246 nautical miles from Piraeus
With an east coast of endless sandy beaches and sunshine 300 days a year, Rhodes is the most popular of the Dodecanese. It is also the largest, with a population of over 98,000. The luxuriant interior is beautiful. Tucked into the foothills of its mountains are charming villages. The incredibly well preserved old town of Rhodes is the largest inhabited medieval town in Europe. Behind imposing walls, it is the fortified nucleus of Rhodes City. The tranquil, twisting alleyways in the old town are a web of Byzantine, Turkish and Latin architecture. A fascinating sight to explore is the cobblestoned lanes and Gothic inns of the Knight’s Quarter. With its old mosques and Turkish baths, the Hora has more of an Ottoman influence. The new town was once the site of the ancient Hellenistic city of Rhodes, today it is a lively entertainment center with over 600 discos and bars to choose from. The brilliant white houses of Lindos with their pebbled mosaic courtyards date back to the 17th century. It will be a pleasure exploring the maze like alleyways of this beautiful village. The Acropolis of Lindos is the most famous of the Dodecanese’s ancient cities. Dating back to 2000 BC, it is a mιlange of Byzantine, Frankish and Turkish remains. It is strikingly set atop a rock 116m high. The butterfly covered gorge of Petaloudes is a must see. You will find the best beaches on the east coast: Faliraki Beach is the island’s premier resort; the beach at Kalithea Thermi is the site of an abandoned Italian spa. If you are looking for quiet shores head to Stegna Beach or the sandy cove of Agathi.
242 nautical miles from Piraeus
The unspoilt villages of mountainous Karpathos are rich in tradition, here the inhabitants have retained their local customs and ways. In the village of Olymbos (pop 340) the women dress in colorful, ornamental skirts, vests, headscarves, and goatskin boats. They still bake in outdoor communal ovens and grind corn in windmills. The inhabitants speak in a dialect containing some Doric words. Clinging to slopes of Mt Kali Limni (1215m), the Dodecanese’s second highest peak is the beautiful village of Pyles. With its spiraling steeped streets, pastel houses and citrus groves it is most definitely worth a visit. The loveliest sand beaches are found on the east coast: Ahata, Kyra Panagia and Apella, which is exceptionally gorgeous with crystalline waters.
2.5km from the southern tip of Turkey
The tiny, remote island of Kastellorizo has a population of only 200, tourism here is very low key. There are no beaches, instead you will find several rocky inlets, where you can swim and snorkel in the crystalline sea. The only settlement is Kastellorizo Town, imposing three story mansions border the waterfront. With the Knights of St John Castle situated above the quay, it is one of the most picturesque harbors in the Dodecanese. On the southeastern coast of the island is the beautiful blue cave.
220 nautical miles from Piraeus
Isolated Tilos has fine tranquil beaches, vistas of high cliffs, rocky inlets and valleys of almond and walnut trees. For those seeking a relaxing, authentic Greek island feel, Tilos is it. There are only two settlements, the peaceful whitewashed village of Magalo Horio and the waterfront town of Livadia. The uncrowded beaches of Eristos (shaded), Agios Antonis (sandy) and Plaka are a real treat after spending time at some of the popular beach resorts on Rhodes and Kos.
Nisyros is one of the most beautiful of all Greek islands, it is a strange combination of luxuriant vegetation and stark moonscapes. A dormant volcano lies at the center of the island. The charming port town of Mandraki is comprised of winding alleys and brightly colored houses. It is situated beneath the cliff top monastery, Moni Panagias Spilianis. Near the port you will find the black stoned beach of Koklaki. Set on the volcano’s ridge are the villages of Emboreios and Nikea, both have spectacular views into the caldera. With only 20 inhabitants, the spiraling, steeped streets of Emboreios are eerily empty. On the other hand the picturesque village of Nikea buzzes with life. The islands best beaches are at Pali and Lies.
Astypalea, the most western of the Dodecanese, is more reminiscent of the Cylades. The picturesque hilltop village of Hora is comprised of narrow twisting streets and dazzling white cube houses with brightly colored wooden balconies and doors. Rising above the village is a Venetian fortress and a row of windmills. The tiny resort of Livadia is situated in a fertile valley, its beach is the best on Astypalea. Mesa Vathy and Exo Vathy are two cozy beach hamlets. Across the laid back settlement of Maltezana are a number of uninhabited islets to explore.
10km from the Turkish peninsula of Dorakis
Symi’s rugged interior is accented with cypress and pine forests. The small bays and pebbled beaches along the coast are indented with towering cliffs. Because of the mild climate, the season here lasts until late October. Symi Town is a Greek gem. Neoclassical mansions painted in a variety of colors ascend the steep hillside, surrounding the curved harbor. Symi has a number of wonderful beaches, such as Nanous Beach and Agia Marina, both of which have a taverna, and Symi’s only sand beach Agios Nikolaos. The beach at Georgiou Disalona Bay is set against a backdrop of towering cliffs. The more remote Marathounta and Agios Emilianos beaches are only accessible by boat.
200 nautical miles from Piraeus
Situated only 5km off the Turkish peninsula of Bodrum, is Kos, one of the most fertile islands in the Dodecanese. Like Rhodes, it is abundant with ancient remains and beautiful beaches. The landscape of modern Kos Town, the island’s capital and main port, is picturesque and luxuries. The Castle of the Knights prevails over the port, while Hellenistic and Roman ruins are littered everywhere. There are numerous archaeological sites to visit here. The Asclepion is Kos’ most important ancient site, it is located on a pine covered hill 4km southwest of Kos Town. Until 554 AD people came from far and wide to be treated at its healing center, there was also a school of medicine where the teachings of Hippocrates was followed. There are several lovely unspoilt villages spread across the northern slopes of the green and forested Dikeos mountain range, such as the pristine hamlets of Agios Georgios and Agios Dimitrios. Amongst the many sandy beaches, Agios Stefanos set next to the ruins of two 5th century basilicas, is a must. At Masthari you can find a number of secluded spots on its sandy shores.
Leros’ gentle, slopping countryside is spotted with smallholdings and huge, impressive, almost-landlocked bays, resembling lakes more than open sea. Platanos, the capital of Leros is 3km north of Lakki, the main port. This tiny picturesque village spills down the slender hillside to the port of Agios Marina. On the east side of Platanos, the mountainside dwellings are crowned by a massive castle. Set on the wide Alinda Bay, are the adjoining resorts of Krithoni and Alinda, which has a lovely, long tree-shaded sand beach. At Belfoutis Bay you will find a shaded sand and pebble beach and a good taverna. A goodspot for snorkeling, Xirokambos Bay is a mellow resort with a sand beach.
For both Orthodox and Western Christians, Patmos has long been a place of pilgrimage, for it was here that St John wrote his divinely inspired revelation, the Apocalypse. Once a favorite destination for the devout, Patmos is now just as popular with sun and sea worshippers. All boats dock at glitzy Skala, which sprawls around a large curving bay. Wrapped around the immense Monastery of St John the Theologian, the beautiful hilltop village, Hora. With its immaculate whitewashed houses and maze like alleys, it is absolutely enchanting. A tour of the monastery and of the cave where John received his divine revelations, the Monastery of the Apocalypse, is a must. There are a number of sandy tree-shaded beaches around the island. Psili Ammos is the islands best beach, it is only accessible by boat.
Lipsi is a delightful little island with good beaches. The picturesque port town of Lipsi is the only settlement. The countryside is dotted with olive groves and cypresses. Lipsi produces a strong wine known as Lipsi Black. The island’s main attraction, are its beaches, such as Platys Gialos a lovely sandy beach with a good taverna and the pebbled beach of Monodendri (nudist), set on a rocky peninsula.