You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time when you experience the top things to do in Rhodes Old Town.
*Updated April 2017
Best Things to Do in Rhodes Old Town
Set on the northern tip of Rhodes island, Rhodes Town is divided into two parts. There’s the New Town, which is modern metropolis that spreads out from the city’s historic fortification walls. Inside those walls is another world called Rhodes Old Town.
Rhodes Old Town: Second Time Around
I explored Rhodes Old Town for a second time recently. Just like last time, I loved meandering through the town’s impeccably maintained warren of lanes. They are lined with beautiful mosques, churches, Byzantine structures, Turkish houses and medieval public buildings.
This is the place to feel the cobbled stones under your shoes. The place to admire the grand presence of defensive walls that cradled a city for centuries.
In Rhodes Old Town, I loved looking up to find a skyline of ancient domes, minarets and exotic palms. I loved looking down to find intricate pebbled mosaics.
A Town Conquered
Here, the layers of this island’s history comes alive. Rhodes was conquered by the Greeks then the Knights of St. John (1309-1522), a Catholic military order that ruled the island for more than 200 years. The Ottoman Turks (1522-1912) came next, then the Italians (1912-1948) before it went back into the hands of Greece again.
Top Things to Do in Rhodes Old Town
You’ll need at least a full day to explore Rhodes Old Town. Pick and choose from the top things to do in Rhodes Old Town below.
Walk the Rhodes Old Town Walls
There’s something about walking the walls of the fortified cities of Europe. In Rhodes, it is a special experience because it is all been kept up so well. You can spend hours leisurely exploring the sturdy bastions, heading in and out of gates and peering out of the lookout towers.
When I visited Valletta in Malta recently – another fortified Mediterranean city ruled by the Knights of St. John – it brought back memories of my first visit to Rhodes Old Town.
There are seven gates in Rhodes Old Town: Gate of the Naval Station, Gate of Agios Ioannis, Gate of Agia Ekaterini, Gate of the Apostle Paul, Gate of Amboise, Gate of Agios Athanassios and the Gate of the Port.
I recommend walking into the Gate of Ambroise. It is very scenic and picturesque. Another nice gate we liked taking photos at was the Gate of the Apostle Paul.
Walk the Street of the Knights
One of most regal streets I have walked on during my travels across Europe is this street.
This grandly named paved road is lined with inns built for the nations that crusaded with the Order of the Knights of St John. Walking the Street of the Knights is an opportunity to walk on one of the only complete medieval streets in the world.
The chiseled sandstone and double archways are beautiful.
Tip: Called Ippoton on maps.
Visit the Palace of the Grand Master
At the end of the Street of the Knights, right at the highest spot in Rhodes Old Town is the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights. This triple walled fortress was constructed by the Knights of St. John. Admission: 6 euro
Visit the Archaeological Museum of Rhodes
One of the missions the Knights of St. John had was to help the sick and the poor and they did that by building hospitals. The Archaeological Museum of Rhodes (Megalou Alexandrou Square; +30 22413 65257) is housed in the hospital they built here in the 15th century. On display are ancient finds sites across the island, including urns, relics and marble statues dating back to ancient times.
Check out the Art and Cultural Museums
Rhodes Old Town is home to several art museums.
The Museum of Decorative Arts features crafts from Rhodes. Plateia Argyrokastrou; +30 22410 72674
The Modern Greek Art Museum is the former Municipal Gallery. Admire a fine collection of 20th-century paintings and sculptures.
The Jewish Museum of Rhodes is in Kahal Shalom Synagogue. Founded in 1997, it houses artifacts and art from the Jewish community of Rhodes, which was devastated in the Second World War.
Have a Greek Coffee in Ippokratous Square
This is a main meeting point and coffee spot. Ippokratous Square is the juncture of two of the main streets: Aristotelous and Sokratous.
Shop on Sokratous Street
Shop on a street that was a shopping street in ancient times. Today there are dozens of shops selling souvenirs and crafts.
See the Süleymaniye Mosque
Dating back to the 16th century, the Ottoman Turks built this pink-and-white mosque with an elegant minaret. It was dedicated to Süleyman the Magnificent, one of the most powerful leaders in the world at the time. Unfortunately it is not kept up very well. Still, it is a sight to see here. You cannot go inside but can you can take pictures from Sokratous Street.
Visit the Muslim Library
Hafiz Ahmed Agha Library was built in the late 18th century and is an important historic Ottoman building. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the only Muslim sites currently open to visitors in Rhodes Old Town. It’s a very peaceful and beautiful little building. I loved peering at the old books and manuscripts room (closed to the public).
See the Lady of the Castle Cathedral
Located on the eastern end of Ippoton street is an 11th century church called the Lady of the Castle Cathedral. Known in Greek as Panagia tou Kastrou, it was converted into a Gothic three-aisled basilica by the Knights of St. John.
Snap Panoramic Views at the Medieval Clock Tower
Built at the end of the 7th century, the clock tower is considered a local and beautiful piece of Rhodes history. The old mechanism of the clock was considered top technology in the 19th century.
A 5 euro admission includes access to the clock tower views. I think it is definitely worth it! The fee also comes with a coffee or refreshment of choice at the open-air café.
Walk the Fort of St. Nicholas and Mandraki Harbor
Another one of the top things to do in Rhodes Old Town is take a stroll around Mandraki Harbor which dates back to when the city was founded.
There are three traditional windmills here. You’ll also come upon the imposing 15th-century Fort St. Nicholas.
The harbor features two stone columns topped by bronze figures of a stag and a hind. The deer is a symbol of Rhodes.
Also, if you love aquariums or have kids in tow, check out the Rhodes Aquarium.
Relax at New Town Beach
Just outside of the Old Town, between the Mandraki Harbor and the northern tip of the island, are a set of sandy beaches with incredibly blue and turquoise waters. Look across and you’ll see the mountains of Turkey!
How to Get to Rhodes
Rhodes International Airport is in Paradisi, 16 km from Rhodes Town. Check Vayama for the best flights and fares.
Also note that there are several low-cost airlines that fly in and charter flights in the summer from around Europe and Thessaloniki.
You can travel to Rhodes by ferry boat or high speed boat. Ferries usually leave from Piraeus daily and travel during the night. The ferry ticket prices vary per boat and by season. Journeys last 13 to 17 hours. I would suggest booking a cabin. I recommend contacting Triton Tours for travel services throughout the Dodecanese islands.
Getting Around Rhodes
Rhodes is a big island and if you want to move from one place to another it would be advisable to take your own car or rent one.
You can rent a car with Avis Europe.
Where to Stay in Rhodes Town
I highly recommend Mitsis Grand Hotel, a large beach front resort located in the New Town. It was a convenient 10-minute walk to Rhodes Old Town. Nice full buffet breakfast and very hospitable staff.
Where to Eat in Rhodes Old Town
I highly recommend reserving a table at Alexis 4 Seasons. In the summer, you can dine with a beautiful view of the city. The food is just superb!
A Greek taverna/restaurant to try is Dinoris Fish Restaurant which is located by the Archaeological Museum.
What to Do on Rhodes
Lindos is about an hour drive away from Rhodes Town and it should also be on your itinerary when you visit Rhodes island. It is a must for its beauty, beaches, history and dining scene. Check out my post: Top 12 Things to Do in Lindos.
Have you ever traveled to Rhodes island and walked through its fantastic old town?