Spring Destination: Rhodes, the Island of the Knights

With its rich medieval history, warm climate and vibrant nature and villages, there are few places better to be in spring than on Rhodes.


TOP REASONS TO VISIT:

1. A stroll through the medieval town

Walking through this part of the town is like being in a living, open-air museum and the list of sights is long. Before the summer heat sets in, take a walk from one end of the Old Town to the other. The city contained within the old fortifications is the largest active medieval town in Europe with over 6,000 inhabitants and a complex mix of architectural styles from different eras in Rhodes’s history.

Entering the old city you will pass the medieval moat that is 12 meters deep and full of wild flowers. Extending for 2.5 km around the old city walls, it is a popular place for strolls, runs, and cultural activities in the warm spring weather.

Inside the old city, starting from the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights walk along the Street of the Knights, where you will still see coats of arms on the elegant facades of the houses. At the end of the route you can visit the Hospital of the Knights, which now houses the Archaeological Museum of Rhodes.

2. The Incredible Nature Walks

This is Rhodes in all its glory. Visit the famous Valley of Butterflies, even if it’s too early in the year for the thousands of winged beauties that take refuge here and give the nature reserve its name.

A walk among ponds crossed by romantic bridges under the dense canopy is an utter delight, and if you make it as far as the Monastery of Kalopetra, you will be rewarded with a panoramic view of Rhodes. The valley is a paradise of twittering birds, peacocks, rushing waters and winding trails. Your ultimate destination is the Seven Springs. Once you pass the natural spring in Salakos, a lovely path will take you to the top of Profitis Ilias in under a half-hour.

3. The bicycle rides

Whether you are an experienced mountain biker or just looking for a leisurely ride along the coast, this island has something for you.

On a mountain bike, explore the dense Monolithos forest on the western coast. Alternatively, for the less adventurous, an easy coastal route takes you from the main town to nearby Ialysos. For a 100% Rhodean experience, rent one of the handmade Fidusa bicycles that have been constructed on the island for the last 31 years (www.rhodosbicyclerental.gr). 

4. Touring the villages

The exploration of the inland area begins 10 km from the city, in the village of Koskinou: a labyrinthine settlement of houses with multicolored facades. In the south-western part of the island, you will find wineries at Ebonas producing Greek and international wines. The largest is Emery (tel. +30 22410.291.11), but the family-run wineries of Kounaki, Merkouris and Alexandris are also well worth a visit.

South-east in Archangelos, anyone who climbs up to light a candle at the Monastery of Panagia Tsambika will be awed by the rocky outcrops. On the way there, it’s worth stopping at the Faethon Association, which works to protect a local breed of miniature horses.

In Lindos, you can make your way to the castle on a donkey or, if your not up for it, hang back and wait for your friends to return while sipping Rhodes’s own VAP brand lemon soda.

EASTER IN RHODES

Vourna and kalafounos are two of the key words associated with Easter on the Island of the Knights. Just as in the rest of Greece, here tradition meets nature at its most vibrant.

Kalafounos is the fire that is set to burn the effigy of Judas. Young people light it on Holy Thursday and they must keep it going until at least the Resurrection on Saturday night. The fires illuminate the corners, alleyways and church courtyards all over the island, marking time until the big religious event.

Meanwhile, the vourna tradition lasts from Holy Saturday to Easter Monday and involves a trough of water into which any unmarried young man will be forced to fall if he refuses to pay a penalty.

MINI GUIDE

GETTING THERE

You can travel to Rhodes by boat from the Port of Piraeus on Blue Star Ferries; tickets start at €102 round-trip. Aegean Airlines also operates flights from Athens at an average cost of €115 round-trip.

ACCOMMODATION

Saint George Studios (tel. +30 22410.335.93). Attractive studio accommodation in the Old Town. From €40 for a double room. • Evdokia (tel. +30 22410.770.77). Family-run hotel in a renovated 13th century building in the center of town. From €49 for a double room. • Elafos and Elafina (tel. +30 22410.448.08). For a stay in the heart of nature, in a historical Italianate complex in Profitis Ilias. From €60 for a double room.

FOOD

Tamam (tel. +30 22710.735.22, ). Creative cuisine in the town center. • Palios Monolithos (tel. +30 22460.612.76), a traditional taverna where goat is slow-cooked for 20 hours located in the village of Monolithos.

Pasatebos (tel. +30 6947.154.641). A restaurant-ouzerie in Maritsa village.


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