I’ve written about Rhodes before and have been fortunate enough to explore it for my work with Rough Guides.
It’s a beautiful island, the largest in the Dodecanese chain of Greek islands (the Greek Islands are divided into chains…fyi: Santorini and Mykonos, the most well know, are located in the Cycladic chain) at an area of 541 square miles (1,401 sq km). I want to summarise for you here why Rhodes, although touristy and known for its beach resort style holidays, is one of my favourite islands and how diverse it is.
The Old Town of Rhodes
By far one of my favourite places to hang out is the Old Town of Rhodes. In fact, I could come to Rhodes and just spend a week here and never get bored.
Designated a UNESCO Word Heritage site in 1988, it’s labyrinthine cobbled streets make it one of the most popular tourist destination in Europe. It’s easy to see how the invading pirates got lost in the alleyways, but don’t be afraid: it’s actually quite fun to get lost wandering around and seeing what’s around the corner. You’ll not see any pirates!
Some tourists may become intimidated by the streets, especially at night – but don’t be. Crime is very rare in these parts and there’s always a friendly local to help you find your way.
Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes
This is the piece de resistance of the Old Town. Originally built as a castle in the 7th Century, after Rhodes (along with some other Dodecanese islands) were occupied by a Catholic Military Order known as the Knights Hospitaller in 1309, it became the Administrative Centre for this Order and also the Palace for their Grand Master (hence the name).
It’s survived Ottoman and Italian rule, earthquakes and more recently, ‘survived’ Greek politicians holding a grand party inside (1988).
Today you can walk around the Walls of the Old Town and the starting point is from the Palace of the Grand Masters. It’s open Monday to Friday, 10am – 3pm and costs €2, tickets purchasable from the Ticket Office in the Palace.
There are plenty of accommodation options in the Old Town of Rhodes. And if it’s boutique luxury you’re after, the Old Town is where you should head. You particularly won’t go wrong at this stylish, discrete gem of a place – Kokkini Porta Rossa (the Red Door).
I’ve written about my stay here before and I can truthfully say, it is unique in every way. With only five suites at approx. 52 square metres each, it’s like coming to your own home away from home!
All suites offer:
- Free mini bar
- King-sized double or large twin beds
- Coco-Mat mattresses and quilts (supporting the local Greek luxury bedding company)
- Pillow menu offering six different styles to suite you
- Luxury bed linen, slippers and bath robes
- Beach towels
- Whirlpool bathtub or freestanding claw type bathtub
- Walk-In hydromassage shower cubical
- iPad with a specially designed programme for you of where to visit, plus sat-nav
Each suite is designed in a unique way, offering more than your standard furniture. Indeed, as Kokkini Porta Rossa – the first house you come to as you enter the Old Town from the Gate of St. John – used to be the residence of the knight in charge of the gate, history seeps from every wall, and the way the owners have restored the building, this is obvious down to the small detail.
Breakfast is taken in the open plan dining/living/kitchen area or, in warmer months, in the sun dappled, lemon-tree’d courtyard. And free drinks are available at night. All produce is locally sourced and you can expect to eat fresh yogurt, fruit, freshly squeezed fruit or vegetable juice (Tip: try the ginger and beetroot – delicious!) and scrambled eggs, to name but a few breakfast dishes!
Book your unique Kokkini Porta Rossa experience here (Note: If you use this link, a small amount of Commission will be earned by me, at no extra charge to you).
Other boutique places in the Old Town include:
Marco Polo (also offers excellent cuisine for guests and non-guests).
If you’re visiting Rhodes and plan to come to the Old Town, I’d highly recommend shelling out and treating yourself to a stay in boutique luxury, it’s well worth it.
I wrote a post here about what to do in Rhodes away from the beaches. Part of that post talks about a visit to Mount Profitis Ilias. Yes, apart from beaches and the Old Town, be sure to hire a car and travel inland to explore the mountainous region of Rhodes. I know I was surprised to discover an area teaming with wildlife such as deer, rabbits, flora and fauna. Admittedly it’s not a huge mountain at 798 metres, but the views from the top out to sea and the quaint Swiss-style hotel/restaurant and small traditional taverna make it a great afternoon, even day trip.
Located approx. 28 miles (45km) from Rhodes Old Town, park at the hotel there and ‘trek’ (it’s a nice walk actually, but called ‘trek’ because it is uphill through the woods, so wear sturdy shoes or trainers) up to the abandoned summer residence of the Italian General De Vecchi, Governor of Rhodes from 1936 to 1940. Intended as a retirement home for Mussolini, it was abandoned after the Allies won WWII. Now – at your own risk, as with most things in Greece! – you can wander around the ruins, carefully climb up to the first floor and marvel at the sweeping vista down to the sea.
No, this isn’t my accommodation, this is the now abandoned Italian mansion Villa Devechi at Profitis Ilias – the Italian Govenor’s house who occupied the island from 1923. Fancy spending a night?! There are also three hotels near it to stay in instead. It’s not all bad though: the Italians built the hotels and brought deer with them – the deer killed all the poisonous snakes. You can still see the deer in the woods today. Talking to locals, the Italians did a lot for the island.
History, nature, wildlife and, of course, beaches; Rhodes has so much to offer the holidaymaker. Make sure you explore all you can when you visit this eclectic island.
These are just some of my favourite places to stay, visit and activities on Rhodes. What are yours? Have you been? Share in the Comments…I love hearing from fans and interacting.
- There are regular charter flights in the summer direct from the UK and other European countries. It takes approx. 4 hours from the UK to Rhodes.
- Ryanair offer flights direct from Athens at fantastic prices. Everyone has their own opinion about Ryanair, read about my experience.
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