Below you’ll find the famous and unique traits of Rhodes, as well as how to get there, and the best time to visit. Also included in our guide are a brief history of Rhodes, fun facts and unmissable things to do while you’re there.
What is Rhodes?
Rhodes is the historical capital and largest of the Dodecanese islands with a span of 540,000+ square miles. Its namesake comes from the ancient Greek word Rhódon, which translates as “rose”.
What is Rhodes Famous For?
The island was famously known for the Colossus of Rhodes, a 33m high statue of the Greek sun-god, Helios, which greeted arriving ships into the harbor. If you can imagine the Statue of Liberty being constructed in 300 BC, you can understand why the Colossus was known as one of Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
What Makes Rhodes Unique?
Rhodes gets 300+ days of sunshine throughout the year and is known as the mythical home of Helios, the Sun God. The long beach season, from April to October makes it an ideal place in the Mediterranean for sun worshippers.
Watersports, boat cruises and golden sandy beaches full of tourists are commonplace. The vibrant nightlife in Rhodes Town and Faliraki range from traditional tavernas and trendy beachfront bars to packed nightclubs.
The friendly natives and the island’s roots which date back from ancient to medieval times also provide an exotic array of architecture and culture.
Where is Rhodes?
You’ll find Rhodes in the South Aegean region, northeast of Crete and Karpathos and southeast of Athens. When looking at a map, you can also recognize it as the big island beneath Bodrum and Marmaris, Turkey.
How to Get to Rhodes
Rhodes by Air
Low-cost, European airlines dominate the tourist season flight schedule. From the Baltic down to the Balearic, almost every country has budget-friendly, cheap flights. The UK, in particular, has extensive coverage via RyanAir, EasyJet, Jet2, TUI and British Airways.
Rhodes by Sea
Best Time to Visit
June to September offer the best weather with average daily temperatures of 23-29°C (75-84°F) and high/lows of 21-32°C (70-89°C). During this time of year, the humidity levels decrease to a more bearable 55%.
The prevailing summer winds (10-16 knots) also make it great for kiteboarding and windsurfing along the northeastern shoreline.
Late April and early October are great times to explore the outdoors as the weather is nice, but not too hot, making it ideal for hiking or biking.
Brief Rhodes History
The Roman Era
Alexander the Great conquered Rhodes in 332 BC and made it part of the Roman Empire.
From 1310 to 1522, Rhodes was dubbed, The island of the Knights after its rulers, the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem, who protected it against the Ottoman invasion. The medieval Old Town in Rhodes is the legacy they left behind and has been declared a World Heritage Site.
The Ottoman Era
In 1522, Suleiman the Magnificent attacked Rhodes using 400 ships carrying over 100,000 men against the 7,000 men-at-arms in the forts. The siege of Rhodes lasted a full six months. By the Sultan’s grace, the surviving Knights Hospitallers were allowed to withdraw to the Kingdom of Sicily.
Today, the island of Rhodes is one of the most popular travel destinations in Europe with tourism accounting for 75% of the local economy.
Quick & Fun Facts About Rhodes
- The emblem of Rhodes is a very old and rare deer called the Dama Dama (fallow deer), which still lives on the island today.
- Another nickname of Rhodes is The Emerald Island, which is related to a 37% island coverage in pine and cypress forests (the home of the Dama-Dama).
- The naming of Rhode Island in the US is thought to be based on the island of Rhodes. The fact that the modern-day Colossus now sits on nearby Liberty Island, gives the theory even more credence.
- One of the island’s myths is that Helios (the sun god) fell in love with a nymph name Rodos during the Archaic Era. When he shone his light on her, she was transformed into the island and later bore him several sons.
- Its Flower Island namesake is somewhat related to this Rhodos in Greek translates to rose. The rhoda, a pink hibiscus, is also a flower native to the island.
Things to Do in Rhodes
While the Water Park near Faliraki and the Farma Petting Zoo near the Valley of Butterflies attract the average holidaymaker tourist; it’s the island’s deep history and culture that turns Rhodes into a top travel destination.
Open the Doorway to an Ancient Past
You won’t have to seek out the past in Rhodes, as the history of Ancient Greece can easily be found in the Acropolis of Rhodes and Lindos. When walking around in Mandraki Habour, take in the fact it’s where the Colossus of Rhodes once stood.
The Byzantine period in Rhodes left behind the Monolithos Castle, the clock tower and many of the island’s churches. The Suleiman Mosque, the Mustafa Pasha Mosque, and the Turkish bath of Hammam in Arionos Square were built in the Ottoman era.
Walk in the Footsteps of Medieval Times
Rhodes Old Town is one of the most extensively preserved towns in Europe and features medieval fortifications and a knight’s palace. The fortified walls and cobblestone streets speak volumes through the historic battles waged across numerous timelines.
Let a Millennium Put You in a State of Awe
A thousand years of history awaits you in the village of Lindos. The Dorians first arrived in 10th century BC. The Phoenicians and Greeks used it as a meeting place in 8th century BC. In classical times the temple was built; in the Hellenistic Age and the Roman Era, the temple precinct grew outward.
The Castle of the Knights of St John and their Greek Orthodox church are from the 12th century, with the church being built on the ruins of another from the 6th century.
Take a Moment to Reflect and Repent
With so many different civilizations conquering Rhodes throughout history there is no shortage of variety in terms of religious artifacts. Each culture that ruled Rhodes left behind their mark and their faithful followers.
The Monastery Tsambika and the Church of the Panagia represent Catholicism while the Mosque of Suleyman is of the Muslim faith. The Kahal Shalom Synagogue dates back to the 16th century and is found in lovely (and still active) Jewish Quarter in the city of Rhodes.
See Where Angels Rest Their Tired Wings
From May to late September, The Valley of Butterflies becomes a breeding place for the panaxia quadripunctaria (jersey tiger) butterfly.
The valley’s liquidambar orientalis (sweetgum trees) offer nutritious secretions that attract the moths in large numbers. The surrounding flora, ponds, waterfalls, and harmoniously placed bridges simply add to the valley’s charm.
Worship Helios, The Sun God
The calms waters of Elli Beach in Rhodes Town are a good place to soothe your soul and refresh your spirit. A visit to Kallithea Springs or Anthony Quinn Bay can allow for natural relaxation, while the latter is a great spot to snorkel.
The western beaches from Ixia Bay down through Theologos offer decent opportunities for bodysurfing, while the party atmosphere at Faliraki beach sometimes gets started before the sun even sets.
Let The Wind Lead The Way
While the beach in Rodos Town and those to the east remain calm, the wind picks up in the western towns of Ialyssos and beyond.
Watersports are prevalent in tourist activities here and anything with a sail welcomes the breeze. If you want a full-on kite-boarding adventure, head to Prasonisi on the southern end of Rhodes where the winds are the strongest.
Find Some Peace of Mind
The Archaeological Museum offers easy access with treasures both inside and out from authentic pelikes vases to ancient greek sculptures.
The Museum of Modern Greek Art has over 1,000 paintings and prints from 20th-century artists such as Maleas, Parthenis, Vouzianis, Hatzikyriakos-Gikas, and Moralis.
The Astronomy Cafe in Faliraki has a wonderful themed garden with solar clocks and astronomical artifacts. Coffee and sweets await indoors and when the sun sets, the moon, the galaxies, and the nebulae come out to play.