Rhodes Town is the cultural heart of the island of Rhodes. This historic town sits to the north-east of the island, surrounded by ancient castle walls, a plethora of monuments, towers and iconic buildings. Being a popular cruise port, it’s often buzzing with lots of tourists visiting for the day. Those holidaying in other areas of Rhodes also make it a must-see during their trip!
Rhodes Town is a town with a lot of character and well worth visiting, whether you’ve docked on a cruise ship or you’re staying elsewhere on the island. We loved walking around the narrow-pebbled streets, browsing the shops and cafes and taking pictures of the many sightseeing opportunities.
If you’re visiting Rhodes Town in one day as an excursion, check out our recommended itinerary below for tips and tricks on making the most of your short visit!
Medieval City and Old Town – If you’re arriving by bus or car, you’ll most likely be centred in the old town area, right next to the castle. Cruise ship passengers can make their way to the castle from the harbour.
Start your day with a leisurely stroll around the gardens and pathways on the outside of the castle. Here you’ll capture some excellent pictures of the castle and it’s a relaxing environment to take in some fresh air and enjoy the Greek sunshine. Venture through one of the castle gates and you’ll find an interior packed with markets, restaurants and small gift stalls. You can also take a trip to the top of the tower for panoramic views of the town.
Don’t forget to check out Street of the Knights! It’s one of the oldest streets in Rhodes, surrounded by castle walls, turrets and intriguing medieval buildings.
Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes – The castle keep itself is one of the few examples of Gothic architecture in Greece. It’s a large structure that retains many of its features from the 7th century. It was upgraded in the 14th century by the Knights Hospitaller during their occupation of Rhodes and has evolved to what we see today. It’s one of the most impressive castles we’ve ever seen, and you can’t come to Rhodes Town without wandering around the grounds. Entry is free and you’ll find a sprawling complex of restaurant, shops and stalls inside.
Lunch – After a busy morning of sightseeing and shopping, you’ll no doubt be hungry. Skip the overpriced tourist cafes of the main square and venture up a back alley for a much better Rhodes Town dining experience. We personally recommend Kathopuolis Family Restaurant. This small, outdoor eatery has excellent homecooked food and often street performers will pass by and play music whilst you eat. See all of our restaurant recommendations at the bottom of this article.
Rhodes Town Marina – After lunch, take a wander to the marina area, which is right next to the cruise port. Walk outside of the castle walls to see Rhodes Town in a different light. You’ll find tour boats, yachts and giant cruise ships all docked in the main harbour. There’s also a miniature beach to enjoy, although the beaches of Elli and Atki Miaoulli are much better if that’s your plan (more on those soon).
Wander the marina with an ice cream and check out the following sites:
Colossus of Rhodes – The mighty Colossus of Rhodes was a giant statue of the Greek sun-god Helios. It once stood alongside the harbour as ships arrived at the port, watching over the town. It’s also one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Although you can visit the site of where the statue once stood, it was destroyed in 226 BC by an earthquake. The monument pays homage to this amazing piece of work and it’s worth visiting this historic location to imagine what it once looked like.
Windmills of Mandraki – These medieval windmills are just a short walk from the Colossus of Rhodes site. Once a collection of 13 or 14 windmills, 3 lone windmills remain today, towering over the stone pier. Venture up the walkway to take pictures of these intricate structures. You’ll also capture some good views of the outer castle walls!
Fort of St Nicholas – The next attraction to check out at the sea-front is the Fort of St Nicholas. This medieval fortress has several walkways, windows and huge stone doorways, taking you back to a time when Rhodes Town was under siege.
For the remainder of your afternoon, we recommend relaxing at the secluded beach area or travelling to the west of the town for more historical attractions.
Elli Beach – Elli Beach is the long strip of beach to the northern tip of Rhodes town, just around the corner from the marina. Here you can relax in the sun, go for a swim or try some water sports. It’s a nice place to spend the rest of your afternoon after a busy day of sightseeing. The beach can be quite busy in the summer months, but it’s still regarded as one of the nicer beaches in the Rhodes Town area. Just around the beach head from Elli Beach is Atki Miaoulli Beach, a quieter location with lots of bars and restaurants.
Catch a cab a 10-minutes ride/drive from the old town/harbour to the west of Rhodes Town. Here you’ll find a collection of historical wonders, all within walking distance of each other.
Ancient Olympic Stadium and Acropolis of Rhodes – Descend to this ancient arena and imagine chariots racing, gladiators fighting and the start of what we now know as the Olympics. The entire site dates’ back to over 200 years ago!
Temple of Apollo Pythios/ Acropolis of Rhodes – Right next to the stadium is the Temple of Apollo Pythios and Acropolis of Rhodes. This iconic collection of monuments and ruins was mostly destroyed during WWII and has since been restored.
If you like ancient Greek history, this place is simply a must-see and is well worth taking the trip from the town centre.
Once you’ve finished browsing the sites, take a walk down Monte Smith (Mount Smith) to Kato Petres Beach (whilst capturing some excellent pictures) or return to the old town centre and wind down after a busy but adventurous day in the cultural heart of Rhodes.
Alternative options/things to do if you’re in Rhodes Town for longer than a day:
- Rhodes Aquarium
- Rhodes Jewish Museum
- Boat trip
- Water sports
- The vibrant nightlife of the town
- Church of St. Panteleimon
Top tips for visiting Rhodes Town
- Almost everything in Rhodes Town can be reached on foot. Pack a good pair of walking shoes or trainers as there’s so much to see in one day!
- Although the town is amazing for history enthusiasts, everyone will enjoy taking pictures of the cool sites and there’s plenty of places to relax if you don’t want to see the sites.
- If you’re not renting a car, the most cost-effective way to reach Rhodes Town is by the local bus. Fares and bus number will depend on the hotel you’re staying in and Rhodes Town is accessible from all areas of Rhodes Island.
- Take plenty of time to explore the interior and exterior of the castle. It’s a large area with plenty of hidden turrets, photo opportunities and market stalls.
- The centre of the old town can be a little expensive for gifts, food and drink. Venture to the outskirts of the old town centre and back alleys for better value, and often better quality!
- Depending on where you arrive in the old town (car park/cruise terminal/bus stop), your route around the city can be quite different. Aim to start at the castle and plan your attractions so you’re not backtracking and wasting precious time.
- As there’s so much to see in one day, you may consider staying overnight in the town. This way, you’ll get to check out the nightlife and can tour the attractions at a more leisurely pace.
Where to eat in Rhodes Town
Without a doubt, the best restaurants Rhodes Town has to offer are off the main tourist track, in back alleys, town outskirts and hidden rooftops. You’ll find cheaper dishes and delicious Greek food. Here are some of our favourites:
Kathopuolis Family Restaurant – Kathoupuolis is a small, outdoor restaurant, tucked back from the old town square in a back alley. Only outdoor seating is available here (there’s overhead cover) and the small ‘hole in the wall’ restaurant serves up delicious Greek food, perfect for a lunchtime. It’s reasonably priced, small, cosy and an ideal place to relax after a morning of sightseeing. We ordered the chicken souvlaki and a Soutzoukakia and were greeted by a street musician as we ate lunch.
Hermes Greek Grill House – Another personal favourite perfect for lunch is Hermes. This small, family run restaurant is in a secluded part of the old town, a short walk from the castle and shopping streets. Choose to dine al fresco in the sun or tuck yourself away inside and enjoy friendly service alongside hearty Greek food. They serve up all the Greek grill dishes we’ve grown to love, and you won’t be disappointed. Check out their reviews to see for yourself!
To Megiston – This centrally located restaurant is known for its friendly and cosy atmosphere, alongside tasty and good value food. It’s right next to the old town Mosque, so you won’t have far to walk to enjoy a rejuvenating lunch stop. In addition to all the traditional Greek meat dishes you’d expect to find, these also have some vegetarian and vegan options. The seafood dishes are equally as good!
Shopping is very popular in Rhodes Town. Whether you’re looking for some authentic Greek memories of your time in Rhodes or for some gifts for those back at home, Rhodes Old Town has plenty of market stalls, shops and boutiques. In addition to the usual souvenirs you’d find at a tourist destination, olive oil, soaps, handmade jewellery, Greek garments, ornaments, cheese and other Greek specialities are all commonplace.
The main streets of the old town have plenty of shopping options, however we found that the centre of the castle had market stalls with the same items for cheaper prices. Our advice is to browse a few different stores before buying as there’s a good chance you’ll find an item at a lower cost.
Rhodes Town covers a large area and there’s a lot to do! You couldn’t possibly see and do everything, but our one day in Rhodes Town itinerary is designed to cover the main sites for an action-packed day of relaxation. If you prefer a more leisurely time in the city, why not walk around the old town castle streets and then visit the harbour and beach? Our entire itinerary should take around 8 hours, so we’d recommend starting as early as you can!
If you have any questions about visiting Rhodes Town or have a suggestion, get in touch!