For many people, a holiday to the idyllic island of Rhodes is a quintessential Greek getaway. Whether you’re looking for culture and natural beauty or nightlife and water sports, the island has plenty of all these to offer. A land of antiquity, Rhodes boasts its own Acropolis above the town of Lindos, a medieval castle built by the Knights of the Crusades in the fourteenth century and the Byzantine capital Rhodes, with its winding cobbled streets ripe for exploration.
But despite its undeniable historic charm, one of the most stunning aspects of the island has nothing to do with its rich past. Instead, it is nature, with its secluded beaches and untouched woodlands. Whether you are a partygoer or birdwatcher, the natural wonders here are likely to captivate you in such a way that, long after your holiday is over, you’ll find yourself longing to return.
Here are some of my favourite natural sights on the island. I’m sure once you’ve been, you’ll be able to add plenty more of your own.
Keep Cool in the City at Rodini Park
Probably the oldest landscaped park still in existence, there is evidence that both the ancient Greeks and the Romans used Rodini Park as the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the island’s capital. Built on the edge of the town near a natural stream, the park is an oasis of cool vegetation, running streams, pools and waterfalls (not to mention the local wildlife). Peacocks roam free here and are a great hit with visitors, particularly children, as are the deer and the ducks which also live here.
Apart from the ancient paths, steps and seating, there is also the hidden treasure of a Hellenist tomb carved into the rock in the heart of the park. Set amidst 21 Doric pillars, the site is known as the tomb of the Ptolemies, and is well worth the ten-minute walk to visit.
Witness the Splendour of the Valley of Butterflies
A bit of a misnomer, the protected, verdant valley of Petaloudes may be known as the ‘Valley of Butterflies’, but it is actually home to a huge colony of tiger moths which sleep during the day in the shade here. A network of beautiful pools, lush flora and shady trees create a wonderfully cool environment, perfect for visiting on a hot day.
Visitors can travel to the valley by a series of paths and wooden bridges to see the tiger moths that are said to be drawn here by the aroma of the resin of the zitia trees from June to September. The moths sleep during the day, covering entire trees and rocks around the pools, then wake up at night to feed.
Top Tip: This is a popular attraction, so if you want to avoid the crowds I suggest making an early morning visit.
Swim in Fresh Water at the Seven Springs
Part of the protected natural environment which also covers the Valley of Butterflies and Mount Profitis Ilias, the Seven Springs are a wonderful series of freshwater springs which all flow into a stunning man-made lake. Surrounded by dense forest and natural flora, the cool microclimate here makes it a perfect place to come if you want to escape the intense heat of the beaches.
Those wishing to swim in the lake can start their experience with an atmospheric walk along the tunnel which was constructed in 1931 to channel spring water into the lake. Splash along its 186m of darkness before you come out into the light and freshness of the lake. For those who prefer not to wander through dark, enclosed tunnels (and I can see your point!), there’s a pretty footpath which winds through the trees and brings you to the same spot.
Discover Some Lesser Known Beaches
If you’re looking for bustling fun and plenty of water sports then the popular beaches around the island will have everything you’re searching for. If, on the other hand, you dream of escaping the crowds and finding a patch of sand or rocky outcrop all your own, Rhodes has plenty of those too.
Set at the end of a dirt track, the long sandy stretch of Agathi Beach may have a kiosk where you can hire sun loungers and buy food and drinks, but don’t be fooled – the crowds don’t usually reach here, making it a lot more peaceful than some of the more popular beaches. Families will love the shallow water (perfect for paddling with little ones), while older kids will enjoy exploring the cave at the end of the beach and discovering the church which lies hidden within it.
If, to you, a beach is more about natural beauty and tranquillity than somewhere to lay your towel, take a trip to the quiet village of Laki and its picturesque pebble beach surrounded by fir tree forests. Take a swim in the sea here and then head to the quiet family-run taverna which looks out over the sea and serves delicious, authentic Greek food. This is a place for those who want to unplug and unwind… Pure bliss.
How to Get to Rhodes
There are plenty of direct flights from the UK to Rhodes Airport, with a range of airlines including easyJet, British Airways and Jet2. The flight takes around four hours and the airport is just 14km from the city of Rhodes. My advice would be to book your airport transfer with Shuttle Direct before you set off, as the airport can get pretty busy during the peak season and taxis are in high demand.
Where to Stay
Stathis – Full of authentic Greek charm (think whitewashed buildings, blue shutters and terraces shaded by vine leaves) the family-run hostel Stathis is a great option for those on a budget. Set in the heart of the Old Town of Rhodes, its features include shared bathroom facilities and free WiFi in the hostel’s communal areas.
Larisa Boutique Hotel – For a little extra luxury and beach-side access, the three-star Larisa Boutique Hotel, with its own pool and shaded gardens, is a wonderful choice. The rooms are air conditioned and feature free WiFi, downstairs there’s a buffet-style restaurant and bar and, close to the beach, another lively bar and restaurant.
Rodos Park Suites & Spa – If you want to enjoy your Greek island holiday in the lap of lavishness, then check into the five-star Rodos Park Suites & Spa. Modern and stylish – there’s no quaint Greek charm here – this hotel is known for its elegance. It also offers a world-class spa, renowned dining options, views out across Rhodes Old Town and a location just eight minutes from the beach.
About Shuttle Direct
Shuttle Direct is Europe and North Africa’s leading airport transfer provider. Whether you are looking for a great budget travel option – including shuttle buses and shared group transfers – or you prefer your own private car and driver, we have the perfect solution for getting you from the airport to your holiday destination.