Rhodes, Greece’s fourth largest island, is one of its most popular tourist destinations. Before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, I would never have thought of setting foot on it due to an aversion to mass tourism. But this capital of the Dodecanese, which has a three-thousand-year-long history and was once home to one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World – the Colossus of Rhodes, has so much to offer to the sophisticated world traveller with a penchant for ancient history and authentic cultural exchanges, and a refined standard in wining and dining.

Once you step away from those ribald resort hotels, you’ll discover what a horde of treasures that this ‘Island of the Knights‘ proffers – from an entirely intact Classical Greek city to one of the world’s best cocktail bars.

Behind Rhodes’ revolting exterior meant for the busloads of beer-guzzling fat beached whales and orange duckfaces in g-strings, lies a sophisticated soul, waiting to get to know you.

What to see

1. The Medieval City of Rhodes

The Medieval City of Rhodes is a UNESCO World Heritage site that is the oldest continually inhabited one in Europe. Many of the buildings you see here were built by the Knights Hospitallers, who ruled the island from 1309 until the island was surrendered to the Ottomans in 1523.
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2. Go for a nice morning stroll in Ancient Ialysos Ιαλυσός

Ialysos was a Classical city in the northern part of the Rhodes island, supposedly founded by King Tlepolemus of Rhodes in Greek mythology. A son of Heracles and Astyoche (daughter of Phylas, King of Ephyra), Tlepolemus fled to Rhodes after killing Licymnius, Heracles’ aged maternal uncle. Once arrived, he divided the island into three and created three city-states: Ialyssos, Kamiros and Lindos.
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3. Lindos Λίνδος: The Most Picturesque City on Rhodes

The modern city of Lindos is a very picturesque site with whitewashed streets and houses, not unlike those on Santorini. Above the town is the Acropolis of Lindos, which was a natural fortress built successively by the island’s rulers.
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4. Kamiros Κάμειρος: Visit the Only Existing Intact Ancient Greek City

On the northwestern coast of the island of Rhodes, lies the ruins of the ancient city of Kamiros. It is the only existing whole ancient Greek city that is entirely intact. Often compared to Pompeii, Kamiros was not destroyed by natural disaster – although it had to be rebuilt twice in 226 and 142 BC after two major earthquakes. The city was abandoned after the founding of Rhodes in 408 BC. It is a must-see for any cultured gentleman!
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5. Climb the Knights Hospitaller’s Castle of Asklipio

Less than half an hour’s drive from Lindos lies the village of Asklipio, where one of the most impressive castles were built by the Knights Hospitaller who ruled the island of Rhodes from 1310 until 1522. Built in 1479 by Grand Master D’Aubusson on the site of an ancient lighthouse, the Castle of Asklipio still commands one of the best views on Rhodes.
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6. Witness the Most Beautiful Sunset on Monolithos Μονολίθου in Rhodes

Have you ever been to a place which makes your heart skip a beat and your soul goes wildly jubilant at the sight of immense beauty? Well, if you are planning to visit Rhodes, then you should not miss the chance for this experience by witnessing the one of the most beautiful sunsets you may come across in your life, at Monolithos.
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Where to drink

7. The Last Butler: Rhodes’ Most Exquisite Cocktail Bar

A classy gentlemen’s bar right in the middle of the street is the last thing you would expect to find in the modern city of Rhodes. Yet this makes The Last Butler all the more extraordinary, especially under the cool, late-summer evening sky on this southern Aegean Greek paradise, compared to something similar you’d come across easily in London or Tokyo.
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Where to eat

8. Restaurant Mavrikos in Lindos: Rhodes’ Most Renowned Favourite of Hollywood Stars

On the main square before the entrance to the city of Lindos, stands the oldest restaurant there and one of the most famous on Rhodes and even in the whole of Greece. Founded in 1933, Mavrikos is still run by the same family.
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9. Enjoy a Fishy Lunch at the Traditional Cafe Symi Παραδοσιακό Καφενείο Σύμη

Founded in 1947, Traditional Cafe Symi Παραδοσιακό Καφενείο Σύμη is an institution in the modern city of Rhodes. It is small though, easily missed, when you walk inside the courtyard of the Neo Agora (New Market). A must for any seafood-lover, this is definitely the best spot for a relaxing light lunch for any visitor to Rhodes.
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10. Restaurant Piatakia in Rhodes: A Modern Rhodian Take on the Traditional Greek Palate

Piatakia‘ means ‘saucers‘ in Greek. Located on the horrendously touristy Leontos street in the modern quarter of Rhodes, this cute cosy restaurant is run by two Swedish Greeks, chefs Daniel Kyramarios and Sylvia Palermo. Bringing quirky Nordic inventiveness to classic Greek and Mediterranean ingredients and tastes, Piatakia is such a great gastronomic experience one shouldn’t miss on Rhodes.
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11. Discover Rhodes’ Culinary Treasure at the Village Restaurant Paraga Εστιατόριο Παράγκα

Nestled in the hills in the centre of Rhodes and at the foot of the island’s highest mountain Attavyros, lies the small village of Apollona. Here, amongst the olive groves and hillside stone cottages, is the most valuable culinary treasure in the whole of Rhodes: the modest, unassuming village restaurant called Paraga Παράγκα.
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Where to swim

12. Kallithea Springs Πηγές Καλλιθέας

About 9 kilometres from the city of Rhodes, is the Bay of Kallithea, where thermal springs are found that were enjoyed by the ancient Greeks. When Italy controlled Rhodes, they built on this spot the ‘Terme di Calitea‘ in 1928 and turned it into a sophisticated wellness resort for the rich. Today, the Kallithea Springs Πηγές Καλλιθέας has been fully restored to its former glory and offers for a small price a unique experience of Italian luxury of the 1930s.

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Tip about beaches in Rhodes

Try to stay on the east coast of the island to avoid strong winds and undercurrents that usually hits the west and northwest of the island. When we were staying in the city of Rhodes, we chose Elli Beach which was close to the medieval city, was relatively sheltered compared to the rough seas on the west side.