Rhodes Island holidaysThe sample prices are per person based on two people travelling!
RHODES ISLAND HOLIDAYSGreece
The official language of the Greek island of Rhodes is Greek, with English spoken in all the major beach resorts.
Greece is a European Union and Eurozone member state, with the euro the official currency. As with most major Greek holiday destinations, currency exchange in Rhodes is via banks, licensed money exchange outlets and hotel front desks, although hotels generally offer the worst exchange rates. Major debit and credit cards are accepted at large venues of all types, although small shops, taxis and market stalls almost always prefer cash.
Visitors from other EU member states including the UK can enter Greece visa-free for an indefinite stay on production of a current passport. A similar facility is extended to nationals of the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, as well as a number of other countries. However, stays under this programme may only be for 90 days in a 180-day period. Nationals of countries not on the list should apply to their closest Greek embassy for a tourist visa.
The climate of Rhodes is especially suited to beach pursuits and is typically sunny and warm. July and August are the hottest months, with daytime highs of around 30°C and evenings cooled by sea breezes. December and January are the coldest months, with highs of around 15°C, and the later months of the shoulder seasons of spring and autumn are plenty warm enough to swim and sunbathe. December through February is the rainy period, with June through September seeing little or no rain.
Rhodes International Airport, located 14kms from Rhodes Town and the third busiest airport in Greece, is the aviation gateway for the holiday island. It has a passenger throughput of over four million, with most passengers arriving in the holiday season. Most of the routes are seasonal, and Ryanair, Thomas Cook and Thomson are the main carriers offering flights from the UK.
Flights from Rhodes Airport cover mostly European destinations, with the UK well-served by a number of budget and charter carriers. London-Gatwick hosts flights to Rhodes with EasyJet and Monarch, and London-Stansted offers a Ryanair flight. Thomas Cook flies from London-Gatwick and Thomson offers flights from London-Gatwick, London-Luton and London-Stansted. Other regional UK airports covered include Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester, Leeds/Bradford, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle and Liverpool. Typical flight time from London averages just over 3 hours.
The plethora of budget and charter carriers offering flights to Rhodes from the UK gives a good chance of off-season, last-minute and ticket sale savings. Regular checking of carriers’ websites and offers from local travel agents can reduce the price of a holiday to less than the normal flight price, and reductions in shoulder season hotel room rates means bargains can be bagged. Transport on the island is by bus, taxi or hire car.
The best way to travel to Rhodes without taking a flight is by train, bus and ferry via Thessaloniki in northern Greece. The Eurostar from London to Paris connects with the overnight sleeper express to Sofia in Bulgaria, with a bus journey taking travellers across the border to Thessaloniki for the ferry to Rhodes.
Rhodes is one of the largest of the Greek holiday islands, with getting around by bus, taxi, hire car or motorbike the only options as there’s no train service. Buses radiate out from Rhodes Town on a comprehensive network covering most of the beach resorts and places of interest. The historic centre of Rhodes Town is easily explored on foot and you’ll only need a taxi if you’ve dressed up for an upscale evening at the casino.
Bus is the most popular means of public transportation and there are two main bus companies serving the island, both of which are based in Rhodes Town. Roda’s blue buses to the east of the island run from Platteia Rimoni’s East Side bus station and KTEL’s yellow buses to the west of the island start from the Averof’s West Side bus station. Buses within Rhodes Town are also run by Roda, with the main bus stop located along the promenade opposite the new market. Bus travel on the island is inexpensive and reasonably comfortable, although buses are often late.
If you’re planning to tour around the smaller beachside resorts and historic sights of interest on the island, hiring a car makes good sense as it allows the freedom to go when and where you please without worrying about bus connections. Car rental can be arranged at the airport or most of the large hotels, and highways connecting the major destinations are well-maintained. Roads in the interior and south of the island, however, may be little more than dirt tracks.
The historic Old Town of Rhodes is still encircled by medieval walls and was a hub for the Crusader Knights Hospitaller of St John 600 years ago. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site for its fine state of preservation, and a visit here is a step back in time among landmarks and fascinating museums. Below the Old Town is Mandhraki Harbour with its yachts, ferry berths and pretty harbourside tavernas. The ancient Acropolis of Rhodes where the legendary Colossus of Rhodes once stood is a short journey outside town.
Cape Prasonisi is one of Rhodes’ most dramatic coastlines, set on a peninsula at the southern tip of the island. It’s connected by a sand bar, but only four-wheel drives can drive across as the sand, which becomes less solid halfway with inevitable consequences.
The island is rich in Crusader castles, and Filerimos Mount has the medieval remains of a monastery and magnificent views over the northern slopes. The highest peak on Rhodes is Mount Attavyros, a challenging climb but well worth it for the views of the unspoilt countryside. The trail is marked in red on the rocks.
Rhodes is famous for its beaches, with its eastern shores an almost continuous sandy stretch broken up by a few rocky promontories. Western beaches are stony, with the best surfing in the east, while the southern strands are the least developed. The Dodecanese archipelago has a great choice of offshore islands if you enjoy boat trips, with Kalymnos and Symi two charming examples.
For buzzing nightlife, the beach town of Faliraki is the place to head for, and the beautiful valley of Petaloudes is famous for its huge colonies of butterflies which swarm in July and August.
Rhodes is simply crammed with historic landmarks from medieval and earlier times, with the Old Town in Rhodes the place to begin. Here, you’ll find the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights Hospitaller of Rhodes and the Archaeological Museum displaying artefacts from the iconic era. The Archbishop’s Palace, the Church of the Annunciation and the lodging places of the knights are all part of one of the most significant eras in the island’s history. Around 10 per cent of the Old Town’s streets are laid out along the original Hellenistic street plan.
The designated historic settlement of Lindos is the most picturesque of all the island’s pretty towns, with its white-painted homes, charming little streets and lovely 15th century Byzantine Church of the Panagia. Towering above the town is the Greek Acropolis with its Sanctuary of Athena Lindos, one of three such Dorian citadels on the island.
The ruined acropolis at Kamiros is set on a hill and its valley at two levels, with the higher the place of temples and the lower still displaying aqueducts and ruined homes. Just over a kilometre away is Kritinias Castle, built in the 15th century.
On the eastern coast backing Laerma is the oldest still-functioning monastery on Rhodes. Tharri Monastery is well-worth a visit for its beautiful frescoes, and the monks make visitors welcome. Monolithos Castle is spectacularly set at the peak of a mountain overlooking the sea, and at Asklipio there’s a tiny church dedicated to medicine’s founding father Asklepios and the art of healing from ancient times up to the modern day.
For sheer natural beauty and peace, Seven Springs is 30kms from Rhodes Town and set in a pine-clad gorge crossed by trickling waterways and rustic bridges. Birders will love it here, and there’s the added bonus of wild peacocks.
The nightlife on Rhodes is one of the liveliest outside of Athens, with the resort complexes home to a good proportion of the total bars, pubs, clubs and other night-time haunts. In compact Rhodes Town, entertainment is easy to locate - just follow the neon lights and the noise, and take your pick. Rhodes New Town, unsurprisingly, is the hub for the young set, while more sedate visitors will find the back streets of the Old Town with their tavernas and traditional Greek music more to their liking.
Happenings along the harbour take place in the Café, and Galias near the New Market is a good spot, as are the streets behind Academy Square. The bar scene lines up in Diakonou in the New Town, and bars and clubs in the Old Town are found on Miltiadhou.
There are around 100 independent and hotel-linked nightclubs scattered around the island, meaning no-one looking for a riotous night out will be disappointed. Most nightspots don’t close until the early hours of the morning and there are usually taxis waiting outside.
Gambling is an ever-popular night out for Greeks, with the Casino Rhodos in the New Town’s Grand Albergo delle Rose offering roulette and blackjack as well as slots. You’ll need to be at least 23 years old to get in and don’t forget your passport.
If you’re overwhelmed by the Old Town, there’s a Son et Lumiere presentation most nights, telling the tale of a young, local man who joined the monastery just before Rhodes fell to Moorish hands. It’s set in the lush greenery below the palace and gives a nice sense of the island’s fascinating history.
There’s a lot more than taramosalata, tzatzikit, feta cheese and moussaka to the traditional Dodecanese islands cuisine, with recipes here making more use of spices than in the rest of Greece. Most traditional chefs in Rhodes keep a spice box containing ground peppercorns as well as other subtle flavourings based on Ottoman cuisine and the culinary remnants of other occupying nations over the centuries. Nevertheless, the basis of a great Greek meal is still the rich, Mediterranean olive oil and the products of its vineyards and farms.
Don’t be afraid to wander into your chosen taverna’s kitchen and see what’s on offer - it’s much more fun than squinting at a menu and the locals do it as a matter of course. As with most Mediterranean holiday destinations, eating where the locals eat in Rhodes is the route to a memorable meal. Unique dishes to try here include pitaroudia (chickpea croquettes), kapamas (oven-baked goat with white beans), soupiorizo (squid risotto), rifiki (rice-stuffed goat or lamb baked overnight in a clay pot) and salamogia (myzithra cheese with peppercorns in brine).
Everyone’s favourite for dessert istalagoutes (pancakes stuffed with honey, sesame seeds, walnuts and cinnamon), and the island’s light, sparkling wine is a regional speciality unique to the huge vineyards on the hillsides. If red wine is your favourite, Mandilaria is dark and fruity, and the family-run vineyards around the village of Embonas produce the local favourite, souma, as well as ouzo and delicious wines.
Most of the island’s restaurants in the tourist areas open in the evening between April and October, with tavernas open from lunchtime until late. Every meal ends with tiny cups of grainy, strong Greek coffee, in itself a reminder of the Turkish occupation of the island, and the milky glasses of aniseed-flavoured ouzo mixed with water.
For visitors staying in the tourism resorts, all the usual international food outlets, fast foods and British pub grub are available, as is street food along the beaches. But the best way to enjoy a stay here is to eat in the family-run tavernas and get to know the island’s people.
Most of the beaches on Rhodes have the EU Blue Flag, signifying crystal-clear waters and sparkling-clean sands. Elli Beach on the island’s northern tip is backed by towering hotels, a casino and an aquarium, and is the longest beach here. Swimmers and windsurfers will enjoy the Ialyssos beaches for their deeper waters and northerly winds, and the little, pine-backed coves along Kallithia boast rock pools and interesting rock formations. Faliraki Beach is known for its organised water sports, and the sea caves at Tragonou Beach are great for exploring. For naturist bathing in a picturesque location, Katharas Bay is perfect.
Greek islands and romance are synonymous, with Rhodes no exception to the rule. In spite of its coastal development, the island has many unspoilt, less-frequented spots where lovers can enjoy each other’s company away from the crowds and noise of mass tourism. The pretty coastal village of Archangelos is one such location, set on a wide bay that is backed by hills and boasting only a single hotel with a private beach. The southern part of the island is far less developed than its northern shores, with few hotels or water sports facilities, isolated beaches and no water parks or nightclubs.
The clean, mostly sandy beaches and safe seas along the northern coastline make Rhodes the ideal destination for a family holiday. All Greeks love children and watch out for them as they would their own. Faliraki Beach, although crowded in the summer, offers shallow waters and nearby fun facilities for children, including a Luna park and water park. For quieter surroundings, Agathi is good, and Koylmbia is a smaller, low-profile resort with family-friendly hotels and a great beach. A number of large resort hotels on the island offer kids’ clubs, play areas and kids’ pools, as well as babysitting.
Golfing, walking and endless water sports are the main outdoor activities on the island, with windsurfing and kite-surfing all-time favourites. Various outfits give beginner and advanced instruction in these watery sports, and for those who prefer being on the water rather than in it, sailing, yachting and fishing cruises are all available here. Walking, trekking and hiking along the island’s spectacular coastlines or in its lush, green interior opens up glorious vistas, ancient sites and tiny, traditional villages, and mostly involves dirt tracks linking villages and upland pastures.