Is Rhodes worth visiting? We’re here to answer precisely that question. No matter if you’re planning a month-long island-hopping itinerary through the Greek Aegean or a fly-in weekend to party the night away in Faliraki with the crew, this guide has you covered. It will showcase nine of the top reasons why Rhodes should be on your radar this year, so you can weigh it up against all of the other awesome isles in this sun-kissed corner of the Med.
Rhodes is by far the largest and one of the westernmost of the Dodecanese islands, spread between Greece and the coast of Turkey, which is actually just 11 miles away at the closest point. The isle itself is shaped like an ancient arrowhead. There are wild and soaring mountains on its north edge, the mystical peak of Attavyros crowning the lot. There are shimmering beaches stringing its shoreline on the east, along with charming Greek towns filled with summertime bars and tavernas and even UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Tempted? Yea, we would be too! There’s no doubt that Rhodes remains one of the biggest draws in the Aegean, and it’s got some things that really help it stand out from the crowd. Let’s dive right in, shall we?
Rhodes has been inhabited since the Neolithic age. Later, it was a stronghold of Mycenean Greeks and even featured in the allied forces in Homer’s Iliad as participants in the epic Trojan War. However, Rhodes’s ancient golden age didn’t come until after 300 BC, when the island rose to become a major grain trading hub in the aftermath of the Macedonian Empire. That’s when the now-disappeared Wonder of the Ancient World, the Colossus of Rhodes, dominated the harbor here, hitting a height equal to the Statue of Liberty!
Today, you’re actually more likely to encounter relics of Rhode’s Byzantine and medieval past. The great 1479 Asklepieion fortress or the Feraclos citadel are both examples of that. But neither can prepare you for the eye-watering Collachium and the Old Town of Rhodes. They’re UNESCO World Heritage pedigree, famed as a onetime bastion of Christianity on the edge of the erstwhile Ottoman Empire.
There are a whopping 42 individual beaches on Rhodes. Let that sink in for a moment – 42! To put it into perspective, Mykonos has just 21 and Milos fewer still, yet both of those are considered hotspots for lovers of Greek coves and sands. To put it simply: Is Rhodes worth visiting for the beaches alone? Yes!
The best beaches of the lot tend to string along the east coast. At least, that’s the most popular part of the island for sun worshippers. The north is more rugged, wild and, deserted. There are a few lovely runs of powder near Rhodes Town (check out much-loved Ixia Beach) and around the resort of Lindos (Limanaki Agios Pavlos is our fav) which always get busy in the high season. Other must-laze beaches on Rhodes include:
- Ladiko Beach – A celeb hotspot that has ultra-clear water for snorkeling and swimming.
- Agathi Beach – Wide and spacious with awesome views of the coastal mountains on Rhodes.
- Prassonissi Beach – Often very windy but surely one of the most dramatic beaches on Rhodes. Fantastic for windsurfers, too. Drone shots look spectacular if you can wait for the winds to stop.
The natural side of things
As one of the larger of the Greek islands, Rhodes has plenty of little nooks and crannies for the more adventurous traveler to explore. If that’s you, be sure to pack the hiking boots because you’ll find oodles of awesome trails ringing the backcountry. One of the best goes to the soaring top of Attavyros at a whopping 1,250 meters up, where the views of the Rhodian shoreline and the other Dodecanese Islands is nothing short of breathtaking.
Another highlight of wilder Rhodes is the so-called Valley of the Butterflies. Set in cleft in the mountains south of Theologos, it hosts pockets of moss-clad Zitia trees. They draw in pretty quadripunctaria poda butterflies in the late summer months, which turn the whole place a symphony of black and white shades. Butterflies aside, it’s a simply lovely place to be, with trickling streams and wooden bridges arching over natural ponds.
Is Rhodes worth visiting for the nightlife alone? The thousands of loyal revelers who return to this isle year on year certainly seem to think so. There’s really one resort that stands out from the crowd: Faliraki. A short 25-minute transfer from Rhodes Town, this is the island’s answer to Benidorm and Magaluf. It pulses with life from May to August. The main Bar Street is the one to hit. There, you get all sorts, from pumping karaoke dives to raucous Irish Pubs.
For something a little more chilled, you could opt for the taverna scene in Rhodes Town. There are plenty to get through, but Taverna Kostas and the Caldera Taverna Bar are two of our favs. They showcase the best of the Dodecanese kitchen, which means fresh-off-the-boat seafood, mezze dishes, and a hint of Turkish cooking to boot.
Rhodes has one of the best climates in the whole of Greece – and that’s really saying something. It’s tucked further south and further east into the depths of the Aegean Sea than a lot of the other vacation mainstay islands, from Mykonos to Santorini. That helps to keep it protected from autumn and winter storm systems known as medicanes, which are less likely to ravage this corner of the country with rains and cold temps from September to December.
On top of that, the low latitude helps to keep the mercury nice and high. It’s possible to enjoy days well into the 70s throughout November here, so there’s a long beach season, although the good news is that the sun-seeking crowds all but disperse come the end of August.
One thing to watch out for is when the northerly winds switch to southerly winds. It can happen on occasion in the middle of the Rhodian summer, and will bring up warm air from the Sahara. That’s when things get really hot – like over 110 F sorta’ hot!
The hotels – Is Rhodes worth visiting for the places you can stay?
Rhodes is about half the size of Crete but gets roughly the same number of annual visitors (5 million/year) as its compadre island in the southern Med. That puts it up there with the most popular islands in the eastern Aegean. That, in turn, means there’s sure to be a fantastic array of hotels and places to stay…
And there is. Booking.com reveals that Rhodes has all sorts. From huge family resorts with central swimming pools and sunbeds dotting the gardens to boutique B&Bs that promise to whisk you off to the countryside and the mountains, there’s a mezze of accommodation choices to suit all budgets and travelers here.
Generally speaking, you should look to the east coast resorts of Lindos and Kalathos, or the run of sand south of Rhodes Town, if you want more developed hotels. The mountains and the north coast have the rustic stays, while Faliraki is for the party goers. Be sure to check out the following hotels, which we think are the crème-de-la-crème of what Rhodes has to offer:
- Atrium Palace Thalasso Spa Resort And Villas ($$$) – Treat yourself to some pampering in this lux resort, which has a huge infinity pool set in palm-topped gardens near Lindos.
- Bouganville Bed & Breakfast Stegna ($$) – Understated luxury awaits at the Bouganville Bed & Breakfast, which has a stunning pool perched on a cliff above the east coast.
- Rhodes Backpackers Boutique Hostel ($) – A proper backpacker hostel in the hubbub of Rhodes Town, with wallet-friendly prices and a great buzz for younger travelers.
Rhodes’s traditional Greek villages
Something special happens when you ditch the much-traveled coastline of Rhodes and head for the hills. The scenery changes to rugged, dusty peaks dotted with gnarled olive trees and grape vines. The endless rows of white-painted holiday cottages drop away and untouched villages wrought in rough stone start to cap the ridges, looking just the same as they did five centuries ago, no doubt.
What’s great about Rhodes is that the traditional character and heritage of those places is still very much alive and kicking. You’ll encounter it in the eateries and the festivals, the people and the churches, as you explore. Some of the top spots to visit on this jaunt off the beaten path on Rhodes include:
- Mesanagros – A 13th-century village with a haunting church that was built to escape pirates on the Med. There’s a big religious festival here in autumn.
- Archangelos – A pretty village with an Orthodox church that’s known for its breadmaking near Lindos.
- Eleousa – There’s a strange nostalgia for Italy in this handsome village up in the lush mountain valleys, where water babbles from the fountains and the pace of life slows.
This one goes for pretty much anywhere in Greece, because the food of this land on the Med is one of the tastiest bouts of cuisine in Europe. Rhodes itself channels a unique blend of classic Aegean cooking and mixes that with flavors from the east, thanks mainly to its proximity to Asia Minor and Turkey, which is just over the strait – and can even be seen on clear days.
As such, starters on this island are known as mezethes, and they include spice-topped eggplant baked in the oven and doused with oil and yoghurt. There’s meliasti, a mix of grilled feta cheese with lashings of honey and toasted sesame. There’s ouzomezes, which are a little like the aperitivo of Italy – AKA, small, salty plates designed to match your evening tipple.
Don’t be shy when ordering in a Rhodian taverna. The locals aren’t. Big, long lunches are the order of most weekends and folks will take five, six, seven dishes for just one person. It’s all best matched with a wine from the island, which actually enjoys some of the longest heritage of any in Greece – it’s been cultivated here for thousands of years.
Because it’s got something for everyone
Rhodes is one of those islands that can cater to a whole range of types of travelers. It’s not an out-out-out party mecca like Ios, but it does offer parties in Faliraki and Rhodes Town. You won’t spend your days solely exploring incredible beach coves like you would in Milos, but there are eye-watering inlets for snorkelers and swimmers all along the southeast coast.
Add in the wondrous hiking paths that really come to life up in the highland part of the island – around the Butterflies Valley and at Apollona – along with the host of rustic villages that are a world away from the buzzy family resorts of the shoreline, and you begin to get a picture of an island that can cater to pretty much all sorts of holidaymaker.
That’s bolstered by the fact that Rhodes is super easy to get to when compared to many other isles across the Aegean Sea and the Dodecanese chain in particular.
Because it’s easy to get to
Of all the islands in the far south-eastern Dodecanese chain, Rhodes is arguably the easiest of all to get to. The obvious thing is that it has its very own international airport. What’s more, said airport is actually the fourth busiest in the whole of Greece, catering for 1.5 million passengers in a normal year.
That means you should find that there are plenty of connections heading in from a real variety of places. And it’s true: Air France comes from Paris, British Airways from London, Finnair from Helsinki, Swiss from Zurich. On top of that, there are LOADS of low-cost carriers now in the running to boot, offering short-haul links that won’t break the bank to any number of EU cities. The only downside is that the vast majority of flights are seasonal, going only between May and October.
Those who don’t like to fly will also be glad to hear that Rhodes is connected by overnight ferry to Piraeus port in Athens. There are also international ferry links coming across from Fethiye and Bodrum in Turkey!
Is Rhodes worth visiting to see nearby islands and sights? You bet! There’s so much to get through in this wonderful corner of the eastern Mediterranean. What’s more, Rhodes is the hub of the lot. It’s got the biggest airport in the region and also acts as the main boat port to boot, which means everything from short-haul ferries to multi-day yacht charters is likely to start in Rhodes.
Some places really stand out from the crowd. The beautiful Dodecanese Islands simply can’t be missed. Of those, Symi is the jewel in the crown. It’s got a pastel-painted Venetian harbor town that tumbles into a sloshing bay with creaking windmills on the hills overhead. The ferry there will take just over an hour and cost $80 USD return with a car. They leave from the port north of Rhodes Town.
Another option offers a little bit more adventure: The cross to Marmaris in Turkey. That boat-bobbing, beer-sloshing riviera town is within a day’s sailing of Rhodes. There are organized trips that will whiz you over the Aegean early on for shopping tours of the promenade and a Turkish breakfast in the beachside bars. Lovely.
So, Is Rhodes worth visiting?
Is Rhodes worth visiting? This is an island of rock-spotted beaches, coral gardens that bloom with life, half-ruined ancient temples, bumping nightlife resorts, and top-quality hotels overlooking the Aegean Sea. Why wouldn’t it be worth visiting? We’d say try to plan your trip for spring and fall to avoid the biggest crowds, and try to leave time to do some explorations further afield than just Rhodes itself, as the island of Symi and the Turkish coast are both within reach.
When is the best time to visit Rhodes?
For us, the spring and the fall are the top times to visit Rhodes. They bring great weather – a little chillier than the super-hot summer – but also mean fewer crowds and cheaper prices in the hotels and for flights. The midsummer is great but can be very hot, especically when you get south winds coming up from Africa.
What’s the best town in Rhodes?
That depends what you’re after. Rhodes Town is the main base of the island and it’s home to many of the most famous historical sites. Faliraki is the party hub, coming alive with 18-30s and shot drinkers from May to August. Then there’s Lindos, which is a the jet-setter, luxury, and family enclave of the isle, and a great base for seeing the mountains and the south coast beaches.