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Renting a car (for EUR 30-EUR 40 a day) is useful for exploring Rhodes or Kos, or to hop between Patmos's many beaches. (Make sure it's unlimited mileage, and that the engine has the power for hills!) In Symi, with its few roads, a car is of little use and you should opt for the vans that serve as the island bus, make use of the island taxis, or walk along the paths that connect most places on the island.
Rhodes, Kos, and Patmos have regular (usually morning-oriented) bus service to sites and beaches. All islands have taxi service, and it's possible to travel to some spots by boat on Symi and Patmos (check prices in advance).
If you island-hop through the Dodecanese islands for the day, confirm the return boat schedule, as service is fairly limited outside the summer season.
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