The island of Rhodes is located in the southern portion of the Aegean and is actually much closer to Turkey than mainland Greece. It’s a relatively large island compared to the other islands in the Aegean but still small enough to comfortably explore in a few days.
About an hour flight from Athens, Rhodes is a beautiful place to visit. From the UNESCO site of downtown Rhodes to the beautiful town of Lindos, Rhodes is well worth the visit for anyone looking for a relaxing getaway while in Greece. By renting a car, you can easily cover this island in a few days.
Where to Stay
Rhodes is a fairly large island so you’ll want to figure out where you want to stay carefully. While most people will stay in and around downtown Rhodes, you can stay in hotels and resorts all over the island. The problem is going to be getting to and from your hotel.
For anyone, I would strongly recommend renting a car. It’ll not only be cheaper but it’ll give you a lot of freedom. Although you can take a taxi everywhere you want, it’ll be very expensive. A long taxi ride can easily cost well over 100 Euros and renting a car won’t cost nearly that much a day. The car rental place I used had both manual and automatic options so if you don’t know how to drive a stick, you’ll be alright. Also, driving in Greece is just like driving in the US so if you’re used to driving on the right, it’ll be really simple.
The only downside to driving is that you’ll have to keep an eye out on gas. Because you’re in the Euro zone, gas is pretty expensive. Expect to spend about 20-40 Euros a day on gas (depending on how far you drive of course). What is nice is that there is no shortage of gas stations across the island so you shouldn’t have to worry about that.
The UNESCO town of downtown Rhodes is a wonderful fort city that’s fun to explore. It’s mostly pedestrian only (although there are a few vehicles allowed) and walking around is sort of like walking back in time. Located right along the water, you can park your car next to multi-million dollar yachts in the harbor and walk into an old fort.
As you walk around town, you’ll probably want to stay away from the main town square area. It’s mostly restaurants catering to tourists as everyone is out trying to get you to come inside. It might be a good place to stop and get a cool drink but maybe not the place you want to go for an authentic Greek meal.
What is great about downtown Rhodes is that there are residents who live there within the city walls. Since so much of the city is residential, it’s fun to walk around cobblestone streets and see the residents go about their everyday lives. If you go during the early evening hours and after most of the tourists have gone, you’ll see the residents out in front of their homes talking and enjoying a drink. There’s also no fear of getting lost since you’re surrounded by the fort walls. It’s a great place to just wander about for as long as you like.
Visit the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes for a chance to see some amazing mosaic work. As you walk around the empty rooms, you’ll get a feeling for the grandeur of this old palace.
As you exit, you’ll pass by a gate. DO NOT just walk past it since this gate will allow you to walk along the top of the city walls. I believe this is only open from 12 – 3pm (I could be wrong) but it’s an amazing chance to see the city from a different view. My guess is kids will love this. This was also free to do. It didn’t seem like it had anything to do with the price of admission to the Palace so if you don’t want to pay to go into the Palace, you should be able to just walk immediately to your left as you enter the palace gates and grab a ticket from the person standing there.
**One thing to note. I would highly recommend NOT staying within the city walls if you’re visiting Rhodes. Vehicle access is regulated so when you arrive or leave you’ll have to drag your bags through the cobblestone streets. I don’t know about you, but there is nothing about dragging a roller bag over cobblestones.
About 90 mins south of downtown Rhodes, Lindos is a beautiful little town with an acropolis at the top of the hill overlooking the town and harbor. Tiny shops line the narrow streets as you walk uphill toward the acropolis and although there are no signs pointing the way, just keep walking uphill and you’ll get to the entrance. If you don’t feel like walking, you can hire a donkey or the “Lindos taxi” to take you to the top.
Once there, catch your breath and enjoy the views. The site itself isn’t that large but you won’t get better views of the surrounding area so enjoy it and take your time. As you leave, you can pop in and out of the little stores or head down to the beach. If you want, you can even make your way down to St. Paul’s bay.
**Tip – If you’re driving to Lindos, park at the park lot right off the side of the main road vs. driving down into town. First, the town is pedestrian only so there aren’t too many parking spaces available. Second, the road to/from the town is extremely narrow and barely wide enough for 2 cars. Sure, it isn’t fun to walk back up the hill when you’re leaving but it’ll make for a much easier time and you’ll probably end up parking there anyways.
Other Points of Interest
Monolithos (Free to visit) – On the opposite side of the island from Lindos, this former castle isn’t that large and has a small church at the top. It’s about a 2 hour drive from downtown Rhodes but it’s really all about the drive there. You’ll drive through the forest and pass some wineries as well as little visited towns. It’s also a fun drive if you’re driving a stick so this is very much about the journey. However, once you’re there, you’ll be rewarded with some amazing views.
Kritinia Castle (Free to visit) – Another castle ruin, this one is about 45 mins north of Monolithos. This too isn’t very large but it is interesting to visit. You can also enjoy some amazing views and since most tourists don’t make it here, you’ll probably have the entire site to yourself (or mostly to yourself).
**Tip – Don’t listen to Google maps on the trek here. Do it the old fashioned way and look at the map and find your way there. Google maps will send you down the most asinine roads to get there which doesn’t make any sense. Look at the map and find your way around. It’ll be much easier.
Acropolis of Rhodes (and surrounding sites – free to visit) – There are a few sites here to check out from the Acropolis ruins, the ancient olympic stadium, and even a theatre. The stadium is a smaller version of the Panathenaus stadium but it’s still beautifully preserved and wonderful to see.
Paralia Beach (Free to visit) – If you’re into windsurfing or kitesurfing, this might be the perfect beach for you. Located on the southern tip of the island, this windy beach is paradise for windsurfers and kitesurfers. You’ll see the beach swarming with countless windsurfers and kitesurfers and during low tide, there is actually a land bridge that emerges that allows people to walk from the beach to the nearby island.
There are obviously other sites to see and check out if you so desire. It all depends on your preferences. The great thing about the island is that there really is something for everyone. As long as you have access to a car, exploring the island is doable and a lot of fun.
From a historical standpoint, Rhodes is significant as the former location of the Colossus of Rhodes. Now, the downtown city has UNESCO World Heritage status and is a wonderful place to visit. You can enjoy some amazing seafood, meet some wonderful locals, and see some amazing sites. It also serves as a great port to go island hopping if you so desire. Visiting Rhodes is a trip you won’t regret.