Planning a Trip
The staff at the South Aegean Tourist Office, at the intersection of Makariou and Papagou (tel. 22410/23-255; www.ando.gr/eot), can provide advice and help for all the Dodecanese islands, including Rhodes. Hours are Monday through Friday from 8am to 3pm. During the high season only, you'll find a helpful Rhodes Municipal Tourist Office down the hill at Plateia Rimini near the port taxi stand (tel. 22410/35-945). It dispenses information on local excursions, buses, ferries, and accommodations, and offers currency exchange as well. Its hours are Monday through Saturday from about 9am to 9pm and Sunday from 9am to 2pm. The above-recommended Triton Holidays (tel. 22410/21-690; www.tritondmc.gr) is also willing to answer any traveler's question, free of obligation, and is sometimes open when the tourist offices are closed.
Rhodes is not the worst offender in Greece, but it does share the country's widespread aversion to street signs. This means that you need a map marked with every lane, so that you can count your way from one place to another. We recommend the two maps drawn and published by Mario Camerini in 1995, of which the mini-atlas entitled Map of Rhodes Town is the best. It's available at kiosks and tourist bookstalls.
Rhodes city (pop. 45,000) is divided into two sections: the Old Town, dating from medieval days, and the New Town. Overlooking the harbor, the Old Town is surrounded by massive walls -- 4km (2 1/2 miles) around and in certain places nearly 12m (40 ft.) thick -- built by the Knights of St. John. The New Town embraces the old one and extends south to meet the Rhodian Riviera, a strip of luxury resort hotels. At its northern tip is the city beach, in the area called 100 Palms, and famed Mandraki Harbor, now used as a mooring for private yachts and tour boats.
Walking away from Mandraki Harbor on Plastira, you'll come to Cyprus Square, where many of the New Town hotels are clustered. Veer left and continue to the park where the mighty fortress (the city walls) begins. Down the slope is Plateia Rimini and the Municipal Tourist Office.
The local American Express agent is Rhodos Tours, 29 Ammochostou (tel. 22410/21-010), in the New Town; it's open Monday through Saturday from 8:30am to 1:30pm and 5 to 8:30pm. The National Bank of Greece, on Cyprus Square, exchanges currency Monday through Thursday from 8am to 2pm, Friday from 8am to 1:30pm, and Saturday from 9am to 1pm. There are other currency-exchange offices throughout the Old Town and New Town, often with rates better than those of the banks. For emergency care, call the hospital (tel. 22410/80-000) or, if necessary, an ambulance (tel. 166).
The oldest established Internet access in the Old Town is Cosmonet Internet Cafe, at 45B Evreon Martyron Sq. Open from May 1 to November 15, its daily hours are 9am to 7pm. You may see other Internet cafes around town. Express Laundry, 5 Kosti Palama, behind Plateia Rimini (tel. 22410/22-514), is open daily from 8am to 11pm. Wash-O-Matic on 33 Platonos (leading off Sokratous) keeps the same hours. International Pharmacy, 22 A. Kiakou (tel. 22410/75-331), is near Thermai Hotel. There are public toilets at 2 Papagou and across from 10 Papagou; there is also one just outside the wall at the Marine Gate by the Old Harbor. The police (tel. 22410/23-849) in the Old Town can handle any complaints from 10am to midnight. The tourist police (tel. 22410/27-423), on the edge of the Old Town near the port, address tourists' queries, concerns, and grievances. The main post office on Mandraki Harbor is open Monday through Friday from 7am to 8pm. A smaller office is on Orfeon in the Old Town, open daily with shorter hours.
In addition to its year-round service between Rhodes and Athens and Thessaloniki, Olympic Airways offers summer service between Rhodes and the following Greek locales: Iraklion (Crete), Karpathos, and Santorini. The local Olympic office is at 9 Ierou Lohou (tel. 22410/24-571 or 22410/24-555). Flights fill quickly, so reserve in advance. Aegean Airlines (within Greece tel. 801/112-0000; www.aegeanair.com), in addition to flights to Rhodes, offers at least high-season flights between Rhodes and Thessaloniki and Iraklion, Crete. Tickets for any flight in or out of Rhodes can be purchased directly from Triton Holidays, near Mandraki Harbor, 9 Plastira, Rhodes city (tel. 22410/21-690; fax 22410/31-625; www.tritondmc.gr). Triton will either send your tickets to you or have them waiting for you at the airport.
The Rhodes Paradissi Airport (tel. 22410/83-214) is 13km (8 miles) southwest of the city and is served from 6am to 10:30pm by bus. The bus to the city center (Plateia Rimini) is 5€ ($6.50). A taxi costs about 20€ ($26). By the way, some taxi drivers resist taking passengers to hotels in the Old City (because of the slow going in the old streets); note their number and threaten to report them, and they will usually relent.
Rhodes is a major port with sea links not only to Athens, Crete, and the islands of the Aegean, but also to Cyprus, Turkey, and Israel. Service and schedules are always changing; check with the tourist office or a travel agency for the latest information.
In late spring and throughout the summer there are daily sailings -- some with high-speed hydrofoils or catamarans -- from and to Rhodes and many of the Dodecanense and other islands in the eastern Aegean: Kos, Kalimnos, Kastellorizo, Leros, Nissiros, Patmos, Samos, and Simi, and Tilos. The advantage of hydrofoils and catamarans is that they make the voyage in half the time, but when the wind blows, the sailings are canceled. Air quality is also poor, especially compared to that on larger open-deck excursion boats or ferries. For more detailed information about the most active ship line, Dodekanisos Seaways, see www.12ne.gr.
Wherever it is you want to go, whether by ferry, hydrofoil, catamaran, or excursion boat, schedules and tickets are available from Triton Holidays, 9 Plastira (tel. 22410/21-690; fax 22410/31-625; www.tritondmc.gr). Although travel agents throughout Rhodes city and island can issue air and sea tickets, we like Triton Holidays' focus on independent travelers.
A Helping Hand
The Dodecanese Association for People with Special Needs (tel. 22410/73-109; mobile 6940/463810) provides free minibus door-to-door service from the port, airport, and hotels -- or even if you want to go out for coffee or a swim.