Rhodes Town

Travelling out of season has its pros and cons. On this plus side it’s cheaper and not as hot. I’m not sure I would have liked Rhodes when it was in the high thirties. Twenty something in early April suits me just fine. There are also fewer tourists which is mostly nice, but does mean — and this is the major disadvantage — that not everything is open. So to head off the same kind of problem I experienced in Porto, where I arrived only to find that the hotel was closed, I decided to stay in the biggest town on the island. Even in hindsight I think that this was the right move.

Sunset over Rhodes Old Town Walls

While everyone sung the praises of Lindos, Rhodes Town is not without its charm. It’s split into two obvious parts with a third just a little out of town.

Rhodes Old Town

The first part, and the only part that I suspect most visitors get to see, is the Old Town. It’s near to the harbour and surrounded by some impressively thick walls and a surprisingly dry moat. Inside is a maze of narrow, twisty-turny, cobbled streets, shady squares and rows of tables with enthusiastic and persistent waiters trying to pressgang passing foreigners into taking a drink.

Rhodes Old Town City Walls

In this sense it contained both the best and worst of the city: the history and culture and the crowds. But the history is impressive and the crowds were comparatively small at this time of year.

Rhodes Harbour

Just outside the walls is the harbour. As an island is has a great sea-faring tradition, from the sponges that brought early riches to the sea-food that populated the menus of most of the local restaurants.

View of the moat from Rhodes Walls

At the start of the week it quickly became clear that most of the people there were either locals or just taking a few hours on shore while their vast cruise ship remained implausibly floating in the harbour. By the end of the week a number of restaurants and hotels opened and the whole place was starting to look a lot more lively.

Rhodes beach

The second part of town is, creatively, called the New Town. This is a fairly nondescript Greek town, mainly populated with locals (and cats) as far as I could tell. I ate in the New Town most of the time since a lot of those in the Old Town looked, well, a bit lowest-common-denominator (though, to be fair, the food I did have there was perfectly good).

Cat in Rhodes Old Town

On the first night I stopped at a bar that was so new that they hadn’t printed the menus in English yet! Elsewhere they also seem to have a bit of a Nordic theme going. Just around the corner from the hotel was a (closed) Norwegian bar. I had breakfast in a Swedish cafe on a few mornings and near the beach I stumbled across both a Finnish bar and a Danish cafe. With an Icelandic restaurant they could collect the full set.

A few kilometres south of the New Town is the oddly named “Monte Smith,” an acropolis and amphitheatre. It is, of course, not its original name. Its real name is Agios Stefanos but the name of the Brit somehow stuck. (Don’t worry, Greece, you can have the Elgin Marbles back soon.)

As you walk up from the town you get to the amphitheatre first.

"Monty Smith" amphitheatre

Then further up hill you get to the acropolis.

"Monty Smith" acropolis

I saw a few dates noted here and there, but 5C BC seems to be the most common. It’s pretty complete for something that old! One of the nice things about it was that it was just sat there in a field outside town. No ticket office; no gift shop or mandatory tour guides. Just amazing old stuff sat there waiting to be seen.

Throughout the week I’ll see older stuff, prettier towns and areas that are less built-up, but Rhodes Town not only made a great base for the week but had a lot to recommend it in its own right.