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Rhodes, Greece island guide - ultimate comb of history, class & heritage

I honestly did not expect Greece to amaze me again, after having visited Corfu, Lesvos, Patmos, Kos and Zakynthos already, which are all very quaint, each different and unique.

However my 6th Greek island turned out to be a historic, authentic, chic and cosmopolitan surprise, which I will happily show you in this Rhodes, Greece island guide.

Harbor fort in Rhodes Town Greece
Harbor fort in Rhodes Town

During my last trip with Corendon and my friend Martine, last month, I found that Rhodes has an abundance of heritage and history, but also a surprisingly big offering of trendy beach clubs and restaurants.

Most very stylishly decorated, and welcoming, with that authentic Greek vibe, yet without that hipster Ibiza attitude.

Rhodes is the largest of Dodecanese islands, and one of the most historic islands in Greece. It was a pioneer in Greek tourism as it was actively promoted as a tourist destination earlier than many other Greek islands.

It already attracted a lot of visitors early on, due to its historical significance, favorable climate and great infrastructure development, which explains its cosmopolitan vibe and welcoming community.

Impressive harbor of Rhodes Old Town
Impressive harbor of Rhodes Old Town

During the Italian occupation of Rhodes in the early 1900’s, significant investments were made in developing the island's infrastructure, including roads, hotels, and public buildings, which helped  a lot with post-World War II tourism growth. Rhodes was actively promoted as a tourist destination early on with organized tours and cruises visiting the island already by the mid-20th century.

How to get there?

To get to Rhodes you have several options. By air: many European cities offer direct flights to Rhodes International Airport (Diagoras Airport) or fly to a major Greek city like Athens or Thessaloniki and then take a domestic flight to Rhodes.

The Grandmaster's Palace in Rhodes Old Town Greece
Grandmaster's Palace in Rhodes Old Town from above

By sea: you can take a ferry from Piraeus, the port of Athens, to Rhodes. The journey takes around 12-15 hours and there are also ferries connecting Rhodes to other islands in the Dodecanese group and Crete. Travel times vary depending on the distance.

From the Netherlands you can fly there directly several times a week with airlines such as Easyjet, Transavia, Ryanair, Aegean Airlines and Corendon, sometimes with a short stopover on Athens or Kos, which takes about 4-4,5 hours.

For the best package deals, including flight, Corendon has an extensive well-priced offering, that you can find here: package deals

Mitsis Rodos Village Hotel in Kiotari - Greece
Mitsis Rodos Village Hotel in Kiotari

Things that make Rhodes stand out in Greece

Although I loved all Greek islands I visited so far, I found Rhodes quite unique compared to other Greek destinations for several reasons:

  • Historical significance: the medieval Old Town of Rhodes was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for good reason. The island has a blend of ancient Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and medieval European influences. The well-preserved medieval architecture is a distinctive feature.

  • The Old Town of Rhodes is exceptionally well-preserved and one of the largest of its kind in Europe, reflecting the period of the Knights of St. John. This makes it unique among Greek islands, which often focus more on ancient Greek history.

Street of the Knights Rhodes Old Town
Street of the Knights Rhodes Old Town
  • Strategic location: Literally set at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa, Rhodes had a significant trading and cultural role in history, which influenced its diverse cultural and architectural landscape.

  • Natural beauty and climate: Rhodes has one of the best climates in Greece, with over 300 sunny days a year, earning it the nickname "Island of the Sun." Its varied landscapes range from forests and wide plains to stunning beaches and rugged coastlines.

Anthony Quinn Bay Rhodes - Greece
Anthony Quinn Bay
  • Acropolis: Besides Rhodes Town, the ancient city of Lindos, with its impressive acropolis located strategically above town on a cliff, is so atmospheric. This imposing archeological site offers spectacular views over the town and a glimpse into ancient Greek civilization.

  • Blend of cultures: The island’s history of varied occupation, including the Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans, and Italians, has resulted in a unique mix of cultural influences, which can be seen and felt in the island's architecture, cuisine, and traditions.

The quaint backstreets of Rhodes Old Town - Greece
The quaint backstreets of Rhodes Old Town
  • Cosmopolitic modern life: Despite its rich history, Rhodes is a modern, vibrant place with bustling markets, a lively nightlife, stylish beach clubs, and many modern amenities as well.

Ronda Beach Club Rhodes Town - Greece
Ronda Beach Club Rhodes Town

Although I haven’t even seen half of the island during our 5 day visit, my friend Martine and I really enjoyed staying in Rhodes Old Town, as well as near Lindos, which provided the perfect combination of culture, heritage and exploration of the coastline and quaint towns.

Where to stay?

If you want to see more of the historic Old Town I would certainly advise to stay in Rhodes Town for at least 1-2 nights. When the sun goes down the squares fill up with people enjoying drinks and good food. The monuments are beautifully illuminated and the many restaurants, bars and beach clubs become even more atmospheric, with all the lights in the trees and on the ceiling, creating a festive vibe.

For the perfect location in Rhodes Town, within walking distance of the city center, but still in a quiet area, right along the beach, I can recommend:

Mitsis Grand Hotel Rhodes Old Town

This ultra all-inclusive 5 star hotel is the only 5* beachfront hotel in the city and offers all the facilities you need to enjoy Rhodes in style and comfort. We stayed here for 2 nights with free parking right in front of the hotel.

Unique features:

  • Mitsis Grand is just a short walk from the main tourist sites and Mandraki harbor. But a bus stop and many taxis are also just meters away.

  • The hotel is 5 story's high, with 405 rooms and enough elevators to get to them easily.

  • With several room types and suites to choose from, it has something for everyone. From garden to sea view or a suite with a separate living room and extra bathroom, in which we stayed and looks like this:

  • Mitsis Grand has 2 bars, an extensive buffet and 5 (a la carte) restaurants, of which I sampled the Italian restaurant. I found that it has an excellent menu and beautifully presented dishes, as you can see here:

  • It also offers a gym, Spa, 1 indoor and 2 outdoor pools with free sunbeds at the beach, just across the street, 10 meters away and is located very near many hip beach clubs.

Find even more info for your own stay and the best package rates for this hotel in Rhodes Town here: Grand Hotel Rhodes

Mitsis Rodos Village in Kiotari

For a stay near Lindos this recently refurbished ultra all-inclusive 5 star hotel is perfect.

It's very clean and contemporary, yet also authentic with a Greek village vibe, due to the architectural style and set up. We stayed here for 3 nights, also with free parking right in front of the hotel.

Unique features:

  • While Mitsis Rodos Village is still located about a 15 minute drive from Lindos, and near Kiotari, it’s set amidst a quiet nature area with direct sea views.

  • There is however enough to see and do in the hotel itself, with several lobbies, live music almost every night, a recreation team, extensive game room and kids club.

  • The main building is 3 story’s high, and is surrounded by 6 other buildings spread out over the complex, each only 2 story’s high with different rooms, either with a balcony, terrace and some even with their own pool or jacuzzi.

  • We stayed in a superior double sea view room in the main building, with balcony and direct sea view, that looks like this:

  • Mitsis Rodos Village has several bars, an extensive buffet and 6 a la carte restaurants, that can be reserved in advance, with different themes to choose from.

  • It also has a tennis court, beach volleyball court, a gym, several Spa’s and extensive wellness areas, 1 indoor and 2 outdoor pools with free sunbeds. Also the beach is just a short walk away, by crossing the bridge. With its own beach club, including plenty of free sunbeds and watersports offered.

Find everything you need to book your stay at Mitsis Rodos Village and the best package rates here: Rodos Village Rhodes

Rhodes, Greece island guide

The island is very diverse and quite big, but I will do my best to share all my recommendations based on my recent experiences with you, as always through many of my own pictures.

So far our favourite sightseeing spots, besides the stunning Unesco open-air museum, that is Rhodes Old Town with its Grand Master’s Palace, Street of the Knights and the Archaeological museum, were:

  • Anthony Quinn Bay, one of the most unique and photogenic beaches on Rhodes in my opinion. Of course the coast is filled with wide pebble and sometimes sand beaches, that are nice and photogenic. But the watercolor and atmosphere here was so special, with a unique lush setting, which makes it extra photogenic.

  • TIP: parking here is free and if you walk down, all the way to the right, you will find even more sun beds, which can't be seen from above. Kounna Beach & Resto Bar on the cliff, at the top of the stairs should not be missed for its delicious food, great atmosphere and very stylish design, as you can see here:

  • The highly photogenic Kalithea Springs, just 9 km from Rhodes town, with its art deco architecture, monumental status and spectacular wellness setting is a great place to visit. Accessible for a small fee of €5 p.p. and €2,50 for kids under 12. There's also a small beach, a café and great beach club, with views like this:

  • Quaint Koksinou village, very near Rhodes Town, is a must for its Instagrammable streets and colorful houses.

  • TIP: If you want to stay here overnight in an original 250 year old Greek home, this AirBnB from a local artist is a unique place to stay:

  • And of course Lindos is a must, with its authentic white streets, bougainvillea and many cute shops, and the impressive acropolis on the cliff! Get an impression of the beauty of Lindos in this gallery:

  • TIP: to avoid the heat and the crowds climb the steps to the acropolis just before closing time, as it is open from 8 am - 8 pm! This way you will be there for sunset, which makes the site even more spectacular and photogenic.

  • Also make sure to buy your tickets online here in advance for €16 p.p. to avoid the line at the entrance.

  • A sail boat tour from Lindos will provide you with stunning perspectives of the southeast coastline, which I really enjoyed. See for yourself why in this gallery:

  • For a real Greek and unique gastronomic dinner experience, authentic Hellas restaurant in nearby Pefkos is also highly recommended. A true culinary feast with a modern twist and that pure Greek hospitality, executed so well by the creative owners, that won several awards for good reason! Get an impression here and reserve your spot on their website.

  • For lunch or dinner in Rhodes Town Pizanias Seafood Restaurant is a must for its authentic Greek food, served in a lovely quiet setting on one of the many squares in the back streets of the historic town.

  • Ronda beach club in Rhodes, as well as the historic Old Town, with its multitude of quaint restaurants, buzzing bars and nightlife, should not be missed either.

For all my favourite spots and must visits in Rhodes Town see this Reel with short travel guide, that includes my top 10 tips for the Old Town.

Of course many other islands have a similar offering, with that authentic Greek vibe, beautiful nature and interesting archeological sites. For more Greek island inspiration check my Greece page.

I do however hope that this Rhodes island guide, with many beautiful sites, insiders tips and reasons that make this island different opposed to the rest of Greece, has convinced you of Rhodes' unique character with its nice combination of culture, heritage, history, gastronomy, class and natural beauty.


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