Getting to Know the Alluring Greek Island of Rhodes
The words “Greek Islands” bring to mind Santorini, Crete or Mykonos, undoubtedly all beautiful and charming in their own way.
However you need to know that there are more out there that are generally overlooked and underrated until recently. If your craving for Greece has not been completely satiated yet, there are still scores of other viable Greek island alternatives that are just as enthralling.
Mostly overshadowed by more popular islands, there are other retreats that are still unspoiled by overexposure to tourism; check out Rhodes.
Rhodes or Rodos is the largest, and certainly, one of the most stunning islands of the Dodecanese complex in the Aegean Sea. It has a landscape of forests covering its hilly and mountainous terrain.
The island residents and holidaymakers enjoy a subtropical climate with refreshing westerly winds and mild winter. With the weather of Rhodes being warm and pleasant virtually year-round, visitors come here all the time.
Tourists flock here for their extended, but moderate summer, after all this was sun god Helios’ erstwhile island.
Myths have it that the island is actually the nymph Rhodes (meaning “Rose”) who was transformed when the light of Helios shone upon her. Since then, the island has always been a flowery place. In particular, the rock-roses grow abundantly in this island, which earned it the moniker “Island of Roses.” Its other names also bear proofs of its charms – “the Island of Sun,” Makaria (“Beauty”), Asteria (“Star Island”), Ofioussa (“Snake Island”), and Ataviros (its highest mountain).
Reasons to Visit Rhodes
Rhodes has become one of the celebrated holiday destinations because of its enchanting and contrasting lures such as fantastic beaches, extensive old town and archaeological spots. These temptations are drawing tourists not to mention the modern amenities that promise vacationers comfort even in the most authentic and rural settings.
There are other breathtaking islands and neighbouring villages that are worth a visit for their iconic memorabilia, exquisite parks, historical museums, and modern recreational facilities. Rhodes has enough entertainments day and night for both its young and adult visitors from water sports, idyllic beach scenes to raucous night scenes. There is something here for everyone.
Reaching and Going Around Rhodes
Being a popular European/ Mediterranean destination, there are several options to get to this beautiful island.
You can fly to Rhodes: Flying is very convenient with daily direct flights and connecting flights from all over the world as well as from Athens and Thessaloniki. The moneyed vacationers can also charter private planes from many European origins and countries to Rhodes Diagoras International Airport located 16km southwest of Rhodes Town. Flying is perfect especially for jetsetters who can only indulge for a few days. Booking ahead of time is important especially during high seasons. Transfer from the landing strip to the city is brisk with plenty of public transport waiting outside the airport.
Start adventuring right on the ferries to Rhodes: Travelers who want to get more from their trips to Rhodes and who have time to relaxingly waste away can always opt to go to Rhodes on a board a ferry. Rhodes is an island and a major port for ocean-going vessels. There are daily ferries from Piraeus, Athens that can get you to Rhodes in 16 hours, more or less. Take your pick from these ferry companies: Anek, Blue Star Ferrie, Agoudiomos Lines, and Hellenic Seaways.
For a quicker way to get to Rhodes, you can take high-speed hydrofoils or catamarans during high seasons – late spring and summers. These ply between Rhodes and any of the nearby islands such as Kastellorizo, Leros, Kos, Patmos, Samos Kalymnos, Nissiros, Tilos, and Simi. Going around in a rented car is among the most efficient ways to tour around the island. This lets you go when and where you want to go fast and easy. The city has more than enough internationally known car rental companies to serve Rhodes’ visitors.
Getting around Rhodes:
Backpackers and travelers who prefer to walk can enjoy an intimate feel of island better, but not in Rhodes Island. It is a large island that you can only get to enjoy when you have efficient means of travelling around – buses, taxis, car rentals, and boat trips. Rhodes Town is perfect as a base because it is near all the transport terminals that can take tourists to where they want to go.
Aside from land transports, there are more adventurous ways to get to your destination for the day – hydrofoil, a catamaran or an excursion boat. Well-heeled tourist can take the classy option of renting a yacht to see spots around the island in style. Cruises can be an excellent way to see a lot of stunning attractions for less time and from the sea; another creative way of appreciating the vistas.
Fragments of the Glorious Past
History buffs and those who appreciate a rich culture will fall in live with this island. This island has, like its close neighbors, a rich history that is reflected in its many iconic sights and structures – Filerimos and the ancient city of Ialysos, the monastery of Tsampika, Lindos and its Acropolis, and the ancient city of Kamiros among others.
The first dwellers were most likely Minonans, Cretans, the Phoenicians and Dorians. It used to be a powerful force to reckon with an immense commercial and military fleet and with progressive cities such as Lindos, Ialyssos and Kamiros. The unification of these three cities made Rhodes reach its pinnacle of power. It fought wars as an ally of Rome and later with Persia. It alternately flourished and vanquished several times in history.
The most famous period was perhaps during the time when the Knights of the Order of St. John ruled in the island. This is why Rhodes was referred to as the “Island of the Knights” until the Turks invaded in 1522 and left in 1912. It was taken over by Italy until before WWII when it was incorporated with the other islands of the Dodecanese and placed under Greece.
Today, it is a Greek island known as a great destination for tourists who want a good life under the Rhodes sun, despite being a beehive of tourism, many locals managed to be farmers growing grapes and raising goats.