Rhodes, one of the most historic islands in Greece, is one of the most visited places in the country. It is the largest island of the Dodecanese archipelago, best known for the Colossus of Rhodes. The Colossus, which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Old World, was tragically lost during an earthquake in 226 BC.
Rhodes is an ideal summer destination for its many beautiful beaches. However, there are many things to do there in the winter, as well. Medieval towns, archaeological sites and museums combine well with the local culinary offerings and the beautiful nature found on the island. For those interested in history, the medieval old town of the city of Rhodes has been declared a World Heritage Site; visitors take a walk back in time as they stroll its cobbled streets.
Things to see and do on Rhodes
Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights
Also known as Kastello, the castle, which was built by Frankish knights dates back to the 14th century and along with its towers and arches, it is one of the few examples of Gothic architecture in Greece. The castle hosts an interesting museum with objects from different historic periods.
This imposing fortress is one of the few examples of Gothic architecture in Greece. Previously a citadel of the Knights Hospitaller, it functioned as a palace, headquarters, and fortress.
According to recent research, the ancient temple of the Sun-god Helios was in the exact spot in which the Palace exists today; most likely, that was also the spot where the Colossus of Rhodes stood in antiquity.
The palace was originally built in the late 7th century as a Byzantine citadel. After the Knights Hospitaller occupied Rhodes and other Greek islands including Kalymnos and Kastellorizo in 1309, they converted the fortress into their administrative center and the palace of their Grand Master.
The Acropolis of Rhodes
Sanctuaries, temples and public buildings were once built atop Acropolis of Lindos with its magnificent temple of Athena.
The ruins atop the Acropolis beautiful examples of Ancient Greek architecture. Among the buildings worth a visit are that of the Stoa and the Stadium.
Located between the resorts of Kalithea and Faliraki, Kalithea Springs is a spa dating back to classical times. There you can find a small beach with peaceful surroundings, along with sand and shallow waters, which make it a favorite among families with children.
The village of Lindos is another attraction of the island. On a large bay facing the fishing village of Charaki, the village and its brilliantly white buildings form a striking contrast with the medieval Palace atop the hill behind it.
Agios Pavlos or St. Paul’s Bay
The Bible says that St. Paul arrived here in 51 AD to preach Christianity to the local people. This bay, located just outside Lindos, is one of the most photographed of the island. There is a small church on the hillside with unique views of the nearby acropolis.
Known as the oldest park in the world, Rodini is less than 3 kilometers (one mile) from the city of Rhodes. The park has dense vegetation, while rivers form pools and waterfalls. The landscape is dotted with bridges and benches where you can stroll or sit and watch the deer, ducks and peacocks.
Anthony Quinn Bay
This famous bay is surrounded by pine trees that almost touch the sea. Emerald waters are the main attraction of the most beautiful beach of Rhodes. Anthony Quinn Bay is very popular among young people, while families tend to avoid it because the rocky shore is a bit risky for young children.
It is so named since the renowned “Zorba the Greek” actor, who fell in love with Greece after filming “The Guns of Navarone” there, decided to buy the land around the beach.
The Valley of the Petaloudes
The Valley of the Petaloudes, or Valley of the Butterflies, is the natural habitat of millions of Tiger moth butterflies that spend their summers in the area beginning in May. During the summer months, millions of butterflies cover entire trees, offering a unique sight. The valley, rich in rare natural beauty, also hosts a small natural history museum.
Local culinary delights
Rhodes has a long tradition of handmade pasta because of the Italian presence and influence in the Dodecanese. Fried pitaroudia are a traditional dish made of tomatoes, chickpeas or minced meat. Dolmadakia are stuffed vine leaves made with lentils and rice.
Other local dishes include grilled fish and lamb. Soupioryzo is a kind of risotto boiled in cuttlefish ink, and rouzetia are small red sand fish served fried, with a popular garlic dip known as skordalia.
Museums and other attractions
Rhodes is home to some interesting museums of course, as befits its long and storied history. The Archaeological Museum focuses on objects from the Hellenistic times. The Municipal Gallery of Rhodes, instead, is home to a unique collection of paintings. Others include the Jewish Museum, the Modern Art Museum and the Bee Musuem. For small kids, make some time to visit the Toy Museum in Archipoli, as well as the Aquarium of Rhodes.
How to reach Rhodes
By plane: Diagoras International Airport is 14 kilometers from the city of Rhodes and local buses connect the terminal to the town.
By ferry: It is possible to reach Rhodes by ferry or high-speed boat as well. Ferries routinely depart from the port of Piraeus in Athens.