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Port Review: Rhodes, Greece

By:
Joanna Hall
 

The largest of Greece’s Dodecanese islands, Rhodes is famous for a combination of beach resorts, ancient ruins and remnants of its occupation by the Knights of St. John during the Crusades. It also offers a diverse port of call for passengers arriving by ship, who will often have a day to explore its many charms.

The Facts

Location: The Greek Islands.

Language: Greek, although English is widely spoken.

Currency: Euro.

Docking/Anchoring: Most cruise ships dock close to Rhodes Town.

Transport: It’s a short walk into the main town, which is great to explore on foot, and there should be plenty of taxis around when a cruise ship is in port. 

Overview

Surrounded by medieval walls with seven magnificent gates, entering Rhodes Old Town is a step back into more than two thousand years of history, with fantastic and well preserved monuments, squares and houses. But that’s not to say it’s one big museum: six thousand people live inside the walls and they give a real sense of life to a city which is a joy to discover. Beyond the Old Town there are plenty of beaches to visit, for those who prefer more leisurely pursuits on a day in port, and cosmopolitan Mandraki, a modern city with modern attractions, and the small fort of Agios Nikolaos, built between 1464 and 1467.

Don’t Miss

Entering the Old Town through one of the imposing medieval gates is like stepping into another world, and while a walking exploration of the city can be done in a day, it usually takes longer so plan your route and must-sees before you arrive.

The most impressive building in the Old Town is the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes which as built in the 14th century. Impressive on the outside, inside the enormous palace are relics from the medieval period as well as ancient sculptures and ornate first century floor mosaics.

The residential areas of the Old Town, including the Jewish Quarter, is a serene neighbourhood and this is where beautiful rose window gardens catch the sunlight and old men sip coffee and play backgammon in the middle of the street.

Best Photo Op

Sailing into, or out of, Rhodes should give you a great panorama of the Old Town and the extensive fortified walls that surround it. Remarkably much of the walls remain intact today.

Shopping

Rhodes Town is a pretty good shopping destination and traditional souvenirs include original jewellery, leather goods and pottery, along with the usual touristy trinkets. Smaller towns further out like Faliraki have their own shops which also have interesting products, while Mandraki has a large shopping centre.

Food And Drink

Although the economy of the whole island is geared towards tourism, it is possible to experience an authentic slice of Greek cuisine and culture in some of the back streets. Many of the bars and restaurants around the major sites are geared towards foreign tourists, and their prices reflect this, but the local joints still exist and can be found just off the beaten path. It’s here that you’ll find a good Turkish coffee, selections of mezes, real moussaka, local seafood and an atmosphere that is decidedly Mediterranean: the perfect way to round off a visit to one of the truly unique cities of Europe.

Pick of the Excursions

The most popular excursion takes in all the best of Rhodes and some historical sites outside of the main town including the Lindos Acropolis and its panoramic views, and Lindos Village with the Byzantine architecture of the ancient church and the medieval fortifications and remains of the governor's quarters built by the Knights of St. John. Lunch is usually included in a traditional Greek restaurant.

Along with its medieval architecture and history, Rhodes is famous for its classic Mediterranean beaches, and most cruise lines will offer a tour which cruises past local villages, vineyards and olive groves before dropping you off for a few hours at a pretty beach with deck chairs and umbrellas to rent. 

 

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