So, what are the best things to do in Rhodes? Well, there’s lots to explore. After all, it’s the fourth largest Greek Island and the largest of the Dodecanese Islands. It takes 1.5 hours to travel from the northernmost point, Rhodes town, to the southern tip at Prasonisi. In between, there are so many unique things to see and do.
I lived in Rhodes for one summer. Nothing better than immersing oneself into the culture and local life to truly appreciate what this Greek island had to offer. To my delight I found it's a mixture of busy tourist beaches, quiet secluded rocky bays, medieval towns, ruins by the crusades, Roman and Ottoman influences, untouched typical Greek village life inland, boating activity and more.
I supported my extended stay by working at Mandraki Harbour selling boat cruises. Plus, two nights a week I was an airport rep for Airtours, a UK package holiday tour operator. Unfortunately, they ceased trading in 2019). I basically greeted travellers at the airport and guided them onto the coach. Which I then gave them a welcome spiel while the bus driver drove to the respective hotels they had booked. So, I got to see a lot of the island and many hotels.
I explore different areas of the island during my spare time too. Below, is my list of the 10 best things to do in Rhodes on your next holiday.
Rhodes Old Town
This 14th century fortified old town is a UNESCO world heritage site. It's absolutely delightful. You must wander the cobble-stoned streets that entwine intricately around the medieval buildings. One really does feel like you’re walking back in time.
It's not a ruined town as the locals still live within the walls. So you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how well maintained it is. Explore the busy commercial streets, which alternate with the quiet alleys of the residential areas.
Enjoy the hype of activity along the main thoroughfares of Ippoton (affectionately known as Knight St), Sokratous and Orfeos streets. They are lined with many cafes and shops selling linen, tablecloths, jewellery, homewares, clothing. Leather, shoes, sarongs, art & craft and so on. Everything from high end jewellery to inexpensive trinkets.
Add to your list to do the walk along the top of the fortified walls around the old town. It opens daily and starts from the Grand Master’s Palace where you buy the tickets. Explore from above the nice views of the old town, the port and the moat on the other side. Finish the day with a drink at one of the outdoor cafés in the main square – Hippocrates Square.
TG Tip: For a truly typical Greek seafood meal in a typical Greek taverna setting, you can't go past Nireas Restaurant or the neighbouring Pizanias ‘The Sea Star’ on Sofokleous street. PS. I also waitressed at Nireas for a short while, so I can highly recommend the food.
Rhodes Old Town Walking Tour (small group)
Rhodes Old Town Highlights self guide scavenger hunt/tour
Segway Tours: Rhodes City and Old Town
Hotel recommendations in Old Town:
Ottoman influenced architecture, this eco friendly hotel oozes in unique luxury and hospitality. It even has a private pool area. Walking distance to the Grand Masters Palace and the shops and restaurants.
Monte Smith Hill
Not a Greek name as its named after Sir Sydney Smith, an English Admiral. He was stationed on the hill in 1802 during the war with the Turks.
The hill offers breathtaking views over Rhodes town, the Mediterranean Sea and the Aegean Sea all at once. Beautiful views of the coastlines. Look for the scenic benches for your picture-perfect shots.
Nearby is the ancient ruins of the acropolis and public buildings. But such a small fraction remains of its former glory, that you need quite an imagination to fully appreciate it. Plus the last three pillars that are still standing are now under scaffolding. So you’re not missing much if you have to skip this section.
You can reach Monte Smith Hill by the following ways:
Rhodes Hop On Hop Off Sightseeing Bus Tour
Visit 12 of Rhodes town most important sites, in the new town and around the old town.
Boat tours from Mandraki harbour
Rhodes main Mandraki harbour is located in the new town of Rhodes. It's the home of the ancient wonder Colossus of Rhodes statue, if it was still standing!. Plus it contains commercial/private boats providing an array of boating tour options.
You will find all sorts of boating tours:
- Boat tours to other parts of the island, for example Lindos or other smaller bays for snorkelling.
- Boat tours to the neighbouring islands, for example Symi or Tilos
- A couple of hydrofoils to Kos and Marmaris (Turkey)
- Fishing boats
- Private charter boats
- Scuba diving tours
On the other side of the harbour road is lined with cafes, with tables and chairs dotting the pavement.
Suggested boat tours:
Lindos Day Cruise from Rhodes, with swim stops
Skevos Fishing Trip Rhodes, with Captain Skevos
Symi Island and Panormitis Monastery
Here is my personal recommendation - based on my experience selling boat tours on Mandraki Harbour and going on several tours myself. For visiting Lindos, it is better to visit by bus so that you can have a full day in this captivating white coloured historic town. Then I would do a swimming tour on a smaller or sailing boat. You will experience a full hour of swimming in each place. Plus the smaller boats can get real close to shore. Sometimes we were close enough to swim right up to the beach. The larger boats allocate less time for swimming stops and must anchor further out from shore.
However, if you are short for time, then I still recommend the boat tours to Lindos. They will still include a couple of short swim stops. So you get the best of both in one day.
The technical details
47km from Rhodes Town, along the east coast.
About 55 minutes by car or 2 - 2.5 hours by boat.
As mentioned earlier, there are two ways to reach the impressive white village of Lindos. First is by boat. There are some boat tours that leave from Mandraki Harbour every day for the 2.5 hour boat ride to Lindos. It's quite a thrill to see the village sitting majestically on a hilltop as you approach by sea. Most tours allow for 3 hours to soak up the splendours of this town.
The second way is by car/moped. As you drive down the eastern coast, the countryside is quite mountainous and picturesque. Very rocky too. But the approach to Lindos was still magic.
There are four main activities to partake in, as you meander through the maze-like streets of the village.
Suggested tours to Lindos:
Lindos Day Cruise from Rhodes, with swim stops and hotel transfers
Day Trip to Lindos with pick up from Rhodes and the west coast.
Recommended Lindos hotels:
The technical details
27km from Rhodes Town, along the east coast.
About 35 minutes by car.
This is the place to go if you’re looking for an unspoilt beach with no hotels in sight. It's located about 25km south of Rhodes Town, along the east coast. A beautiful golden sandy beach and turquoise waters creates an idyllic place to relax and enjoy a swim.
You can reach by road or some boat tours stop here for a swim.
Anthony Quinn Bay
The technical details
15km from Rhodes Town, along the east coast.
About 24 minutes by car.
Named after the actor but with controversary. Anthony Quinn fell in love with this island when he filmed The Guns of Navarone here.
Now the story gets a little unclear here as to whether he bought this bay rightfully. Some stories say the land was given to him by the local authorities with the understanding he would involve the locals when he developed it.
Well, the locals were shut out when he put up a fence and nothing was developed. Eventually the Greek government claimed the land back in 1984.
Unfortunately, we will never know the real story. The variations depend upon the source - by the Greek government, locals, tour operators/guides and the actor himself. I stopped at this bay on two different boat tours and received two different stories from the skippers. However, the name of the bay remained unchanged.
This beautiful, small rocky cove with a small beach and crystal-clear water still attracts the tourists. Some of the boat tours from Mandraki make a stop in this small bay for a quick swim or for movie enthusiasts to take photos. Alternatively, you can drive or a get a bus here too and relax on the small secluded rocky beach for a longer period.
Suggested day cruises that includes a stop at Anthony Quinn Bay:
Romantika All Inclusive Day Cruise
Rhodes Day Cruise (all inclusive) 6 hours
Catamaran Cruises Rhodes - 6 hour All Inclusive
The technical details
90km from Rhodes town. About a 1.5 hour drive, along the east coast.
This is probably the most impressive beach on the island. Mainly for its unusual natural occurrence at the southernmost point of the island. It’s where the two seas meet!
Basically, it's a peninsula with a narrow sand spit leading out to a small rocky island. Prasonisi means ‘green island’. But what's unusual to see is that the waves come from opposite directions and meet in the middle on the sandbank. One side is the Mediterranean Sea and the other is the Aegean Sea.
It is very windy, so there are lots of windsurfers and kite surfers about. If you plan to swim, just be aware of the strong currents. Especially if high tide is in and the sandbank has disappeared.
There are many seafood taverna’s located here and all are excellent.
I found it difficult to find a bus tour that went to Prasonisi, unless you paid for a private tour. So we hired a car for the day and explored along the way.
TG Tip: If you have time, drive through the nearby town of Kattavia. This farming village consists of some unusual Greek holiday homes. Not in your typical Greek flare but in strange designs and bright colours. There are a couple of taverna’s here if you wish to make a snack stop.
Petaloudes means butterfly valley. You literally walk through thousands of butterflies in their natural habitat. Through a hilly forested area resembling a jungle type environment.
The nature reserve is open daily to visitors all year round. After a small entrance fee, you can explore the valley by following the well-maintained dirt tracks and wooden walkways. Feeling the valleys coolness is a welcome relief to the Aegean sun.
However, to improve you chance of seeing butterflies, it is recommended to visit from early June to early September. The best time to visit is during August, when thousands of butterflies swarm into the valley, getting ready to reproduce.
You do tend to mainly see one or two varieties of butterflies fluttering around. And they camouflage themselves real well on tree trunks and against rock walls.
Epta Piges/Seven Springs
Epta Piges means Seven Springs. This is a magical oasis of natural beauty that provides more welcome relief from the Mediterranean heat.
It starts with a 186m walk through a dark tunnel, constructed in 1931, to reach the lake. Your feet will be in running fresh water. But if you’re not so adventurous or are claustrophobic, you can follow a walking path above the tunnel instead.
Water flows out of the springs all year round, which forms the small lake that you arrive at. This fresh water lake is suitable for swimming but keep in mind the water is quite cold.
Other activities include walking through the nearby forests. Or grab a traditional Rhodian or Greek meal at the historic 7 Springs Taverna. All ingredients are sourced locally.
Suggested tours that include visits to Butterfly Valley and Seven Springs:
Butterfly Valley and Seven Springs Velley Self Guided Transfer
1 Day Rhodes Island Tour with Wine Tasting & Lunch (includes Butterfly and 7 Springs valley)
TG Tip: Be aware that some of the day bus tours around the island may also collect cruise passengers, therefore, itineraries and duration can change to suit the ships departure time. Also check how much time you will be given in each location.
Day trip to Symi
A day trip to the smaller island of Symi is a must. What a magical and colourful port town to sail into. Flanked by hills on both sides, the harbour is dotted with houses of varying colours. This means there are steep stairs to contend with if you want to explore beyond the harbourfront. Especially if you want to stroll up to the Venetian castle for panoramic views. Bring some comfortable walking shoes.
The narrow U shaped harbour is lined with shops and restaurants. You are spoilt for choice. But I can recommend going to Hotel Nireus for a huge ice-cream sundae!
Because the island and port area is so rocky, you really wont find a swimming beach. But do bring your swimwear, in case your trip includes a swim stop at the picturesque St George Bay.
There are two different ways to reach the island:
Ferries that travel from Rhodes to Symi all year round, with an average of 2 – 4 ferry crossings per day. Prices start from EUR8.00 each way. Travel time varies between 1 – 1.5 hours, depending upon boat type and weather. Perfect way to travel if you intend to stay a night or two on the island.
The ferries typically leave from Kolona or Central Port, just south of the touristy Mandraki Harbour. They usually don’t do return trips, as they may continue to other destinations. So, if you are doing a day trip only, you will probably leave and return on two different companies. However, Sebeco Lines currently offer a same day return schedule.
Symi Hotel recommendations:
High standard of rooms and service without the high price. Only located 100m from port, so you are within walking distance to everywhere. Some rooms have a balcony with partial views!
For a day trip, the best and easiest way is to join on an organised full day excursion from Mandraki Harbour. The boat tours typically depart about 9am and return by 6pm. They include a quick stop at Panormitis Monastery and about three hours free time in Symi. Tour operators include:
Recommended day cruises:
Symi Island & Panormiti, day cruise from Rhodes. High speed catamaran by Sea Dreams
Symi Island & Panormitis Monastery. Operated by Kariba Travel.
Day Cruise to Symi with Speedboat. Operated by Sebeco Lines.
What you can cross off your sightseeing list
The Acropolis of Ancient Rhodes
Nowhere near the magnificence of the acropolis in Athens. There’s only 3.5 pillars still standing on the Temple of Pythian Apollo. Nearby is a 200m long stadium overgrown with trees, requiring a little imagination to fully appreciate.
Therefore, if you’re in Rhodes for a short time, you can safely put this attraction last on your list of things to do in Rhodes as you’re not missing much.
Things to do in Rhodes summary
Of course, visiting an island means there will be many beaches to choose from. So if you plan to rent a car, explore and you wont be disappointed.
However, you can also explore by land or boat tours. I have separated the 10 best things to do in Rhodes into geographical areas:
Rhodes Old Town
Monte Smith Hill
Anthony Quinn Bay
Neighbouring Attractions – Symi Island. Or venture further afield to Kos or Turkey.
What would you like to check off on your Rhodes holiday list?