The Ultimate Rhodes Travel Guide
The slosh of the pearly blue waters down in Anthony Quinn Bay. The glowing sands of Lindos. The bustle of Rhodes Town. The hum of the cicadas on the dusty slopes of Attavyros mountain. The flurry of the northern sea breezes over the pebbles of Theologos Beach…
These are just snippets of what awaits on the largest of the Dodecanese island chain. It's something of a jack of trades, offering enthralling history, hedonistic nightlife, and oodles of sands and snorkelling spots for those on the hunt for R&R.
This Rhodes travel guide will give insights into the best beaches and the top things to do on this amazing island. It's also got more practical info on how to arrive here and when's best to visit. Happy travels…
What's in this Rhodes Travel Guide?
- Where is Rhodes, exactly?
- When to visit Rhodes?
- Things to do in Rhodes
- The top beaches in Rhodes
- How to get to Rhodes
Where is Rhodes, exactly?
If it weren't for tiny little Kastellorizo, Rhodes would be the easternmost of the Greek islands. As it is, it's still way closer to Turkey than to Athens – the coast of the Marmaris Peninsula is less than 11 miles over the strait at its nearest point. But Rhodes is Greek through and through. It's the largest – and the main hub of – the Dodecanese chain, a group that skirts the eastern Aegean Sea and includes the likes of Kos and Patmos.
When to visit Rhodes
Rhodes clocks up over 300 sunny days every year. Its south-easterly location means it's almost immune to the Mediterranean storms that can hit western Greece in autumn, while the proximity to Africa raises the possibility of scorching heat waves fed by the Sahara. For the most part, though, this island has pretty darn perfect weather – think days of 30-40 degrees in summer, with cooler nights and hardly a drop of rainfall between May and October. Here's a season-to-season breakdown of what to expect…
Rhodes in winter
Rhodes is one of the few islands in the Greek Aegean that we think is a doozy in the winter months. We don't recommend it for beach seekers but for the history buffs. There are some internal flights running from Athens and they shouldn't break the bank. What you will get is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Medieval City of Rhodes virtually totally void of camera-clicking tourists, so you can explore to your heart's content. Again, this isn't the greatest season for topping up the tan – average daily temperatures are about 16 C, while December and January are the wettest months of the lot to boot.
Rhodes in spring
April and May are fantastic months in Rhodes. We'd put them second only to September and October when it comes to the best times to visit. The reason? Rainfall drops off sharply (there's <6 days of rain in total in May) and the temperature averages creep from 21 to 26 throughout the season. The sea water is still quite cool after the winter drop, but this is a perfect time to hike the pine-studded paths of the Profitis Ilias range and the rugged Koufos Canyon in the company of blooming wild herbs and wildflowers.
Rhodes in summer
Rhodes throbs with life throughout the summer. Cue high season. From June to August is the period when the vast majority of the island's one million visitors hit these shores. The main resorts on the southeast coast are positively pumping and hotel rates across the region soar, from Lindos to Kolympia. Faliraki – the party town – is brimming with 18-30s revellers and it's not the place to go if you planned on getting any sleep. Rhodes Town is also really busy but there's a buzz about the cafés and the tavernas. To escape the fray, you could head to the north coast, which is generally less popular. Temperatures are usually around 30-32 degrees but can soar to over 40 when a heatwave approaches from Africa.
Rhodes in autumn
Autumn is the best time of year in Rhodes. Crowds dip considerably after the end of August. So do temperatures, leaving pleasant highs in the late 20s along with the warmest seas of the year. (You can swim or snorkel anywhere without gasping when you jump in!) The highlands also look fantastic, as oleander blooms meet with ripe olive groves. Towns like Faliraki still have some life in them but it's nowhere near midsummer stuff. What's more, most seasonal flights continue until at least October, so you should have plenty of transport choices.
Things to do in Rhodes
Rhodes is famed all over Europe for its rich history, which hits a zenith at the mediaeval castle complexes of Rhodes Town. But there are also enchanting Cycladic-style villages and hidden valleys filled with butterflies on the bucket list here… Explore the Medieval City of Rhodes
There's no getting around it: Attraction number one on Rhodes is the Medieval City of Rhodes. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it contains some of the most striking Gothic structures of the Crusades, including the Palace of the Grand Masters and the Great Hospital. Later on, it was conquered by the Ottomans, who added bathhouses, hammams, and mosque minarets. It's truly one of the most enthralling history sites in Greece.
Valley of the Butterflies
Calling all nature lovers – the Valley of the Butterflies is a hidden Shangri-La up in the Rhodian mountains just south of Theologos. Covering 600 acres, the reserve plays host to millions (yep – millions!) of Jersey tiger butterflies between May and August. You'll see them clustering on the surface of the babbling creeks and flapping around the twisted pine trees. Even if the butterflies aren't in town, you should hit this park for hiking and picnicking in the woods.
Get lost in lovely Lindos
Get a taste of the traditional Greek islands by heading down the southeast coast to Lindos. It's one of Rhodes's most popular resorts for good reason – the whole place is a shock of whitewashed cottages plumed in bright pink bougainvillaea and knitted together with narrow cobbled lanes. A muscular acropolis rises on a table-top ridge above the town, complete with a Hellenistic-era temple and a sanctuary gateway from the 4th century BC. Below are the beaches and the beach tavernas for those who prefer to chillax.
Dive into the Kallithea Springs
Once a sanitorium for royal Italian VIPs in the 1920s, the spa complex at Kallithea is now one of Rhodes's best-kept secrets. First and foremost, it's a gorgeous place to come for a swim. The old marble buildings front a cove that's got some of the clearest water on the island and comes dotted with rock reefs where little fish dart this way and that. The historic complex has now been totally refurbed but you can still see traces of the original Art Deco grandeur, along with chic modern terraces and a mosaic-filled rotunda – no wonder it's a popular wedding venue!
Venture to the rustic villages
The southeast coast of Rhodes is where all of the action is at. But head inland a little, up the zigzagging country roads that go through the olive groves, and there are some untouched villages that ooze character. Head to Koskinou to see the pastel-painted houses with their carved doorways writhed in grape vines. Go to Archangelos to find a ruined castle overlooking a town riddled with little ouzo bars. Visit Apollona to discover an intriguing folklore museum and a smattering of Rhodian wineries. And that's just scratching the surface.
The best beaches in Rhodes
Rhodes is a big island, with more than 40 designated beaches. You can divide them roughly into two categories: More rugged and empty bays to the north and west; more protected, family-friendly beaches of sand and pebble to the south and east. Here are some of the best…
This bend of beautiful white-gold sand curves around Lindos Bay beneath the lovely Cycladic-style village of the same name. It's always packed in the summer and it's easy to see why – just check out the dramatic setting, a layer cake of pomegranate bushes below gleaming whitewashed cottages and then a castle topping the lot off. There are sunbeds on offer and plenty of places to eat and drink on Lindos Beach. It's a cracking all-round choice for all sorts of travellers.
Anthony Quinn Beach
Once the backdrop to scenes in the 1961 war epic The Guns of Navarone, this cove south of Faliraki now bears the moniker of one of the star-studded cast members of the movie. That's not its only claim to fame. It's also a stunning little curve of sand, punctuated with pockets of twisted coast pines and rocks. It has some of the finest snorkelling on the island, and also sits below a wooded headland where you can hike to sweeping lookout points over the southern Aegean.
Hidden behind the haunting ruin of Feraklos Castle from uber-popular Lindos Beach, Agathi is a jaw-dropping wisp of white sand that's hemmed in by two long headlands. There's a low sand shelf coming right up to the beach here, so the swimming is excellent and the waters glow a vibrant turquoise when viewed from above. A charmingly ramshackle taverna offers casual Greek dining – salads, gyros – on the sand during the summer months.
Prassonissi is a blustery isthmus beach that juts out of the far southwestern end of Rhodes. It links to a small islet where there's an old lighthouse, the whitecaps of the wind-churned Aegean Sea frothing on both sides. Talking of the wind…that's the main attraction here. Prassonissi is one of the Med's top windsurfing meccas and board riders of all levels will come to enjoy the swells.
About 30 meters wide and a whopping five kilometres from end to end, Kolympia Beach is one of the longest stretches on the southeast coast of the island. A combo of pebble and sand on the shoreline helps with the visibility in the water, while there's good protection from NW swells – AKA the swimming is great. More than anything, this is a chilled resort beach with loads of space and good proximity to the main 95 coast road. A family favourite!
How to get to Rhodes
Rhodes is the transport hub of the whole Dodecanese region, so you shouldn't find it too hard to plan a trip in. There are two main options: Going by plane and going by boat…
The Diagoras International Airport (RHO) serves the island of Rhodes. It's actually the fourth busiest airport in Greece, which should offer a little clue as to how important it is as an arrival point for this eastern corner of the Aegean islands. As with most island airports in the country, the vast majority of services here are seasonal, running between April and October each year.
The airlines with the most flights landing at RHO are:
- Aegean Airlines – Greece's flag carrier, Aegean actually run some non-seasonal routes to Rhodes from Athens, but also plenty during the spring, summer, and autumn from cities across Europe and the Balkans in particular.
- Corendon Airlines – A Turkish airline that mainly focuses on short-haul links in from Germany.
- TUI – A family charter airline that has some of the most convenient seasonal links to Rhodes from UK airports.
All passenger ferries to Rhodes come into the Commercial Port in Rhodes Town. There are regular links to nearby islands in the Dodecanese chain that go during the day – think Symi (a popular day-trip option from Rhodes itself) and Kos. But that's not it. You can also hop on longer boats to get to Rhodes from:
- Athens – Taking 12-24 hours, usually overnight, this connection lets you swap the port in Piraeus for Rhodes's historic wonders in a single journey.
- Fethiye, Marmaris or Bodrum – Turkey is closer than mainland Greece, remember, so expect to be able to catch daily ferries from these riviera port towns. You will have to pass through passport control, though.
This Rhodes travel guide is a great starting point for anyone planning an island-hopping adventure through the Greek Aegean. If that's you and you're after more inspiration, be sure to get in touch!