An island best known as the once home of a Seventh Wonder of the World (The Colossus), Rhodes is popular both for its rich history and its warm weather. Greek ruins and remnants of the Knights Hospitallers fortifications dot the island, while rocky beaches attract numerous tourists seeking sun-related activities like diving and surfing. The island can be accessed by plane or by a short, but choppy ferry ride from several Mediterranean cities.
Like much of Greece and nearby Turkey, Rhodes has played a significant role in the Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman Empires. Many ruins remain from the multi-layered imperial occupations. Some of the most notable architectural remnants are the structures built by the Knights Hospitallers. Despite its lengthy history, many visitors are drawn to the island only because of its sun-drenched beaches. To avoid throngs of sunburned tourists, visit Rhodes during the cooler months. Typically the island is fairly deserted in January, so visitors can experience a more authentic tour of the isle without high numbers of outsiders. However, be aware that staying on the island in January and February can mean that many of the historic sites and museums are closed to the public. April and May are good months if you are seeking sun-dependent activities. Its tourist status does bring it benefits, as much of the island speaks English and lodging during the high season can be found at relatively low prices.
Many small towns comprise the island of Rhodes. The largest is Rhodes City, which serves as the seat of government. Rhodes City is most known as the site of the Colossus, thought to have once towered over the harbor of the city and now marked by two deer statues in the harbor. The old town section of Rhodes City is one of the best-preserved medieval towns in the whole of Europe. Visitors can wander along the cobblestone streets for picturesque sightseeing. The Rhodes Archaeological Museum is worth a visit and offers tours of the city walls. The Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes is an impressive structure with an accompanying museum displaying artifacts from the former occupants.
Visit the tiny village of Lindos for a change of pace from the larger Rhodes City. The most prominent feature of the village is the Acropolis. The village is comprised mainly of beautiful whitewashed buildings. Meandering amidst the traditional Greek architecture is a great way to spend a day in Lindos. Many shops are filled with traditional crafts, such as linens and embroidered goods. The town is one of the most popular tourist destinations on the island though, so visit early in the day to avoid the crowds embarking from tour buses.
Many activities in Rhodes revolve around warm weather, such as diving, snorkeling, surfing and sunbathing. Lindos, Kalithea, and Faliraki are also popular beach options. The latter is one of the most frequented sites on the island. Numerous bars, dance clubs, and music venues are centered here.
Daily ferry rides are available to such places as Bodrum and Marmaris in Turkey. Both are beautiful coastal towns, popular with tourists and locals alike. A day trip to either is worth the cost of the ferry ride.
Written by Morgen Young for EuropeUpClose.com