Our vacation on the island of Rhodes was the fourth Greek island that we’d visited but it was our first Greek island in the Dodecanese (pronounced “doe-deck-a-knees”) island complex. Our prior Greek island vacations were to Santorini, Mykonos, and Paros, all of which belong to the Cyclades island complex.
The Dodecanese islands are located close to Turkey. The right arrow on the map below denotes the island of Rhodes. The left arrow denotes the island of Santorini.
I point out Rhodes and Santorini in the map above as a visual of their size differences. Rhodes is a proper island that grows its own food and has business sectors other than tourism. Santorini is nearly 100 percent supported by tourism.
One of the reasons why we enjoyed our vacation in Rhodes more than the other three Greek islands was because of our accommodation. Oftentimes, accommodation selection doesn’t get as much attention as it should because “it’s just a room” and “we’re only going to sleep there” and “we’ll hardly be there”.
But the fact of the matter is that accommodation is very important. No one wants or expects bad weather on a vacation but it happens and when it happens, that room that you’ll “hardly be in” suddenly is your best friend.
There are also times where you just need a break from tourist activities (or from the sun) and do not want to sit in a bar or cafe. You only want to lay down for a minute and relax and you can only do that at your accommodation.
We stayed at an excellent boutique hotel that was built into the cliffside and overlooked the sea.
The hotel had a private beach that was accessible via four separate elevators and a handful of steps. One of the best things about this hotel was that it was couples only.
Note: All beaches in Greece are public beaches, however, hotels, restaurants and bars can set up sun loungers on a beach and then police them to ensure only their guests use their sun loungers. There is no action they can take, however, if you are not a guest and decide that you want to sit on their sun lounger.
The service at the hotel was outstanding – by far the best all-around hotel that we have stayed during our 4+ years of travel around Europe and further afield.
Until our vacation in Rhodes, we hadn’t really quite hit the mark on Greek islands or Greek island accommodation. What we learned during our vacation in Rhodes is that, for us when staying in an island destination, it’s important to stay at an accommodation that offers either a pool or access to a beach. Better yet, both.
I’ve talked a lot about beaches in my Greece posts but the truth of the matter is that I am not a beach girl. It doesn’t matter how clean or soft or beautiful a beach is, I just prefer pools!
Why don’t I like beaches?
I don’t like the cold ocean water. I don’t like sand getting in my beach bag and on my towel. I don’t like walking on very hot sand or even cold sand. I don’t like salt water accidentally getting into my eye or mouth. I cannot think of a single redeeming quality about beaches.
Peter, on the other hand, is a fan of beaches but admitted that having a pool a few feet from our hotel room made the pool much more appealing than the 10-minute trek to the beach.
Rhodes is a large island with a variety of terrain. The coast is a mixture is sandy beaches and steep cliffs. The interior is mountainous and, as we understand it, overrun by deer. Deer were brought to the island years ago to control the snake population and now it seems the deer population needs to be controlled.
We spent five nights in Rhodes and we spent more time driving around the island than we probably spent driving around Santorini, Mykonos, and Paros combined. Like I said, it’s a big island.
High up in the mountains in the middle of the island is a village called Profilia. There is one taverna in the village and we made the 1.5-hour roundtrip drive to eat dinner at this taverna twice because the food was great.
This taverna is a place you read about but never encounter. A place where you feel like you’re family and eating in someone’s dining room, yet you just met them a few minutes earlier.
We spent three hours at the taverna during our first visit. We were the only patrons in the restaurant. The food just kept coming out of the kitchen. Then it was followed by homemade wine and topped off with a local liqueur called “souma” which was served warm and with a dab of honey. (It wasn’t good. Local, regional, and country liquors/liqueurs are never good.)
On our second visit, we were seated next to a table of six, including the oldest woman in the village. At 106 years old, she walked up the flight of stone steps and through the side door of the taverna using only a cane for assistance. She was an impressive woman.
Our hotel was located near the town of Lindos which was on the east coast of the island and about midway between the northern and southern tips of the island.
The village of Lardos was located near our hotel and we’d heard that the village was hosting a street party. We thought this would be a unique event to attend so we drove to the village and sat at a table at a taverna in the village square and waited for the festivities to begin.
Our table… well, I should have known better. The table was under a large tree and I’m prone to being pooped on by birds and that’s exactly what happened after we ordered our first round of drinks.
I went to the toilet to wash the poop off of my shirt, returned to the table, and got pooped on again. I don’t know why we didn’t switch to another table after the first incident. Maybe because the chances of being pooped on twice in a matter of 10 minutes seemed like a long shot but, nevertheless, we switched to another table after the second incident.
It’s said that getting pooped on by a bird is good luck but the irony with this double-poop incident is that at around the same time I was getting pooped on by a bird(s), our flat in London was being burgled. We found about the burglary after arriving back at our flat and seeing the bashed door, black fingerprint dust, and ransacked flat.
It would have been appropriate for our letting agent and/or landlord to contact us when this occurred (our letting agent found the property burgled when he arrived to show the property to a prospective buyer two days earlier) but I guess this is the lack of customer service that Foxtons (estate agent) is known for in the UK.
A quick five-minute drive from our hotel was the town of Lindos. The town’s “skyline” is dominated by an acropolis located high on a hill that’s situated between the town and the sea.
Lindos is a pedestrian-only town which I love, love, love.
There are two large and dusty parking lots at the top of the ridge and it’s a short downhill walk to the town from there. For those incapable of making the trek from the parking lot to the town (or vice versa), there is a cul-de-sac at the town’s “entrance” where cars can drop off and pick up passengers.
You could also hire a donkey to ferry you up the hill and deliver you to the comfort of your air-conditioned car but please don’t do this. I quickly scanned the “donkey queue” and they looked in good condition. They did not have any sores or lacerations nor did they look malnourished but, again, please do not hire a donkey to ferry you to your car.
Generally speaking, Lindos was similar to other Greek island towns we’ve visited – white-washed walls, stone pathways, and narrow alleys. Though the alleys in Lindos seemed to be more narrow than the other island towns.
As with other Greek island towns, there were a fair number of shops selling cheap souvenirs from abroad. I wish this would be outlawed.
Undoubtedly, the main attraction in Lindos is the acropolis.
The fee to visit the acropolis was 6€ and it was definitely worth it, although I recommend visiting in the morning hours before the temperatures soar too high.
After paying the admission fee, we began our short hike up to the acropolis. One of the first wonders we came across was a ship carved into the stone. Up close, the carving looked like some crumbling rocks but we had an ah-ha moment as soon as we took a couple of steps back.
The acropolis had some restoration work in the early 2000s which was a little surprising. Greece has many archeological ruins. Why was the acropolis in Lindos chosen for renovations?
From the acropolis, we could see an enclosed area of the sea where boats had thrown down their anchors for the day to swim and do whatever else people on large boats sailing the Mediterranean do.
The main town on the island of Rhodes is Rhodes Town. It was about an hour’s drive from our hotel in Lindos. Within its city limits is a medieval city dating back to the 1300’s. It’s currently a UNESCO world heritage site.
The medieval city (“old town”) is located within walls that are 4 km / 3 mi long. The buildings are a mix of shops, restaurants, bars, and residential property.
Not to be overlooked is Grand Master’s Palace, or officially, the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes. The main entrance is what caught our attention as we were walking around the old town.
Grand Masters Palace is a castle and was built in the late 7th century. It’s gone through many changes of ownership and occupation in its very long history. It was obvious that sections had been renovated and overall, the structure was in great condition.
We paid the 8€ admission fee purely based on curiosity – we wanted to see what was behind the mammoth entrance towers. There wasn’t an audio guide so we did not know what we were looking at but it was nice to get out of the hot sunshine for a few minutes.
If you are interested in history, this is probably a must-do but do yourself a favor and tour the palace with a guide.
After our walkabout in Grand Masters Palace, we strolled around the old town and grabbed a bite to eat in what could only be described as an open-air food court. We didn’t want to spend hours at a taverna because we had a pool to get to so that we could continue our vacation of doing as little as possible.
Rhodes Town was by far the largest Greek island town we’ve visited. It felt like a proper town that had business and services other than those which cater to tourists. I remember the traffic in the town being chaotic and it not feeling like a laid back island town.
Peter and I agree that the island of Rhodes is our favorite Greek island of the four that we have visited. It’s the only island of the four that we would re-visit. It’s got a little bit of something for everyone: ancient ruins, medieval city walls, a castle, small villages, mountain villages, beaches, pools, good food, and great hospitality.
You can’t ask for much more from an island.