Top things to do in Rhodes

Andy Stevens / 31 January 2017 ( 03 February 2017 )

Your guide to some of the very best things to do and places to see on your next trip to the beautiful Greek island of Rhodes.



Rhodes is among the most-loved Greek islands and one which over the years has, and continues to, lure a loyal and devoted following of returning visitors.

This Aegean Sea gem in Greece's Dodecanese Islands combines well-preserved sites of huge historical interest with a spectacular mountainous interior, plus natural wonders of ethereal beauty the like of which you'll see nowhere else.

Here is your guide to some of the very best things to do and places to see on your next trip to Rhodes:

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Walk the walk on the Street of the Knights

Medieval knight on Knights street - narrow street of medieval Old Town of Rhodes lined with inns of different nationalities Knights of Saint John - UNESCO World Heritage

Rhodes Town's old city is a world heritage site of great significance and distinction - and here are some of the reasons why.

The sense that Rhodes' seemingly implacable medieval citadel has been fought over again and again and - how shall we put this? - gone through several changes of ownership (from Byzantine to Catholic to name but two) can be felt within the walls of its palace, buildings, battlements and narrow streets.

Most evocative of Rhodes old city's (more of which later) embattled medieval past, that is so entwined with tales of the Crusades, is its famous Street of the Knights.

This well-preserved cobbled thoroughfare, getting on for 2,000 feet in length and complete with Gothic arches, would at once be recognisable to any one popping back on a visit from the 15th century. 

It's where the Knights of Rhodes stopped off for a spot of in-fight refuelling at its inns, after a hard day's slog or standoff against the Ottomans.

Emblems denoting the various knights' nationalities (Italy, France, England, Germany, Aragon, Provence and Auvergne) are revealing totems from medieval times which can still be seen above the doors of their respective inns as you ascend this historic street.

Greek cuisine, Rhodes-style

Greek Dessert of honey, cinnamon and sesame seeds

As any of the medieval Knights of Rhodes would have told you (probably in several languages): an army marches on its stomach. Same goes for us humble tourists.

When it's time to pick a taverna for a bite to eat, then like every other island, Rhodes has a number of noteworthy and tasty culinary twists on what you might consider to be standard Greek menu fare.

Here are a few delights for you to consign to memory, to choose, or if feeling particularly emboldened to ask for the next time you're presented with a menu in a restaurant on Rhodes.

If seafood's your thing, 'soupiorizo' is a squid risotto simply born to tempt you, while full-on carnivores might plump for the 'kapamas' (oven-baked goat with chickpeas or beans) or 'rifiki' (lamb or goat, slow-roasted and stuffed with rice).

Meanwhile, cheese lovers who can feel a bit feta-ed out while in Greece could go for the 'salamogia', which is a myzithra cheese with peppercorns in brine.

And those with a sweet tooth should scan menus for 'talagoutes', a blissful pancake situation including honey, walnuts, sesame seeds and cinnamon.

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Delving deeper into Rhodes Town's old city

The Grand Master Palace of Rhodes, Greece

There are so many fascinating narrow streets, city gates, ancient temple ruins and so much history at every turn to take in on a day's tour of Rhodes Town's old medieval city, that we bet you'll keep coming back for more during your holiday.

The city's medieval walls were restored to great and lasting effect by Italian architects in the early 20th century, and they provide an imposing sense of place to what is reputed to be Europe's oldest still-inhabited medieval citadel.

Leading the way in grandeur among old Rhodes' attractions for visitors to explore are the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes, and the Gothic Hospital.

You will also see Rhodes' 14th century palace (on the site of an earlier 7th century edifice) referred to, somewhat more concisely, as the Kastello. 

Its history - you won't be surprised to learn - is a litany of struggles for strategic supremacy between cultures, armies, religions and nation states, or a combination of all or some of the above.

Even Mother Nature got a look-in on the action at one stage, as well she might: an earthquake in the late 1400s provided brief a reality check to the earthly ambitions of the city burghers.

Rhodes' Gothic Hospital - or, variously the Hospital of the Knights, or Knights Hospitaller - now serves a noble and enlightening purpose as the old city's magnificent archaeological museum.

You will find this dominant building close to the Street of the Knights. 

In fact, once in the old city there are few places where you'll fail to be aware of its presence, which in turn affords some enticing photo opportunities for those of you with a keen eye for winning camera angles.

Aside from the building's stellar collection of post-classical, Hellenistic and Roman artefacts, including ancient busts and statues, Rhodes' Gothic Hospital is quite the star in itself, with a magnificent courtyard replete with gothic arches ultra-rare to this part of southern Europe.

And sitting proudly in the main courtyard you'll be entranced by the magnificent statue of a lion, an inscrutable presence still checking out the comings and goings through the ages.

Flutter down to the Valley of the Butterflies

The Valley of the Butterflies (Peta Loudhes) Rhodes Greece Europe

Without doubt, this serene place is the major talking point and an absolute, must-see sight for legions of visitors to Rhodes.

But do keep it to a whisper, won't you? Too many visitors to Petaloudhes, the Valley of the Butterflies, could exert a detrimental long-term impact on this extraordinarily beautiful nature reserve.

The Valley of the Butterflies is a draw for visitors between May and September. But it is in August when millions of Panaxia (or Jersey Tiger moths) reveal themselves within the ecosystem they find so perfect for breeding in this green valley paradise.

It is a sight to treasure like no other: to witness countless butterflies filling every branch and leaf of every tree, as far as the eye can see in this ethereal location, set among streams, small wooden bridges and shady pathways.

And in the high summer months when Rhodes' thermostat takes some serious beating, a trip to the Valley of the Butterflies barely 20 miles from Rhodes Town provides a welcome opportunity to cool off in other-worldly surroundings.

Not only is the heat turned down in the Valley of the Butterflies, but also the volume. Due to the delicate balance of the resident butterflies' circle of life in the valley, visitors are implored to enjoy this wondrous natural phenomenon in silence.

At the top of the valley, there is a little monastery called Panagia Kalopetra to visit, too, where further silence and contemplation can be enjoyed.

The historic town and Acropolis of Lindos

Ruins of ancient temple. Lindos. Rhodes island. Greece

As a tourist magnet of a town, Lindos has long been quite the looker, with its whitewashed houses, tempting beaches and picturesque bay always proving a big draw for summer sunseekers.

But up there on the strategic vantage point of the town's cliffs, Lindos boasts a spectacular history in the shape of its ancient citadel and acropolis.

Ancient Lindos' geographical importance as a trading post between Greece and the Middle East signalled its success and decline in equal measure.

Early findings from antiquity reveal Lindos as a significant shrine of the classical world, before turmoil brought wave upon wave of changes to its clifftop fortifications, vigorously and variously instigated by the Byzantines, Crusaders and the Greeks.

Among the most precious sites for modern day visitors to view with wonder on a trip to the top of the hill are the Propylaia gateway from 407BC, and the Temple of Athena, whose remains go back to 348BC.

Closer to the present day, films buffs will also note that those very same cliffs were used for filming scenes in the classic war film, 'The Guns of Navarone'.

Come up and Symi

Symi Island

The island of Symi is a catamaran trip away from the port of Mandraki on Rhodes itself, but well worth a schlep out on to the seas to unravel more about a small isle with a maritime history which dwarfs its modest stature.

Symi was for many centuries a major regional player for shipbuilding, when small wooden vessels ruled the seas.

These days Symi a popular destination for day-trippers, who are drawn to its picture-perfect harbour, with its stunning layers of brightly-painted neoclassical houses which wend their way up to the higher parts of the town.

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