This post is reaaallllly overdue, but I want to tell you all about this beautiful and thoroughly underrated Greek island that quickly became one of my favorites.
First off, we really did not have enough time there, but we made the most of the time we did have. This was our first island stop on our whirlwind honeymoon, and we loved every moment of it.
A bit of history—Rhodes is technically part of Greece but is located closer to mainland Turkey, and therefore has a lot of Turkish influence. You’ll likely find that people speak Greek and English, but also speak Turkish and sometimes Italian and German due to the rich history of cultures. Basically, they’re pretty cool.
Rhodes’ nickname is “The Island of the Knights,” due to the medieval Catholic Hospitallers (or the Knights of Rhodes) that were based there. The Medieval Old Town of the City of Rhodes is a World Heritage site, and Rhodes was also home the Colossus of Rhodes—one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Rhodes is the largest island in the Dodecanese chain, and as such I would highly recommend getting an international driver’s license and renting a car. Many of the sites we were interested in were 1+ hour away from each other, and buses are fairly frequent but often shut down operation early in the evening. To avoid the trouble (and frequent stops), we decided to get ourselves around.
We arrived around 9:45am to the Rhodes International Airport. We quickly got our rental car and then drove ourselves about 45 minutes to Rhodes Town, where we stayed at a small hostel called “Hotel Anastasia” which was run by an adorable couple and situated in the middle of Rhodes Old Town.
While the location was convenient, figuring out parking gave us a headache—there are signs and colored curbs, but we weren’t sure what any of it meant and as a few locals told us, the locals didn’t care much about following parking rules, so it left us confused about what to do. After unsuccessfully trying to street park, some helpful locals pointed us in the direction of a paid parking lot across the street from “Parko Therme,” right next to the Palace of the Grand Master Knights. It wasn’t too expensive, and we could leave our car there overnight, which was fine with us. I’ve heard people say there is free parking near Mandraki Harbor, but we didn’t stumble upon it ourselves.
Once we were settled, parked and the owners generously let us check in early, we set out on foot to explore the Old Town!
The Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes (or simply the Kastello) is a medieval fortress and one of the few Gothic structures in all of Greece. It was built in the 7th Century as a Byzantine citadel, but would later be occupied by the Knights Hospitallers. Even after that, it would become a holiday home for King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy, and Italian architects would restore the castle.
Once you get inside the palace, your breath is taken away. Cobblestone, grand arches and stone mosaics as far as the eye can see. I would advise to get here early in the day before it gets too crowded and kitschy with the souvenir carts and fast food places trapping tourists (honestly, the worst meal we had in all of Greece was inside here).
It’s a grand, beautiful place to explore and you will want to spend a decent amount of time walking around and willing yourself to believe you didn’t step back in time.
After we were done exploring, we hopped into our car and drove out to Lindos Town (30 miles/48 km), while making sure to stop at beaches along the way. Even with our beach stops, this drive took us about an hour (while a bus would take 1h 30m).
Our beach hopping was certainly a highlight, because many of these areas were completely unspoiled and breathtaking in the shadow of the mountains. We also found quite a few mountain goats—one even tried to jump in our car with us!!!
Whereas Rhodes Town feels medieval and Gothic, Lindos Town has a truly Greek charm with white-washed houses, donkeys, cats galore and—oh yeah—its own Acropolis.
Once we reached Lindos, we parked in a free parking lot just outside the town and walked in. The town of Lindos, although steep, is tiny and is strictly traversed by foot or donkey. To save the poor donkeys some grief (and to also get ourselves into better shape), we opted to walk around. Most other tourists did the same.
We hiked up the long path to the Acropolis, and let me tell you—it did NOT disappoint!! Truly, this was one of the highlights of our honeymoon. The first thing we came across when we entered was an ancient fortress of the Knights of St. John (14th Century). Once we climbed up the fortress, our eyes were greeted by the beautiful Doric Temple of Athena Lindia—which dates back to 300 B.C.
While the Athens Acropolis is truly remarkable and a must-see in your lifetime, I would actually say that I enjoyed this Acropolis just as much if not MORE.
We were able to walk freely throughout this Acropolis, stand under pillars, take in the sights in awe and look out AS THE ACROPOLIS IS SURROUNDED BY WATER. Seriously. You get amazing views of Lindos Town, but also of the beautiful Aegean Sea and a beautiful heart-shaped bay.
The bay, known as St. Paul’s Bay, is supposedly where the Apostle Paul shipwrecked in 51 A.D. it is said that Paul was caught in a storm, and a lightning bolt split a rock in two—opening up this bay and providing him with safe haven to land. He then went on to preach Christianity to the local Rhodians.
An icon (and some believe it was a coin) of Paul was unearthed in this bay in 1920, which led to a small church being built in 1951 to commemorate his visit.
After our visit to the breathtaking Acropolis, we walked back to the town and got in our car again to go down to St. Paul’s Bay to a restaurant called “Tambakio.” It’s a little off the beaten path, but I would highly recommend going here!
You are literally situated in the bay and it is a wonderful place to watch the sunset over the Acropolis.
What’s more—“Tambakio” means “tannery,” and a tannery is what Pauls’ church was built over. They’re very proud of the history, and have placemats to tell the story about it!
The tiny beach restaurant was also one of our favorite meals. We were one of two couples there, and at times it felt like we had the entire place to ourselves. The seafood is fresh and delicious, the prices are good and the seating areas are all on the sandy beach. Eating dinner while the ocean waves gently lapped against the shore was nothing short of romantic.
After dinner, we hopped in our car once again and made one last stop before driving back to Rhodes Town—at Lindos Ice Bar! I had been to an ice bar in Barcelona, and my husband was fascinated by the concept and thrilled to check it out.
The location is the only longstanding ice bar in Greece, and is certainly an experience to remember. we paid 12€ for entry, which included a parka, gloves and a drink. Once inside, we chose cocktails in cups made of ice (premade) and huddled together while enjoying the chairs and structures made of ice.
Couldn’t stay inside too long, but really enjoyed the experience!
After that, we made the drive back to Rhodes Town and slept in eager anticipation of our next day—which was a day trip out to Symi Island. You can read all about that here!
We also had time early that morning to see the windmills of Rhodes and grab a quick coffee before our tour boat left the next morning at, funnily enough, a Starbucks right in Mandraki Harbor.
And then after we came back from the day trip, we had just enough time to head over to Tamam Restaurant for dinner. This meal was another delicious highlight, and I would highly recommend it as well.
And that’s it! The next day we had to wake up around 4am to get to the airport in time to make our 6:40am flight through Athens to Santorini. We left, bleary-eyed but bushy-tailed and quite happy with our Rhodian experiences.
RHODES ISLAND TRAVEL TIPS
Currency: EUR (Euro)
Languages: Greek (official), Turkish, many people speak English, Italian and German
Transportation: Rental Cars, Buses, Taxis
Food: As in any coastal region, fresh seafood is always an excellent choice! In addition to that, any traditional Greek foods (particularly Souvlaki, Gyro and SAGANAKI) will be tasty—especially if they have a Turkish fusion flavor to them. Also, Italian food is surprisingly good here!
*NOTE: I have a gluten allergy and actually wasn’t feeling too good during the evening. This was really my fault, though, as I was being too shy to ask questions about what was in certain meals. Plenty of places in Rhodes seem to cater to gluten allergies if you ask them—in particular, Tamam is good about accommodating!