If you want to holiday in style, then Rhodes, the Island of the Knights, is the perfect choice. Rhodes is the largest island of the Dodecanese and the fourth largest island in the Aegean Sea. It lies on the crossroad of the Mediterranean Sea and Turkey’s coastline.
Rhodes has a long history and culture. You will discover the modern and cosmopolitan Rhodes City, which is the capital of the island, with imposing public buildings, large tree-lined streets, luxury hotels and a shopping center that is constantly full of life.
In the medieval part of the city, time seems to have stopped some centuries ago: cobbled streets, arches and arcades, museums, ruins of ancient temples, the Knight’s houses, all under the shadow of the Palace of the Grand Masters, which was built at the highest point of the city.
Rhodes Island, however, is much more than Rhodes City. The best way to explore more of the island is to rent a car and drive around the coast, swim at its magnificent beaches, see the beauty of nature and visit the island’s picturesque settlements.
Discover the historic medieval city
Rhodes City is a bridge between the present and the past; a city that combines the glorious medieval past of the island with its modern and cosmopolitan development till today. Rhodes Old Town, the largest medieval town in Europe, is one of the main attractions of the island and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the largest and best preserved fortified city in Europe with many monuments from Hellenistic, Byzantine, medieval and Ottoman times.
The main attractions in the Old Town are the medieval castle, the Castle of the Knights, the Old Clock and the Acropolis, where you will find numerous ancient monuments such as the Temple of Zeus and Athena, the Temple of Apollo and the stadium.
Here you will find many cheap dining options as well. Try Marco Polo restaurant at Ag. Fanouriou street 40-42 in Rhodes City for creative Greek and Mediterranean cuisine served on a beautiful green terrace. Have in mind that reservations are necessary, since the terrace is small. Prices range around 25-30 EUR (28.4-34.1 USD) per person.
Do not miss a visit to this area at night, when the castle is lit and the picturesque, narrow, cobblestone streets are under the moonlight.
The Valley of the Butterflies: a unique place for nature lovers
Located 26 km (16.15 miles) southwest of Rhodes City, the Valley of the Butterflies hosts thousands of colorful butterflies where they lay their eggs and reproduce. They gather in the valley during the summer months (best months to visit are from July to September) and offer a memorable spectacle to visitors.
Entrance costs 5 EUR (5.69 USD) and the Rhodes Natural History Museum operates at the entrance, where the visitor can see rare butterfly species of the area, their reproductive cycle and learn interesting things about the butterfly lifecycle.
However, the adventure begins with a peaceful walk in a specially designed trail with wooden bridges, ponds, small waterfalls and lakes with water lilies inside a forest dominated by butterflies. Do not forget to take along your camera, because the Valley of the Butterflies is perhaps one of the most fascinating parts of Greece. It is an ideal excursion for nature lovers and families.
See historic Filerimos
Filerimos is one of the main attractions of the island. It is located in the northwestern part of Rhodes and you should go by car. Traveling to Filerimos by bus is complicated since it is a park area. As soon as you park your car in the parking lot, you’ll see the Monastery of Filerimos.
This monastery is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and was built in the 13th century by a monk who arrived in Rhodes from Jerusalem holding a miraculous image of the Virgin Mary. During the Ottoman Empire, the monastery was destroyed and restored during the Crusades, when it was occupied by the Knights (1930).
Just opposite of the monastery is the entrance to the the so-called Calvary. It is a stone walkway with trees on both sides and every few meters there are bronze engravings that depict the suffering of Jesus and his ascent at Calvary. At the end of the road, you will find a huge 18 m tall cross (59 ft), in which you can climb via an internal winding staircase.
The view from up there is breathtaking, you’ll see pines, cypress trees, oaks, olive trees and beaches, small villages and green parks all around. Entrance is free and it only takes very short time. You can combine this excursion with a swim at the nearby beach of Ialyssos.
Swim at Anthony Quinn Bay
Located in the small, picturesque and quiet cove on Vayes Bay, this is considered one of the most beautiful and quiet beaches of Rhodes Island. It is located 15 km (9.32 miles) southeast of Rhodes City. The name of the beach was used by the film “The Guns of Navarone” that was filmed on this beach in 1961 and the actor Anthony Quinn was so charmed by this tiny bay that he wanted to buy it.
Anthony Quinn Bay is of exceptional beauty, surrounded by a spectacular rocky formation, pine trees and crystal clear waters, making it ideal for lovers of scuba diving. It is about 250 meters (820 ft) long and consists of fine sand and pebbles.
The most beautiful spot is the rock in the center of the bay, where you will find sun beds with umbrellas to relax (the cost is 8 EUR (9.1 USD) per set) and a canteen on the top of the rock for refreshments. Have in mind that the beach is not ideal for families with young children, because of sharp rocks in and out of the sea. This beach is easy to access by car and by boat.
Kalithea Springs: famous antique thermal spas
Kalithea Springs, also known as Therme Kalithea, are thermal spas famous in antiquity for their healing capability. They are located inside a beautiful Oriental style building with a long history dating back to 1929. By the time you enter the impressive entrance, you’ll admire a round fountain.
Going up the stairs, you reach the second entrance that leads to the main staircase, which is covered on both sides with columns that support the canopy that are full of flowers. Going up even more stairs, you will find the 14 m (~46 ft) high dome constructed to allow the natural light to pass through the blue stained glass dome. Thermal spas are located inside the building but are not active anymore.
In specially designed rooms there are periodic art exhibitions, a permanent photo exhibition showing the past and present of Kalithea Springs and there are often several cultural and artistic events like festivals and concerts. Next to the monument, you can enjoy crystal clear waters for swimming at the picturesque bay with unique natural beauty. Enjoy a refreshment at the cafeteria overlooking the beach after your dive. Kalithea Springs is a place of exceptional architecture, historic value and a big tourist attraction nowadays.
During the summer months, the waters of the bay are really crowded so either go early in the morning or late in the afternoon. The building is open from 8 am to 8 pm and the admission fee is 3 EUR (3.37 USD) until 4 pm and after that time it is free.
Spend an afternoon at Lindos
Lindos is an ancient city of Rhodes Island, located 49.88 km (31 mi) southeast of the capital. It is considered the jewel of Rhodes and perhaps the most picturesque town of the island as it is built on the hill of the ancient Acropolis.
While walking the town’s narrow streets, you will discover old historic mansions, souvenir shops, restaurants and cocktail bars. Choose to eat at Maria’s tavern for local cuisine or at Broccolino for amazing Italian cuisine. Do not forget to climb up the Acropolis, from where you can admire the ancient temple and the towers.
Cosmopolitan holiday on Rhodes, the historic island
Rhodes Island has fantastic nightlife, amazing beaches, great shopping streets and important historic and cultural heritage. It is called the Knight’s Island as during the Crusades it was inhabited by Knights and became a really important port. From that period, Rhodes inherited its majestic medieval castle and the Castle of the Knights that dominates the picturesque Old Town.
For nature lovers, Valley of Butterflies will amaze you. The beaches on the island are truly amazing; especially exceptional is Anthony Quinn Bay that is ideal for snorkeling. Filerimos will show you a small part of Orthodox Christianity, while at Kalithea Therme you see the old building of therapeutic waters and swim at the beautiful bay. At last, an excursion to Lindos is a must as it is so lovely and picturesque you will fall in love with it.
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