Despite being best known for mass tourism, in recent years Rhodes has been offering a greater variety of exclusive experiences. Avoid busy Sokratous street in the Old Town, and instead visit the Street of the Knights in the evening hours. Avoid the better-known beaches and drive south – the further south, the fewer crowds you will encounter. Pick your accommodation depending on the kind of holiday you have in mind, head for the hinterland, and discover the island’s many different faces.
1. A stay with medieval hues
The Old Town is quite busy and developed, but there are many quiet corners where you can truly enjoy the atmosphere. Here you will find two boutique guest houses, totally in harmony with the spirit of the medieval architecture and décor.
The 700-year-old building housing Marco Polo Mansion preserves the imprint of all the nations which passed through Rhodes’ Old Town. The floors are the work of the Italians, while Mehmet Aga, who lived here, left the small Ottoman-style windows and the hamam. Brightly colored painted ceilings, old wooden doors, carefully selected furniture and a beautiful internal yard, where dinner is served, complete the experience.
Kokkini Porta also has a rich history on display: from a knight’s house in 1350 to the home of the Muslim teacher in 1700, to a carpenter’s workshop in 1912 to a derelict building in 2008, it has been restored with great care and respect for its identity. The Deniz suite has a great view from the sahnisi, the covered wooden terrace.
Marco Polo Mansion: Aghiou Fanouriou 40-42, Tel. (+30) 22410.25562, marcopolomansion.gr, from 80 euros for a double room, including breakfast.
Kokkini Porta: Arch. Efthimiou 24, Kokkini Pyli, Tel. (+30) 22410.75114, kokkiniporta.com, from 375 euros a night for a 2-person suite with breakfast.
2. Fit on vacation
From pilates and beach volleyball to evening tennis and aerial yoga. Gennadi Grand Resort is ideal for those who don’t want to give up their fitness routine on holiday. The resort has three large open-air swimming pools, which also offer aqua aerobics classes, an indoor pool, a gym with treadmills and weights, while for an extra charge guests can hire a personal trainer, and go on hiking and mountain biking tours.
Gennadi Grand Resort: Gennadi, Tel. (+30) 22440.43043, gennadigrandresort.com, from 200 euros for a double bedroom with breakfast.
3. Historical luxury
It was named “the big hotel of the roses” after the colorful rose garden that surrounded it. The Governor of the Dodecanese commissioned its construction by a Venetian firm, and the hotel opened its doors in 1927. Since then, prominent visitors to the island, from Eleftherios Venizelos and Winston Churchill to Aristotle Onassis and Andreas Papandreou have stayed at the Grande Albergo delle Rose. A complete renovation undertaken in 2002 was like a rebirth for the hotel.
All rooms and suits exude an air of gentility, while they come equipped with a jacuzzi, Bulgari body care products and 24-hour room service.
Grande Albergo delle Rose: G. Papanikolaou 5, Rhodes, Tel. (+30) 22410.97400, gadr.gr, from 250 for a double room with breakfast.
4. Hi-tech situations
The top floors of the Rodos Palace hotel from the 7th to the 17th floor host rooms and suites built on the abav2 concept. Large sea view windows and modern design offer exclusive privileges and hi-tech convenience: ultra-fast WiFi, touch-panel light, temperature and humidity controls, smart TV. Even the showers are controlled through a touch panel.
Rodos Palace hotel: Leof. Iraklidon (Trianton), Ixia, Tel. (+30) 22410.97222, rodos-palace.gr, from 160 euros with breakfast.
5. Rejuvenation and well-being
Deep facial rejuvenation with aloe, relaxing massage with essential oils, reflexology for tired feet and many other treatments are offered at the spa of the Mayia Exclusive Resort & Spa. The indoor heated pool and jacuzzi are just what’s needed for the first days of your vacation, to help you shed your everyday stress.
Mayia Exclusive Resort & Spa: Kiotari, Tel. (+30) 22440.40100, mayiaresort.com, from 350 euros for a double room, all-inclusive.
6. A day in Lindos
It could well be the main town of a Cycladic island. Lindos, with its white houses and the acropolis perched on the top of the hill, offers an almost barren, lunar landscape bathed in the summer sun. The temperature rises considerably in the summer months, and the truth is there not much shade to be found. Start from the spa of the Caesars Gardens hotel, a true haven of cool. Pools, moisturising treatments, massage and thalassotherapy will revive you until late afternoon. Sunset is the ideal hour to wander the little alleys of Lindos.
At the Cozze Champagne Rooftop Cocktail Bar you can enjoy a view of the village and the sea while sipping a glass of champagne or a well-made cocktail.
Caesars Gardens hotel: Tel. (+30) 22440.31537, caesarsgardens.com, spa sessions start at 50 euros.
Cozze Champagne Rooftop Cocktail Bar: Tel. (+30) 6944.454.234, cozzechampagne.com.
7. Avant-garde Rhodian cuisine
This is how Executive Chef Giorgos Troumouhis and his team describe the dishes served at Noble Gourmet Restaurant. Perched on the top floor of the Elysium Resort & Spa in Kallithea, you will enjoy the unbelievable view and a tasting menu inspired by local ingredients and the Rhodian cooking tradition, made using contemporary techniques and a fresh gaze. Highlights include pitaroudia (chickpea fritters) and salt cod with roe.
Noble Gourmet Restaurant: Elysium Resort & Spa, Tel. (+30) 22410.45700, elysium.gr.
8. There is only one Mavrikos
The Dodecanese were still under Italian rule when Mavrikos first opened its doors. In the cobbled courtyard with its arches and mulberry trees you will taste award-winning dishes, which are traditional with a creative touch. The food has the same nobility and gentility as the owners and staff. Choose wine from local wineries, served at a fair price.
Mavrikos: Lindos, Tel. (+30) 22440.31232.
9. Meze at sunset
On the coastal road, KoumbaRaki is the very definition of a good meze place. Fresh fried red mullet, cuttlefish in its ink, grilled calamari, a wide choice of ouzo and tsipouro. The ideal time to visit is at sunset, when you can enjoy the view of the sun diving into the sea.
KoumbaRaki: Akti Miaouli 20, Rhodes, Tel. (+30) 6944-310305.
10. An 89-year-old fish taverna
The Koza family has been serving seafood by the sea on Stegnon beach since 1932. Today, the third generation continues the tradition, keeping the freshness of the ingredients and adding new ideas such as monkfish in beer batter served on a beetroot purée, or grilled shrimp served with boiled potatoes and tartare sauce. Don’t miss the cuttlefish and rice, seafood spaghetti and smoked octopus. The bonus is a long wine and ouzo list.
Koza: (Stegnon beach, Tel. (+30) 22440.22632.
11. Tasty and healthy
From rice bowls and vegetables to whole grain pasta and vegan burgers. Soul Kitchen offers light cuisine with plenty of choices and no discount on taste. Try roast chicken with kale, sweet potato and corn, or black lentil salad with cherry tomatoes, orange and fennel. The menu also offers breakfast and brunch options, smoothies and drinks, also available for delivery.
Soul Kitchen: Lemessou 34, Rhodes, Tel. (+30) 22413.06830, open 10:30-23:30, except Sundays.
12. The springs at Kallithea
The 1st of July 1929 was a very hot day on Rhodes. This did not prevent the baths at Kallithea from holding a grand opening in the presence of the Italian King Victor Emmanuel. The Italians were the first to recognise the healing properties of the natural springs, and the beauty of the surrounding landscape, and for this reason the buildings follow the notion of “architectura naturale,” which harmonises with the natural environment. Wander through the cobbled atria, walk down to the beach, and visit a photo exhibit tracing the history of the baths.
Unfortunately, access to the springs is not available at present as the facilities are scheduled for renovation.
Kallithea Springs: Tel. (+30) 22410.65564, open 08.00-18.00, 5 euros.
13. Satisfying beach life
Most beaches on the island are long and sandy, particular in the south. Closer to town, choose Afantou for sheer length – however many people there are you will always find a free spot. A little before you get there, Traganou has fine pebbles and several caves. On the same side, and a little closer to town, is Anthony Quinn beach. Its pine trees, pebbles and azure waters made the famous actor fall in love with the beach and want to buy it, something he was not able to do. Arrive early to find a free spot.
For a quick swim in town, the cosmopolitan Elli beach is ideal. More daring swimmers will attempt a dive from the platform. For coffee, food and cocktails, head right to the Ronda beach bar. A good choice close to town is Aghia Marina, and the tasteful Santa Marina beach bar.
Ronda beach bar: Tel. (+30) 6937.404.446.
Santa Marina beach bar: Rhodes-Kallithea road, Tel. (+30) 6932.917.427.
14. Southern safari
The south of the island is wilder and less touristy. The exception is Prasonissi, the little island off the southern tip of Rhodes which is connected to the main island by a narrow neck of land. The location is exposed to the winds, and has become a paradise for surfers and other watersports fans. Water skis, inflatables, jet skis, wakeboards and other equipment is available to rent from one of the many rental shops located along the beach.
If you prefer something quieter, a few kilometers to the north you will find Aghios Georgios beach, one of the few non-organized beaches on the island – long, sandy, and with crystal clear waters. It is approached via a good quality unpaved road. A little further north, at Lahania, the Mojito Beach Bar is famous for its cocktails, while Sole Giaguaro serves delicious Italian cuisine with the signature of Giovanni Scaraggi, a recent contestant in a TV cooking show.
Mojito Beach Bar: Tel. (+30) 6957.672.682.
Sole Giaguaro: Tel. (+30) 22440.46262, open daily 18:00-23:00, reservations essential.
15. Canoe and biking adventure
Forest and lake on Rhodes? You may not expect it, but in the northwest of the island the construction of a dam built in 1989 has created a unique wetland habitat around the artificial lake of Apolakkia. The protected area is part of the Natura 2000 network, and home to the Rhodescape Adventure Park, created by three young people with a love for nature and the island. Based on low-impact tourism principles, the park is built from wood, and features a café and a multitude of activities for adults and children: from archery, horse riding and canoeing to biking and zip lining over the lake.
Rhodescape Adventure Park: Tel. (+30) 6939.372.584, rhodescape.gr.
16. Coffee, breakfast, and drinks in town
One of the best spots for coffee and breakfast in Rhodes town is the Yachting Club Café next to the Mandraki marina. The trees offer their shade, the service is exceptional, the coffee is superb – and it stays open late if you are in the mood for a relaxed drink. You will find a mellow mood at The Last Butler, which specializes in jazz and expertly made cocktails. A different experience is on offer at Sissitio (Socratous and Ippodamou, Old Town, tel. 22410-35773) which is housed in a listed monument that in the past served as a place of worship and a poorhouse. Ideal for brunch or afternoon coffee in the cobbled courtyard.
Yachting Club Café: Plateia Neoriou 3-5, Mandraki, Tel. (+30) 22410.75723.
The Last Butler: Amarantou 45, Rhodes, Tel. (+30) 22410.38981.
17. A breath of fresh air in Kritinia
Built on a rise, with a panoramic view of the sea, the village of Kritinia is famous for its castle. It was built in the late 15th century by the Venetians to protect the western side of the island from Ottoman raids. A good time to visit is the evening, when the heat has subsided, and the sun sets opposite the castle.
The village hosts a small folk museum with everyday objects from earlier eras. The village square enjoys the shade of two large trees, and looks out on the sea. You can enjoy coffee here or at the Mylos café by the village entrance, which also has a good view. Around 5 kilometers from the village is Kopria beach, which is ideal for diving, with fine pebbles and blue waters.
Mylos café: Tel. (+30) 22460.31231.
18. Through the eucalyptus
For about 1.5 kilometers, you will see nothing but eucalyptus trees on either side. The narrow road which joins the Rhodes-Lindos highway with the village of Kolybia is a work of the Italians, which are said to have chosen the eucalyptus for its insect repellent qualities. Turn right at the end of the road for the Atlantica Imperial Resort & Spa, home to the Mylos and Blue Bay restaurants, which are also open to non-guests. Both serve creative cuisine under the direction of chef Ilias Kakouris.
Atlantica Imperial Resort & Spa: Kolymbia, Tel. (+30) 22410.57000.
19. The Old Town from above
How would it be to see the Old Town, with its narrow alleyways, its thick walls protecting it from the outside world, its arches and orate buildings, from above? This opportunity is now offered by the Ministry of Culture, which has recently opened to the public a route along the Old City walls. Another way to experience the atmosphere of the medieval town of Rhodes within the walls is to take a stroll in the evening in the calm, quiet streets away from the crowds and the shops, like Ippoton and Omirou streets which skirt the walls. It is worth taking a stroll to sense the mystique which emanates from the rich history of the place.
Old City walls: starting in the courtyard of the Palace of the Grand Master, Monday-Friday 12:00-15:00, Tel. (+30) 22413.65270.
20. Filerimou Monastery
Sited on a hill, surrounded by cypress and pine trees, is the monastery of Filerimou. Located just 11 kilometers from the city of Rhodes, it is an oasis of cool with dense trees and many paths for walks around the monastery, and views of Ialysos and the sea. The monastery itself, built in the 14th century during the era of the Knights is an architectural masterpiece, with stone arches and little chapels.
21. Organised excursions
To discover Rhodes with the help of an experienced guide, contact Rhodes Experience (tel. 22410-29222, rhodesexperience.com). They have been organizing excursion and walking tours for many years, including tours of the Jewish district or the medieval town. If you prefer to explore the island by sea, the folks at Rhodes Sailing Tours only offer organized trips to beaches and sights, but also rent boats by the hour.
Rhodes Sailing Tours: Tel. (+30) 6907.917.676, rhodessailingtours.com.
22. Cocktails and astronomy
You will spot it from a distance: on a hill at Faliraki you will see two round domes. This is the observatory of the Astronomy Café, a unique space which combines observation of the stars with coffee, drinks or cocktails. On arrival, after walking past the sundial and the signs explaining the planets and the solar system, you will enter the building housing the telescope, to observe the craters on the moon, the stars and the nearest planets, after which you can enjoy a cocktail by the sea.
Astronomy Café: Tel. (+30) 22410.86112.
23. The faces tell a story
The Rhodes Museum of Modern Greek Art reopened after the pandemic with a fascinating exhibit. Titled “Biography: The faces of the Rhodes Art Gallery recount,” it features portraits created by important Greek artists, including Giannis Tsarouchis, Theofilos, Fotis Kontoglou and Nikos Eggonopoulos.
Rhodes Museum of Modern Greek Art: Nestoridio Melathro, Plateia G. Haritou, Tel. (+30) 22410.36646.