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Dodecanese Islands Travel Guide: What to Do and See in Dodecanese Islands

April 03, 202314 min read.

Picture of Siret K. on Unsplash

General Information about Dodecanese Islands

Are you looking to travel to the Dodecanese Islands? Then, here we tell you everything you need to know about this wonderful destination.

The Dodecanese Islands are a group of twelve large and numerous smaller Greek islands located in the southeastern Aegean Sea. The name “Dodecanese” means “twelve islands” in Greek.

The twelve main islands of the Dodecanese are Astypalaia, Kalymnos, Karpathos, Kasos, Kastellorizo, Kos, Leros, Lipsi, Nisyros, Patmos, Rhodes, and Symi. These islands are known for their beautiful beaches, crystal-clear waters, and rich history and culture.

The Dodecanese have a long and fascinating history, having been inhabited since prehistoric times by various civilizations, including the Minoans, Mycenaeans, Persians, Romans, Byzantines, Knights of St. John, Ottomans, and Italians.

Today, the Dodecanese Islands are a popular tourist destination, attracting visitors worldwide with their stunning landscapes, warm climate, and diverse cultural heritage. 

Each island has its own unique character, traditions, and attractions, making the Dodecanese a rich and varied region to explore.

Location of Dodecanese Islands

Next, we show you where Dodecanese Islands is located:

Map of Dodecanese Islands on Google Maps

Is It Worth Visiting Dodecanese Islands?

Yes, it does! Dodecanese Islands stands out for its incredible landscapes and its fascinating culture. 

If you are looking for the perfect mixture of beautiful beaches, crystal clear waters, and stunning natural landscapes, including impressive mountain ranges and rocky cliffs, and the most amazing culture that shows a diverse history and a blend of traditions, the Dodecanese Islands are your place.

In turn, due to its proximity to Mykonos and Santorini, many travelers combine their visit to Dodecanese Islands with these destinations, which is why you will find these sites in several of our offers.

Are you looking to marvel at the most incredible landscapes? Do you want to know a fascinating culture? Do you want to taste exquisite cuisine?

If your answer is "yes", at Greca we have several proposals for tourist packages to Dodecanese Islands which you can modify and adapt according to your needs and times.

There are travel packages for all tastes. Choose your own adventure according to your needs!

What to Do in the Dodecanese Islands?

The Dodecanese Islands offer a wealth of interesting sites and attractions for visitors to explore. Below we tell you some of the top sites of interest in the region**.**

Rhodes Old Town 

The medieval city of Rhodes is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a must-see attraction for visitors to the island. The town is surrounded by fortified walls and features stunning architecture, cobbled streets, and historic landmarks such as the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes.

Lindos Acropolis

This ancient acropolis, located on the island of Rhodes, is one of the most impressive archaeological sites in Greece. It features a hilltop temple dedicated to Athena Lindia and offers stunning views over the Aegean Sea.

Patmos Monastery of Saint John

This UNESCO-listed monastery is a significant religious site and a place of pilgrimage for Christians. It is located on the island of Patmos and is dedicated to the Apostle John, who is said to have written the Book of Revelation there.

Kastellorizo Blue Cave 

This natural wonder, located on the island of Kastellorizo, is a sea cave with striking blue waters that change color throughout the day. It is a popular spot for swimming and snorkeling.

Kos Asclepeion

This ancient healing center, located on the island of Kos, was dedicated to the god of medicine, Asclepius. It features impressive ruins, including a temple, a theater, and a library.

Symi Harbor

This picturesque harbor, located on the island of Symi, features colorful neoclassical buildings and is surrounded by hills dotted with traditional white-washed houses.

Nisyros Volcano

This active volcano, located on the island of Nisyros, is a unique attraction for visitors to the Dodecanese. It features a massive crater and hot springs that are said to have therapeutic properties.

Karpathos Traditional Villages 

The island of Karpathos features several traditional villages that offer a glimpse into local life and culture. These include Olympos, a hilltop village with a rich folklore tradition, and Menetes, known for its well-preserved Venetian architecture.

Festivals of Dodecanese Islands

The Dodecanese Islands have a rich cultural heritage, and many of their traditions and celebrations are linked to their history and religious beliefs. Here are some of the most notable festivals and events in the region:

  1. Rhodes International Festival: This festival is held every summer in the town of Rhodes and features a range of cultural events, including music, theater, and dance performances.
  2. Symi Festival: This annual festival takes place in the town of Symi every August and features live music, traditional dancing, and a fireworks display.
  3. Karpathos Festival: This festival takes place in the town of Pigadia every summer and features traditional music, dancing, and food.
  4. Nisyros Volcano Festival: This festival is held every August on the island of Nisyros and includes a procession to the volcano, traditional music and dancing, and a fireworks display.
  5. Patmos International Film Festival: This festival is held every July on the island of Patmos and showcases a range of international and Greek films.
  6. Kalymnos Festival: This festival takes place in the town of Pothia every August and features traditional music, dancing, and food.
  7. Feast of the Assumption: This religious festival is celebrated throughout the Dodecanese on August 15th and includes processions, feasting, and other traditional activities.

What to Eat and Drink in Dodecanese Islands?

The Dodecanese Islands have a rich culinary tradition that reflects their history and geography.

The food is based on fresh, local ingredients and features a mix of Greek, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern influences. 

Some typical meals you might find on the islands are Meze, a selection of small dishes, often served as an appetizer or as a main meal. Typical meze dishes include tzatziki (a yogurt and cucumber dip), dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), fava (a puree of yellow split peas), and keftedes (meatballs).

Also, a popular option is Seafood. The islands are surrounded by the sea, and seafood is a staple of the local cuisine. You can find a variety of fresh fish and seafood dishes, such as grilled octopus, fried calamari, and fish soup.

And you can’t leave the islands without trying Moussaka, a classic Greek dish made with layers of eggplant, ground meat (usually beef or lamb), and a creamy béchamel sauce, usually baked in the oven and served hot, or Gemista.

Gemista consists of stuffed vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, and zucchini filled with a mixture of rice, herbs, and sometimes ground meat.

Also, you should try Giouvetsi, a baked pasta dish typically made with orzo, tomatoes, and meat.

As for drinks, we recommend you try Ouzo, the traditional Greek anise-flavored alcoholic drink that is commonly enjoyed as an aperitif or with meze dishes, and wine, due the islands produce a variety of wines, both red and white. The most popular wine grape Varieties in the region are the white Assyrtiko and the red Mandilaria.

Also, some typical drinks are Mastiha, a sweet liqueur made from the resin of the mastiha tree, that is a specialty of the island of Chios and has a distinct flavor and aroma, Greek coffee, a strong and thick coffee served in small cups, typically accompanied by a glass of wáter, and Frappé.

Frappé is a cold coffee drink made with instant coffee, sugar, and milk or water. It is usually shaken or stirred until frothy and served over ice.

How to Get to Dodecanese Islands

There are several ways to get to the Dodecanese Islands:

  1. By air: Most of the Dodecanese Islands have airports that receive regular flights from Athens and other major cities in Greece. The main airports in the region are Rhodes International Airport, Kos Island International Airport, and Karpathos Island National Airport.
  2. By ferry: The Dodecanese Islands are well connected by ferry to other islands in Greece as well as to the mainland. There are regular ferry services to the islands from Athens, as well as from other popular tourist destinations like Crete and Santorini.
  3. By private yacht or boat: The Dodecanese Islands are a popular destination for sailing enthusiasts, and many visitors choose to arrive by private yacht or boat. There are numerous marinas and ports throughout the islands where boats can be moored.

How to Get Around the Dodecanese Islands?

Getting around in the Dodecanese Islands can be easily done by a combination of public transportation, rental vehicles, and taxis.

Public transportation, such as buses and ferries, is readily available on most of the islands. Buses operate on a regular schedule and provide service between the main towns and villages, as well as popular beaches and tourist attractions. 

Ferries connect the islands to each other and to mainland Greece, with frequent departures during the high season.

Rental vehicles, including cars, scooters, and ATVs, are also available on most of the islands. They can be rented at the main ports and airports or at local rental agencies. 

Driving is generally easy on the islands, with well-maintained roads and clear signage, but visitors should be aware that some of the smaller islands have narrow and winding roads.

Taxis are another option for getting around, especially for shorter trips. Taxis can be hailed on the street or booked in advance through local taxi companies.

Walking and cycling are also great ways to explore the islands, especially in the smaller towns and villages where the streets are narrow and winding. Many of the islands also have well-marked hiking trails that offer scenic views of the landscape and access to hidden coves and beaches.

Best Time to Visit Dodecanese Islands

The best time to visit the Dodecanese Islands is during the summer months, from June to September, when the weather is warm and sunny and the sea is perfect for swimming and water sports. 

The average temperature during this time is around 28-30°C (82-86°F) and the sea temperature is around 23-25°C (73-77°F).

During the peak season, the islands can be quite crowded, especially in July and August when many tourists flock to the islands. However, visitors can still find quieter spots and enjoy the stunning natural beauty and cultural attractions of the islands.

The shoulder seasons of May and October can also be a good time to visit the Dodecanese Islands, as the weather is still warm and the crowds are thinner. 

During these months, visitors can enjoy lower prices and fewer crowds, while still experiencing the stunning natural beauty and cultural attractions of the region.

Overall, the Dodecanese Islands are a great destination to visit year-round, with each season offering unique experiences and opportunities to explore the region's rich and diverse culture and history.

Beaches of Dodecanese Islands

The Dodecanese Islands are known for their beautiful beaches, with crystal clear waters and stunning natural surroundings. Below we tell you about some of the most popular beaches in the región.

Agios Pavlos Beach, Lindos, Rhodes

This beautiful beach is located near the historic village of Lindos and features turquoise waters and stunning views of the surrounding cliffs.

Tsambika Beach, Rhodes

This long sandy beach is located on the east coast of Rhodes and is popular with families due to its shallow waters.

Pefkos Beach, Rhodes 

This picturesque beach is located in the small village of Pefkos and features crystal clear waters and a range of water sports activities.

Kritinia Beach, Rhodes

This secluded beach is located in the village of Kritinia and features crystal clear waters and a beautiful natural setting.

Kamari Beach, Kefalos, Kos

This long sandy beach is located in the small village of Kefalos and features crystal clear waters and a range of water sports activities.

Paradise Beach, Kos

This beautiful beach is located on the southern coast of Kos and features turquoise waters and a stunning natural setting.

Golden Beach, Karpathos

This beautiful beach is located on the eastern coast of Karpathos and features golden sands and crystal clear waters.

How Is the Culture in Dodecanese Islands?

The culture of the Dodecanese Islands is influenced by a rich and diverse history that has seen various civilizations come and go, including Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Venetians, Ottomans, and Italians. As a result, the islands have a unique blend of cultural traditions and influences.

One of the most prominent features of the culture in the Dodecanese Islands is the architecture. The islands are known for their whitewashed buildings, cobbled streets, and traditional stone houses, which are reminiscent of the Venetian and Ottoman periods. 

The islands also have numerous ancient ruins and historical landmarks that reflect the region’s rich cultural heritage.

Religion also plays a significant role in the culture of the Dodecanese Islands. The majority of the population is Orthodox Christian, and many of the islands have impressive monasteries and churches that are popular places of pilgrimage. 

What to Gift If You Travel to Dodecanese Islands

The Dodecanese Islands are known for their beautiful beaches, historical landmarks, and charming villages. If you are traveling to the Dodecanese Islands and would like to bring a gift for someone, here are some suggestions:

  1. Local Products: The Dodecanese Islands have a rich culinary tradition, and you can find many local products such as olive oil, honey, herbs, and spices. These products are often of high quality and make for a thoughtful and practical gift.
  2. Traditional crafts: The islands are also known for their traditional crafts, such as handmade ceramics, embroidery, and woven textiles. These items are unique and reflect the local culture and history.
  3. Local liquor: The islands produce a variety of alcoholic beverages such as ouzo, tsipouro, and mastiha, which are unique to the region. These drinks can make for a great gift for someone who enjoys a good drink.
  4. Souvenirs: You can also find many souvenirs on the islands such as postcards, fridge magnets, and t-shirts with local designs. These items are easy to pack and can serve as a reminder of the trip.
  5. Sea sponges: The Dodecanese Islands are also known for their natural sea sponges, which are harvested from the sea and used for cleaning and exfoliation. These sponges make for an unusual but practical gift.

What Clothes to Pack If You Travel to the Dodecanese Islands

If you are traveling to the Dodecanese Islands, you should pack clothes that are suitable for the warm and sunny Mediterranean climate. 

Some clothing items you might consider bringing are Lightweight clothing due the temperatures in the Dodecanese Islands can get quite hot, especially during the summer months. Pack lightweight and breathable clothing such as shorts, t-shirts, and sundresses to stay cool and comfortable.

Also, you will need Swimwear. The islands are known for their beautiful beaches and crystal-clear waters, so make sure to pack a swimsuit or two.

A must to pack is also Sun protection. The sun can be intense in the Dodecanese Islands, so bring hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun’s rays.

And you shouldn’t forget comfortable walking shoes, you will likely do a lot of walking on the islands, so bring comfortable shoes such as sneakers or sandals, and casual evening wear.

The nightlife on the islands is often laid back, so you don’t need to bring fancy clothing. A nice blouse or shirt and comfortable pants or a skirt would be appropriate.

We also recommend you to pack a light jacket or sweater. Although the weather is generally warm, it can get cooler in the evenings, especially in the shoulder seasons. Bring a light jacket or sweater to stay warm.

And something very important is respectful clothing. If you plan on visiting any religious sites, such as monasteries or churches, it is important to dress respectfully. Avoid wearing shorts, sleeveless shirts, or revealing clothing.

How much does it cost to eat in the Dodecanese Islands?

In local taverns and small cafes, a traditional Greek meal such as souvlaki or moussaka can cost around 8-12 Euros.

Which month is cheapest to travel to the Dodecanese Islands?

The cheapest month to visit the Dodecanese Islands would be during the low season, which is typically from November to April.

When is the high season of Dodecanese Islands?

The high season in the Dodecanese Islands is during the summer months, from June to September.

What are the requirements to visit Dodecanese Islands?

You must have a 6 month old passport to enter the Dodecanese Islands.

What currency is used in Dodecanese Islands?

The currency used in this region is the Euro.

How many days are necessary to visit Dodecanese Islands?

This will depend on your itinerary and personal preferences, we recommend you to take around 10-14 days to visit Dodecanese Islands. However, you can reduce that itinerary by choosing your own highlights.

Is it safe to travel to the Dodecanese Islands?

Traveling to Dodecanese Islands is completely safe. However, as in any trip to another part of the world, it is recommended to be cautious.

How do I book my trip to Dodecanese Islands?

To book your trip to Dodecanese Islands, you can contact one of Greca's sales representatives or contact us through our official page, completing the form for your site and date of interest.

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