Dan and I made our triumphant return to Europe in 2021, heading to Rhodes, Milos, and Athens, Greece. After a significant delay at Newark, we FINALLY made it to Rhodes – six hours later than expected (and missing our flight to Athens….). This article shares my experience in 2021 and offers some recommendations and tips for visiting Rhodes, Greece!
Rhodes, Greece is a large Greek island located very close to the Turkish coast. Rhodes is one of Greece’s largest islands and one of the furthest from Athens. Unlike the “blue and white” Greek islands that most Americans think of when they think Greek (i.e. the Cyclades), Rhodes has a lot of Ottoman influence, very rich history with influences from many cultures, much related to the Knights Period, medieval things, and very little “blue and white” architecture. Today, while absolutely gorgeous in certain parts, Rhodes is super touristy, receiving big box tours from Europe, as well as its fair share of cruise ships. You’ll find stunning old walls and flowers in the Old Town, as well as weird toy and candy shops and tourist trinket stores targeted to cruisers. In my opinion, Rhodes Town was best early or late, when most of the cruisers and day trippers leave the island.
FIRST DAY IN EUROPE SINCE FEBRUARY 2020!
After a very long day of travel, we arrived in Rhodes just as the sun was setting. I was a bit sad to miss the daytime hours, but check in to our hotel, Nikos Takis Fashion Boutique Hotel (a mouthful), was quick and came with a welcome beverage. For anyone considering staying at Nikos Takis, its a lovely boutique hotel right in the heart of touristy Rhodes Town. You can walk to everything in the historical center. The hotel reminded me a bit of an old ship with a bit of fashion flair sprinkled here and there. Would stay again.
Despite being exhausted from our travels, I insisted that Dan go out to dinner with me (against his wishes). I mean when would we be in Europe again?? (spoiler alert, it was only two months later, LOL, but still, the pandemic was a time of uncertainty!) We did not have dinner plans and picked a place based on a quick Trip Advisor search and a walk around the old town. I really loved seeing all of the European things again, like old mopeds!
We landed on eating at Ouzokafenes Restaurant and Gardens, which received decent reviews and looked popular, fun, and outdoors(!). We sat on the second floor and ordered the most Greek things we could envision – house wine in a carafe, saganaki, a gyro platter, tzatziki, and octopus. The food was average, but Ouzokafenes Restaurant and Gardens definitely satisfied our Greek food desires.
We went to bed promptly after dinner because we were absolutely exhausted and wanted to be well rested for our first full day back in Europe.
SECOND DAY – FIRST FULL DAY BACK IN EUROPE!
We woke up the next morning fully refreshed and super excited to have breakfast outdoors at Nikos Takis Fashion Boutique Hotel. The breakfast was truly fantastic with homemade pastries, Greek yogurt with honey, local cheese, eggs, and, of course, strong coffee. I missed European hotels and European hotel breakfasts.
After breakfast, we caught a bus that drove us to Lindos for the day. Lindos is a small village on the West coast of Rhodes, about one hour via car from Rhodes. We took the bus from Rhodes Town to Lindos with Manos Going tour company, which was very easy. Lindos, unlike the rest of Rhodes, is a classically blue and white town complete with turquoise blue water and even its own Acropolis. Go here if you are looking for a Cycladic experience in Rhodes. We spent the day exploring the down and eating more Greek food. I’m going to share more of what we did in Lindos in another post, but it was well worth a day trip from Rhodes, especially if you have a few days in town.
We arrived back in Rhodes Town in the early evening and headed to Restaurant Piatakia for dinner. Piatakia is a tiny restaurant located a bit outside of Rhodes Town’s tourist center that serves an excellent, inexpensive tasting menu, as well as a la carte. I wrote about our experience at Piatakia here. Everything was delicious and this ended up being one of our favorite meals.
This evening also happened to the the 4th July holiday in the US. To celebrate, we drank a boot full of flavored cider back in the tourist center of Rhodes Town. It was quite fun, but honestly a little disgusting to drink so much cider. In any case, I loved the little map of Rhodes on the boot! If you are looking to recreate a similar experience, there is a street of touristy bars serving these types of beverages just past the Suleiman mosque. Watch out for shady proprietors.
THIRD DAY – RHODIAN WINE TASTING.
Our third day in Rhodes began with a wine tour. Yes, a Rhodian wine tour! The island of Rhodes does indeed makes wine in a small area centering around the hillside village of Embonas. En route to Embonas, which is inland from Rhodes Town, we passed gorgeous Greek shoreline, glimpses of Turkey, and and a number of unfinished houses (a popular investment mechanism according to our tour guide!).
Embonas is a tiny town all about Rhodian wine, and it reminded me a lot of other wine towns we have visited. Most producers are tiny and distribute only on Rhodes. In other words, you will not likely find Rhodian wine outside of the island. Once in Embonas, we visited two working wineries and a wine shop showcasing the other producers in town. The tour finished with a Greek lunch at a local restaurant. I’ll also be posting more on this tour for those interested in sampling Rhodian wine.
After our Rhodian wine tour, which ended in the early afternoon, we drove back to Rhodes Town and toured some of the most popular sites the town has to offer. And, spoiler alert, Rhodes Town is really, really gorgeous and photogenic. We took lots of fotos and saw all the historical sites, at least from the outside – lots of preserved pieces from the Knights period and loads of Ottoman influence. We also experienced Rhodes’ weird touristy side. This island is full of opposites.
We also stopped for a Caffe Freddo and shisha at a gorgeous coffee bar right on the main tourist thoroughfare, Melvana. And, Melvana is worth a stop even if shisha is not your thing. Melvana’s interior is straight from the past and its a very cool setting. It also gives a glimpse into the insanely busy tourist street in Rhodes Town (which is not so pleasant…). I suggest grabbing a small table outside and watching the crowds with a tight grasp on your purse.
This evening’s dinner was at a random outdoor restaurant that just looked pretty when we walked by – Nireas. Dinner was pretty good, but nothing to write more about. The outdoor setting was the real star.
FOURTH DAY – BOAT TRIP TO SYMI ISLAND.
We spent our last full day in Rhodes on a day trip to to Symi, a neighboring island a little over 1 hour away. We took the ferry from Rhodes port and visit the Monastery of Monastery of Panormitis, stopped for swim, and lunched and shopped in Symi’s old town. Symi was totally beautiful, and it reminded me a lot of my beloved Italy. That being said, I am not sure it was worth a day trip on our short stay and I would probably recommend returning for 2 nights as an add on to a Rhodes trip.
Dan and I had a very casual dinner this evening at a gyro spot named Augoustinos Grill House. We passed Augoustino’s a couple nights prior and it looked so tasty, we returned. While an inexpensive take away spot, Augoustino’s food was solid, especially for gyros. Would recommend for people on a budget or those just looking for a quick meal. Lots of locals were eating at Augoustinos on this particular night.
Our night ended with a lengthy (one hour), yet gorgeous, walk along the coast to a sports bar playing the World Cup Italy game and serving Guinness. This was the closest sports bar to Medieval Rhodes serving Guinness – crazy! In any case, Italy won – hurray! And, on the walking path, the referenced path connections Old Town Rhodes to the popular area closer to the airport with lots of big hotels serving European holiday families (big box style). The stroll was quite nice and I would recommend it early in the morning or at sunset. Note that there not a ton of artificial lighting so those walking alone may feel uncomfortable in the dark.
FIFTH DAY – DEPARTURE FOR MILOS
We departed Rhodes mid-morning on our fifth day in Greece to head to Milos via plane, with a brief stop in Athens. All in, we had a lovely time in Rhodes, but wished we had stayed longer. I would definitely return and explore more of the island. For those planning a trip, I recommend spending a week on Rhodes or combining Rhodes and Symi. Flying between two Greek islands on a 10-day trip was a lot, and I feel like we missed some of Rhodes.
STEAL OUR TRIP
Nikos Takis Fashion Boutique Hotel: Panaitiou 26, Rodos. Good location and brekafast.
Melvana: Sokratous 76, Rodos.
Nireas: Sofokleous 22 85100 Rodes, Greece.
Augoustinos Grill House: 26 Diakou Alexandrou, Rhodes Town 851 00 Greece.
ManosGoing Tours: This is a popular Rhodes tour company offering all sorts of trips around the island, as well as pick up at various locations. We used ManosGoing for both the Lindos day trip and the day trip to Symi.
Rhodes Private Tours: We used this company for our Rhodian wine tour. While the website is somewhat lacking, the tour was excellent.