The Greek island of Rhodes is love at first sight! It is the largest of the Dodecanese islands of Greece and a perfect travel destination for those who want to combine rich history and architecture with gorgeous beaches, bustling life, welcoming locals, and an amazing food experience.
I’ve recently come back from Rhodes and all I can say is… Wow, what a place! My friends and I stayed in Esperia City hotel in Rhodes Old Town for 12 days and we carefully planned our vacation so could get the most of it – and we did. In 12 days we managed to visit the main Rhodes attractions and enjoyed every moment of our stay.
In this article, I want to share with you the 20 very best things to do in Rhodes!
1. Rhodes Old Town
The capital of Rhodes island is the city of the same name – Rhodes. The city of Rhodes is located in the north-east tip of the island and is divided into two parts – a new, modern part of the city that encompasses the Mandraki Port, and Rhodes Old Town, a walled medieval city nestled west of the port.
Rhodes Old Town is one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Europe and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988. It is also said to be the oldest inhabited medieval city in Europe with around 6000 inhabitants who live and work within its walls.
Built by the Knights of Saint John in the early 14th century on the remains of the Byzantine fortifications, the medieval city is surrounded by 4 km long walls with seven main gates. Once you pass through these gates, you’ll be thrown back to the era of Knights and Ottoman Turks who conquered the island and the Old Town in 1522. The Ottomans remained in Rhodes for several centuries, until Italian troops took over the island in 1912.
As a result, Rhodes Old Town is a mixture of different architectural and cultural influences. While wandering around its narrow, cobbled streets you’ll come across Christian churches, mosques, a Jewish synagogue, ancient baths, medieval palaces… The most representative example is the grandiose Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights built in the 14th century on the site of a former Byzantine citadel.
The cobbled Street of the Knights connects the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights with an impressive Archeological Museum where you can admire a rich collection of ancient artifacts, objects and artworks found on Rhodes island.
The imposing, red-colored Suleymaniye Mosque can be found at the stone’s throw from the palace, at the end of Sokratous Street. Named after Suleiman the Magnificent to commemorate his conquest of Rhodes in 1522, Syleymaniye Mosque is the most striking and impressive mosque on the island.
A network of old streets, squares and alleys filled with countless picturesque shops, restaurants, bars, and historic landmarks await you within the walls of this fascinating medieval town. Get ready for a long walk if you want to fully explore it, and don’t forget your camera as you’ll be amazed by its incredible beauty and charm!
2. Enjoy the Panoramic View of Rhodes Town
To enjoy the breathtaking panorama of Rhodes town, I suggest you head over to the Roloi Tower – a medieval Clock Tower which is also the highest point of the Old Town. The Roloi Tower originally dates from the 7th century and is situated next to Suleymaniye Mosque.
The tower was restored in the 19th century and nowadays offers spectacular 360-degree panoramic views of Rhodes town. For only 5 € you can climb 52 wooden steps to the top of the tower and get a free drink at a cafeteria below.
Once you reach the top of the tower, you will be able to take in breathtaking views of the city through small knee-height windows. Even though the panoramic view is somewhat limited, it is absolutely worth the climb and I suggest you go there after dusk for the best views.
3. Mandraki Port
Mandraki Harbour lies on the eastern coast of Rhodes town and is one of the main city attractions. It was once home to the Colossus of Rhodes, a statue of the Greek sun-god Helios and one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World destroyed in the earthquake of 226 BC.
Nowadays, on the site of the Colossus feet stand the two statues of a male and female deer, Elafos and Elafina, symbols of the island erected on two columns marking the entrance to the harbour.
Mandraki port is a bustling area filled with yachts, boats, restaurants and cafes, as well as some important historic landmarks including the 15th-century St Nicholas fortress and its lighthouse, the three medieval windmills, Nea Agora (the “New Market”), The Church of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary with its beautiful bell tower, the Governor’s Palace, and others.
Mandraki Port area was built and reconstructed after the Italian conquest of Rhodes in the first half of the 20th century. The Italian architect Florestano Di Fausto, considered the father of Italian Rhodes, designed in 1923 the Mandraki port area as we know it today, with a beautiful seafront promenade and buildings that mix Ottoman, Venetian, Renaissance, and local architectural styles.
Mandraki is also the main ferry and cruise port, packed with tourists and local tour operators offering boat trips to Symi island, Lindos, Kalithea Springs, and other attractions.
Suggested article: Port of Rhodes Cruise Guide, Things to Do, Shore Excursions
If you are staying in Rhodes town for a few days, make sure you visit Mandraki Port in both day and evening, as it’s truly beautiful and worth taking a walk.
4. Elli Beach
Rhodes town boasts a beautiful public beach on its eastern coast. Elli beach is a long and wide stretch of beach that spreads from Rhodes Aquarium to the Mandraki Port, filled with beach bars and amenities such as chair/umbrella rentals, showers, restrooms, and in the vicinity of supermarkets and other venues.
It is known for a concrete trampoline set in the middle of the sea, featuring three diving platforms from where you can jump. The beach itself is a mixture of sands and pebbles, with beautiful crystal-clear water.
You can either rent a chair/umbrella for around 5-10 € per sunbed, but you can also bring your own.
My friends and I spent three days at Elli beach club where we paid 30 € for three sunbeds and an umbrella, with a complimentary bottle of water and towels included in the price.
5. Sunset at the “Windy Beach”
On the northwest coast of Rhodes town, there is another town beach – Akti Miaouli beach, also known as a “windy beach” due to the strong winds and powerful waves.
It is composed of sand and grey pebbles and backed by a seafront promenade lined with hotels, restaurants and bars. You can also find beach facilities here, however, it’s not an ideal beach for swimming.
I recommend visiting this beach at sunset because it’s truly magical. I went there for a dinner at Barba Rossa restaurant, and the overall experience that included a delicious meal and a gorgeous sunset was one of those moments you never forget.
Nestled on the Rhodes’ east coast, approximately 50 km/31 miles south of Rhodes town, Lindos is an important archeological site and one of the most visited places on the island.
The picturesque village of Lindos is a true feast for the eyes and best admired from the road leading to it. On your way to Lindos (if you are coming by car), make sure you stop by the road and admire the best views of this fairytale village.
Suggested article: Rhodes Car Rental, 3-Day Itinerary, Maps, Explanations
Lindos was officially founded by the Dorians in the 10th century BC. It developed into a major trading center and was one of the main cities on the island until the foundation of Rhodes town in the 5th century BC. Throughout history, it changed hands between Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, the Knights of St John, the Ottomans who successively fortified the acropolis of Lindos rising above the village.
The famous Acropolis of Lindos is a must-see place and offers spectacular views of the coast and the town. It is dominated by the massive Doric Temple of Athena Lindia dating to 300 BC and several other structures including the Propylaea of the Sanctuary (4th century BC), the remains of a Roman Temple, Columns of the Hellenistic stoa, Castle of the Knights of St John (1317), and the Church of St John.
The village itself is a maze of narrow streets surrounded by whitewashed houses housing little colorful shops, cafes, bars, rooftop restaurants and hotels. The village is vibrant and boasts two beautiful beaches – Lindos beach (with Pallas beach at its end) and St Paul’s Bay on the other side of the hill.
The picturesque St Paul’s Bay is known for its beautiful white chapel, a popular place for weddings, and is best admired from the Acropolis.
You can choose to visit Lindos on a cruise or by road. You can either take a bus that leaves from Rhodes Central Bus Station or rent a car which I definitely recommend. There is large free parking above the village where you can leave your vehicle and then walk for around 10 minutes to the entrance of the village. Allow at least half a day for Lindos, if not the whole day as the place is truly magical.
I highly suggest you climb to the Acropolis – It is strenuous and you’ll need at least 10 minutes to climb, but once you’re on the top you’ll admire the most stunning views of the coast and the white village. The entrance ticket to the Acropolis is 12 €, and you can also pay by card. Overall, Lindos is one of the main island attractions and a must-see if you are staying in Rhodes for a few days.
7. Kallithea Springs
Only 15 minutes drive (9 km/5.6 miles) from Rhodes town, Kallithea Springs offers visitors a perfect blend of nature, history, hidden bays, caves and crystal clear waters.
Ever since antiquity, this area was known for its thermal, therapeutic springs. Under the rule of Italians in the first half of the 20th century, the spa complex was entirely reconstructed and transformed into a beautiful Thermal Spa attracting people suffering from all kinds of illnesses. The springs closed in 1967 and it wasn’t until recently that it has been restored and regained its old splendor.
Kallithea Springs nowadays features a mixture of Art Deco, Arabic and Baroque architectural styles and is dotted by numerous coves and bays which are a popular stop in Rhodes cruise itineraries. The whole complex is a popular venue for events and weddings and has a small beach with a bar restaurant and amenities such as chair/umbrella rentals.
You can also see a short movie about the history of Kallithea Springs and the photo exhibition in the interior of the building. If you seek the best views of the springs, head over to a cliff behind the springs where you can climb and enjoy gorgeous views of the coast and the spa complex.
The admission fee for Kallithea Springs is 3 €, and you can get there by car, taxi, boat (just for swimming), or bus from Central Bus Station.
8. Antony Quinn Bay
Antony Quinn Bay boasts one of the most scenic beaches on Rhodes island – Antony Quinn Beach named after the actor Antony Quinn who fell in love with this bay and bought this part of the island when filming “The Guns of Navarone” movie.
The beach is located on the eastern coast of Rhodes, around a 30-minute drive (19 km/12 miles) from Rhodes town. The beach is tucked in a scenic bay surrounded by pine trees and lush green vegetation and can get pretty crowded in July and August as it’s small and rocky. Water shoes are recommended to wear due to the pebbles and sharp rocks.
The waters are crystal clear, with surreal emerald color, perfect for activities such as snorkeling and swimming. You can rent kayaks and paddleboats, and there is a restaurant on top where you can grab a bite while enjoying the breathtaking views of the bay.
There is free parking but again, it can get quite crowded so I suggest coming here earlier in the morning or in the late afternoon.
If you are into hiking, you can explore the cliffs above the bay. Be careful, though, because these can be dangerous as they are not fenced. I went for a quick hike and the beauty of the surrounding cliffs and bays left me speechless!
9. Ladiko Bay
Situated only a 5-minute walk from Antony Quinn beach, you’ll come across the small yet beautiful Ladiko Beach, boasting crystal clear waters and sands. It’s perfect for snorkeling and swimming, and to be perfectly honest, I liked it even more than Antony Quinn.
You can rent umbrellas and chairs (but you can also bring your own, of course), and a shower, free parking and restrooms are available on site. There is a restaurant where you can grab a bite or drink.
If you have time, you can visit both beaches without moving your car – That’s how my friends and I did. We spent a couple of hours on this beach and absolutely loved it!
10. Tsambika Beach
Tsambika beach is said to be the best beach on Rhodes island. I wouldn’t personally use the word “best” but definitely the most beautiful one! It is a long stretch of golden sandy beach located on the east coast of the island, around a 40-minute drive (30 km/19 miles) from Rhodes town.
The beach boasts warm, shallow waters perfect for non-swimmers or families with kids. It is a long and wide beach where you’ll find numerous beach clubs, water sports, huge parking and a lot of beach facilities.
On the hill above the beach rises Tsambika monastery, another must-see place on the island that you can reach by handling 298 steps to the top.
11. Tsambika Monastery
Also known as the Monastery of the Panagia Tsambika (Virgin Mary Tsambika), this centuries-old sanctuary sits on a hill overlooking Tsambika beach.
This Orthodox Monastery has a huge significance for Orthodox Greeks as it’s believed that women facing difficulties in conceiving a child should climb the hill barefooted to pray to the Virgin for fertility. In most cases, the wishes and prayers are fulfilled and a boy would be named “Tsampikos” and a girl “Tsampika”.
To get to the monastery, there is a clearly marked turn from the main road. Although the road is steep, you can manage it by car and then after a few minutes ride you’ll reach parking where you can leave it. There is another parking higher up, but I didn’t dare as it seemed really steep and dangerous to get there.
We left our car at the first parking and hiked up to the monastery. There are 298 steps to handle, but the climb is absolutely worth it. Not only will you admire the most spectacular views of Tsambika beach and the coast, but you will also feel incredible energy inside the church walls. Make sure you dress appropriately and bring water.
A visit to this incredible monastery was one of the highlights of my journey and I will surely go back one day.
12. Butterfly Valley
A visit to the Valley of the Butterflies is one of the best things to do in Rhodes for those of you who are into nature and natural beauties.
The Valley of the Butterflies (Petaloudes Valley in Greek) is a beautiful nature reserve located a 40-minute drive (27 km/17 miles) from the Rhodes town. From June to September, the valley is home to the millions of butterflies flying here to breed. The most popular species is the Panaxia Quadripunctaria, a brown-black butterfly with yellow spots that you can see all over the trees.
This dreamy valley is filled with rare plants and animal species, cobblestone paths, ponds, wooden bridges, small waterfalls that create a uniquely relaxing atmosphere. It can be packed with tourists, though, as the valley is one of the main attractions on the island.
The admission fee to the Butterfly Valley is 5 € and the visit takes around 2 hours. There are lower and upper parts of the valley, so make sure you start your walk from the top. Unfortunately, my friends and I left our car on the bottom and walked all the way up, just to realize that we needed to go back through the valley again to reach the parking lot. Make sure you follow the map pointed at the entrance.
Within the complex, there are places to buy food and refreshments, as well as public pay toilets. Find more information on Butterfly Valley official webpage
13. Kamiros Archeological Site
The ancient city of Kameiros is located on the northwest coast of the island, approximately a 50-minute drive (37 km/23 miles) southwest of Rhodes town.
Kamiros was founded by Dorians in the 8th century BC and was one of the most powerful towns along with Lindos and Ialyssos in ancient times. It was built on a strategic location overlooking the Aegean Sea and comprised three levels: Acropolis (on top of the hill), the middle terrace filled with residential streets and houses, and the lower terrace where the Temple of Apollo and public spaces were found.
The city was destroyed in two earthquakes and later lost its importance. Nowadays, visitors can walk through the ruins and be thrown back to the era of Ancient Greeks.
I personally loved this place. It’s peaceful, not too crowded, full of history and offers beautiful views of the coast. The surrounding area is peaceful and green, resembling Italian Tuscany with its lush landscapes and tall trees.
The admission fee to Kamiros is 6 € and the best way to get there is by car. The place is situated on the main road along the west coast and is easy to find.
14. Kritinia Castle
Kritinia Castle is located a 15-minute drive south of Kamiros, and if you rent a car I suggest you visit these two places on the same day. The distance between Kritinia Castle and Rhodes town is a 1-hour drive (46 km/28.5 miles).
The imposing Kritinia Castle sits 130 meters above the village of Kritinia and close to the small Kamiros Skala harbour. Known also as Kastellos, the castle was built by the Knights of St John in 1472 to protect the inhabitants of the village from the attacks of the Ottoman fleet.
Kritinia Castle features a blend of Byzantine and Venetian architectural influences and was built on a strategic location overlooking Turkey and the neighboring islands of Halki, Alimia, and a few smaller ones.
The best way to get to the castle is by car. There is small free parking in front of the castle, and the entrance to the castle is free. The climb is not very strenuous, however, you need to be careful because some areas are not fenced.
This castle is a perfect place to visit for those of you who are into medieval ruins and spectacular views – Make sure you have your best camera on you because this place will take your breath away!
Suggested article: Rhodes Car Rental, 3-Day Itinerary, Maps, Explanations
15. Monolithos Castle
Monolithos Castle is located a 1-hour 30 minutes drive from Rhodes town (72 km/45 miles) and only 30-40 minutes drive from Kritinia Castle. Standing on a 300 feet rock rising above the village of Monolithos, Monolithos Castle (Monolithos means “The Lonely Rock”) was built in 1480 by the Knights of St John to protect the area from pirates and the Ottomans.
Visitors can nowadays climb to the ruins of the castle and visit the small white Chapel of Agios Panteleimon dating from the 15th century. Another medieval chapel, The Chapel of Agios Georgios, is unfortunately ruined and only parts of it can be seen.
To get to the castle, you need to park your car below and climb the steep narrow staircase to the top. The climbing itself takes around 5-10 minutes, depending on your speed. Make sure you bring comfortable shoes and water.
The views from the top of the rock are absolutely breathtaking. If you want to take a picture of the rock, I suggest you stop on the road before you reach the castle, from where you can see clearly the rock and a white chapel on top of it.
16. Prasonisi Beach
At the southernmost end of Rhodes island, a 1-hour 30-minute drive (90 km/56 miles) from the Rhodes town lies Prasonisi beach, one of the most scenic beaches on the island.
Prasonisi is a small islet that during low tide becomes a peninsula attached to the southern tip of Rhodes forming two golden sandy beaches – one windier one, and another calmer one.
Due to the strong winds, the beach is popular for surfing, kiteboarding and windsurfing, and you’ll see dozens of these once you approach the area. The eastern side is calmer and there is a section with umbrellas and chairs where you can swim. The western side is windier and is therefore not suitable for swimming.
The water on Prasonisi beach is crystal clear and shallow, which makes it perfect for small kids and nonswimmers. There are several surf centers and surf schools around the area, and you’ll also find a few cafes, restaurants and bars. Huge free parking is available at the beach.
Located a 20-minute drive (13 km/8 miles) from Rhodes town, Faliraki is a popular tourist resort on the east coast of the island.
Faliraki area boasts over ten beaches and bays including Antony Quinn Bay at its southern end, as well as over 5 kilometers of golden sandy Blue flag Faliraki beach shoreline. The largest water park in Greece is situated here, and the whole place offers dozens of activities for couples, families, and all types of travelers.
Traganou Beach, Kathara Beach, and Mandomata nudist beach are only some of the beautiful beaches that you can enjoy in Faliraki. The resort is also known for numerous hotels, beach bars, shops, and bustling nightlife.
18. Symi Island
A boat trip to the Dodecanese island of Symi is one of the best things to do in Rhodes, especially if you are staying in Rhodes for a few days.
In Mandraki marina, you’ll find dozens of tour operators offering boat day trips to Symi and you can also buy a ferry ticket to get you there. The island of Symi boasts gorgeous beaches, bays, and a rich cultural and historic heritage mainly reflected in the Archangel Michael Panormitis monastery and the picturesque town of Symi.
The monastery of Panormitis is located at the southern end of the island, in the tiny village of Panormitis. It is dedicated to the Archangel Michael and dates from the 15th century. The monastery is packed with tourists and pilgrims, as it represents one of the most important sanctuaries in this part of Greece.
The town of Symi is located in the north of the island and is known for its picturesque, colorful houses perched on terraces overlooking the bay and the Aegean Sea. The island of Symi shared the destiny of Rhodes and changed hands between Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Knights of St John, Ottomans, Italians and Nazis throughout its turbulent history.
This picture-perfect town boasts a small harbour where the boats dock and from where you can start a walk along the seafront promenade. The majority of colorful houses were reconstructed in the 19th century and time-permitting, you can climb to the hilltop Castle for the best panoramic views. Symi has several museums and churches that you can visit, and a promenade packed with local restaurants, cafes and gelaterias where you can grab a delicious Greek ice cream.
The boat ride to Symi island from Rhodes takes approximately 1 hour 20 minutes one way. It can be very windy and wavy on the way there, so bring some warmer clothes (like a light jacket). My friends and I booked a cruise that we paid 30 € per person, and this cruise included stops at Panormitis monastery, Saint George Bay and Symi town.
Symi island is a day trip that I would definitely recommend as the place is truly breathtaking!
19. Rhodes Aquarium
If you take a walk along the Elli beach promenade and you head toward the “Windy” beach, you’ll spot a small Art Deco yellowish building on the northernmost edge of Rhodes town – The Aquarium.
If you are traveling with kids or simply want to learn about the marine life of the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean seas, you should visit this small aquarium located on a scenic spot overlooking the ocean.
The general admission fee is 5.50 €, but reduced prices apply as well. Find more information on The Aquarium’s official webpage.
20. Taste the Local Food
What I absolutely loved about Rhodes town is that in every corner of it you can find a nice place to eat and have drinks. The town is very lively and no matter where you go – you’ll be able to find nice restaurants and tavernas serving delicious Greek specialties and international food.
Being a huge fan of seafood, I tried to change restaurants every day and I must say that most of them had great seafood and a variety of food options. Of course, the prices vary depending on where you eat (the prices in Rhodes Old Town are slightly higher than in other parts of town) but the whole dining experience is totally worth it as hosts are friendly and food delicious. To top off your culinary experience, I highly suggest you try the local Rhodian wine or Mythos craft beer!
Suggested article: 7 Great Rhodes Restaurants That I Highly Recommend
Rhodes island was definitely love at first sight in my case. I fell in love with the island’s vibe, friendly people, attractive look and incredible history that throws you back to ancient times. I am a history buff, so maybe that’s why I enjoyed Rhodes so much, but I believe many of you feel the same as I do.
You are never bored in Rhodes because it offers something for everyone, and it’s definitely the place where you want to return to.
So, any suggestions on what I should visit the next time I come?
20 Best Things to Do in Rhodes
- Rhodes Old Town
- Enjoy Panoramic Views of Rhodes Town
- Mandraki Port
- Elli Beach
- Sunset at the “Windy” Beach
- Kallithea Springs
- Antony Quinn Beach
- Ladiko Bay
- Tsambika Beach
- Tsambika Monastery
- Butterfly Valley
- Kamiros Archeological Site
- Kritinia Castle
- Monolithos Castle
- Prasonisi Beach
- Symi Island
- Rhodes Aquarium
- Taste the Local Food
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