There are two sides to Rhodes Town as a holiday destination. On the one hand, it is a city of knights packed with history, founded more than 2000 years ago, with its current Old Town dating back the 14th century. On the other hand, Rhodes Town lives off tourism, with its beaches being visited by hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.
Rhodes is a town that lets you to have your own kind of vacation – whether it focuses on culture and activities or beach life and relaxation.
This guide only covers the town of Rhodes at the tip of the island, not the island with the same name.
4 facts about Rhodes
- Rhodes is a Greek island in the Aegean Sea, within the Mediterranean Sea, less than 20 kilometers from the coast of Turkey.
- Rhodes Town is the capital of the island of the same name. It is located at the northern tip of the island and was founded as early as 408 BC.
- There are numerous popular holiday destinations on the island of Rhodes, but the capital clearly attracts the largest number of tourists.
- One of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the bronze statue of the sun god Helios, which was of equal size to the Statue of Liberty in New York, used to stand in the harbor of Rhodes town. It was destroyed in an earthquake as early as 226 BC, but a new, even bigger statue has been planned for a long time to replace it.
Where to stay – Rhodes Town is divided into five different areas
- Niohori - "New Town". Most of the tourists stay in the newer area, located at the very northern tip of the island. There are all sorts of hotels available, and the restaurant selection as well as the shopping opportunities are excellent. The northernmost part of Niohori is surrounded by the shore. In the south, Niohori is bordered by the Al. Diakou and Papagou streets.
- Old Town. Located on the southeast side of Niohori and surrounded by strong walls, the Old Town, which is also regarded as a Medieval Town in many sources, is definitely the most interesting area of Rhodes Town. While the main streets are crowded in summer, small boutique hotels and holiday apartments are often located in narrow side streets, which are usually very quiet.
- Agios Nikolaos. Agios Nikolaos, located immediately south of the Old Town, is mostly inhabited by locals, and there aren't many hotels around. However, there are holiday apartments, and if you prefer living among the locals rather than in the more touristy Niohori, you should aim for Agios Nikolaos. In the southern part of Agios Nikolaos, there is a marketplace, and next to it, a sandy beach, Zefyros. The ground is mainly flat.
- Monte Smith, situated behind Niohori and next to the Old Town, also consists mainly of local population. The disadvantage of the hilly Monte Smith area are the differences in altitude. The area contains the Acropolis Hill.
- Ixia. If you are looking for a large and upscale hotel complex with a swimming pool and a beach, you can find one on the long beach of Ixia, on the west side of the island. The distance to Rhodes Town is 3-4 kilometers. The area belongs to Ialyssos already.
Find a suitable hotel in Rhodes Town with the map on Booking.com
Beaches in Rhodes Town
The water on the beaches of Rhodes Town is clear and turquoise blue in color. Around the island, there are dozens of beaches with Blue flag certification, with good water quality as one of the criteria. Elli Beach is an example of a Blue flag certified beach in the area of Rhodes Town.
With rows of sunbeds and umbrellas, beach restaurants right behind them, and children playing games in the water, Elli Beach is clearly full of life in the summer!
Elli Beach covers the eastern side of the northern tip of the island. The beach consists mainly of pebbles and deepens quickly. All relevant services are available, i.e., sunbed rentals (two chairs and a shade cost 15 euros in 2022), water sports equipment, showers, and restaurants. Elli is no doubt the most popular beach in Rhodes.
The beach goes around the northern tip of the island, and at the very tip, there is plenty of space for your own towel.
Rhodes is clearly divided in two regarding the wind. While the side of Elli Beach is mainly calm and is therefore more suitable for families and water games, the western side may have strong waves.
Akti Miaouli Beach
On the other side of the cape, the wind throws waves onto the shore, while the heat is cooled down by a breeze from the Turkish mountains looming in the background.
The more peaceful Akti Miaouli is a nice fit for sunbathers, book readers and wave bouncers. There are hardly any beach restaurants, but if you're looking for one, just take a few minutes' walk to Elli Beach. It is easy to switch between Elli and Akti Miaoul as needed.
The Akti Miaouli beach contains pebbles, gravel, and sand in varying proportions.
There are Lifeguards on the beach during the day, and their booths/stands have flags (green/yellow/red) depending on whether swimming is recommended or not.
At the Mitsis Grand Hotel, a small section of the beach has been set aside for the hotel guests only. To the south of it, the beach is narrower and there are rocks in the water. So, on the windy side, you should choose your spot either near the tip of the cape or a bit southward from Akti Kanari. The distance between them is less than a kilometer. The rocky section between them contains some beach restaurants.
Akti Kanari Beach is located right south of Akti Miaoul. Akti Kanari has more sandy sections than the northern beaches, and the water deepens a little more gradually. There is at least one restaurant on the beach.
Starting from the southern end of Akti Kanari, there's a nice walkway following the shoreline towards the several-kilometer-long pebble beach of Ixia.
Ixia is a couple of kilometers long pebble beach a few kilometers away from the center of Rhodes Town. It resembles the city's main beaches, thus offering nothing different. Behind the beach, there are several high-class hotels with their own beaches, and some windsurfing spots, which in fact are the main reason to go to Ixia Beach.
If you want, you can easily walk there from the center as well. However, there is no space for pedestrians on the Ialisou road, as beneath the road, there is a pedestrian-only walkaway with great sea views. The route starts from the Akti Kanari beach.
Beaches by harbors
On the eastern side of the Old Town, there are harbors with a couple of very small sandy beaches, Akti Sachtouri and Akandia. The proximity of the ports and large ships don't exactly attract anyone to go swimming, and at least Akti Sachtour has a sign saying that swimming is prohibited.
Things to do in Rhodes Town
Palace of the Grandmasters
The Palace of the Grandmasters, located in the northwest corner of the Old Town, was originally built in the 6th century as a fortress, when Rhodes was still part of Eastern Rome, or the Byzantine Empire. The Knights Hospitaller moved its headquarters to Rhodes for the years 1309-1522, which is when the building became the palace for the order's grand masters. The palace was renovated as a summer residence for Italian rulers prior to the Second World War, during the Italian Empire.
On the ground floor of the palace, there's a museum exhibiting the history of Rhodes, especially during the Byzantine period. On the upper floor, there are somewhat reduced rooms of the palace, including furniture and paintings, among other things. The specialty of the upper floor is the varied and sometimes huge floor mosaics, which can be found in almost every room.
Archaeological Museum (Hospital of the Knights)
The Archaeological Museum, which was opened by the Italians in 1914, is a large museum in the old knight's building at the bottom of the Street of the Knights. The exhibits include historical objects from clay pots to tombstones.
In 2022, you could buy a joint ticket to the Palace of the Grandmasters and the archaeological museum for the price of 10 euros, which also included access to the former church, Our Lady of the Castle, located at the lower end of the Street of the Knights, and to the "Decorative Arts Collection", containing old plates, among other things.
The Street of the Knights
The Street of the Knights is a narrow cobblestone street that starts at the top of the Palace of the Grandmasters and ends down at the Church of Our Lady of the Castle. Knights once stayed in the inns along the street, which were divided according to used languages.
You can visit the inns without an entrance fee if the doors are open. Today, they may have art exhibitions or information boards concerning the time of the knights. It is nice to stroll through the street, even if the inns are not open.
The walls and moat of the Old Town of Rhodes
Rhodes was once a strongly fortified city, and the Old Town is still surrounded by strong walls, built during the Byzantine period and strengthened by the Knights of St. John. In front of them, there's a wide moat, in which there has never been water.
You can walk to the walls and get around almost half of the Old Town this way. You can find the beginning of the trail when you walk through the main gate of the Palace of the Grandmaster and continue to the left. However, you must first buy the ticket at the palace's ticket office (3 euros in 2022). The end point is at the southernmost gate of the Old Town (St John's Gate). Entry: Only on weekdays from 12:00 to 15:00.
Covering the other edge of the wall, there’s a fence structure with openings, through which you can see the moat and other fortress structures. On the other side of the wall, you'll see residential buildings, and there's no security fence at all. However, the walking area is several meters wide, so you don't have to walk right at the edge. You can't really see the streets on the city's side. Instead, you'll mainly see house roofs.
You can also walk in the moat, and thanks to the high walls on both sides, it is even a more impressive experience than walking on the walls. However, you shouldn't go hiking during the hottest time, because the moat can be really hot in the middle of summer. The route is a bit park-like with trees and plantings at times, and on the southern side, you'll also find a small amphitheater.
The moat's start and end points are on the north (Pl. Al. Christoforou) and southeast (Pl. Melina Merkouri) sides of the Old Town. However, there are some openings in the walls through which you can pass between the Old Town and the moat. The route goes around the entire Old Town, excluding the seaside. Admission is free.
There is an old clock tower (Roloi Clock Tower) in the northwestern part of the old town, near the Palace of the Grandmasters. You can climb up to the tower and enjoy the scenery.
The stairs up are quite steep, but not long. The view from the bell tower is not exactly mind-blowing, and the ticket cost five euros in 2022. However, it did include a drink of your choice on the cozy terrace in the courtyard at the foot of the clock tower.
Rhodes Town was founded in 408 BC. as the island's new capital. For example, the port of Mandraki and the Acropolis, i.e., the "Upper town" originate from that era. The Acropolis is located southwest of the city center at the top of the Monte Smith district. It includes the ruins of the temple of Apollo, an amphitheater, and a sports stadium.
It takes twenty minutes to get there on foot from the bus station, but the route is uphill. If you walk via the "upper route" along the streets of Voriou Ipirou and Isiodou, and not directly through Monte Smith, the journey is longer, but the views of both the Niohori and Ixia beaches are great from the top. The photo at the top of this page was taken from the Isiodou viewpoint.
The Acropolis is a small area that you can explore rather quickly, so you don't need to reserve much time. Near the stadium, there's a building containing a small exhibition with information boards, a toilet, and a drink vending machine.
Right at the northern tip of Rhodes, surrounded by Elli Beach, there is a small building housing an aquarium. It contains a lot of small marine animals, but no larger fish.
Boat trips and Mandraki port
The more than 2,000-year-old Mandraki port offers dozens of options for various boat or fishing trips. Some of the boats are small sailboats for private tours and some are large catamarans for the tours of larger groups. And the rest is anything in between. Popular destinations include, e.g., the island of Symi, the ancient city and beach resort of Lindos, Anthony Quinn Bay and the sandy beach of Tsambika.
Rodini Park is a cozy forest park with a dammed canal flowing in the middle. There are numerous wooden arch bridges crossing the canal and different bird species swimming in the water. It takes twenty minutes on foot to the park from the south side of the old town, if you aim for the Lindou street heading past the park.
Rhodes Water Park
The water park of the Rhodes island is located about 13 kilometers from the bus station, in the Faliraki area. It is open during the summer season from approximately the beginning of May until the end of October. There is a free bus connection from Rhodes Town to the park. For more information, read the waterpark's website.
There's a scenic cove, Kallithea Springs, which is, e.g., a popular wedding venue, located three kilometers away from the waterpark.
Gabriel's Watersports is located on Elli beach in the center, offering traditional vacation equipment, i.e., pedal boats, sit-on-top kayaks, and gadgets to tow behind the boat, ranging from crazy UFOs bouncing on the waves to paragliding in the sky.
Food in Rhodes
Rhodes is a very popular holiday destination, which shows in its restaurant services. There is a wide selection from local dishes to steaks, fish dishes, pizzas, pastas and burgers.
Below, there are some Greek dishes worth trying:
- Souvlaki – Meat skewers, usually made from either pork, chicken or lamb, with paprika and red onion.
- Gyros – Meat chips, usually made from either pork or chicken. Served either on a plate with french fries, pieces of pita bread and tzatziki or more cheaply inside pita bread (pita gyros).
- Moussaka – A lasagna-like dish with potato and eggplant instead of pasta sheets.
- Stifado – Meat stew from beef or lamb. There are usually little vinegary onions in the tomato based sauce.
- Kleftiko – Long-braised lamb meat, where potatoes and vegetables are often cooked together with the meat.
Rhodes is a versatile shopping town
Rhodes is divided into two parts regarding shopping for clothes:
- There are mainly international brand stores in Niohori. They are mainly concentrated in a rather small area in the southeast part of Niohori, i.e., around Platia Kiprou.
- The Old Town has small local clothing boutiques and especially many jewelry stores, but not many international brands.
You'll be able to go through the few shopping streets in Niohori rather quickly, but there is more to explore in the streets and alleys of the Old Town.
There's an extensive fish and vegetable market in the southern part of the Agios Nikolaos district, which means it is located several kilometers away from Niohori.
In the northern part of Agios Nikolaos, there is also a slightly bigger grocery store Pappou (Πάππου) Supermarket, whereas the "super"markets in Niohori or the Old Town are small, with a rather limited selection.
Price level in Rhodes Town
Rhodes is a surprisingly expensive destination compared to the general price level in Greece. Taking a taxi is going to cost you much more than, for example, in Athens (a 5-kilometer trip 13 euros, or a 14-kilometer trip 27 euros, in 2022).
However, due to the wide price range in restaurants, you can spend an affordable holiday in Rhodes Town; with a little bit of effort, you can find cheap restaurants. For example, you can get a pita gyros and a beer for five euros in one restaurant, while somewhere else, a souvlaki and a beer can cost you 20 euros.
Below, there are some examples of restaurant prices.
Beer in restaurant
From the airport to Rhodes Town
The options for getting from the airport to the Rhodes Town are bus and taxi:
Line 50 operates between the airport and the city center. The Rhodes bus station (or the main stop would be a more appropriate word rather than station) is located between Niohori and Old Town at the intersection of Papagou and Averof.
You can find the taxi queue and price list for different locations at the front of the terminal. All taxis charge you according to the price list, so the meter is often not even on.
The fee to Rhodes Town in 2022 was approx. 27-30 euros, depending on which side of the city you were going to. The price list for different places around the island can also be found at different taxi stands in the city.
Weather and when to travel to Rhodes
The summer season starts approximately at the beginning of May and lasts until the end of October. Sunbed renters may stop as early as mid-October, but some water sports rental companies may continue until November and open as early as April.
Especially in July and August, Rhodes is hot and dry. The temperature regularly rises to around 30 °C or above, and does not often drop below 25 °C even at night.
Pleasant summer weather is most likely to occur in May or early June or, correspondingly, in late September or October. In October, the weather may be unstable at times, and November brings more rain.
Text and photos: Jussi Ryynänen