Where is Rhodes and what is it known for?
The beautiful Greek island of Rhodes is the largest island of the Dodecanese archipelago. Located between the southeastern Aegean Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean, the archipelago has 15 larger islands and 150 smaller islets, with Rhodes being among the most historically relevant.
Rhodes is a popular tourist destination for its ancient ruins combination of history and archeology, great beaches and beach resorts and family friendly activities. It is one of those islands that truly does offer something for everyone.
Whether you want to relax at the beach, swim and snorkel in crystal-clear waters, explore the ruins and ancient castles, or stroll around charming hillside villages, Rhodes has all this and much more in store!
Where do the cruise ships dock in Rhodes?
Cruise ships always dock in the island’s main harbor, Mandraki Marina, in Rhodes Town.
The cruise terminal is located in a large bay overlooking the Mandraki harbor and the town’s medieval walls. Since Rhodes is a docking port and not a tender, you will easily disembark from your ship. The cruise terminal features long deepwater quays where ships dock and from where passengers can reach the Rhodes Town center in a quick 10-minute walk.
You will find several facilities in the cruise terminal area, including shops, car rental spots, and a taxi station.
How to get around Rhodes
When in Rhodes, you will need to get around to explore it. There are several transport options you can take into consideration when on land.
The public bus system is an inexpensive way to get around the island, with ticket prices ranging from 1 to 7 euros depending on the route length.
You will find two bus companies on Rhodes, serving different parts of the island. The RODA buses serve the north and west coasts and popular resort towns like Ixia and Ialysos. The KTEL buses connect Rhodes Old Town with the areas on the east coast, like Faliraki and Lindos, and with the southern coast.
Although cheap, public buses can get crowded in summer, so allow yourself plenty of time at bus stops.
A great alternative to avoid the hustle and bustle is taking a taxi. Taxis to major sites have fixed fares, see the image below. The longer the route, the more expensive the fare will be.
You can also hire a car to go around the island. Rhodes is relatively small, so having your own car will give you plenty of time to see many attractions daily. You will find many rent-a-car companies in Rhodes. As it goes for prices, it all depends on the type of vehicle and the season you want it for. In July and August, car rental prices increase considerably, and you will need to reserve the car well in advance.
One Day in Rhodes itinerary
It is likely your cruise will offer a number of tours you can do. This can be easy and convenient as you simply follow the instructions of the Guide or Activities Director and join the rest of the tour.
The downside to these tours is they are usually more expensive than if you did them independently and they usually result in large crowds of people all descending on the same attractions at the same time. It also means you will be bound to the times dictated by the tour which may be at a slower pace than you would like, or perhaps too rushed. People consistently complain that time is too short on Santorini for example.
If you would like to explore the island at your own pace, this is what we suggest to maximise your one day on Rhodes.
The two most popular tours offered by cruise ships and mainland operators alike are around Rhodes Old Town and to Lindos. These are both very worthwhile destinations but there is some insider information in this article to help you avoid the crowds and the heat.
The bus tours usually arrive in Lindos mid-morning so either grab a hire car or a taxi and try and get there as quickly as you can once your ship docks. This should give you at least an hour on everyone else and if you can get to the Lindos Acropolis when it opens at 8 am you should have it all to yourself. Failing this do it late in the day, when most of the cruise ship passengers have left.
If you would prefer to do an organised tour then a boat trip with a BBQ and drinks is great fun, or
One day itinerary in Rhodes
8 am – Go straight to Lindos and the Lindos Acropolis
9/10 am – explore Lindos town as it opens up. Enjoy fresh orange juice, crepe, or coffee at the many cafes.
11 am – Optional swim at St. Pauls Bay, a short walk from Lindos Town
12noon – Stop in at Seven Springs (Epta Piges), a lush area with natural springs and an ancient aqueduct
1 pm – Lunch and swim at Kallithea Springs
3 pm – Explore Rhodes Old Town. Don’t miss the Palace of the Grand Master, the Archeological Museum, and the Street of the Knights
5/6 pm – Return to ship or depart on ferry
One Day Itinerary in Rhodes for families
9am – Explore Lindos Town. Older kids might love to visit the Acropolis but it is difficult with a stroller.
11 am – Optional swim at Lindos Beach or St. Pauls Bay, a short walk from Lindos Town
12noon – Visit Rhodes Toy Museum. To get there you will also pass the Monastery of Agios Nectario
1 pm – Hang out at one of the great beaches in this area like Tsampika or Afandou. Both have lots of sunbeds, cafes, and watersports on offer.
3 pm – Optional stop at Butterfly Valley/Rodini Park.
4 pm – Rhodes Old Town, especially the Palace of the Grand Master
5/6 pm return to ship or board ferry
Things to do in Rhodes
Rhodes is full of beautiful villages you will love spending time exploring. If you don’t have much time in Rhodes, Lindos is the village you shouldn’t miss visiting.
Located 50 km south of Rhodes Town, reaching it will take around 1 hour.
Lindos is one of the major archaeological sites on the island, and the village’s Acropolis is an absolute must-see. Built on a massive rock at 116 meters above sea level, the Acropolis’ fortified walls, built by the Knights of Rhodes, are still standing in all their imposingness.
Lindos was one of Rhodes’ main strongholds in the Middle Ages, and you will immediately understand why once you reach the Acropolis. Step inside the tall walls to discover the remains of an ancient theatre and of the Temple of Athena.
Lindos boasts a postcard-like landscape with lovely white houses built on the hillside and the Acropolis overlooking the sea. Stroll around the village to soak up its unique atmosphere!
Further reading: Things to do in Lindos
Rhodes Town, the island’s capital, is a must-see. This beautiful medieval center is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and the largest fortified and best-preserved city in Europe.
The citadel was founded in 1309 when the knights of Saint John arrived on the island and decided to build the four-kilometer-long walls dotted with strongholds and towers. Step inside the city walls to stroll on charming paved alleys while admiring historical monuments. Make sure to visit the Hospital of the Knights (co-housed with the Archaeological Museum), Jewish Quarter, and walk down the famous Street of the Knights that leads to the Palace of the Grand Master.
Inside Rhodes Town, you will also find many traditional taverns where you can enjoy authentic Greek food.
Nearby beaches in Rhodes Town
Rhodes boasts dream-like beaches with crystal-clear waters and rocky coves. You will have plenty of options when it comes to gorgeous beaches where you can relax, sunbathe, and swim.
Luckily, there are amazing beaches close to the marina to visit, in particular Elli Beach and Kanari Beach.
Elli Beach is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Greece, and it is conveniently located between Mandraki Harbor and the Rhodes Aquarium. Characterized by turquoise waters and fine pebbles, Elli Beach has top-notch amenities, including parasols and sundecks for rental, beach volleyball courts, and water sports shops. At Elli Beach, you will also find a massive concrete diving board in the middle of the sea from where you can jump into the waters.
Another fantastic beach near Rhodes Town is the spacious Kanari Beach, a free beach where you can rent sun loungers and umbrellas for an extra relaxing time. This beach is also popular for practicing windsurfing and kiteboarding, which equipment you can rent in shops all around.
Kato Petres Beach deserves a separate mention as it is one of the most wonderfully wild beaches on the island. Located near Rhodes Town, it is hidden away, and you will need to know where to look to find it. You will need to walk down a well-kept paved path with many lookout spots and benches where you can sit to admire the panorama and catch your breath.
Once you reach the beach, don’t expect to find amenities: there will be only small clear pebbles and the crystal blue sea welcoming you.
If there is one spot on the island not to miss, that is Kallithea Springs, Rhodes’ famous hot springs. Located 9 km south-east of Rhodes Town, Kallithea Springs is housed in a stunning building built during the Italian occupation. The area has been a popular spa destination since ancient times thanks to the water’s curative and therapeutic properties.
Unfortunately, the hot springs are no longer in function, but you can enter the building to admire intricate stone mosaics, marble staircases, and ornate fountains. Today, the former spa is also used as an art exhibit venue and movie location.
Kallithea Springs also has sunbeds and parasols for rental on its stunning pebbled beach. Its crystal-clear waters are perfect for refreshing swims, and the nearby sea caves are ideal for snorkel and diving.
Things to do with kids
Rhodes offers plenty of activities that are perfect for the whole family.
One of the best things to do is visit the Valley of the Butterflies. Located in the island’s center, 26 km from Rhodes Town, the Valley of the Butterflies is truly magical. From May to September, the valley is completely covered by hundreds of colorful flying butterflies.
The valley is one of Europe’s best sanctuaries for the Callimorpha Quadripunctaria butterflies as its climate and environment are perfect for their reproduction. The valley is large, and everywhere, you will see marked trails that you can follow to discover stunning natural spots, like the Pekelanos River, and observe the butterflies.
Another great spot to visit with your kids is the Rhodes Toy Museum. You will find this fun museum right outside the village of Archipoli, nestled amongst olive groves and surrounded by pine forests.
The Toy Museum displays all sorts of toys and games made in Greece from 1930 to 1990. You will see everything from tin toys to battery-operated cars to Greek Playmobil in the main exhibit room, while the ‘game room’ in the basement is packed with arcade coin-operated machines you can play with!
If your kids love the creatures of the sea, bring them to Rhodes Aquarium. Located in the basement of the Hydrobiological Station, built during the Italian occupation of the Dodecanese in the 1930s, the Aquarium is just a few steps from the center of Rhodes Town. The Aquarium is housed in a beautiful of-the-period building on the northernmost tip of the island, and it is one of the important centers of marine research in Greece.
Inside the Aquarium, you will have the impression of being underwater, thanks to the special staging design. Get the chance to see the marine life of the Eastern Mediterranean close up, all the while wandering through rocky cave tunnels.
Spending one night in Rhodes?
If your plan is to head from Rhodes straight to islands like Symi, Kastellerizo, or beyond, you may need to wait until the day after your arrival for your ferry.
If that’s the case we recommend spending the night in Rhodes Town. It can be quite charming at night with all the day trippers gone, and there are some wonderful dining options such as Island Lipsi and Kontiki Next, which has expansive views of the harbor.
Our favourite boutique hotel is In Camera Art Hotel, a solid 4-star option in a beautiful Ottoman-style building.
Cava D’oro is right near the cruise ship terminal in the old town while Athineon Hotel is close by but outside the town wall, with a big swimming pool which is great for kids.