Taking a ferry between islands in Greece gives you perspective on how far away they really are. Getting to Rhodes, one of the most distant of the Dodecanese islands in the Aegean Sea, is no different.
It took us 16 hours by high-speed ferry to get from Athens to Rhodes.
The trip wasn’t too bad, as it travelled overnight. But to save money, we decided against getting a cabin. Find a couple of couches, the three of us – Bridget, Elizabeth and I – were able to sleep (rather uncomfortably) for a good portion of the trip.
Many people took the overnight ferry, and I was surprised that not many people had cabins. I mean, it was an expensive ferry just for the deck, but it was a long trip to sleep on a small hard couch. We also had two middle-aged men next to us playing video games and Europop on their computer at 8 in the morning. Rude.
By the time we arrived in Rhodes, we were beat, but determined not to sleep the day away. We jumped into our bathing suits and walked to the nearest beach, which was excellent. What a view.
We ended up spending the rest of the day swimming, tanning and relaxing on the beach all falling asleep in the sun.
The hotel we stayed in was quite lovely, and we were able to save money by staying further away from the city centre. Castello di Rodi was modelled after the castle-like Rhodes Old Town. For the amount of money we paid for it (not a lot) I was genuinely surprised by the view and room. The staff was very friendly and helpful, and stored our luggage for the full day, and let us hang out in their courtyard while we waited for our ferry to Santorini.
Related: Chasing sunsets in Santorini, Greece
Lindos: The archaeological city of Rhodes
The next day we took a half day bus tour to Lindos. Lindos is a beautiful old town on the east coast of Rhodes. It is very traditional and boasts the Acropolis that has spanned through four ages: Greek, Byzantine, Ottoman, and Christian Medieval. It was at the top of a mountain and was a bitch to climb, but it was well worth it. The view from atop was awesome.
One of the cool things about Lindos is St. Paul’s Bay. The rumour is that Saint Paul landed here in Rhodes in 57 AD preaching about Jesus and the bay was named after him. From atop the Acropolis, the bay appears to be closed, but in fact, there is an opening. We didn’t have a lot of time left in the tour, so only Elizabeth swam, while Bridget and I stuck our feet in looking at the crabs. The lagoon was crystal clear; I would have loved to go snorkelling there.
The town itself was another sight; it was so charming with its shops and stores, all painted white. Its winding streets are all cobblestone mosaic pebbles. If you get off the main road, you come across beautiful carved wooden doors and mosaic streets.
Old town Rhodes: a UNESCO World Heritage Site
The last half of the day – we had a lot of time to kill before our ferry at 2:30 AM – we spent in Rhodes Old Town, a medieval fortress turned tourist destination. The old town was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988.
Some of the main spots to see in the medieval town of Rhodes are:
The Temple of Aphrodite
One of the most prominent archaeological sites in Rhodes is the Temple of Aphrodite, a shrine dedicated to the goddess of love and beauty. You cannot walk through the temple but can look into the area from outside. It dates back to the 3rd century BC.
Street of Knights
The Street of Knights, a highlight of the old town, once connected the harbour to the hospital. Along the street, seven consulates that represented the Knights of the Order of St. John were built along this road back in the 16th century.
The gates of Old Town Rhodes
There are numerous gates along the fortifications of the Old Town, some dating back to the 1400s. They are wonderful to see, as they stand as a testament to the old medieval roots of the city.
Church of the Virgin of the Burgh
Another remnant of the medieval era is the Church of the Virgin of the Burgh. One wall, where the altar stood, is still intact. It’s located at the eastern end of the old town.
Palace of the Grand Master
This massive castle has gone through many transformations over the centuries. Formerly a temple to the Greek god Helios, it then was a citadel for Knights Hospitaller in the 1300s. It later became a command centre in the Ottoman Empire.
Colossus of Rhodes
One of the seven ancient wonders of the world, the Colossus of Rhodes is lost to history. Once, the massive statue stood in the harbour of the port town as a tribute to Helios. Today, however, you will see two pillars, one with a stag, the other a doe, in the reported location of the old statue.
A beautiful fountain sits in the middle of Hippocrates Square, surrounded by shops, restaurants and cafes. It’s a great place to get a drink, shop or my favourite, people watch.
As with many tourist spots, many of the shops sold similar souvenirs. We ended up walking along the harbour looking at the boat shops. Many sold shells and sponges.
Unfortunately, that day didn’t end well. Our taxi driver got confused and dropped us off at the wrong port. (A couple of others happened to be in the same boat – pun intended) After getting back to the right port, we fought to get tickets, which we had already paid for.
That night, or morning I guess, was a big learning moment for me as a traveller. Looking back on it, everything turned out okay, but it was stressful on all of us. We ended up getting a cabin and spent 23 hours on the ferry to Santorini.
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