7 exciting things to do in Rhodes

Kerry Walker

Kerry Walker

There's way more to Rhodes* than just flopping on the nearest beach in one of the resorts. The largest island in the Dodecanese chain, it's carved its place in the history hall of fame, teasing you away from your towel with ancient temples, forts and cobbled alleys that were once the stomping ground of the Knights of St John.

Harbour entrance where the Colossus of Rhodes once stood
Harbour entrance where the Colossus of Rhodes once stood © Sodel Vladyslav - Adobe Stock Image

Stray away from the crowds and you'll fall hard for the island's alter ego, whether digging into hyper-fresh Med flavours at a cookery class, finding romance in art deco springs, discovering the rocky coast by kayak or ascending a mountain through pine forest and olive grove. Here we bring you the seven most exciting things to do in Rhodes.

Getting to Rhodes: find fabulous value breaks to Rhodes with First Choice*, which has many online offers and departs from airports across the UK.

Rewind time in Rhodes Town

Winging you back in time to the 14th century when the Knights of St John pounded the cobblestones wearing clattering armour, the UNESCO World Heritage heart of Rhodes Town* is the Holy Grail for history lovers.

Avoid the midday rush in peak summer and choose a quieter season to feel the pulse of the past as you stroll along its massive fortified 4-km ring walls and through its tangle of medieval alleyways, atmospherically lit by lanterns by night.

Entrance to the Palace of the Knights of St John
Entrance to the Palace of the Knights of St John © Viliam - Adobe Stock Image

Allow a full day to do the old town justice, taking in Mandraki Harbour, where the Colossus of Rhodes once stood, the highly atmospheric Street of the Knights, and the crenellated, castle-like Palace of the Grand Master, once the nerve centre of the Knights of St John (check out its lavish private quarters and grounds speckled with enormous cannonballs).

More? Climb 53 wooden steps to the top of the Byzantine-style clock tower Roloi for 360-degree views, and dip into the Archaeological Museum, where thousands of years of history is spelt out in ceramics, statues and mosaics.

Find hip hideaways in Lindos

Blue is the colour of sea and sky on repeat in lovely Lindos*, where chalk-white houses reflect the light as they stagger down a cypress-studded hillside to a shock of sapphire sea, like something a coast-loving cubist artist would paint.

On the island's east coast, the idyllic-looking village is no secret; come in summer and the mazy white-paved alleys, flower-scented courtyards and donkey backs heave. But that doesn't mean you should skip it, just plan your visit wisely, sidestepping peak season or staying overnight to see Lindos when the day trippers have departed.

Temple of Athena in Lindos, Rhodes
Temple of Athena in Lindos, Rhodes © Byrdyak - Adobe Stock Image

While Lindos attracts the cool set these days with its boutique hotels, infinity pools with dress-circle views of the sea and pretty pair of beaches, it has long been in the spotlight. Its crowning glory acropolis has witnessed history unfold over millennia, from ancient Greeks and Romans to Byzantines and the Knights of St John. Top billing here goes to the Doric temple devoted to the goddess Athena.

Stay for dinner and book a sea-facing table in one of the Berber-style tents at Melenos Lindos roof terrace. Or check out Christof for bright Mediterranean flavours delivered with flair and views of the acropolis illuminated.

Plunge into the Kallithea Springs

Just a quick 15-minute moped buzz south of Rhodes Town, the art deco Kallithea Springs bear the artistic hallmark of Italian architect Pietro Lombardi, who revamped them on the site of ancient thermal springs in 1929.

While you can't bathe in the spa today, the building is still gorgeous (and a popular wedding venue), with its intricate black and white mosaics, pearl-white domes, pines, palms and bougainvillaea-draped colonnades framing the bright blue sea.

After a mooch, swim or snorkel in the brilliantly clear waters of the bay or go for a frappé in the beachside café. Arrive nice and early to dodge the crowds or linger for sunset.

Fun fact: Kallithea forms such a romantic backdrop that it has popped up in movies from Zorba the Greek to The Guns of Navarone.

Head for giddy heights

Everyone is on the beach, which leaves Rhodes' mountainous interior spectacularly unsung. Summers can be scorching; visit in spring or early autumn to hoof it up one of the highest peaks for on-high views out to sea and the islands beyond.

Starting in the village of Monolithos in the island's little-explored west, a hike up 825-metre Akramitis takes you past cypress and pine and through wildflower-freckled meadows, with far-reaching views across Apolakkia Bay to the islands of Chalki and Alimia.

Or go for a gentle sunset trek up 798-metre Mount Profitis Ilias, returning with headtorches as day becomes night. Doable for families, the walk begins in the village of Salakos in the northwest of the island and takes you up past Venetian villas and lookouts where you can glimpse Turkey across the water.

View from the mountains above Monolithos
View from the mountains above Monolithos © Yury - Adobe Stock Image

More challenging still is the six-hour rocky climb to the island's highest peak, 1,215-metre Attavyros, beginning in the hamlet of Embona.

Keep your eyes peeled for deer and birds of prey as you pick your way through the cypress forest up to the summit, topped by the ruins of the Temple of Zeus. Guides include Hiking Rhodes and Trekking Hellas.

Embrace island adventure

Tearing yourself away from the sunbed is tough, but do so and you'll see an entirely different side to Rhodes. Outdoor adventures abound and the tug of the sea is strong.

For a brush with the coast few get to see, go on an eco-friendly sea kayaking day trip, where you'll be at one with beating waves as you paddle in and out of rocky beaches, sea caves and arches, perhaps glimpsing wild birds and goats on the cliffs.

For something a touch gentler, try stand-up paddleboarding to Kallithea Springs as the last sun touches Faliraki Bay and the cormorants dive to feed.

If you prefer wheels to waves, hopping on a mountain bike reveals quiet backroads and dry riverbeds that unfurl through citrus orchards, pine and cypress forests. Or leap into a saddle instead to go horse-riding through quiet woods and olive groves. Rhodes Roads is a one-stop adventure shop making it happen.

Experience the best beach

From cliff-wrapped coves to vast swathes of beach rippled through with dunes, Rhodes delivers a serious hit of beach. Go beyond the big resorts and you're bound to find your own favourites.

One that appears on many an Instagram feed is Anthony Quinn Bay, a pebble's-throw south of party-mad Faliraki*. This cliff-clasped cove with glassy green-blue waters is named after the American actor who bought it while filming the 1961 film, The Guns of Navarone. Slap on a snorkel or let H20 Rhodes take you diving to deep reefs, caves and sunken walls.

The clear waters of Anthony Quinn Bay, Rhodes
The clear waters of Anthony Quinn Bay, Rhodes © Ian Woolcock - Adobe Stock Image

Other beach stunners include quiet, pebbly Traganou on the northeast coast, with crystal waters and caves to explore, Tsambika, a great scoop of butterscotch sand and turquoise sea, capped off by the rock-perching Monastery of Tsambika and its Byzantine church, and south coast Prasonisi, a gorgeous spit of sand where two seas (the Aegean and the Mediterranean) meet. Wind and waves make the latter excellent for windsurfing and wing foiling.

Eat like a Greek god

Rhodian cuisine is right up there with the best in the Greek islands, with waves of invaders and immigrants over millennia lending spice to east-meets-west dishes like pitaroudia (fluffy chickpea fritters with mint, onion and tomato), giaprakia (stuffed vine leaves) and lakani (goat braised in a clay pot with cinnamon and cumin) served in many a decent taverna. Pair these with local wine. Rhodes was, word has it, one of the first Greek islands to cultivate vines.

If you want a deeper culinary dive, sign up for a cookery class with Rhodes Cooking (letting you sample the fruits of your labour over lunch).

Taste olives in the groves where they are grown at the Olive Tree Farm in Afandou and herb-rich honey at the source at the Bee Museum in Pastida*. You can also sample Rhodian wines among the vines at family-run Alexandris Winery in Embonas.

Climate in Rhodes

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Maximum daytime temperature °C
Hours of sunshine (daily)
Days with some rainfall
Sea temperature °C

The above guide shows the climate in Rhodes. You can also find out more about conditions across the country in our complete guide to the climate in Greece.

Ready to experience Rhodes? Browse the latest great value breaks with First Choice.

First Choice: Low deposits & flexible payments on holidays in 2024/2025

More about Rhodes

Rhodes by month

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Kerry Walker

Kerry Walker

Kerry Walker is a Wales-based travel writer and author. Kerry specialises in Wales, Central and Southern Europe. She regularly writes for The Telegraph and National Geographic Traveller among others. She's also authored/co-authored over 20 travel guides. Kerry's a qualified translator, avid photographer and lover of mountains and remote destinations.

Posted on Monday 10th June 2024 in:

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