Rhodes and the Dodecanese

We’ve compiled the best of the best in Rhodes and the Dodecanese - browse our top choices for the top things to see or do during your stay.

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  • 1. Acropolis of Lindos


    A 15-minute climb (please don't ride a donkey), from the village center up to the Acropolis of Lindos leads past a gauntlet of Lindian women who spread out their lace and embroidery like fresh laundry over the rocks. The final approach ascends a steep flight of stairs, past a marvelous 2nd-century BC relief of the prow of a Lindian ship, carved into the rock. The entrance takes you through the medieval castle built by the Knights of St. John, then to the Byzantine Chapel of St. John on the next level. The Romans, too, left their mark on the acropolis, with a temple dedicated to Diocletian. On the upper terraces, begun by classical Greeks around 300 BC, are the remains of elaborate porticoes and stoas, commanding an immense sweep of sea and making a powerful statement on behalf of Athena and the Lydians (who dedicated the monuments on the Acropolis to her). The lofty white columns of the temple and stoa on the summit must have presented a magnificent picture. The main portico of the stoa had 42 Doric columns, at the center of which an opening led to the staircase up to the Propylaia (or sanctuary). The Temple of Athena Lindia at the very top is surprisingly modest, given the drama of the approach. As was common in the 4th century BC, both the front and the rear are flanked by four Doric columns. Numerous inscribed statue bases were found all over the summit, attesting in many cases to the work of Lindian sculptors, who were clearly second to none.

    Lindos, Rhodes, 85107, Greece

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €12, Closed Tues. Nov.–Mar.
  • 2. Archaeological Museum


    The island's archaeological museum houses Hellenistic and Roman sculpture by Koan artists, much of it unearthed by Italians during their tenure on the island in the early 20th century. Among the treasures are a renowned statue of Hippocrates—the great physician who practiced on Kos—and Asclepius, god of healing; a group of sculptures from various Roman phases, all discovered in the House of the Europa Mosaic; and a remarkable series of Hellenistic draped female statues mainly from the Sanctuary of Demeter at Kyparissi and the Odeon.

    Platia Eleftherias, Kos Town, Kos, 85300, Greece

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €6; €15 combo ticket (inludes the Asklepieion and Casa Romana), Closed Tues.
  • 3. Asklepieion

    Hippocrates began to teach the art of healing on Kos in the 5th century BC, attracting health seekers to the island almost up to the time of his death, allegedly at age 103, in 357 BC. This elaborate, multitiered complex dedicated to the god of medicine, Asklepios, was begun shortly after Hippocrates's death and flourished until the decline of the Roman Empire as the most renowned medical facility in the Western world. The lower terrace probably held the Asklepieion Festivals, famed drama and dance contests held in honor of the god of healing. On the middle terrace is an Ionic temple, once decorated with works by the legendary 4th-century BC painter Apelles, including his renowned depiction of Aphrodite (much celebrated in antiquity, it was said the artist used a mistress of Alexander the Great as a model). On the uppermost terrace is the Doric Temple of Asklepios, once surrounded by colonnaded porticoes.

    Off Agiou Demetriou, Platani, Kos, 85300, Greece

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €8; €15 combo ticket (inludes the Casa Romana and Archeology Museum), Closed Tues. Nov.–Mar., Apr.–Oct., daily 8–8; Nov.–Mar., Tues.–Sun. 8–3
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  • 4. Eleousa Ghost Village

    Drive west of Epta Piges and you'll come to the ghost village of Eleousa (formerly Campochiaro), one of many follies built under Italian rule (1912–43). The central island was useful to the Italians for its resources and agricultural potential, so villages such as the one here were created in the 1930s to accommodate workers shipped in from Northern Italy. Roads were built to link it to the capital and other pre-fab towns, and an official residence was created for the island's governor. Like everything the Italians did on Rhodes, it was a show of power designed to promote their Fascist ideology to locals. It didn't last. Under a new governor, the village became a military outpost and a prison for Greek insurrectionists. When Italy surrendered in 1943 during World War II, it lost control of the islands and the last Italian families here disappeared. In later years the town was renamed Eleousa and its abandoned buildings used as a sanitarium for tuberculosis patients, but even this fell out of use by the 1970s. Today, its eerie vision of Italian "greatness" provides a remarkable glimpse into a strange past.

    Eleousa, Rhodes, Greece
  • 5. Monastery of St. John the Theologian

    On its high perch at the top of Chora, the Monastery of St. John the Theologian is one of the world's best-preserved fortified medieval monastic complexes, a center of learning since the 11th century, and today recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Hosios Christodoulos, a man of education, energy, devotion, and vision, established the monastery in 1088, and the complex soon became an intellectual center, with a rich library and a tradition of teaching. Monks of education and social standing ornamented the monastery with the best sculpture, carvings, and paintings and, by the end of the 12th century, the community owned land on Leros, Limnos, Crete, and Asia Minor, as well as ships, which carried on trade exempt from taxes. A broad staircase leads to the entrance, which is fortified by towers and buttresses. The complex consists of buildings from a number of periods: in front of the entrance is the 17th-century Chapel of the Holy Apostles; the main Church dates from the 11th century, the time of Christodoulos (whose skull, along with that of Apostle Thomas, is encased in a silver sarcophagus here); the Chapel of the Virgin is from the 12th century. The Treasury contains relics, icons, silver, and vestments, most dating from 1600 to 1800. An 11th-century icon of St. Nicholas is executed in fine mosaic work and encased in a silver frame. Another icon is allegedly the work of El Greco. On display, too, are some of the library's oldest codices, dating to the late 5th and the 8th centuries, such as pages from the Gospel of St. Mark and the Book of Job. For the most part, however, the Library is not open to the public and special permission is required to research its extensive treasures: illuminated manuscripts, approximately 1,000 codices, and more than 3,000 printed volumes. The collection was first cataloged in 1200; of the 267 works of that time, the library still has 111. The archives preserve a near-continuous record, down to the present, of the history of the monastery as well as the political and economic history of the region.

    Chora, Patmos, 85500, Greece

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €4, Daily 8–1:30 (also 2–6 on Sun., Tues., and Thurs.); Dec.–Mar., call to arrange a treasury visit, as hrs are irregular
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  • 6. Monastery of Taxiarchis Michael Panormitis

    The main reason to venture to the atypically green, pine-covered hills surrounding the little Gulf of Panormitis is to visit this unexpectedly huge monastery dedicated to Symi's patron saint, the protector of sailors. The site's entrance is surmounted by an elaborate bell tower, of the multilevel wedding-cake variety on display in Yialos and Chorio. A black-and-white pebble mosaic adorns the floor of the courtyard, which is surrounded by a vaulted stoa. The interior of the church, entirely frescoed in the 18th century, contains a marvelously ornate wooden iconostasis, which is flanked by a heroic-size representation of Michael, all but his face covered with silver. There are two small museums, one dedicated to folk culture (closed for renovation at the time of writing) and the other to religious paraphernalia. The latter has a particularly eclectic collection, including votive offerings of wooden ship models, bottles with notes containing wishes, and, most bizarrely, stuffed crocodiles. If a day trip isn't enough for you, the monastery rents 75 spartan rooms (from €20 per night) with kitchens and private baths. Though the price doesn't include a towel or air-conditioning and there are insects (some rather large), the spiritual aspect makes for an enriching experience. A nursing home as well as a market, bakery, restaurant, and a few other businesses make up the rest of the settlement. The monastery is at its busiest for the week leading up to November 8, Michael's feast day, an event that draws the faithful from throughout the Dodecanese and beyond.

    Symi, 85600, Greece

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Monastery free; museums €1.50, Monastery: daily 7–8; museums: Apr.–Oct. 8:30–1 and 3–4; Nov.–Apr. by appointment
  • 7. Monolithos


    The medieval fortress of Monolithos—so named for the jutting, 750-foot monolith on which it is constructed—was built by the Knights of St. John in 1480 and rises above a fairy-tale landscape of deep-green forests and sharp cliffs plunging into the sea. Inside the stronghold (accessible only by a steep path and series of stone steps) there is a chapel, and the ramparts provide magnificent views of Rhodes's emerald inland and the island of Halki. The small pebble beach of Fourni beneath the castle is a delightful place for a swim.

    Monolithos, Rhodes, 85105, Greece
  • 8. Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes

    Old Town

    This grand building, with its fairy-tale towers, crenellated ramparts, and more than 150 rooms, crowns the top of the Street of Knights and is the place to begin any tour of Rhodes. Unscathed during the Turkish siege of 1522, the palace was partly destroyed in 1856 by an explosion of ammunition stored nearby in the cellars of the Church of St. John. The present structure—a Mussolini-era Italian reconstruction of the 1930s—is said to have remained fairly close to the original in its exterior, but inside was rebuilt with all the restraint of your typical Fascist dictatorship. The building was, after all, reimagined as a holiday abode for King Vittorio Emmanuele III of Italy, and later Il Duce himself (Mussolini), whose name is still engraved at the entrance. Today the palace's collection of antiques and antiquities includes Hellenistic and Roman mosaic floors from Italian excavations in Kos, and in the permanent exhibition downstairs are extensive displays, maps, and plans showing the layout of the city that will help you get oriented before wandering through the labyrinthine Old Town.

    Ippoton, Rhodes Town, Rhodes, 85100, Greece

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €8; combined museum ticket €10, Closed Tue. Nov.--Mar., May–Oct., daily 8–7:40
  • 9. Street of Knights

    Old Town

    This historic cobblestone lane, known in Greek as Ippoton, runs east from the Palace of the Grand Master to the harbor, and was once part of a longer path that wound its way to the Acropolis. During its medieval heyday it became a residential quarter. It is bordered on both sides by the seven Inns of the Tongues, auberges where visiting Knights of the Order of St. John were domiciled according to their spoken language. These were heavily renovated during the 1930s, under Italian occupation, and today mostly hold consulates and government institutions. They are nevertheless wonderfully atmospheric to wander. The most elaborate example is the Inn of France, whose ornately carved facade bears heraldic patterns, fleur de lis, and an inscription that dates the building to 1492 and its commission by Emery d'Ambroise.

    Ippoton, Rhodes Town, Rhodes, 85100, Greece
  • 10. Thermes Kallitheas

    Hot Spring

    As you travel south along the east coast, a strange sight meets you: an assemblage of buildings that look as if they have been transplanted from Morocco. In fact, this spectacular mosaic-tile bath complex was built in 1929 by the Italians. As far back as the early 2nd century BC, area mineral springs were prized; the great physician Hippocrates of Kos extolled these springs for alleviating liver, kidney, and rheumatic ailments. Though the baths are no longer in use, the ornate rotunda has been restored (art exhibitions are often on view), as have peristyles and pergolas, and you can wander through the beautifully landscaped grounds—note the pebble mosaics, an ancient folk tradition come alive again, with mosaics of fish, deer, and other images—and have a drink or snack in the attractive café. A pretty beach rings a nearby cove.

    Rhodes Town, Rhodes, 85100, Greece

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €3, Closed Nov.–Mar.
  • 11. Walls of Rhodes

    One of the great medieval monuments in the Mediterranean, the walls of Rhodes are wonderfully restored and illustrate the engineering capabilities as well as the financial and human resources available to the Knights of St. John. For 200 years the knights strengthened the walls by thickening them, up to 40 feet in places, and curving them so as to deflect cannonballs. The moat between the inner and outer walls never contained water; it was a device to prevent invaders from constructing siege towers. You can get a sense of the enclosed city's massive scale by walking for free inside the moat; entrances can be found at the gates of St. Athanasius and Ambroise. Part of the walkway that runs the 4 km (2½ miles) along the top of the walls is accessible through the Palace of the Grand Master ticket office; free tours are run daily between noon and 3 pm.

    Rhodes Town, Rhodes, Greece

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €2 for walkway, Closed Sat. and Sun., and Nov.--Apr.
  • 12. Aghios Giorgos

    The half-hour boat trip down the rugged east coast of the island from Pedi Bay is part of the pleasure of an excursion to this beautiful strip of sand, backed by sheer cliffs. The absence of amenities requires a bit of preparation—bring water, food, and an umbrella, as there are few shade-providing trees. Amenities: none. Best for: nudists; snorkeling; solitude; swimming.

    Pedi Bay, Symi, 85600, Greece
  • 13. Aghios Nikolas


    Accessible by water taxi from Chialos, the alternative way is to walk, taking the 1 km-long (600 yards) rough path leading east of Pedi Bay. Once there, a sandy beach slopes gently into the sea, providing shallow waters that are excellent for children; it's backed by a grove of shade-giving trees. Despite the relative isolation, the beach attracts summertime crowds and is well equipped with food vendors and other facilities. Amenities: food and drink; toilets; water sports. Best for: snorkeling; swimming.

    Pedi Bay, Symi, 85600, Greece
  • 14. Agora and Harbor Ruins

    Excavations by Italian and Greek archaeologists have revealed ancient agora and harbor ruins that date from the 4th century BC through Roman times. Remnants include parts of the walls of the old city, of a Hellenistic stoa, and of temples dedicated to Aphrodite and Hercules. The ruins are not fenced and, laced with pine-shaded paths, are a pleasant retreat in the modern city. In spring the site is covered with brightly colored flowers, which nicely frame the ancient gray-and-white marble blocks tumbled in every direction.

    Kos Town, Kos, 85300, Greece
  • 15. Archaeological Museum of Rhodes

    The Hospital of the Knights (now the island's archaeological museum) was completed in 1489 and surrounds a Byzantine courtyard, off which are the refectory and wards where the wealthy institution once administered to the knights and townspeople. These wonderful surroundings are enhanced with findings from Rhodes's three ancient cities (Ialysos, Kameiros, and Lindos) and the nearby islands, including a magnificent collection of ceramic amphoras and oenochoe (wine jugs), which inevitably fell into the possession of the islands' wealthy merchants. Successive rooms elegantly show the evolution of Attic pottery, from early geometric deigns to the red-on-black figures of the 5th century BC. Among its collection are also two well-known representations of Aphrodite: the Aphrodite of Rhodes, who, while bathing, pushes aside her hair as if she's listening; and a standing figure, known as Aphrodite Thalassia, or "of the sea," as she was discovered in the water off the northern city beach. There are also two 6th-century BC kouros (statues of idealized male youth) that were found in the nearby ancient city of Kameiros, and, in a beautiful 5th-century BC funerary stela, a young woman named Crito, hair cut short in mourning, gives a farewell embrace to her mother, Timarista, who is already moving outside the frame, as she leaves the world.

    Megalou Alexandrou Square, Rhodes Town, Rhodes, 85100, Greece

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €6; combined museum ticket €10, Closed Tues. Nov.–Mar., Apr.–Oct., Daily 8–7:30
  • 16. Archaeological Museum of Symi

    The Archaeological Museum, housed amid a daze of twisting back lanes, is divided into two sections. The upper display spreads a trio of rooms depicting the history of the island through Hellenistic and Roman sculptures and inscriptions as well as icons, costumes, and handicrafts. Below this, a museum guide takes you into a merchant's archontiko (manison). Built overlooking the bay to spot invaders, it offers a fascinating look at the traditional life of the wealthy family that once lived here.

    Chorio, Symi, 85600, Greece

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €2, Closed Tues., Tues.–Sun. 8–2:30
  • 17. Ayios Stefanos Beach


    A chunk of beautiful Ayios Stefanos Beach, just north of Kefalos, is now occupied by the newly built Ikos Aria (formerly the old Club Med); the rest belongs to beach clubs renting umbrellas and chairs and offering activities that include waterskiing and jet-skiing. Expect to pay about €45 for a waterskiing session, €60 for jet skiing. Two early Christian basilicas crown a promontory at the southern end of the beach, adding to the allure of this lovely spot. Amenities: food and drink; parking (free); showers; water sports. Best for: snorkeling; swimming.

    Kefalos, Kos, 85301, Greece
  • 18. Casa Romana


    The Roman House is a lavish restoration of a 3rd-century Roman mansion, with 40 rooms grouped around three atriums. It was likely partially destroyed in the earthquake of 365 AD, though its south section continued to be inhabited until the Early Christian period. The house provides a look at what everyday life of the well-to-do residents of the Roman town might have been like and also has some beautiful frescoes and mosaics. The Greek and Roman ruins that surround the house are freely accessible, however, and are just as evocative. Last entry is 7:30 pm.

    Grigoriou V Street, Kos Town, Kos, 85300, Greece

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €6; €15 combo ticket (inludes the Asklepieion and Archeology Museum), Closed Mon. (Apr.–Oct.); Tues. (Nov.–Mar.)
  • 19. Castle of Antimacheia

    The thick, well-preserved walls of this 14th-century fortress look out over the sweeping Aegean and Kos's green interior. Antimacheia was another stronghold of the Knights of St. John, a military order of crusading monks, whose coat of arms hangs above the entrance gate. After numerous fierce attacks by the Ottoman Turks in the late 15th century, the Knights eventually retreated from Kos in 1523 after the fall of Rhodes to the Turks. Within the walls, little of the original complex remains, with the exception of two stark churches; in one of them, Ayios Nikolaos, you can make out a primitive fresco of St. Christopher carrying the infant Jesus.

    Antimachia, Kos, 85300, Greece
  • 20. Church of Ayhios Ioannis

    This church built in 1838 incorporates in its walls fragments of ancient blocks from a temple that apparently stood on this site and is surrounded by a plaza paved in an intricate mosaic, fashioned from inlaid pebbles.

    Yialos, Symi, 85600, Greece

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