The Greek Isle of Rhodes: Endless Beaches, Picturesque Villages
By Paul Joseph
Rhodes is an Island of understated attraction. Ask a neutral to recall a famous Acropolis and they will doubtless point you towards Athens. Enquire of a Greek party island and they are likely to respond with Mykonos or Cos.
Yet unbeknown to many, Rhodes boasts its own heritage site to rival the mainland capital, as well as its own hedonistic party town. Indeed, the ancient ruins of Lindos Castle and dusk-till-dawn pleasure zone of Faliraki represent the versatility of this enjoyable chunk of Greek Isle.
Moreover, there are endless beaches of golden sand, one of the most picturesque Old Towns in Europe, and a kaleidoscope of sensory catalysts in the shape of mountains, olive trees and vineyards. That, in a nutshell, is why you should go to Rhodes.
When to Go
Similarly to its neighboring islands, and indeed the mainland too, Rhodes enjoys a superb all-year-round climate and is popular with visitors throughout the seasons. If you’re planning an active trip, with plenty of walking and sight-seeing, you may want to avoid the peak months of June, July and August, when temperatures can soar into the 30s Celsisus (80-100 degrees Farenheit).
Good months to visit are April–May/ September–October, when you’re pretty much guaranteed sun, but without the debilitating heat of mid-Summer. The island is also relatively quiet during these periods, giving you a sense of space and tranquillity
Getting there and around
Rhodes is best reached by air. There are ferries from the mainland, but these can take up to half a day.
Rhodes Diagoras Airport connects to a vast number of European destinations, and is served by several low-budget European airlines including Easyjet, Ryanair, Thomas Cook and Thomson.
From the US, Continental runs flights from Newark, NY to Athens on the Greek mainland. Rhodes can be reached by domestic flight from Athens, or, as mentioned above, and if you can spare the time, ferry.
Once on the island, public buses run frequently from the airport to Rhodes Town until late. However, buses to the south of the island, including Lindos, stop after about 9 pm, so if you are landing late you may want to consider pre-booking a hotel transfer to avoid a hefty taxi fare (€75 to Lindos).
Alternatively, hiring a car is strongly recommended for anyone visiting Rhodes. There are 5-6 car rental desks located in arrivals at the airport, ranging from low-end to more renowned firms such as Hertz and Avis. We opted for Budget, and took a Nissan Micra for the whole week, costing us an affordable €150
Looming large over the stunning town of Lindos is an imposing Acropolis, used to defend the island against the Ottomans in the 14th Century. Whilst lacking the same aura of grandiosity of its Athens counterpart, Lindos’ answer is physically more striking. Even six centuries later, one can imagine the castle being used to fortify the town against its aggressors.
As an added bonus, the castle was also refreshingly free of the tat-peddlers that you usually find at any popular tourist site, while the panoramic views of the Aegean Sea offered each way you turned were simply breathtaking.
Best Unusual Attraction
At the very southern tip of the island is a remote town called Prasonisi. This is real Wild West territory, with a couple of shops and a petrol station the sum total of the amenities. The town has a long sandy beach that was utterly deserted when we visited
If this wasn’t enough of a novelty, we also discovered that you can actually walk across the sea to another island, also called Prasonisi. Of course, you can impress your friends back home by embellishing this five-minute, knee-deep amble until it resembles the story of Moses crossing the Red Sea!
Best Activity or Tour
Highly recommended is a tour of Siana, a small town on the west coast of the island, famous for its production of honey. Thanks to its relatively secluded position, miles from the hot spots of Rhodes Town and Lindos, it has remained delightfully free of commercial cynicism and ruthlessness.
At the rickety stalls that line the pavement, there were no hard sells; just simple people selling simple honey at simple prices. We were suitably enchanted, and bought up a few jars of the sweet stuff, as well as some tins of earthy, delicious olive oil that I’ve been cooking with every day since I returned.
For sheer value for money, you will do well to beat the five-star Mitsis Rhodos Village resort, located in the town of Kiotari, on the south of the island. This hotel is best suited for families and couples looking for a relaxing and affordable all-inclusive stay.
It is spread across a vast site with traditional rooms as well as apartments scattered throughout the resort. The hotel backs onto Kiotari beach which is unexceptional but adequate.
Here you can enjoy watersports, though these are not part of the all-inclusive deal. The beach bar serves up snacks, drinks and ice cream throughout the day (free to hotel guests).
Back at the hotel, there are three swimming pools to choose from, the nicest of which is the infinity pool at the top of the hotel, which backs onto a good-quality Italian restaurant complete with wood-fired oven.
While the five-star label would be considered generous in Britain or the US, this is still a good hotel and I recommend it.
The atmospheric Koykos café in Rhodes New Town was fantastic – and not just for the food. Street-facing window-ledge seats are a people-watcher’s dream, while inside is a cavernous maze leading to a quaint courtyard and terrace. Our waiter, despite being run off his feet, still found the time and energy to helpfully talk us through the menu.
Paul Joseph is a London-based writer and author. He has travelled extensively across North and South America, Israel and Europe. He is currently penning a nostalgic book on his home city called “Vanishing London.” Pictured is photographer Anna Chapman.