Rhodes and the Dodecanese

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Wrapped enticingly around the shores of Asia Minor, the Dodecanese are Greece’s easternmost island chain, edging the sunny fringes of the Aegean sea. A historic bridge between East and West, it is a location that has never been short of admirers.

Roman and Byzantine merchants grew fat off its trade routes, and to the Catholic Knights of the Order of St. John, who landed in 1309 and transformed Rhodes and Kos, they were a powerful bulwark against the spread of Islam. Even today, for that most persistent invader of all, Western tourists, the geographical oddity of Rhodes, "Europe's sunniest spot," is still a more potent lure than all the jewels of the ancient world that lie there. These islands have lived long in our imagination.

Romans, Crusaders, Persians, Turks, and Veneti... Read More

Wrapped enticingly around the shores of Asia Minor, the Dodecanese are Greece’s easternmost island chain, edging the sunny fringes of the Aegean sea. A historic bridge between East and West, it is a location that has never been short of admirers.

Roman and Byzantine merchants grew fat off its trade routes, and to the Catholic Knights of the Order of St. John, who landed in 1309 and transformed Rhodes and Kos, they were a powerful bulwark against the spread of Islam. Even today, for that most persistent invader of all, Western tourists, the geographical oddity of Rhodes, "Europe's sunniest spot," is still a more potent lure than all the jewels of the ancient world that lie there. These islands have lived long in our imagination.

Romans, Crusaders, Persians, Turks, and Venetians have all planted their flag in the Dodecanese at some point, but it was package tourism that brought Rhodes and Kos to their knees. Since the 1960s the pair have yielded huge stretches of coastline to resorts, drawn to the golden beaches and twinkling blue waters. Yet these sands are far from lost; there are still quiet stretches of blissful shore to dip your toes. Temples, castles, and acropolises hidden among hilltop forests, ghost villages, lush vineyards, or cobbled back lanes also reward with more than just respite. These are atmospheric sights, filled with history. And for all the visitors that crowd Rhodes’s Old Town in summer, there is still no other walled city in Europe as charming, while few can match Kos's healing center of Asklepieion for its glimpse into the inner workings of the ancient world.

Then there are the smaller islands: Symi and Patmos. For reasons of either culture or geography, the sting of mass tourism just hasn’t taken here. The former is a pleasing warren of colorful neoclassical mansions, built with money from the sponge trade that once thrived there. Its stony shores attract little but day-trippers, and come nightfall it’s among the most peaceful spots in all the Greek islands. Patmos was where St. John wrote his Book of Revelation, and it grew into a renowned monastic center during the Byzantine period. Today it is a pilgrimmage spot for the Greek Orthodox faith and has little truck with resorts yet hides some fantastic shorelines. Both have few attractions but offer a welcome antidote to the addiction of mass tourism.

All the Dodecanese islands are worthy of exploration, and easily hopped on local ferries. Once there, it's often only on foot or two wheels that you can find yourself without another soul for company, and perhaps only then will you appreciate just what makes these islands so unique.

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Language

Greek

Nearby Airports

RHO, KGS

Electrical Outlets

200v/50 cycles; electrical plugs have two round prongs

Currency

Euro

Language

Greek

Electrical Outlets

200v/50 cycles; electrical plugs have two round prongs

Currency

Euro

Nearby Airports

RHO, KGS

To avoid crowds, just before and after peak seasons (May, June, and September) are good times to visit. August is the busiest season on all...Read More

Discover the best neighborhoods in Rhodes and the Dodecanese with curated recommendations from our editors.

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To avoid crowds, just before and after peak seasons (May, June, and September) are good times to visit. August is the busiest season on all...Read More

Discover the best neighborhoods in Rhodes and the Dodecanese with curated recommendations from our editors.

Explore All

To avoid crowds, just before and after peak seasons (May, June, and September) are good times to visit. August is the busiest season on all...Read More

Discover the best neighborhoods in Rhodes and the Dodecanese with curated recommendations from our editors.

Explore All

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