Why did the chicken cross Rhodes? Because she loves its mix of history, relaxation and nightlife! Rhodes, the largest of the Dodecanese Islands of Greece is the perfect holiday spot because of its brilliant mix of fun, sun and adventure!
Rhodes has an incredible history that stretches back to before history existed. The island is listed in Homer’s Iliad on the Greek side during the Trojan War but there is evidence of habitation for thousands of years before this ancient time. Rhodes was named after the abundance of roses that grow there, but the island is probably best known for its once-magnificent Colossus which was 108 feet tall (33 meters) and straddled the entrance of its ancient harbour. The Colossus, in the likeness of the sun god Helios, was the largest statue of its time and one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Experience something new in Old Town!
Rhodes is also rightly famous for being the home of the Crusader Knights who conquered the island and made it their base after they left the Holy Land in defeat during the fourteenth century. The Knights Hospitaller conquered the island and made it their base after leaving Jerusalem and before they were re-homed on the Island of Malta. There is an unbroken line of Rhodian crusader knights from 1306 AD until today through the Knights of Malta. The island is rich in history because it is a beautiful land of abundance where warm waters bring forth a bounty from the sea. Today, Rhodes is one of the most visited holiday locations in all of Europe and is known for its history, fabulous accommodations, warm residents and beautiful seaside weather.
Here’s a Pro -tip: to avoid ‘historical burnout’, I recommend exploring the island’s many attractions every other day during your trip and using alternate days to relax on the island’s beautiful beaches or engage in exciting water sports.
All I can say is, “Beach, please”!
The majority of boat tours depart from Mandraki Harbour, and you can be sailing down the coast to secluded beaches and coastal towns in no time.
Here’s Another Pro Tip: English is widely spoken on Rhodes as well as other European languages, so don’t worry about requiring an interpreter.
Protected World Heritage sites, byzantine citadels, gothic castles and more await in Rhodes. To help plan your stay on this captivating island, I’ve listed my absolute must-see attractions below:
Once a king, always a king. But once a knight is enough!
- The Old Town – Hidden away behind massive medieval walls, Rhodes’ pedestrianized Old Town is packed with charm. Inside the walls, cobblestoned streets wind their way past quaint restaurants and sun-kissed courtyards, until they eventually meet at the ancient Knight’s Quarter; a stretch of pathway that dates back to the 1300s.
- Tsambika Monastery – Take a day trip to the Tsambika Monastery, a sharp climb of 350 steps which offers spectacular views of the island. Legend has it that women having difficulty to conceive should walk barefoot to the top! Pack your swimsuit as you’ll be ready for a dip in the ocean at the nearby beach after hiking to the church.
- Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes – Protected as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the castle is a beautiful Gothic structure. Inside you’ll find an interactive museum packed equally with information and atmosphere.
- Acropolis of Rhodes – The Acropolis of Rhodes is a partially reconstructed ancient settlement featuring a small temple and theatre. You’ll be transported back to ancient Greece as you gaze from the high vantage over the sea. I recommend booking a guided tour to really appreciate the site.
- St Paul’s Beach – Enjoy a day trip to this stunning sand beach, found on the island’s south-east coast. The apostle Paul was renowned to have preached to convert the Rhodians from this beautiful spot. From the beach, you can admire the ruins of Lindos Acropolis which sit atop a nearby cliff.
- Archaeological Museum of Rhodes – No trip to Rhodes would be complete without a visit to this impressive museum housed inside the former home of the Knights Hospitaller. Inside you’ll find a variety of historical artifacts including the Head of Helios from the Colossus!
All of this fun and adventure will leave you hungry. Rhodian cuisine has been greatly influenced over the years by both Eastern and Western falvours, but the menu has always included the freshest of local seafood! The below restaurants serve some of the best traditional dishes in town:
- Tamam – Tuck into traditional Greek dishes at Tamam, an atmospheric private dining restaurant found in the Old Town. I recommend ordering the halloumi to start and follow with the seafood.
- Vasilis – This traditional Greek restaurant has been serving hearty dishes to hungry locals since 1985. The building is utterly charming, and it’s one of my favourite places in Rhodes for a quick lunch.
- Stegna Kozas – Seafood, seafood and more seafood! Stegna Kozas is renowned for its succulent fish dishes including catch-of-the-day soup, octopus casserole and bass fillet pasta.
Pasta the Moussaka, please!
Rhodes offers a wide choice of nightlife from harbour-front bars to traditional Greek tavernas where the bouzouki (a traditional stringed instrument) plays intricate and rhythmic tunes late into the evening. Check out my favourite places to relax after a day of exploring:
- Mozaik – Order one of the bars 15 signature cocktails, find a seat in the courtyard, and enjoy live music from the resident band. The bar also serves a nice variety of finger food.
- Sissitio – Enjoy drinks with a view at this quaint tavern with a pebbled courtyard overlooking the Mosque of Suleiman. The garden restaurant is also a great place for both lunch and dinner!
- Oasis Beach Bar – Okay, so Oasis Beach Bar isn’t exactly in Rhodes, it’s just a 15-minute drive south along the coast. This ‘Instagrammable’ bar is beautifully tucked into a cave on Kallithea Beach.
The city of Rhodes is distinctly split into the Old Town and New Town, and the accommodation in each matches its location. Enjoy traditional family-run boutiques within the medieval walls, or step beyond them and enjoy contemporary luxury.
“On the Rhodes again! I can’t wait to be on the Rhodes again!”
- Marco Polo Mansion – If, like me, you enjoy the quirkiness of a boutique hotel but would prefer not to break the bank, then check out Marco Polo Mansion. This bohemian hotel sits in Rhodes’ Old Town, and you’d be forgiven for thinking it was trapped in the Ottoman era.
- Allegory Boutique Hotel – This funky art-deco hotel also sits within the medieval walls of the Old Town and boasts just six signature suites. What’s the most enjoyable thing about this hotel? The complimentary Mediterranean breakfast that can be enjoyed on the terrace each morning.
- Rodos Park Suites & Square – Located in the New Town, this is a contemporary hotel with a swimming pool, spa, and terrace lounge area. If you’re looking for friendly service, spacious rooms, and amenities on your doorstep then stay here!
All roads should lead to Rhodes! Enjoy breathing fresh Aegean air, dipping your toes in turquoise waters, and come home armed with memories of an ancient island of enchantment!