorite among visitors. Whether you prefer to lounge on the soft sands, swim in the refreshing sea, or try your hand at water sports, the beaches of Lindos offer a little something for everyone.
The idyllic village of Lindos, with its rich historical heritage, stunning landscape, and warm, welcoming vibe, is an essential part of any Rhodes itinerary. Offering a delightful mix of culture, history, and relaxation, Lindos promises a unique and memorable visit that epitomizes the best of Greek island life.
9. Make a Splash off the Diving Board at Elli Beach
A Unique Beach Attraction: Elli Beach, known for its vibrant atmosphere and crystal-clear waters, offers visitors an additional thrill - a diving board located a short swim from the shore. This isn't your average beach feature; it's a slice of old-world charm that adds a layer of excitement to your beach day.
A Dive into the Aegean: After a brief swim out to the diving platform, it's time for the adrenaline-pumping part. Whether you're an experienced diver or a novice, the sensation of leaping off the diving board and plunging into the refreshing waters of the Aegean Sea is nothing short of invigorating. From backflips to simple pencil jumps, how you make your splash is entirely up to you!
Unforgettable Memories: Besides the thrill it offers, the diving board at Elli Beach is a fantastic opportunity for memorable holiday photos. Capture the moment mid-air or as you make a splash – these are the kind of memories that last a lifetime.
The diving board at Elli Beach adds an element of adventure to the usual beach day routine. It's more than just a fun activity; it's a shared experience that brings together locals and tourists, young and old, in a display of joy, bravery, and camaraderie. So, take a leap of faith and dive into an unforgettable Rhodes experience.
10. Spend a Day at Prasonisi Beach
Located at the southernmost point of the island, where the Aegean and Mediterranean seas meet, Prasonisi Beach is an exceptional destination that offers unique experiences.
Surfer's Paradise: Prasonisi is renowned for its ideal conditions for wind-related sports. Whether you're an experienced windsurfer or a beginner kitesurfer, the consistent winds and the shallow waters on one side of the peninsula make Prasonisi a favorite spot for thrill-seekers. Several centers in the vicinity offer rental services and lessons for those eager to ride the waves.
Unique Natural Phenomenon: Depending on the season, Prasonisi presents a fascinating natural phenomenon. In summer, when the water level drops, it becomes a peninsula accessible by a sand pathway. In winter, it turns into an island. This dramatic shift in the landscape is something you'll rarely witness elsewhere.
Unwind and Relax: For those seeking a more relaxed day out, Prasonisi doesn't disappoint. The beach on the Mediterranean side is calmer, perfect for swimming and sunbathing. The unspoiled natural beauty of the area, coupled with the rhythmic sound of the waves, provides a tranquil environment to unwind.
Rhodes, a gem in the Aegean Sea, continually impresses its visitors with its blend of historical treasures, stunning landscapes, vibrant nightlife, and tranquil corners. This guide offers you a taste of what Rhodes holds. From wandering in the medieval streets of the Old Town, basking on the island's gorgeous beaches, including the unique Prasonisi Beach, to immersing in the lively nightlife, your days on Rhodes promise to be packed with varied and delightful experiences. Remember to leave a day or two free to venture off the beaten path and explore the hidden charms of the island. Until then, let the excitement build up as you plan for your trip to the unforgettable island of Rhodes!
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This list of things to do was prepared and vetted by Greece traveler Tony Kariotis @iamgreece.