There are two possible bases for your Dodecanese cruise; Kos and Rhodes. There is excellent sailing from both, with one way charters possible. Both destinations are served by charter and low cost flights from the UK and scheduled services via Athens.
- Kos Town
Kos is an ancient settlement, originally founded on agriculture and fishing, with one of the largest market places in the ancient world, and known for its wines and silk. The home of Hippocates, the island still shows much evidence of past glories but today the main industry is tourism.
There’s plenty to do and see whether your aspirations are cultural or retail. The castle of the Knights of St John is right next to the harbour and unmissable.
The ancient hospital, the Asclepion takes a bit more effort being about 4km out of town but is worth a visit. Back in town, there’s a restored Roman mansion with mosaic floor, the Plane Tree, under which Hippocrates allegedly taught, and the Archaeological Museum.
The town offers all the shopping opportunities you’d expect of a tourist centre, with plenty of restaurants, cafe’s and bars to rest your weary limbs. It’s here that you notice the impact of tourism, with increasing numbers of fast food establishments.
Just outside town there’s a beach, with more around the island. There are plenty of scooters and cars for hire if you fancy exploring the rest of Kos.
Come the evening the town really bursts in to life. If you’ve found the rest of the Dodecanese a bit sleepy, now is the chance to let your hair down and party, with a choice of nightclubs and countless bars at your disposal.
The town bears the noise and antics of the night owls fairly well and hasn’t yet sunk to the excesses of some of it’s holiday island rivals. But I wonder whether it will continue to do so – you might want to visit sooner than later.
- Directions to Kos
From Kos Airport to Marina.
Kos Town is about 16 miles (26km) from the airport. There are two ways to get there:
- By taxi – the rank is right is right outside the arrivals hall. The fare to the marina is around 35€ (2013) during the day.
- By bus – the orange painted bus stop is outside the arrivals hall on the left. The timetable varies through the year (and on different days) but in high season there’s roughly one an hour from 7am to11pm (with a few gaps in the afternoon). The fare was 3.30€ in 2013. The bus terminates at Kos bus station, about 3/4 mile (1 km) from the marina.
From Bodrum to Kos
A daily ferry service runs from the beginning of May to the end of October with 2 ferries a day most days. Price one way is 23€ (about £20), including port taxes. Journey time is about 20 minutes. You can book tickets at www.ferrybodrum.com. The marina is about three quarters of a mile from the ferry port – come off the ferry and turn left, following the coast east.
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- Rhodes Town
If you’re hoping to see one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Colossus of Rhodes, I’m afraid it collapsed in an earthquake around 226 BC, having stood for only just over 50 years.
No matter, Rhodes has plenty to offer, including copious Roman ruins, one of the best preserved walled Medieval cities, the Italian built Art Deco “new town” and of course plenty of beaches and endless shops.
You can’t avoid the Medieval city, and with its cobbled streets lined with souvenir shops, cafes, bars and restaurants, you don’t need an interest in history to enjoy it.
The walls and the huge gates were build by the Knights of St John and within them, besides the myriad retail opportunities, you’ll find the Roman Temple of Venus, the Palace of the Grand Masters, countless mosques and churches, including the Mosque of Suleiman the Magnificent, and several museums.
The Palace of the Grand Masters, originally build by the Knights was partly demolished in grand style in 1856 when dynamite stored there exploded. It was rebuild during the Italian occupation in the 1930’s as a holiday home for the Italian King, and later, Mussolini.
The Palace is now a museum, with many of the rooms open to the public and displays including mosaics, sculptures and frescoes covering both ancient and medieval Rhodes.
Leading away from the Palace is Knights Street, a cobbled walkway along which lie the inns of the Knights, again restored by the Italians. Wandering on through the alleyways there are Gothic churches and the Square of the Jewish Martyrs, commemorating the local Jewish community, crushed by the Nazis.
Also in the Old City you’ll find the Archaeological Museum, located in the Hospital of the Knights. Here you’ll find relics from sites around the island. There’s also the Municipal Art Gallery, and the Jewish Museum. All in all, probably more museums than you need!
As you stroll through the Medieval City you’ll never be far from refreshment, though sadly much of what is on offer is something of a betrayal of Greek cuisine. It’s much the same in the souvenir shops – there are some nice items but there’s a far amount of tat to dig through.
Outside of the walls you may fare better (or maybe not). Next to the harbour is the New Agora, an Art Deco fascade built by the Italians (they didn’t just do restorations)! behind which lie courtyards with restaurants and markets stalls.
If you’ve still not had enough history, catch a cab a couple of miles west of the old city where you’ll find the Acropolis. The vast remains of the Roman settlement are still being excavated (they didn’t start until early last century), but amongst the building already found are the Temple of Athena Polias, the Gymnasium, the Stadium, the Odeon and the Library.
If that’s not enough, in the modern town you’ll also find a theatre, a casino, and a good range of shops. There’s also the Aquarium where you can see the fish you’ve been swimming with (and a few you haven’t)!
Of course, the main reason most people go to Rhodes is for the beaches. You’ve plenty to chose from around the island but the nearest to town is Elli beach, at the north top of the town near the Aquarium. Its position does mean it gets busy and if you fancy somewhere quieter you might want to hire a scooter or hop on a bus and head somewhere more remote.
There’s plenty to occupy you in Rhodes and it’s a very interesting place to explore for a day or two. You’ll not be alone though – the secret is out. It has however survived the tourist onslaught better than other places on the island
- Directions to Rhodes
The yacht charter companies are based in Mandraki Harbour, on the east side of town, near the old city.
From Rhodes Airport to Mandraki Harbour
The airport is about 10 miles (16km) from Rhodes Town. You’ve two options to get in to town:
- By taxi – the right is outside the arrivals hall. The fare is 22€ (2013), about £19.
- By bus – these depart from outside the terminal building, and run roughly twice an hour from about 7am to 11pm. The fare is around 2€. The bus stops just a few minutes walk from Mandraki.
From Rhodes Ferry Port to Mandraki
If you’re arriving by ferry, it’s a bit over half a mile from the ferry terminal to Mandraki. It’s all pretty flat and quite a pleasant walk if it’s not too hot and your bags aren’t too heavy. Otherwise hop in a taxi.
From Athens to Rhodes Ferry Port
There are several ferries each day to Rhodes from Athens, many running overnight. From the ferry port follow the directions above to Mandraki.
From Marmaris, Turkey to Rhodes Ferry Port
There’s a ferry service between Rhodes and Marmaris, with two departures a day in high season, dropping to one a day in mid season. In low season it doesn’t run every day so check first. The port in Marmaris is right next to Netsel Marina, though annoyingly, you have to walk out of the port past the marina to get in (unless the gate in the wall on your left has been left open)!
You can book online at rhodes.marmarisinfo.com. The current fare (March 2014) is 40€. You can also buy your ticket at the port – I’ve not done the trip for a couple of years but this used to mean queuing at one window to pay the fare, then at another to pay the port tax. Journey time is about an hour with about another hour for faffing about with customs and tickets.
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