Lindos Acropolis among the best things to do in Rhodes

The largest island in the Dodecanese and historic capital (5,000 years and counting!), Rhodes was the perfect place to start our Greek island-hopping adventure. Ancient acropolises, medieval castles, Ottoman mosques, and Italian spas are surrounded by gorgeous beaches and big dreams for a more sustainable Rhodes!

The South Aegean government and TUI (one of the world’s largest tourism operators) chose Rhodes of the Dodecanese Islands, Greece to be their “Co-Lab,” evaluating all sectors of tourism with their think-tank of international experts and locals on the ground. We met with the Greek project lead and learned about their ambitious five-year plan to right the ship of over-tourism and create a model of sustainability for popular destinations around the world.

We were completely dazzled by this isle (some even say Rhodes is the best Greek island), and how unique each side of the coastline could be. Follow our eco-friendly travel guide and discover Rhodes’s best things to do, top restaurants, boutique hotels, best beaches, and incredible historic sites on the “The Island of the Sun.”

Getting Around Rhodes, Dodecanese Islands Greece

how to get around rhodes

Rhodes has three distinct sections. The northern tip and its Old Town is where you’ll find the old town and densest concentration of hotels, restaurants, and things to do on Rhodes—all by foot. Head west, and resorts quickly fade to nature reserves, olive groves, wine country, rocky beaches, and lesser-visited historic sites. Go east and you’ll get posh resorts on fine sand, natural springs, white-washed villages, and the must-see Lindos, Rhodes. The windswept southern tip is a paradise for kite-surfing and those looking to truly unplug.

We did a car rental on Rhodes Island (love that our Allianz Travel Insurance plan automatically comes with rental car insurance!) and found it was the best way to cover this 540-square-mile isle. That said,  we were quite impressed they had bus stops at all the major sites—even in the remote parts of the island. Props to Rhodes for investing in public transport, a crucial step for any destination looking to go carbon-neutral!

Best Things to Do on Rhodes Island

Old Town Rhodes, Dodecanese Greece

Old Town Walking Tour

Old Town Rhodes is considered one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe with UNESCO status to prove it. Building upon millennia of previous civilizations, the Hospitaller Knights made Rhodes the capital of their international Catholic Military order from 1310-1522…with fabulous Gothic architecture! Explore this labyrinthine city and its key sites (Palace of the Grand Master, Hippocrates Square, Street of the Knights, and the Archaeological Museum of Rhodes, and more) with the brilliant and charismatic guide Giota Mauroudaki. [email her: giotam1975@yahoo.gr] In two hours, we learned so much about the time of the Knights and the island’s transition through Ottoman and Italian occupation.

Throne of Helios 9-D Cinema

Throne of Helios the only 9D theater in Europe is in the Rhodes, Dodecanese Greece

For a quick and kid-friendly intro to Rhodes, grab a seat in the oldest cinema in the Dodecanese Islands and the first in Europe to show films in 9D! The 30-minute Throne of Helios film gives a first-person perspective on the mythology and history of Rhodes, with seats that move through space with wind, rain, and other effects that immerse you in each scene. It’s super fun and educational for all ages, with a free museum to further grow your knowledge of the region.

Special nod to The Throne of Helios Theater for earning the TUI Sustainable Supplier Diploma for its green energy, water conservation, and local employment.

Valley of the Butterflies

Valley of the Butterflies, Rhodes Dodecanese Islands Greece

The only natural forest of Oriental Sweetgum trees in Europe is in Rhodes, Dodecanese Greece and it secretes a substance that brings butterflies here by the thousand! From May to September, countless Panaxia Quadripunctaria come to the Valley of the Butterflies to breed and dazzle visitors with their red and black speckled wings. With a canopy of old-growth trees following the river and a series of waterfalls, this is also the coolest place to be in summer and beautiful enough for a stroll at any time of year. 

West Coast Road Trip

West Coast Rhodes, Dodecanese Islands Greece

Enjoy this rugged coastline, lesser-visited historic sites, and Attavyros (the tallest mountain in the Dodecanese). After the Valley of the Butterflies, head towards the ancient city of Kamiros, one the original Doric cities of Rhodes (pre-dating the present-day old town) with ruins from the 3rd century BCE. Keep driving south along the coast and alongside Attavyros mountain (3,986 ft tall), and you’ll reach a series of Hospitaller castles, starting with Kritinia. Precariously on a cliff, you can take a short scramble to the top for incredible views to the islands of Chalki and the country of Turkey! If you still have time and you want the best sunset spot (though you’ll catch a good one anywhere on the westside of Rhodes) make it all the way to Kastro Monolithou. Need to make headway before dark? Grab a sunset cocktail and dinner at the classic beachside taverna of Porto Antico, before your last stretch back to Old Town.

Anthony Quinn Bay: The Best Beaches in Rhodes

Best beaches in Rhodes, Dodecanese Greece

Long story short: this bay has arguably the best beaches in Rhodes. Just 15km from southeast of Old Town, this series of beach coves framed by rocky cliffs and agave and facing out to the islets is drop-dead gorgeous. Swim in the azure waters, spring for a beach lounger and thatched umbrella, and sip a cocktail with a swoon-making view at Kounna Beach & Resto Bar to enjoy these Blue Flag Beaches.

Though if you want the long story, it’s a pretty fascinating tale of Hollywood influence meets government conservation. Actor Anthony Quinn fell in love with Rhodes while shooting the 1961 film, The Guns of Navarone, and wanted to buy the remote bay for a private artist retreat. The film basically put Rhodes on the map for tourism…so as a thank you for the promotion (and some road-building efforts), the government granted  Quinn the land. It was later deemed illegal to privatize beaches in Greece and Anthony Quinn Bay went back to the people and remains that way for all to enjoy.

Bee Museum Rhodes

the only bee museum in Greece

The history of beekeeping in Greece goes deep into ancient times and its importance cited by Hippocrates’  “Let food be thy medicine” teachings. Rhodes is home to the country’s first beekeeping school and it’s the only museum dedicated to these precious creatures. The Bee Museum’s beautiful and interactive exhibit is quite interesting—from its artful honeycomb ceiling to its plexiglass beehive to watch them hard at work. Much less, their free samples are delish!  

Wine Tasting at Estate Anastasia

Winetasting and vineyards of Rhodes, Dodecanese Islands Greece

Greece has 3,500 years of winemaking experience and is essential to their culture (hello Dionysius, God of Wine)! Spend an afternoon overlooking the vines and trying the libations at the family-run Anastasia Triantafyllou Estate. Dating back 28 years, Mama Anastasia was the family’s original winemaker and now that their son Jason has completed his studies in France, they are an unbeatable winemaking team. Sit under the shade of their grape-vine trellis, and Jason will serve you their signature pine resin-infused wine (an ingredient used by the ancient Greeks), the athri varietal (a grape grown on Rhodes for 2,400 years), and finally the famous Rhodes souma, a liquor made from grapes. Cheers to great ambiance, fine wine, and good company!


Tsambika Monastery Hike

Rhodes Island Dodecanese Greece

On the eastside of Rhodes, drive the steep winding road up the mountain until you reach the Tsambika Monastery’s trailhead, consisting of 308 stairs (they’re numbered to keep yourself motivated). Under a canopy of trees, follow in the footsteps of the pilgrims and don’t give up—the views are well worth it! Standing at 787 feet above the some of the best beaches in Rhodes, you’ll see uninterrupted views of the coastline, villages, and mountains. Pop into the tiny Byzantine church dedicated to the Virgin Mary to admire the elaborate pebble mosaic flooring and bizarre baby-shaped candles that people light for blessings of fertility.

Kayaking Lindos, Rhodes

Where else in the world can you sea kayak to an ancient acropolis, snorkel in teal waters, and fine dine along the way? Lindos, Greece. Setting off on an all-day cultural adventure with affiliate link Trekking Hellas, we paddled along the limestone cliffs full of fearless mountain goats, weaving between pinnacles and dipping into sea caves, and a total of four bays. The scenery was already stunning, then the Lindos Acropolis peeked over the mountain.

We paddled closer and a friendly beach taverna welcomed us in for lunch. With a belly full of moussaka and dolmades, we were ready to explore the labyrinth of white-washed houses and climb up to the Temple of Athena Lindia and the 3000+ years of civilizations that crown the mountaintop. We reached the peak and looked back to the sea coves, framed by Doric columns, and thought this might be the most unique kayaking experience we’ve ever had. This Trekking Hellas tour is truly the best way to see Lindos in a day!

Rhodes Island-Hopping with a Marine Biologist

Scuba dive and boat trip with Blutopia, Rhodes and see the best beaches in Rhodes

A unique convergence of ecotourism and aquaculture, Blutopia has created a series of fantastic boat trips in the protected waters of western Rhodes. To help combat overfishing in the 1990s, the founder Savvas Chatzinikolaou was asked to create Rhodes’s first sustainable fish farm, and today uses that knowledge and access to lead snorkeling and scuba diving trips in and around the aquafarm at Strongyli island. We dove below the nets with a school of massive tuna (some over 300lbs!) and curious snorkelers can jump inside with 1000s of fish (sea bass, red sea bream, and more). In their swanky new speedboat, we continued past the wild Makri islet to the fascinating Alimia and ended in Chalki for an unforgettable 4-island tour.

FYI: All Blutopia trips return to Rhodes, but upon request, you can end their four-island trip in Chalki. Scuba divers, Blutopia also runs trips to Rhodes’ best shipwrecks.

Best Restaurants in Rhodes

Best restaurants in Rhodes, Dodecanese Islands, Greece

Ono by Marouli

Rhodes’s premier plant-based restaurant lets you try all the Greek classics (moussaka, tzatziki, and Greek salad ) vegan style, as well as a number of Israeli and Italian dishes with locally sourced ingredients in a hip setting. Located in New Town Rhodes, just outside the city walls, Ono by Marouli is a great locals’ spot.

Sissitio

Set on a gorgeous terrace outside the stunning Mosque of Suleiman, this is the place to be on weekend nights when the DJ spins the vinyl. Props to Sissitio for their focus on small Greek producers and innovative recipes that embolden their zero-waste program.

Island Lipsi Restaurant

This third-generation, family-owned restaurant sits in one of the best-preserved buildings in Old Town with beautiful stone walls and vaulted ceilings dripping with chandeliers. The traditional Greek food and wine were bountiful and delish (They also very accommodating to vegans at Island Lipsi).

Hellas Restaurant

Near the famed Lindos in the small town of Pefkos, lies a small family restaurant that has become the cornerstone of the contemporary Greek food scene. Winner of Best Restaurant for Modern Greek Cuisine and Top Chef Greece in 2021,  the power couple Erini & Kirikos put all their love into the food. Vegetarians and vegans delight, Hellas has a special tasting menu for you.

Best Hotels in Rhodes, Dodecanese Islands Greece

Best boutique hotels in Rhodes

Hotel 10GR

We loved this hotel in the heart of Old Town Rhodes. The downstairs is a fantastic wine bar and savvy locals’ hangout. (Be sure to book their private wine tasting with the island’s premier sommelier). Head upstairs and each room has an outdoor living room shaded by bougainvillea and a bedroom with vaulted stone ceilings and murals dedicated to famous Greeks. Check prices for Hotel 10GR.

Lindos Blu

This hotel checks every box: Green-Key certified, Small Luxury Hotel of the World, and TUI winner for Best Hotel Globally! Tiered down the mountain overlooking Vilcha Beach, the architecture is beautiful and made prettier with infinity pools and waterfalls. Their four restaurants are all fabulous and Five Senses is award-winning (and an 8-course vegan tasting menu that’s to die for). Check prices for Lindos Blu.

Casa Cook

This is the hip new boutique hotel, a few miles from Old Town Rhodes is great for those who want a chilled-out space to take in the mountain and ocean vistas. Chic rooms, an excellent restaurant, and an irresistible swimming pool offer everything you need in a boutique hotel. Check prices of Casa Cook Rhodes.

Sustainable Travel Tip

Reforesting Rhodes, Dodecanese Greece

Stay at hotels (like Lindos Blu & 10GR) that are Ambassadors for Common Nature Forest, an organization that has planted over 2,700 trees around Rhodes to offset the carbon impact of visitors and reforest fire-affected areas. Also, check out their website to see if any volunteer outings coincide with your visit or to have a tree planted in the name of your fellow travelers or loved ones.

Rhodes Five-Day Travel Itinerary

Old Town (2 Days):

Stay in the old town for two or three days to enjoy the medieval city and its many historic sites, museums, cafes, bars, and nearby beaches. A walking tour of Old Town, the Palace of the Grand Master, and the archaeological museum are a must. For an incredible beach day, head to Anthony Quinn Bay to enjoy its series of coves and fabulous beach bar.

Westside (1 day)

With your Rhodes car rental, take a full-day road trip up the westside, stopping to experience its countryside, vineyards, valleys, wild coast, and lesser-visited ruins. Put in your GPS: Bee Museum,  Valley of the Butterflies, Estate Anastasia, Kamieros, and Kritinia Castle.

Eastside (1 day)

Get an early start to enjoy the east coast and its valleys before arriving at Lindos for a few-day stay. Make stops at Kalithea Springs for this Italian-made landscape garden on the beach (also a Blue Flag winner). (If you didn’t catch Anthony Quinn Beach on a day trip from Rhodes, be sure to hit it on your way south! Pop over to Seven Springs to take the unconventional hike through a kilometer-long, narrow tunnel and shallow stream to reach more springs. (It’s not for claustrophobes or people afraid of the dark, but it’s a hoot!) Save your energy, because you are gonna want to climb the 300+ steps to the Tsambika Monastery for the best views of the eastside. That’s about all you can fit into the day before making it to Lindos!

Lindos (2 days)

Stay in the white-washed village or at one of the beach resorts like the incredible Lindos Blu and make it your hub for 2-3 days. Wander the serpentine streets, popping into the charming shops, and take time at a  cafe to watch traditional life go by. Lindos Acropolis is the main attraction; history buffs should spend at least a half day here and if you just want an overview, you can check it out on your Trekking Hellas Lindos Kayak Tour. This paddling trip is an epic way to see the coastline, caves, and beaches plus have a quick guided tour of the town and the ruins.

How to Get to & from Rhodes, Dodecanese Islands Greece

Rhodes boat to Chalki, Greece

Rhodes has the biggest airport (code: RHO) in Dodecanese Islands, Greece with direct flights from dozens of European cities and regular flights from Athens. It also has a robust ferry system going all the way to Athens (~15hrs) and all its neighboring islands…a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and travel to Greece’s most sustainable islands. The solar-powered and energy-independent and lovely islands of Chalki and Tilos are under a two-hour ferry away for an overnight adventure and the incredible Karpathos island is three hours south…and worth a week of your time! And to make sure your travels run smoothly, don’t forget your travel insurance!

Let us know what you think of Rhodes! Learn more about the best Islands in the Dodecanese, Greece and why we chose this region as one the World’s Most Romantic and Sustainable Destinations!

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6 Comments

  1. Rhodes is definitely on our list when we finally plan our Greek Island trip. Good to know we will need to rent a car if we want to visit all 3 different areas. And not miss a chance to visit the Valley of Butterflies with the waterfall views. We would take your recommendation to visit Anthony Quinn Bay for the best beaches. And plan to do wine tasting on the island. Five days looks like the right amount of time to see the gems on the island.

    1. Linda, you’ll love Rhodes! Five days is about the bare minimum, it’s packed with awesome sites. Fo a little relaxation, definitely pop over to Chalki for a coule days…such a gem and truly authentic Greek isle.

  2. Rhodes looks incredible!

  3. Greece has so many fantastic places and I discovered so many more in this article! love your imagery too.

    1. Santorini is just the beginning, right? There are whole island groups that get overlooked and people have no idea what they are missing in places like the Dodecanese.

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