RHODES

Greece

Rhodes is one of the largest and most fertile of the Greek Islands, and is one of the most visited because of its combination of beaches, archaeological sites, and extensive medieval town.

Introduction

Rhodes is one of the largest and most fertile of the Greek Islands, and is one of the most visited because of its combination of beaches, archaeological sites, and extensive medieval town. The climate is particularly good, with the weather typically sunny and mild. The island is usually counted as one of the Dodecanese, but due to its importance for travelers is considered separately here.

The rock-rose is so prolific here that it has been named the 'Island of Roses,' though modern scholars doubt the ancient theory that the island's name comes from the Greek word for rose. While the northern coast is renowned for its lively tourist resorts the south offers tranquil beaches and a slower, more simple pace of life.


Tourism

Rhodes is one of the most attractive tourist destinations in Greece. After Crete the island is the most visited destination in Greece, with arrivals standing at 1.785.305 in 2013. In 2014 they stood at 1.931.005, while in 2015 the arrival number reduced slightly and stood at 1.901.000. The average length of stay is estimated at 8 days. Guests from Great Britain, Israel, France, Italy, Sweden and Norway are the ones that constitute the biggest portion in terms of the arrivals by country. In Rhodes the supply of available rooms is high, since more than 550 hotels are operating in the island, the majority of which are 2 star hotels. Additionally, in terms of competitiveness, the World Tourism Organization ranks Greece in the 31st position globally.

Tourist information

The local tourist information office for the Dodecanese Islands is located in Rhodes city at Makariou & Papagou Corner (opposite the New Market).+30 2241 410 44335, +30 2241 410 44336, (Fax +30 2241 026955).

Talk

Greek is the native language of the people of Rhodes. However, due to the high level of tourism English, and to a lesser extent German, is likely to be spoken by most people the traveler comes into contact with. The local dialect can be described as a 'sing-song', with strong Turkish and Italian overtones. Many words used by Rodites (Rhodians) will not be readily understood by mainland Greeks.


Geography

The island of Rhodes is shaped like a spearhead, 79.7 km (49.5 mi) long and 38 km (24 mi) wide, with a total area of approximately 1,400 square kilometres (541 sq mi) and a coastline of approximately 220 km (137 mi). Limestone is the main bedrock. The city of Rhodes is located at the northern tip of the island, as well as the site of the ancient and modern commercial harbours. The main air gateway (Diagoras International Airport, IATA code: RHO) is located 14 km (9 mi) to the southwest of the city in Paradisi. The road network radiates from the city along the east and west coasts.

Outside of the city of Rhodes, the island is dotted with small villages and spa resorts, among them Faliraki, Lindos, Kremasti, Haraki, Pefkos, Archangelos, Afantou, Ixia, Koskinou, Embona (Attavyros), Paradisi, and Trianta (Ialysos). There are mineral-rich spring water (and sometimes sea water) used to give medicinal baths and the spa resorts offer various health treatments.

Rhodes is situated 363 km (226 mi) east-south-east from the Greek mainland, and 18 km (11 mi) from the southern shore of Turkey.

Flora

The interior of the island is mountainous, sparsely inhabited and covered with forests of pine (Pinus brutia) and cypress (Cupressus sempervirens). While the shores are rocky, the island has arable strips of land where citrus fruit, wine grapes, vegetables, olives and other crops are grown.

Fauna

The Rhodian population of fallow deer was found to be genetically distinct in 2005, and to be of urgent conservation concern. In Petaloudes Valley (Greek for "Valley of the Butterflies"), large numbers of tiger moths gather during the summer months. Mount Attavyros, at 1,216 metres (3,990 ft), is the island's highest point of elevation.

Earthquakes

Earthquakes include the 226 BC earthquake that destroyed the Colossus of Rhodes; one on 3 May 1481 which destroyed much of the city of Rhodes; and one on 26 June 1926.

On 15 July 2008, Rhodes was struck by a 6.3 magnitude earthquake causing minor damage to a few old buildings and one death.


Climate

Rhodes has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate (Csa in the Köppen climate classification).

Climate data for Rhodes

MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Record high °C (°F)22.0
(71.6)
22.0
(71.6)
27.4
(81.3)
30.6
(87.1)
34.8
(94.6)
36.2
(97.2)
39.0
(102.2)
41.2
(106.2)
35.4
(95.7)
33.2
(91.8)
28.4
(83.1)
22.8
(73)
41.2
(106.2)
Average high °C (°F)14.9
(58.8)
15.2
(59.4)
16.9
(62.4)
20.2
(68.4)
24.3
(75.7)
28.4
(83.1)
30.5
(86.9)
30.6
(87.1)
28.3
(82.9)
24.4
(75.9)
20.1
(68.2)
16.6
(61.9)
22.5
(72.5)
Daily mean °C (°F)11.7
(53.1)
12.0
(53.6)
13.6
(56.5)
16.7
(62.1)
20.5
(68.9)
24.7
(76.5)
26.9
(80.4)
26.9
(80.4)
24.6
(76.3)
20.6
(69.1)
16.4
(61.5)
13.4
(56.1)
19.0
(66.2)
Average low °C (°F)8.6
(47.5)
8.7
(47.7)
10.0
(50)
12.7
(54.9)
15.8
(60.4)
19.8
(67.6)
22.2
(72)
22.6
(72.7)
20.5
(68.9)
16.8
(62.2)
13.1
(55.6)
10.4
(50.7)
15.1
(59.2)
Record low °C (°F)−4.0
(24.8)
−1.6
(29.1)
0.2
(32.4)
5.2
(41.4)
8.6
(47.5)
12.6
(54.7)
16.8
(62.2)
17.0
(62.6)
10.6
(51.1)
7.2
(45)
2.4
(36.3)
1.2
(34.2)
−4.0
(24.8)
Source: NOAA


Religion

Christianity

The predominant religion is Greek Orthodox; the island is the seat of the Metropolis of Rhodes.

There is a significant Latin Catholic minority on the island, many of whom are descendants of Italians who remained after the end of the Italian occupation, pastorally served by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Rhodes.

Islam

Rhodes has a Turkish Muslim minority, a remnant from Ottoman Turkish times. They are organized around the Turkish Association of Rhodes (Turkish: Rodos Türk Derneği), which gives the figure 3,500 for the population they bring together and represent for the island. The number of the Turks in Rhodes could be as many as 4,000.

Judaism

The Jewish community of Rhodes goes back to the first century AD. Kahal Shalom Synagogue, established in 1557, during the Ottoman era, is the oldest synagogue in Greece and still stands in the Jewish quarter of the old town of Rhodes. At its peak in the 1920s, the Jewish community was one-third of the town's total population. In the 1940s, there were about 2000 Jews of various ethnic backgrounds. The Nazis deported and killed most of the community during the Holocaust. Kahal Shalom has been renovated with the help of foreign donors but few Jews live year-round in Rhodes today, so services are not held on a regular basis.

The Jewish Museum of Rhodes was established in 1997 to preserve the Jewish history and culture of the Jews of Rhodes. It is adjacent to the Kahal Shalom Synagogue.


Economy

The economy is tourist-oriented, and the most developed sector is service. Tourism has elevated Rhodes economically, compared to the rest of Greece.

Small industries process imported raw materials for local retail, though other industry includes agricultural goods production, stockbreeding, fishery and winery.

Transportation - Get In


By boat

Rhodes is accessible via ferry from Symi, Tilos, and Bodrum, Fethiye, Datca and Marmaris in Turkey.

Cruise ships dock at the Commercial Port, east of Rhodes (city)'s Old Town.

All ferry and high speed ferry companies : schedules, connections, availability and prices, between Rhodes, other Greek islands, Turkey (Fethiye, Marmaris or Bodrum) & Piraeus port (Athens) is here


By plane

The island is served by Rhodes International Airport, "Diagoras" (Greek: Κρατικός Αερολιμένας Ρόδου, "Διαγόρας") or Diagoras International Airport (IATA: RHO). The airport is situated on the west coast about 14 km from Rhodes Town.

There are regular flights to and from Athens, Thessaloniki, and Crete. During the months of July and August Astra Airlines [www] flies from Thessaloniki. There are daily flights from Athens airport by Olympic Air [www] and Aegean Airlines [www]. Also from Crete (Heraklion) there are daily flights by Sky Express [www]. During the months of July and August Astra Airlines [www] flies from Thessaloniki.

From May till October charter airlines fly directly to Rhodos from many European airports.

  • Ryanair [www] operates flights from Milan-Bergamo, Bournemouth, Frankfurt-Hahn, Pisa, Kaunas and Rome;
  • Transavia [www] flies from Amsterdam (AMS).

In 2006 a new wing was built at Diagoras Airport. It was opened in 2007 to service charter flights. During high season these can reach 150-180 movements per day. The airport parking area is small.

Transportation - Get Around


By bus

All public bus lines [www] radiate from Rhodes town and reach almost every relevant place throughout the island. [www]

The main bus terminal in Rhodes city is the Neá Agorá (New Market). Buses run by both companies stop there, but ticket booths, as well as timetables and prices, are distinct. Rhodes town lines are run by Roda, but have a separate stop, along Mandraki sea promenade, across the street from the new market. One interesting line is n° 5, which goes up to the Achropolis, price €1.

Tickets can also be bought in the bus from a cashier or directly from the driver. Keep your ticket until the end of your voyage. The price of a bus ticket will depend on the destination. For example, a trip from Rhodes city to Faliraki will cost €2.

Bus stops on the road are marked by a sign, but do not hesitate to signal a bus driver that you wish to board. The buses are often very full and so remember to be actively moving backwards in the buses. Sometimes the driver jumps out and peeks in from the middle door to urge tourists to move backwards. Only part of the bus stops have the timetables displayed, and the buses are often late. Also, note that most villages and resorts have more than one line passing through and stopping in different places. For example Faliraki has got three, one along the main street, one at the town center, and one right along the sea promenade. make sure your bus goes to your preferred stop, or you'll need to walk a bit.

Bus service timetable [www]


By taxi

Taxis on Rhodes are dark blue with white roofs. There is a list of expected taxi charges you can obtain from the tourist information office. For example, a trip from Rhodes city to Faliraki should cost around €18; the trip from the Airport to Rhodes city about €23. The minimum fare for each trip is €4, the taximeter starts at €1.22. Never let the driver turn off the meter. Each suitcase will be also be charged, €0.50-0.60 each.

You can radio a taxi via telephone number  +30 2241 069800. This adds a standard surcharge of €1.90. Waiting fare is €11.14 per hr. Between midnight and 5 AM you will have to pay twice the normal rates. You can book ahead to avoid delays at high traffic times such as weekends.

Within Rhodes city limits, fixed rates are applied. If you get a taxi from one of the taxi stations or stop one in the street, the fare is €5. At the main taxi station, close to the New Market (Mandraki), there are hosts that try to cut down waiting time by making sure that the taxis doesn't leave half empty - especially if you are going a bit further. If you share a taxi within the Rhodes city limits the fare is €4.


By car

It is not worth the hassle to bring your own car to the island, although it is in theory possible. You can rent a car at the airport or via any hotel and at many local dealers. Asphalt highways will allow you to reach the entire island, although roads in the interior - especially the south - may turn out to be little more than dirt paths.


By motorcycle

Motorbikes and mopeds are popular alternatives to cars. Especially mopeds are frequently used by local youths and can go to many places that cars cannot go - for example the twisted narrow streets of Rhodes city. An additional advantage is that they are cheap to rent - €10-15 a day is the usual price.

If you start a day-trip with a moped, make you sure you do so on a full tank, as gas stations are sometimes hard to find. An extra stop at a gas station can save a lot of nerves. When renting a moped, check if the profile of the tyres is ok and if the brakes work properly. If it is the last vehicle in store, be suspicious - it could be the one that needs a repair badly. Though helmets are not required on the streets, (although you might well be stopped and fines €50 if you are not wearing a helmet on the main roads) it might be a good idea to ask your rent-a-bike for one, especially if you intend to drive on streets with more traffic.

Destinations


Settlements

  • Afandou - One of the big villages on the island. The golf course of Rhodes is situated in this area along with a long beach
  • Archangelos or (Arhangelos) - The second largest town on the island
  • Asklipio - inland village, site of an old church and a castle
  • Faliraki - Rhodes' action resort. Go there to party, everything else is better somewhere else. The hotels north from Faliraki are much quieter. Hotels near the water park do not interest clubbers, and are really family friendly. Nice beaches, a lot less winds than on the west coast and really good public transport.
  • Fanes - Rhodes' wind surfing and kite surfing resort. A small fisher's harbour, one five stars hotel, a lot of surfing. The hotel is really family friendly. Nice beach, summer winds, small tavernas and good public transport.
  • Gennadi Around 64 km from Rhodes Old Town and nearby to Prasonisi, attracts several keen surfers. Among the last unspoiled stretches of coastline left on Rhodes.
  • Haraki (Charaki) - Small former fishing village located next to Lindos. A chain of restaurants surrounds an enclosed beach.
  • Ialysos - Blue waters, a seemingly endless organized beach, big hotel complexes as well as smaller friendly ones, shops of all kinds, and many night-clubs. The ideal conditions of the region, important international windsurfing competitions often take place here.
  • Ixia - West coast resorts, close to Paradisi and Tholos, nearby to the airport and Rhodes city.
  • Kalithea - snorkeling and resort hotels.
  • Laerma - inland village near some monuments, contains a few restaurants, inland from Lindos via Lardos. This village has been continuously inhabited since the Pre-Hellenic period. the Monastery Taxiarchis Michail is 4km southwest of Laerma and is the largest monastery on Rhodes
  • Lardos - the market square of that town has restaurants and shops, nearby to Lindos.
  • Lindos - Picturesque village, site of important ancient acropolis.
  • Pefkos - A smaller tourist resourt close to Lindos. Originally started as a small collection of farms and private residences, but has grown into a town in its own right.
  • Rhodes city - The biggest city on the island and seat of the local government
  • Theologos or (Tholos)- A traditional village

Other destinations

  • Castle of Monolithos - If you are staying on the east coast, drive to Gennadi. North of the village, take the road across the island via Vati to Apollakia. The drive can be windy for moped riders, but the beautiful vistas make up for the work. Apollakia is not very special but has a couple of nice tavernas if you feel like having a refreshment. South of the village is a gas station, which you should use in case you are on a moped. Go on to Monolithos. Behind the village there is the actual attraction, which you will see from the road: The Castle of Monolithos on a 240m-high rock. Do not forget to go to the actual site, which does not offer much architecture-wise, but provides you with splendid views across the west coast. To the north-west, you can see the Castle of Kalki.

Accommodation & Hotels

Beaches

There is a good variety of beaches on Rhodes. The east side of the island has almost continuous sandy beaches with calm waters. Beaches on the west are mostly more stony. The wind mostly comes in from the west and also the sea tends to be somewhat rougher to the west so that side of the island is better suited to surfing or kite boarding.

  • Rhodes Town.
  • Lindos. The stunningly beautiful town beach on the bay. Very trendy, so wear your thong bikini here if you want to fit in.
  • Kalithea. Just north of Faliraki, this was originally an Italian built spa. It is very pleasant spot but can be crowded. Currently building work is ongoing to build what looks like it will be a modern spa adjacent to the original buildings. A number of separate beaches, each seemingly with their own taverna lie just south of the spa.
  • Faliraki. A long sandy beach with plenty of tavernas to choose from. There is also no shortage of people to rent jet skis from or to organise other activities. At the southern end, there is a quiter, more rocky beach but the sea there is inconveniently shallow for swimmers. The only legal nudist beach on the island which has excellent facilities including sunbed hire, toilets and food and drink outlets is also found to the south of Faliraki.
  • Ladiko Beach (Anthony Quinn Bay). This is a very scenic spot. On one side of the bay is a relatively small beach. The other side is rocky but a man made platform provides further space for sunbathing and access to the sea.
  • Afandou Beach
  • Kolymbia Beach.
  • Tsambika Beach. On the far right of the beach near the rocks nude sunbathing is tolerated.
  • Gennadi Beach. This area and nearby Prasonisi attracts surfers. The village resort is peaceful and quiet. Virgin sands, hotels, and beach bars are a feature. Gennadi only began to be developed relatively recently. The main coastal road along the beach is developing with new hotels and villas belonging to people from Rhodes. Unexplored beaches stretch along the sandy shore from Gennadi to Prasonisi. This area is among the last unspoiled stretches of coastline left on the island.
  • Agia Marina Beach.

Culture


Cuisine

Local specialities of Rhodes include: avranies, koulouria, pitaroudia, pouggia, tsirigia, fanouropita, katimeria, melekouni, pouggakia, takakia, or mantinades, and muchalebi.


In popular culture

  • In ancient times there was a Roman saying: "hic Rhodus, hic salta!"—"Here is Rhodes, jump here", an admonition to prove one's idle boasts by deed rather than talk. It comes from an Aesop's fable called "The Boastful Athlete" and was cited by Hegel and Marx.
  • The name of the US state of Rhode Island is based on a reference to Rhodes by Italian explorer Giovanni Verrazano. In a 1524 letter detailing his excursion into the waters around either Block Island or Aquidneck Island Verrazano wrote that he "discovered an Ilande in the form of a triangle, distant from the maine lande 3 leagues, about the bignesse of the Ilande of the Rodes".
  • Lawrence Durrell's Reflections on a Marine Venus (1953) is the author's semi-autobiographical account of his stay on the island after World War II.
  • In the PlayStation 2 game God of War II, both Rhodes and the Colossus of Rhodes are featured at the start of the game, offering a mythological theory as to how the Colossus was destroyed. The Colossus of Rhodes is a common feature in many games, for example, it can be built as a "Wonder" in Rise of Nations and the Civilization series of games.
  • In one book of the Roman Mysteries series of children's novels by Caroline Lawrence, the main characters visit Rhodes to stop the trading of slave labour.

Cinema

Movies filmed on the island include:

  • They Who Dare
  • Surprise Package (film)
  • The Guns of Navarone
  • Kiss the Girls (1965 film)
  • Signs of Life (1968 film)
  • Escape to Athena
  • The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2

History

Rhodes has one of the longest and most splendid histories of any place in the world. Inhabited since Neolithic times, the island had important Bronze Age settlements, and at the dawn of the historical era was already famous for its three powerful cities of Lindos, Ialysos, and Kameiros, as mentioned in Homer. In 408 bce these three cities joined to found the island's capital city, also called Rhodes. Rhodes city and island played a vigorous role in subsequent ancient Greek and Roman history, its most memorable episode doubtless being the prolonged siege of the city by Demetrios Poliokertes in 305 bce. In Hellenistic times Rhodes became extremely prosperous through trade and was one of the most influential cultural centers of the Greek world. Later as a province of the Roman empire Rhodes' influence declined, though it was still an important regional capital and was one of the earliest centers of Christianity.

Rhodes later became part of the Byzantine Empire and from the 7th century on fell under the general eclipse of the Dark Ages. Later in the Middle Ages, Rhodes' importance again increased, as it came under the influence first of the Venetians, then of the Genoese, and finally of the Knights of Saint John, an organization of Crusaders who took over parts of Palestine but were later expelled by the Saracens and the Knights Templar and took refuge in Rhodes, wresting control of the island from the Genoese in 1306, ruling for two centuries, and building Rhodes once again into a major maritime power, until the island was conquered by Süleyman the Magnificent in 1523, becoming part of the Ottoman Empire.

Things to see

No trip to Rhodes is complete without at least briefly seeing the walled fortress of medieval Rhodes. A UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the best preserved medieval walled towns in Europe, the crusading knights were based here for a while before the city was captured by the Ottomans. Impressive on the outside, the Palace of the Grand Masters is not worth the entry fee, so head to the Archaeological Museum and then explore the back streets on foot.

If you're into castles, Rhodes has a lot to offer with its medieval history. Lindos, Kastellos and Monolithos all have castles. There are medieval remains at Filerimos Hill including a monastery and a chapel, and good views over the north of the island.

  • Asklipio (inland from Kiotari.) In the little church there are fascinating displays, honoring the continuity of the cult of healing from ancient times to a modern midwife and nurse. In Greek mythology, Asklepios was the son of the god Apollo who created the art of medicine.
  • Cape Prasonisi. The southernmost tip of Rhodes. There is a peninsular connected to the main island by a sand bar. Unless you have a 4x4, think twice before driving your car across the sand bar. It becomes progressively less solid and it is easy to get stuck there in the sand.
  • Epta Piges. (Seven springs) and that is literally all there is to see there except for a short forest walking trail. In the hot summer months, the cool shade provides a pleasant respite from the sun.
  • Kamiros. Ancient ruins.
  • Tsambika Peak.
  • The Valley of the Butterflies. Since the butterflies - which are actually coloured moths - in this area need quietude for their procreation and since the area is visited by many tourists, the population of the Petaloudes "butterflies" is constantly on the decline; even to a degree that it does not make any sense anymore to go there, as you will hardly see any of the moths. It is still a beautiful area regardless.

Things to do

  • Sunbathing
  • Swimming
  • Snorkeling
  • Diving
  • Surfing and 'Kitesurfing on the west coast and especially on the south end of the island
  • Many hotels will offer activity programs
  • Most tour operators will offer excursions
  • Climb Mt Attavyros. A challenging 2-3 hr climb to the island's highest point (1215 m). On leaving Embonas on the road towards Siana, drive up one of the agricultural roads on the left and find a place to park. On foot, you continue up through the wine growing area in the obvious direction. There is no explicit marked path but red paint on rocks towards the top marks the best route. It is a steep climb with many large loose rocks. The descent can be especially tricky. It is also possible to drive up the mountain: the approach road comes from the South.
  • Prasonisi Surfing and quiet un-spoiled beaches distant from the main tourism areas. Lately this coastal region beach is beginning to develop with new hotels and villas belonging to people from Rhodes. The sandy shore from Gennadi to Prasonisi is among the last unspoiled stretches of coastline left on Rhodes.
  • Kamiros and Mt. Profitis Ilias

Drink

The tap water is drinkable and restaurants will serve glasses of ice water upon request. Local drinks include Mythos (beer) and Ouzo. Local wine is cheap and excellent.

Bars and restaurant listings can be found in the articles covering the different towns and regions of Rhodes

Stay safe / healthy

 Rhodes is generally, quite safe, however vigilance is required in Faliraki, infamous for the lewd behavior of young, drunk, mainly British partiers attracted to the cheap alcohol and large numbers of small nightclubs. A string of crimes committed by these young tourists against locals, as well as against other tourists, gained national attention in the summer of 2003; they ranged from vandalism to serious acts of violence. Following this the local Police increased their presence to successfully crack down on such behavior - zero tolerance of bad behaviour is now in place. Expect a night in the cells and some heavy handed handling from the commando trained officers. For families with young children the best times to visit would be daytime even up to 10PM local time when the clubbers tend to come out en masse.

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