Difference between revisions of "Rhodes"
Revision as of 08:54, 4 August 2010
This article is about the island of Rhodes. For the city of the same name, capital of the island, see the separate article Rhodes city.
Rhodes is one of the largest and most fertile of the Greek Islands, and because of its combination of beaches, archaeological sites, and extensive medieval town, is one of the most visited. The climate is particularly good, with the weather typically sunny and mild. The island is usually counted as one of the Dodecanese, but due to its importance for travelers is considered separately here.
The rock-rose is so prolific here that it has been named the 'Island of Roses,' though modern scholars doubt the ancient theory that the island's name comes from the Greek word for rose. While the northern coast is renowned for its lively tourist resorts the south offers tranquil beaches and a slower, more simple pace of life.
Rhodes is a major tourist attraction for the seekers of sunny beaches. While many of its beaches are gravel, not sand; the island can boast 300+ sun days in a year. Consequently, you will stumble into tourists and hotels and beaches full of deck chairs for rent, into shops and restaurants that cater to these tourists. It can be overwhelming at times. If this bothers you, Rhodes is probably not for you. Still, there are some areas where mass tourism has not yet penetrated too much. And there are advantages too, accommodation on Rhodes itself can be purchased for relatively low prices, and most of the locals speak at least English and German and often some other languages, like Swedish, French, Turkish, Italian or even Finnish. Look for bays, beaches frequented by Greeks and areas at or beyond Lindos.
Rhodes has one of the longest and most splendid histories of anyplace in the world. Inhabited since Neolithic times, the island had important Bronze Age settlements, and at the dawn of the historical era was already famous for its three powerful cities of Lindos, Ialysos, and Kameiros, as mentioned in Homer. In 408 bce these three cities joined to found the island's capital city, also called Rhodes. Rhodes city and island played a vigorous role in subsequent ancient Greek and Roman history, its most memorable episode doubtless being the prolonged siege of the city by Demetrios Poliokertes in 305 bce. In Hellenistic times Rhodes became extremely prosperous through trade and was one of the most influential cultural centers of the Greek world. Later as a province of the Roman empire Rhodes' influence declined, though it was still an important regional capital and was one of the earliest centers of Christianity.
Rhodes later became part of the Byzantine Empire and from the 7th century on fell under the general eclipse of the Dark Ages. Later in the Middle Ages, Rhodes' importance again increased, as it came under the influence first of the Venetians, then of the Genoese, and finally of the Knights of Saint John, an organization of Crusaders who took over parts of Palestine but were later expelled by the Saracens and the Knights Templar and took refuge in Rhodes, wresting control of the island from the Genoese in 1306, ruling for two centuries, and building Rhodes once again into a major maritime power, until the island was conquered by Süleyman the Magnificent in 1523, becoming part of the Ottoman Empire.
The local tourist information office for the Dodecanese Islands is located in Rhodes city at Makariou & Papagou Corner (opposite the New Market). Telephone 22410 44335-6, Fax 22410 26955.
Greek is the native language of the people of Rhodes. However, due to the high level of tourism English, and to a lesser extent German, is likely to be spoken by most people the traveler comes into contact with. The local dialect can be described as a 'sing-song', with strong Turkish and Italian overtones. Many words used by Rodites (Rhodians) will not be readily understood by mainland Greeks.
Cruise ships dock at the Commercial Port, east of Rhodes (city)'s Old Town.
All ferry and high speed ferry companies : schedules, connections, availability and prices, between Rhodes , other Greek islands , Turkey (Marmaris or Bodrum) & Piraeus port (Athens) is here 
The island is served by Diagoras International Airport with the IATA code RHO. The airport is situated on the west coast about 14km from Rhodes Town. There are regular flights to and from Athens, Thessaloniki, and Crete; charter airlines connect Rhodes with many major cities all over Europe. In 2006 a new wing was built at Diagoras Airport, that opened in 2007 to service only the charter flights, which during high season can reach 150-180 per day. The airport parking is small.
All public bus lines radiate from Rhodes town and reach almost evry relevant place throughout the island.
The main bus terminal in Rhodes city is the Neá Agorá (New Market). Buses run by both companies stop there, but ticket booths, as well as timetables and prices, are distinct. Rhodes town lines are run by Roda, but have a separate stop, along Mandraki sea promenade, across the street from the new market. One interesting line is n° 5, which goes up to the Achropolis, price 1 Euro.
Tickets can also be bought in the bus from a cashier or directly from the driver. Keep your ticket until the end of your voyage. The price of a bus ticket will depend on the destination. For example, a trip from Rhodes city to Faliraki will cost 2.00 Euros.
Bus stops on the road are marked by a sign, but do not hesitate to signal a bus driver that you wish to board. Bus stops do not have the timetables displayed. Also, note that most villages and resorts have more than one line passing through and stopping in different places. For example Faliraki has got three, one along the main street, one at the town center, and one right along the sea promenade. make sure your bus goes to your preferred stop, or you'll need to walk a bit.
Taxis on Rhodes are dark blue with white roofs. There is a list of expected maximum taxi charges you can obtain from the tourist information office. For example, a trip from Rhodes city to Faliraki should not cost more than 13 Euros; the trip from the Airport to Rhodes city a maximum of 16 Euros. The minimum fare for each trip is 4.00 Euros, the taximeter starts at 0.85 Euros. Never let the driver turn off the meter.
You can radio a taxi via telephone number 22410 69800. This adds a standard surcharge of 1.50 Euros. Waiting fare is 7.90 Euros per hour. Between midnight and 5 AM you will have to pay twice the normal rates. You can book ahead to avoid delays at high traffic times such as weekends.
Within Rhodes city limits, fixed rates are applied. If you get a taxi from one of the taxi stations or stop one in the street, the fare is 5.00 Euros. At the main taxi station, close to the New Market (Mandraki), there are hosts that try to cut down waiting time by making sure that the taxis doesn't leave half empty - especially if you are going a bit further. If you share a taxi within the Rhodes city limits the fare is 4.00 Euros.
It is not worth the hassle to bring your own car to the island, although it is in theory possible. You can rent a car at the airport or via any hotel and at many local dealers. Asphalt highways will allow you to reach the entire island, although roads in the interior - especially the south - may turn out to be little more than dirt paths.
Motorbikes and mopeds are popular alternatives to cars. Especially mopeds are frequently used by local youths and can go to many places that cars cannot go - for example the twisted narrow streets of Rhodes city. An additional advantage is that they are cheap to rent - 10 to 15 Euros a day is the usual price.
If you start a day-trip with a moped, make you sure you do so on a full tank, as gas stations are sometimes hard to find. An extra stop at a gas station can save a lot of nerves. When renting a moped, check if the profile of the tyres is ok and if the brakes work properly. If it is the last vehicle in store, be suspicious - it could be the one that needs a repair badly. Though helmets are not required on the streets, (although you might well be stopped and fines 50 euros if you are not wearing a helmet on the main roads) it might be a good idea to ask your rent-a-bike for one, especially if you intend to drive on streets with more traffic.
There is a good variety of beaches on Rhodes. The east side of the island has almost continuous sandy beaches with calm waters. Beaches on the west are mostly more stony. The wind mostly comes in from the west and also the sea tends to be somewhat rougher to the west so that side of the island is better suited to surfing or kite boarding.
See the Eat section under each town for specific listings.
The tap water is drinkable and restaurants will serve glasses of ice water upon request. Local drinks include Mythos (beer) and Ouzo. Local wine is cheap and excellent.
See individual towns for more accommodation options. For budget travelers, there is no longer a campground on the island but there is a youth hostel in Rhodes Old Town.
Rhodes is a generally safe destination. There are a few things to look out for.