Home Destination Guides Accommodation 24th August 2019





General
Greece 

RHODES

(known locally as Rodos)

  

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GENERAL
     
Rhodes is the largest of a group of islands known collectively as the Dodecanese. It is one of the most southerly islands in the Aegean and lies only 10 miles from the Turkish mainland.  The island’s patron is reputed to be the sun god Helios and this may well be true as Rhodes has one of the highest records of sunshine in the whole of Greece. This has helped to make it a firm favourite with visitors, coupled as it is with beautiful beaches, fabulous coastline and unspoilt interior.
 
The main tourist area follows a chain of sandy beaches that run along the eastern coast from Rhodes to Lindos, encompassing a variety of resorts catering for all age groups.  The western coast has remained un-commercialised, mainly because it has pebble beaches and is more exposed to the wind than the eastern side.  Inland the island is mountainous with pine-clad hillsides descending into fertile green valleys with vineyards, olive and citrus groves.  The island is well known for its local thyme, honey and good quality wines.
 
Rhodes has a rich history of invasion and many conflicting cultures have influenced the development and architecture of the island.  During ancient times the island was ruled by the three cities of Kamiros, Ialyssos and Lindos, but around 400 BC these three cities combined their power and founded the current capital, Rhodes Town.  It wasn’t until 1947, after WW2 that Rhodes finally became part of Greece, but the legacy of archaeological and historical sites of great interest have drawn enthusiasts from all over the world to visit this captivating and diverse island.
 
 
RHODES TOWN
  
The capital of the island is Rhodes Town, home to approximately 60% of the population and a bustling cosmopolitan city where ancient and modern stand side by side in a fascinating contradiction of each other.  Rhodes town is actually a city within a city, with the medieval Old City now incorporated into and overlapped by the chic resort that the new Rhodes town has developed into.  The Old City is the jewel of Rhodes town; containing the remnants of both an Ancient City and a Medieval City it has been declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO.  Surrounded by 5 kilometres of 14th Century walls, visitors enter the Old City through one of the 11 arched, stone gateways, the main one being the imposing Marine Gate on the seaward side of the Old City.   Once inside, you are confronted with an intriguing maze of pedestrianised backstreets and cobbled alleyways, crammed with history.  For the serious sightseer it will take at least several days to explore the Old City, (I got lost many times…) and to get the most out of your visit it is advisable to buy a detailed guide book, as some of the real treasures are difficult to find.  One of the biggest attractions in the Old City is the reconstructed medieval Palace of the Grand Masters.  The original Palace was built on the site of the Ancient ruins of the lower Acropolis, home to the Great Temple of Helios. However, it was blown up in the 1800’s and was later rebuilt as a palace for Mussolini (although he never actually stayed here) and now houses many of the Kos town mosaics.  Just inside the city walls are the Ancient foundations of a 3rd Century BC Temple of Aphrodite and the Ancient upper Acropolis, (also known as Mount Smith, after a British admiral) lies to the west, outside the City Walls.
 
The Western European Knights of St John arrived in Rhodes in 1309, fortifying the City against the Ottoman Turks who made numerous attempts to conquer the island before finally succeeding in 1522.  The northern section was the defensive core of the Old City, known as the Kastro or Collachium.   In the 14th and 15th Century when the Knights of St John lived in the Old City, the Kastro housed the most important buildings of the time.  It was the Knights of St John who were responsible for preserving the magnificent City Walls having rebuilt them on several occasions.  To appreciate them fully you can join a guided tour, which allows you to walk along the medieval Walls.  The dry moat can also be explored via access points in the Wall.
 
One of the best examples of a medieval street is Ipaton Street, a cobbled lane lined with the Inns of the Knights, which were used as meeting places by the Knights of the Order.  As the Knights were recruited from all across Europe they were divided into ‘Tongues’, according to the language they spoke, and each Inn was designated to a specific ‘Tongue’.  At the end of the street you will find the Knights Hospital which houses the Archaeological Museum. Nearby is the Byzantine Museum, which is housed in ‘Our Lady of the City’ Church.  To the south of the Museum is the main shopping area of the Old City, with its many souvenir shops, coffee bars, tavernas and restaurants.
 
New Rhodes Town is a shopaholic’s dream! Its tree-lined avenues are crammed with a vast array of shops from trendy boutiques to exclusive jewellers. Rhodes is particularly well known for gold jewellery, having been trading in gold for thousands of years.  All of the hotel accommodation is packed into the new City together with all the usual amenities you would expect from a modern town, including banks, doctors, mini-markets and shops.  The main ferry port is on the seafront, where you can hop on a hydrofoil to one of the nearby islands or pick up a ferry to the Greek mainland.  From the harbour you can also join one of the tour boats that cruise the Rhodian coastline on their way to the lovely village of Lindos.  Close by is the central bus station which has good links to the rest of the island.  Throughout the town there are a host of coffee shops, bars, tavernas and restaurants, catering for all tastes, from fast food to authentic Japanese.  The nightlife is fantastic with discos, nightclubs and a casino on offer.  By day you can chill out on the shingle beach, visit the sea level aquarium or just wander around the lovely Mandraki harbour, adorned at its entrance by two bronze deer.  It was astride this harbour entrance that some claim the giant statue ‘The Colossus of Rhodes’ stood, but the siting and stance of the statue is refuted by many. Needless to say the statue did exist - made from bronze in around 290 BC, it was the largest statue ever to be made in ancient Greece (approx 100 ft tall) and was one of the Seven Wonders of the World, until it collapsed following an earthquake.  Afterwards the pieces lay untouched for over 9 centuries before Arab invaders removed them.  Tales of their whereabouts abound, but they have never been seen since.
     
 
THE WEST
  
The island’s airport is located to the west of Rhodes town, about a 30min drive away.  Along this stretch of road are the limited numbers of resorts with good amenities that are situated on the western side of the island.  The first is Ixia, just 5 kms west of Rhodes town and popular with families and couples because of its long shingle beach stretching for 4 kms.  Here there are sun beds and umbrellas for hire, beach bars and a great choice of water sports.  You get the best of both worlds in Ixia, it is a more peaceful resort than Rhodes town, but there is a regular local bus service to Rhodes town or taxis are available if you feel like a good night out.  In its own right Ixia has excellent accommodation with a variety shops, bars, tavernas and restaurants.  From Ixia it is (approximately) a 20 min walk to Ialyssos, one of the ancient cities of Rhodes and now a residential area.  Continuing westwards for another 20mins by foot, you come to the resort of Trianda, which still retains the appeal of the traditional Greek way of life.  There are shops, tavernas, restaurants and a sand and shingle beach with windsurfing available, however Trianda is quite close to the airport so some aircraft noise is inevitable.  From all of the above-mentioned places there are regular bus services to Rhodes town.
 
Turning inland from the airport is the road to the ‘Valley of the Butterflies’, known locally as ‘Petaloudes’.  Actually the ‘butterflies’ are millions of rare tiger moths which rest in the valley from June to September, and whose numbers are now in decline due to disturbance from well-meaning tourists.  Some organizations are becoming increasingly concerned about this decline in numbers and would like visitors to avoid the valley during these months.
 
Overlooking Monolithos on the south west coast is the impressive Castle of the Knights built in the 15th Century.  From its hilltop location there are breathtaking views across the Aegean to the small island of Chalki, and a local ferry leaves from the small port of Kamiros Skala for those wishing to visit Chalki.  For those wishing to explore the beautiful areas to the south and inland on Rhodes, car hire is essential to get the best from the island.
    
 
THE EAST and SOUTH
   
Travelling east from Rhodes town you will find the resort of Kalithea (literally meaning ‘good view’, which has a fine stretch of beach with lovely views across a clear, blue sea.  Boat trips are available around the coastline to Rhodes city or south towards Lindos and Kalithea itself has a Water Park.  There are shops, tavernas and restaurants, with bars and clubs offering a choice of nightlife without being too frenetic.
 
 Next door to Kalithea is the youth orientated Faliraki, with buzzing bars, lively clubs and noisy discos pulsating throughout the night.  It is a magnet for young singles, couples and groups all looking to dance the night away, so don’t expect to get much sleep at night!  There are the usual resort amenities and the restaurants tend to offer a more international cuisine to cater for younger visitors.   Bars and clubs abound and there is a great, sandy beach to laze around on, recuperating from the night’s excesses.  For those with sufficient energy left, there is an amazing choice of water sports on the beach, or there is a water park complete with wave pool on the outskirts of town.
 
Just south of Faliraki, and slightly inland, is the delightful village of Afandou, with a few tavernas and bars it has a laid back atmosphere.  It is also right next door to the island’s only 18-hole golf course.
 
Further south along the east coast are smaller, unspoilt beach resorts.  Ladiko is more popularly known as ‘Anthony Quinn’ beach.  It was the location for the film ‘The Guns of Navarone’ in which he starred and Quinn is reputed to have owned the beach in the 1960’s.  South of Ladiko are the beaches of Kolimbia and Tsambika.  On the hill behind Tsambika is the ‘Church of our Lady’ that is a focus of pilgrimage for childless couples from all over Greece who come to pray for a baby - apparently with great success!
 
Slightly inland, set in a valley perfumed by orange groves, is the traditional whitewashed village of Archangelos.  Well worth a visit, it is the site of the Castle of the Knights built in 1467, plus a late Byzantine church, dating from 1377 and beautifully decorated with frescoes.  In addition the villagers are known for their skills making leather boots and shoes and hand-woven carpets.  From Archangelos there is a track leading down to the lovely, unspoilt beach at Stegna.  Stegna has sunbeds, umbrellas and some watersports on the beach with an assortment of tavernas and shops close by.
 
 
LINDOS
  
The next resort along the eastern coast is the captivating village of Lindos, the number one attraction after the capitol itself.   It nestles into the hillside, like a gem, between the magnificent hilltop Acropolis, and sweeping bays of azure sea.  The Acropolis is said to be among the best archaeological sites of note in Greece.  Initially fortified during Roman times, it was fully fortified by the Knights of St John in the Byzantine era, and they also rebuilt a majestic medieval castle inside the walls.  The partially reconstructed Temple of Athena Lindia, built in 348 BC, the formal gateway or ‘Propylaea’, built in 407 BC and the magnificent Doric Stoa with its 42 columns are all important in their own right, attracting the ordinary sightseer and enthusiasts alike.  A special mention should also be made of the Trireme Relief, carved into the cliff wall and measuring 4.6 by 5.5 metres.  Lindos village is full of character and charm, with whitewashed houses and cobbled streets where no vehicles are allowed.  Many of the original village houses have been carefully restored and are now used to accommodate tourists.  Whilst some of the room facilities are very basic it is a unique way of experiencing village life as it used to be.  It is because of its uniqueness that the Government has forbidden any further development in Lindos and as the village is pedestrianised, visitors have to either walk everywhere or hop onto a donkey!  On the northern side of Lindos is the popular town beach and picturesque harbour quay, where the tour boats from Rhodes town arrive.  Because of its character and historical interest Lindos lures many day-trippers from the other resorts on the island and is particularly busy from midday onwards in the high season.  You can also walk to St Paul’s beach on the southern side of Lindos, where St Paul is reputed to have landed in 43 AD.  However it is worth noting that in the 1990’s the sea around Lindos Bay was found to be polluted with bacteria associated with sewage and the EU provided Lindos with a grant to update their old-fashioned sewage system.  On the other hand there is nothing outdated about the nightlife in Lindos, which is vibrant and cosmopolitan with a great mix of bars, restaurants and clubs to keep you entertained.
 
To the south of Lindos are the more tranquil resorts of Pefkos, Lardos and Kiotari.  With a backdrop of pine trees, the peaceful resort of Pefkos sits on a lovely long sandy beach that shelves gently into clear blue water.   There are sandy coves further round the coast and it is perfect for families and couples.  The resort has some smart restaurants, tavernas and bars, but there are limited water sports.  Lardos is extremely laid back with gently shelving beaches, some restaurants, bars and tavernas, ideal for those who just want to chill out.  Kiotari is more of a purpose built resort, but still offers the visitor good beaches and a relaxing atmosphere.
 
On the southern most tip of Rhodes is a tiny islet called Prassonisi, accessible via a sandy causeway.  This lovely area can be very windy and is a windsurfer’s paradise but as local buses are limited, the best way to visit is by hire car. 
 
 
 
ISLAND CONNECTIONS
 
Rhodes airport is about a 30-minute drive from Rhodes town.  Package holidays are available from both the major and Greek specialist tour companies.  Charter airlines fly direct from the U.K. to Rhodes during the summer months, usually from April to October.  Flying time from the U.K. is almost 4 hours.  Olympic Airways offer scheduled flights from the U.K. to Rhodes via Athens.  Timings vary depending on how long you need to wait for the connecting flight to Rhodes.  The Olympic Airways domestic flights from Athens to Rhodes run all year round, although the flight schedule will be less frequent in the winter months and the flight time is approximately 40 mins.  Rhodes also has domestic flights to and from Heraklion airport on Crete, and Thira (Santorini), taking approx. 30 mins.
 
Rhodes is a very popular destination for island hoppers; it has numerous ferry connections to the rest of the Dodecanese islands, including Kos, Kalymnos, Leros, Patmos and Symi.  These ferries are usually circuitous calling at several islands on the way before arriving at the Athens port of Piraeus.   There are fast ferry return connections to Kos and Symi.  Other ferry destinations in the Aegean are Karpathos, Crete, Santorini, Samos and Tilos, including the northern ports of Chios, Alexandroupolis and Thessaloniki.  International ferry services go to Marmaris in Turkey, Limassol in Cyprus and Haifa in Israel.  All timetables are subject to change and should be checked locally.
   
   
   
  
The foregoing information was last reviewed in November 2006. Things change, and whilst we are often travelling in Greece we do rely to some extent upon others to provide updates in order to keep the site as current and accurate as possible!  If you have updates or information that you think should be included here, please mail the webmaster@aguide2greece.com  - thank you.
 
          
      
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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