Rhodes, Greece

Atmospheric melting pot, steeped in history


Atmospheric melting pot, steeped in history

Puffing my way up the slopes of the Acropolis above Lindos, I gave thanks to the gods of the ancient Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Christians and Ottomans who had climbed before me, that I’d chosen to make this steep journey during Rhodes low season.  To be honest the views from the top of this important archaeological site, of small white houses and boats bobbing in the bay beyond, are well worth the effort whatever the weather, but once the heat of summer relents, exploring becomes so much more pleasurable. Doesn’t mean I don’t need to get that bit fitter though…

The island of Rhodes in the South Aegean, the largest of the Dodecanese, is actually located far nearer to Turkey than to Athens. This spear-shaped mountainous land boasts 253 kilometres of stunning coastline, a culture rich haven of natural beauty. Rhodes has enjoyed a long and glorious past embracing multiple civilizations from antiquity to medieval to modern, each leaving a mark still very much in evidence today.

Summer sees both soaring temperatures and soaring tourist numbers, but visit from mid-October to the end of May and you’re in for a whole other experience. What is so wonderful about Rhodes in low season is that its fair size means that once the hordes leave, Rhodes 100,000 or so permanent residents take back the family run tavernas, beautiful beaches and historic sites and continue age old traditions like olive and honey collecting, singing and dancing, celebrating Greek Orthodox Christmas and Easter festivals. For the low season traveller this means a chance to explore the medieval castles, ancient monuments and museums without the crowds. All sites remain open year-round, but on a reduced schedule so do check your timetable. Wander the villages, engage with fishermen, and enjoy the scent of fresh sea breezes, locally grown herbs and oven baked bread. The Aegean remains warm enough for swimming late into the year and sailing is possible as well. Simply walking along empty beaches is a welcome escape from the dreary winter of more northern climes. Shoulder seasons still see direct flights into Rhodes from all over Europe, but December to February you can expect to arrive on a connecting flight from Athens, Thessaloniki, or Crete, or on an inter-island ferry.

Medieval Rhodes Old Town

One of the best preserved of all medieval towns, the whole of the beautiful historic centre came under the protection of UNESCO in 1988. The magnificent city walls, 40 feet thick in places, surround an extensive cobblestoned maze of nooks and crannies. Occupied by The Order of St John from 1309 to 1523, the city grew into stronghold, later under Turkish and Italian rule. Explore the huge Palace of the Grand Master and the fascinating Street of the Knights. Head down to the picturesque Mandraki Port where a causeway leads to the Castle of St Nicholas, which today operates as a lighthouse.

The Villages of Rhodes

A favourite low season activity is hiring a car to explore the 43 towns and villages of the island. Lindos charms visitors with its medieval architecture while pretty Ialyssos is the island’s third largest settlement. Apollona Village is known for its traditional dishes; Skala Kamirou for fish dishes; Embona for local grilled meat and mountain wine tastings; and Maritsa for small tavernas where locals sing ouzo fuelled island songs until late into the night.

Winter Walking

Rhodes offers some spectacular pathways which peak season visitors tend to be oblivious to due to the brutality of summer hiking. Enjoy short garden walks or longer treks through the lush inland. You can see some beautiful sea views and spot unusual flora and fauna like the Rhodian dama dama deer. Favourite spring and autumn hikes are magical Seven Springs, or the lake at Scoudouliaris Gorge. In winter you can still climb Filerimos Hill in Ialyssos taking in the chapels of the Prophet Elias, and the trek to Monolithos Castle is magnificent and really worth a visit all year round.

Visit the official site www.rhodeswelcome.gr for a comprehensive guide to all that the island has to offer including outlines of different villages and beaches. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram for the latest local news during your stay.


Low Season Months

Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct

Featured Hotels

Top Experiences

Horse Riding on the Beach

Take a group or individual lesson on horseback. Low season is an ideal time as the weather is not too hot for animals or riders. Leaders will choose a route including lovely long beaches, sandy coves, tunnels, shady forests, springs and wildlife parks.

Join the Olive Harvest

From mid-October, visitors can take part in picking olives from hundred year old groves and see the fruits of their labours turned into delicious fresh oil. It can be hard work but workshops often end with a Greek meal. Or join the local honey collecting.

Greek Orthodox Easter

Pascha week, the most import of religious feasts, is steeped in ritual. Good Friday evening is a sombre affair and sees the priest in magnificent garb with his entourage leading a beautifully decorated briar, symbolic of Christ’s tomb, through the streets.

Insider Tips

  • A must for history buffs and hikers, Panagia Tsambika Monastery lies 25km south of Rhodes Town. The site, at 320 metres altitude, is reached via a beautiful cypress forest. Childless women often walk barefoot and pray to the icon to be blessed with child.
  • The Colossus of Rhodes, a gigantic statue of the sungod Helios, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, once stood at the port of Mandraki. Today two elegant deer, Elefos and Elafina, at the site of his feet, give an idea of his incredible size.
  • Atmospheric 1988 film ‘Pascali’s Island’ filmed in Rhodes stars Ben Kingsley and Helen Mirren. The 1960s epic war adventure ‘The Guns of Navarone’, was shot at Lindos Acropolis, while Anthony Hopkins’ ‘Peter and Paul’ depicts the Old Town.

Good To Know

  • Although Rhodian low season climate can be warm during the day, temperatures drop sharply after sunset. So be sure to bring a warm jacket and plenty of layers as well as your sunscreen. Walking boots are a must for winter hiking.
  • Visit the official site www.rhodeswelcome.gr for a comprehensive guide to all that the island has to offer including outlines of different villages and beaches. Follow their social media and blog for the latest news during your stay.
  • Taxis from the airport to other parts of Rhodes use a flat fee, but otherwise taxis can be expensive. Car or motorbike rentals work out a much better option, especially in low season, unless you’re indulging in the local beverages.

Food & Drink

Auvergne Café, Rhodes Old Town

Open year-round and popular with locals, this unique venue is close to the Knights Street and filled with traditional atmosphere from morning until late. A full music program is offered, along with coffee, drinks and good food.

Mama Sofia, Rhodes Old Town

If the very finest of local food, amazingly friendly service from a family of locally born and raised Rhodians is more your thing, Mama Sofia is the perfect place for lunch or dinner. Stavros and his family will welcome you like old friends.

Stegna Kozas, Stegnon Beach

From 1932 the Kozas family have served seafood at the beach. This venue has grown from a fisherman’s hut to a modern restaurant for locals and tourists. Options include monkfish in beer, grilled shrimp or smoked octopus.

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