If you’re visiting the incredible Greek island of Rhodes but don’t have much time, then you’ll want to know the best things to do in Rhodes Greece to maximise your visit. Here is how you can spend a full day exploring Rhodes Old Town for all the best bits of diverse history, beautiful island life, and gorgeous views!
During our visit to Rhodes, Greece we landed as most would into the city of Rhodes at the north of the island. We were staying for several days, however, we only gave ourselves 1 day in Rhodes Old Town – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We endeavoured to cram as much in as possible, and we proved it’s certainly possible to enjoy all the sights and experiences with one day in Rhodes!
Due to the island’s position between Europe, the Middle East, and Africa it’s come under a number of rules during its extensive history.
Go To The Acropolis of Rhodes
No visit to a Greek island is complete without stopping by the ancient ruins. The Acropolis of Rhodes should be one of your first stops during your visit, and an essential thing to do in Rhodes. Situated at the highest point of the city and just 3km walk from the city centre, it’s a perfect break away from the confined streets of the old town, and a beautiful part of history that is (at least sort of) still standing.
Don’t mind the scaffolding that’s surrounding the Temple of Apollo, the restoration work on the site of the Acropolis of Rhodes has continued since the 1940s, and the restoration of this particular part is especially delicate. For that reason, it’s mostly walled off which is great to see efforts to keep the area from any damage. You can still get close enough for some pretty spectacular views and a sense of scale, which is what matters.
Also in the acropolis site is the Odeon, a small marble theatre that is almost perfectly restored and maintained – you can even walk along the rows of seats here! The areas of the acropolis is generally pretty free from crowds, so you can probably get your chance to practice your bows and courtesies to your adoring imaginary fans…
The stadium is the final, and arguably most impressive, part of the acropolis of Rhodes. Stretching over 200m you can walk along spectator seating and imagine yourself as a historical sports hero!
Walk through the old town city gates
Making our way back to the centre of Rhodes Old Town, we came to the city walls. The Gate D’Amboise is an especially grand entrance, crossing over a bridge into the mysterious city walls. As you’ll soon see, any time spent wandering through the Old Town of Rhodes is time well-spent. Finding the 11 gates of the old town is a neat way to make your way around the walled circumference and if, like us, you’re making your way to the old town for the first time it can make for quite the impressive first sighting of the fortification!
Climb to the top of Roloi Clock Tower
Once inside the city walls there are plenty of activities to enjoy. You’ll certainly want to maximise your available time with only 1 day in Rhodes, so why not start off by getting an aerial perspective over the city? After paying your €5 entrance fee, climb the stairs of this 7th Century tower to enjoy panoramic views from the harbour to the acropolis and beyond the coastline.
If you’d like to visit the clock tower, it’s recommended to go earlier or later in the day as peak times can become crowded. We enjoyed the viewing platform to ourselves around midmorning which seemed like a good time to go!
Once you’re done soaking in the incredible rooftop sights, you can head to the clock tower’s bar for your complimentary free drink as included in the price! We enjoyed the chance to gather our thoughts and plan out the next steps in our day. Conscious to not waste too much of our morning we quickly downed our G&Ts and continued on!
Meander the streets and find some cats
Throughout the old town there are so many shops, market stalls, cafes, restaurants, and cute alleyways just waiting to be perused and explored. It’s important to enjoy simply being in a new location, soaking up the atmosphere and seeing how locals live. Luckily, with so much packed into a small space in Rhodes Old Town, you can wander the streets and do all that very easily!
We spent some time purposefully getting lost, following our instincts, and spotting the local felines along the way! There are lots of stray cats in Rhodes, some of which are friendly and some of which are lazy, but they all make good models. Plus, they seem to perfectly summarise the relaxed way of Greek island life… Wish I could join them!
Explore The Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes
No day trip to the Old Town of Rhodes is complete without visit the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes (bit of a mouthful that one!). Otherwise known as the Kastello, it costs a reasonable €6 per person for entry to the palace courtyard and museum rooms.
Aside from being a real-life European castle, the Kastello is unique in that it combines the exterior style as it were when it was built in the 14th Century, but the interiors are largely from 20th Century Italian reconstructed design since an explosion occurred and left parts of the palace damaged, and it was under Italian rule for first half of the 20th Century.
My top tip for visiting the Kastello is to be sure to visit the ancient Rhodes exhibitions in the bottom floor of the palace. Don’t do what we did which is head straight for the courtyard and assume that’s everything to see, there’s so much more! The main rooms and artefacts are indeed in the lower areas of the main building to the left of the ticket office.
In the upper floors you’ll find a large exhibition space, however, this is comprised of more modern items that don’t hold the same level of historical value – but still interesting none the less!
As the palace of Rhodes is incredibly popular for tourists, try to visit earlier in the day (and especially before the boatloads of cruise passengers arrive!). Otherwise, you might end up stuck behind a rather large tour group going at a snail’s pace, not ideal for only a day trip in Rhodes with so much else to see!
We did enjoy the palace, but it wasn’t the most spectacular place we visited during our time in Rhodes. The beautiful courtyard is well-worth a pause for reflection, but we much preferred exploring the real streets of the Old Town more than the palace. Despite a preference in aesthetics, the Palace of Rhodes has a fascinating history as a citadel, palace, headquarters, fortress, set in excellently maintained Gothic architecture (one of the few examples of such in Greece) so is certainly up there as one of the best things to do in Rhodes.
Amble down the Street of the Knights
It seems fitting to follow your visit to the palace with a walk down the Street of the Knights as you continue your one day visit to Rhodes Old Town. This sloping hill encompasses the medieval style that makes Rhodes Old Town so distinct. Much like the castle, the Street of the Knights is a good representation of the various cultures and periods that Rhodes has fallen under.
As you walk along this busy cobbled street, you’ll be flanked by beautiful old buildings on each side. The neat thing about the Street of the Knights is as you do so, you’ll pass different sections dividing the buildings to represent seven inns which once houses knights from each of the “tongues” – or countries during the 14th Century. You may even notice beautiful facades on the buildings reflecting each of the countries, along with a small inscription above the doors.
The street originally connected the Acropolis of Rhodes to the port via a straight path, but nowadays visitors start at the Grand Master’s Palace to finish in front of the Archeological Museum.
Find the entrance to the moat of the city walls
I could just suggest you keep following the maze of alleyways for the rest of your day in Rhodes Old Town, but there are other fun things to explore! If you happen along the south side of the inner wall heading east (towards the harbour) you’ll discover a secret thing to do in Rhodes during your visit…
From around the Church of St John and the Red Door (where if you visit in the summer months you can join a tour to walk along part of the wall!), head east along Irinis, staying with the wall as close to your right as possible. If you keep your eyes peeled you can spot one of the secret tunnels to take you to the moat of the city walls! You’ll have to make sure to keep checking behind you as you walk along the road, as the entrance we found (purely by chance) was tucked down some steps and facing east too.
Once inside the moat, there are even more historical delights to explore. If you choose to walk west you’ll pass the red door, various gates, and several towers. If you go further east as we did, you’ll find a secret open air theatre (the Melina Merkouri Theatre – if you want to catch a gig) just around the corner! Continuing past the Italian Bastion, you’ll soon reach the end of the moat and exit just by the waterfront of Acandia Harbour, where one could also enter from as there are much clearer signs!
The open grassy space is a such an oasis from the contrastingly cramped streets inside the city walls. There are few people in this area, possibly as they don’t know about it, but it makes a welcome break and a chance to enjoy a rather different perspective of the walls.
As strange as it sounds, finding the moat was one of our favourite moments from the day. Walking through the short dark tunnel without knowing what we’d find was bizarrely thrilling! So, for those trying to channel their inner Indiana Jones, this is definitely one of the best things to do during your exploration of Rhodes! If you have a little extra time to spare, I’d highly recommend walking the length of the moat as the neatly maintained gardens and sand paths are such a unique place to enjoy the city.
Catch the fresh sea air at the harbour-front
Once you’ve exited the medieval moat, now’s the perfect time to enjoy a stroll along the harbour. Like everywhere in Rhodes, getting from A to B is full of beauty all around and the harbour is no different.
Head towards Acandia Harbour and walk along the edge of the lapping waters, eyeing up which boat you’d most like for your own… If you’re brave, you could also dip your toes in the waters here too at the small beach (but there’s plenty of time for that later). With the backdrop of the imposing old town walls behind and the clear blue ocean ahead, it’s quite the impressive place to enjoy a stroll.
Follow the outer edges of the castle wall parallel to the water’s edge until you reach the French Tower (Pirgos Gallias). From here at the tip of land’s end, you’ll get sweeping views over the ocean (maybe blocked by a cruise ship or two…). It’s a fun place to explore and walk along parts of medieval wall, and see the grandeur of the Old Town from afar at Akti Konitsis.
This is in fact one of my favourite views of Rhodes Old Town, and surely not one to miss during your day trip in Rhodes.
Visit the Rhodes Windmills
Enjoying yet more of the coastline of the city, head further north to walk past the Rhodes Windmills. Otherwise known as the Windmills of Mandraki, they sit on the outskirts of the bustling Mandraki Harbour, where you can catch a boat to take you to other parts of the coastline, such as the village of Lindos.
The windmills were once used to grind grain that was brought to Rhodes via the ships. While they are no longer used, they serve as a reminder of yet another facet of Rhodes’ rich history. Plus they make an enjoyable walk around the harbour, giving the chance to enjoy some fresh air and sunshine!
Walking past the three windmills you’ll reach the head of the spit of land and find yourself at the Fort of St Nicholas. This prime spot overlooking the harbour was designated as a place for guarding the entrance to the harbour, and thus protect the city. Yet another medieval fortification of Rhodes to tick off the list!
See the Colossus of Rhodes
Visiting the site of the Colossus of Rhodes is a great thing to do in Rhodes during your visit. Originally one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and built in the classical period (in 280 BC), it was constructed to celebrate the island’s triumph over Cyprus. Sadly, the 33-metre tall statue collapsed during an Earthquake a mere 60 years later. What a shame as one can only imagine it would have been quite the sight to behold! Nonetheless, you can visit the harbour and see where it supposedly stood. Nowadays, you’ll find two unassuming deer statues standing atop pillars flanking the entrance to the Mandraki Harbour. One called Elefos and the other Elafina. It’s not quite as grand but it’s still a beautiful view!
Now, the actual site of the since-fallen statue is hotly debated. Some argue that the original figure straddled the harbour, whereas others say the Colossus of Rhodes was way inland at the site of the Acropolis of Rhodes… Quite the difference I’m sure you’ll agree! Most maps, however, will direct you to Mandraki Harbour.
If you want a laugh, check out the Trip Advisor reviews of the Colossus of Rhodes… seems like some people didn’t get the memo that it no longer exists!
Enjoy a dip at the beach
After so much sightseeing and walking, you’ll be ready for some chilled time at the beach to finish off your day in Rhodes! As its most popular spot, there are plenty of sun loungers, facilities, bars, restaurants, and even hotels right on the beach front. A diving platform is also a short swim out from the beach to really embrace the mood!
As it’s such a popular beach, I’d actually recommend heading over to the west side of the coast to Akti Miaouli Beach where the waves may be choppier, the wind may blow harder, but you’ll have much more space to enjoy! Furthermore, who could resist a spot to watch the sunset over the neighbouring Turkish coastline and dip below the horizon?
If you’re visiting in the off season, remember that the waters might not be as warm as you’d expect, no matter how warm the day has been! No matter the weather, be sure to bring a warm towel to warp up in once you’re done frolicking in the waves, you’ll need it as once the sun lowers it’s easy to pick up a chill. Plus, it’ll serve as something comfy to sit or lie on as the beach on this side of the coast can be a little rockier, with several pebbles around. If you are after a sun lounger or umbrella, these are also available at Akti Miaouli Beach.
All in all, I think a swim in the sea has to be a pretty fine way to round off a day in a beautiful destination such as Rhodes. What do you think?
And after all that, you’ve ticked off many of the best things to do in Rhodes, Greece! It’s a pretty jam-packed, but well worth seeing as much of this beautiful city as you can. While there are plenty of other activities and attractions such as the Archeological Museum, you can rest assure that these points of interest will give you all the highlights during your one day in Rhodes.
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