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Wondering what to do in Rhodes Town?
Located at the northern point of Rhodes Island in Greece, the medieval city of Rhodes is a UNESCO World Heritage Town and magnet for day-trippers, cruise shippers and vacationers alike! Concealed behind historic Old Town walls a whole world away from the Mediterranean resorts of the New Town, Rhodes Old Town is characterised by a network of winding cobbled lanes, sociable squares and charming ruins, all entangled with a large dose of Ottoman influence. And whether you’ve got one day or one week on this idyllic island, here are the 11 very best things to do in Rhodes town for any itinerary!
1. Wander the Old Town
Taking a leisurely stroll through the medieval Old Town of Rhodes is one of the best things to do in itself. As you enter through one of the majestic gates along the fortified walls, it will feel like you’ve stepped back in time to a place where Greek collides with Ottoman! Rhodes Old Town is made up of a network of cobbled-streets and quaint lanes that are lined with a mix of Turkish bazaar-esque shops, bistros and bars, and gelaterias. Historic ruins and archways are dotted around the old quarter, along with trickling fountains which take pride of place on sociable squares.
One of the liveliest squares in Rhodes Old Town where you will find many restaurants, cafes, and taverns is Hippocrates Square, where Ipokratous Fountain sits in the middle. Evreon Martyron Square is one of the particularly picturesque places to visit in Rhodes, and is also known as Seahorse Square given the seahorse fountain which lives there. And two of the other Rhodes must-see attractions located in the medieval quarter are the Street of the Knights and the Mosque of Suleiman.
Tip: If you need some respite from the heat of the Mediterranean sun on a hot summer’s day, then retreat to the cool cobbled alleyways of the medieval Old Town and find a cafe to perch yourself for a while.
2. Go to Mandraki Harbour
A stone’s throw from the walls of Rhodes Old Town is Mandraki Harbour. Formerly the military port of ancient Rhodes and a rich trading port, Mandraki Harbour is now a place where super-yachts, fishing boats and tourist ships bob side by side. Mandraki Harbour’s claim to fame is that it was once home to one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World – Colossus of Rhodes. Colossus of Rhodes was a 33.5 metre statue built in the 4th Century BC which represented the Greek sun god Helios, and bridged the gap between the mouth of the harbour. Today in its place sit two columns with bronze deer on top, known as the Fallow Deer of Rhodes, which leads nicely on to the next of the best things to see in Rhodes town…
3. See the Fallow Deer of Rhodes
Either side of the harbour’s mouth where the feet of Colossus of Rhodes were once believed to have stood, you will now find statues of two fallow deer perched atop of stone columns. The two bronze statues are deer which symbolise the Greek island of Rhodes, and are named Elefos and Elafina. A visit to Elefos and Elafina is one of the top things to do in Rhodes Old Town for history and views, because standing at the base of the stag you will be presented with stunning vistas of the doe, the Fort of St Nicholas, Mandraki Harbour and the wide open sea.
4. Visit the Windmills of Mandraki
Another of the main sights of Mandraki Harbour and Rhodes attractions are the Windmills of Mandraki. Located on the wave breaker which protects Mandraki Harbour are 3 windmills once used to grind grain from the merchant ships that docked in the port. These windmills are now inactive, but give a glimpse into Mandraki Harbour’s rich commercial history. It is thought that there once may have been more than 3 windmills, however these are perfect examples of the last 3 standing with the others disintegrating over time.
5. Stop by the Fort of St. Nicholas
Within Mandraki Harbour you will also see the Fort of St. Nicholas. Built in 1467 by the Knights of St. John, the Fort of St. Nicholas is located beyond the Windmills of Mandraki at the end of the 400m long jetty which shields Mandraki Harbour. Being the first fortification incomers will meet when entering the harbour of Rhodes, it has been subjected to many attacks over the years, and is also where the lighthouse is located.
What money do they use in Rhodes? The currency in Greece is the Euro (€). If you are visiting Rhodes on a day trip from Marmaris or from elsewhere in Turkey, make sure you include some Euros on your packing list (as the currency in Turkey is the Turkish Lira).
6. Go shopping
The paved-streets and cobbled-lanes of the Old Town of Rhodes are lined with various boutiques and shops, so what better way to spend a morning than enjoying some Mediterranean retail therapy? The Ottoman influence intertwines with modern Greek life, creating an abundance of shops selling all kinds of nice things like jewellery, souvenirs (who doesn’t love a fridge magnet?), clothes, Greek products, arts and crafts, and beautiful Turkish lamps. Rhodes town offers a varied shopping experience, and the many cafes scattered in between the outlets offer the perfect pit stop for a frothy coffee when you need a rest!
7. Eat ice cream
One of the best things to do in Rhodes has to be to sample some ice-cream, and you cannot visit without doing so! Throughout the medieval Old Town you will find an abundance of gelaterias serving the most extravagantly decorated ice-cream, sculpted in the freezers in various animal shapes or piled up in mounds of ice-creamy goodness! And, just like in Rome, it is some of the most scrumptious ice-cream you will taste and comes in every flavour imaginable. If you’re looking for a recommendation, then I’m an advocate for the Kinder Bueno gelato or chocolate whippy ice-cream!
8. Explore the fortifications of Rhodes
You might have gathered by now that the historic quarter of Rhodes is encased within historic city walls, and exploring the fortifications is one of the best things to do in Rhodes town. From 1309 to 1523, Rhodes was occupied by the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem. During the 14th Century, they transformed the town of Rhodes into a fortified city with an impressive defence system enclosed within a 4km long wall. The ancient quarter is now a UNESCO World Heritage Town, and offers a well-preserved glimpse into the past – just like some of the most beautiful small towns in Germany do.
Tip: If you like the look of Rhodes, then you’ll probably love the small town of Puerto de la Cruz in Tenerife, as it has the most gorgeous Old Town too!
9. Eat Gyros at Pita Fan
If you are wondering what Greek food to eat in Rhodes, then you should definitely try Gyros (or Gyro). Gyros is a traditional Greek dish, which is made up of meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie served in a fresh and fluffy pitta, with fries, salad and sauces. My absolute favourite place to eat in Rhodes where I’ve been known to scoff brunch and dinner on the same day is Pita Fan. Located in the medieval town tucked away behind the impressive Marine Gate (Thalassini Pyli) and just off of Hippocrates Square, Pita Fan is a takeaway hatch which serves the most delicious Gyros. And there is lots of shaded outdoor seating from which you can enjoy your lunchtime feast along with the atmosphere of the Old Town too.
10. See the Rhodes Dolphins and swim at the sandy beach nearby
Located a stone’s throw from the ferry terminal which serves other destinations in Greece and places like the Turkish resort of Marmaris is the statue of the Rhodes Dolphins and a quaint sandy beach. The four bottlenose dolphins are perched on a rock in the sea on the edge of Kolona Harbour, with a backdrop of the sandy beach, Old Town walls, and boats beyond. A wooden walkway meanders parallel to the Old Town walls and clings to the coast’s edge, and further along from the four dolphins you will find a small sandy beach in Rhodes town, directly opposite the Gate of the Virgin.
Tip: Rhodes is a popular travel destination in the summer time. One of the top tips for how to travel cheaper in Europe is to travel off peak!
11. Pop to Kolona Harbour
A smaller affair than its counterpart Mandraki Harbour and located a short distance to the northwest, Kolona Harbour is situated opposite Marine Gate (Thalassini Pyli) directly beneath the city walls. Smaller fishing boats are moored here and call Kolona Harbour home, and it makes for a pleasant place to sit and enjoy an ice-cream whilst watching life go by. When I visited, there was a charming shop located on one of the fishing boats in Kolona Harbour selling all kinds of shells, so look out for this as it’s a unique place to grab a keepsake.