Cruising the Dodecanese

Cruising the Dodecanese A Ferry Lovers Delight

The southeastern Aegean islands of the Dodecanese – literally meaning 12 islands – offer a bottomless treasure chest of cruising opportunities. The region boasts burnished landscapes, secluded anchorages, and old-school Greek island life that charms visitors with a passion for history and culture.

Cruising the Dodecanese is ideal all year round, with spring and autumn offering fewer crowds and lighter winds for an exhilarating sailing experience.


The third largest island of the Dodecanese is a favored destination for families and couples looking to relax on beaches that offer everything from water sports to tranquil coves. This island also has a vibrant nightlife scene with bars and clubs that play music until dawn.

Kos is also home to a great selection of historic sites. It was the birthplace of Hippocrates, the father of medicine and a revered Greek physician, and the walls of its medieval city still stand. You can also visit the ruins of Paleo Pyli, an abandoned settlement referred to as the “Mystras of the Dodecanese,” and the churches of Agios Antonios, Panagia ton Kastrianon, and Agion Asomaton.

If you are a nature lover, don’t miss a chance to hike to the summit of Mt. Olympus, the highest point on the island. The views are simply breathtaking! You will see the peaks of neighboring islands and even have a clear view to Turkey! The beaches of Kos are equally impressive. Some are popular tourist destinations with all the amenities of large hotel resorts and others like Lambi Beach or Paradise Beach are secluded coves. The sand here is a mix of soft and hard and the waters are crystal blue. Therma is another unique beach where you can swim in hot springs that are known to relieve rheumatism and arthritis.


Known as the Emerald of the Mediterranean, Rhodes is the largest of the Dodecanese islands and a much-loved holiday destination. Its dazzling ancient citadel, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the medieval splendour of its colossal Old Town captivate visitors from all over the world, while the island’s idyllic beaches and mountain scenery offer a more mellow experience.

Embark on a cruise and soak up the island’s magical ambience. Wander through the walled medieval streets of its quaint Old Town, which is a pristine example of gothic grandeur, with imposing palaces and the Street of the Knights, and marvel at the awe-inspiring 4,000-year-old Acropolis perched on a hilltop. Or, climb to the medieval castle-like ruins of Kastello Kritinias for sweeping views over the island’s verdant mountains and coastline.

The southwestern part of the island, however, is often under the radar and is a haven for lovers of authentic culture, with traditional villages such as Asklipio and its handful of tavernas. Or, head to the remote beach of Kameiros to see a unique natural habitat where thousands of rare butterflies find shelter every summer.

The Dodecanese is an enthralling cluster of 27 small and larger islands in the southeastern Aegean Sea. While Rhodes, Kos, and Patmos receive the most acclaim for their historic charm and beaches, each of the other inhabited Dodecanese islands—Agathonisi, Astypalia, Karpathos, Kasos, Lipsi, Megisti or Kallithea, Nisyros, Symi, Tilos, Halki, and Kalymnos—offer a harmonious blend of history, nature, and gastronomy.


The largest islands in the Dodecanese are Kos and Rhodes, which attract the biggest crowds. But exploring a few lesser-known islands will reveal some real gems.

For example, on the island of Patmos, a visit to the monastery of Saint John the Theologian is a must-do for any visitor. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s named after its namesake and features eye-catching frescoes.

A short hike from here to the church of Prophet Elias offers one of the most scenic views on the entire island. And if you’re feeling energetic, why not climb to the top of Mount Dikeos? The reward is a view of the surrounding islands, including the famous island of Nisyros.

Those with a love of food will find a lot to enjoy on the smaller islands. From traditional tavernas to sophisticated restaurants, many of the larger and smaller villages offer gastronomic treats that can’t be found anywhere else in Greece.

Sailing enthusiasts also have a lot to discover on the Dodecanese. Several sheltered bays and coves make it possible to enjoy sailing year-round, especially in the months of September and October when winds are at their mildest. The harbour of Skala is an ideal anchorage, protected from south and southeast winds. Grikos is another great choice for smaller boats, with the port ideally positioned to meet most weather conditions.


Despite being one of the lesser-known Greek islands, Karpathos is brimming with charm. Here, the mountains are green and the beaches are golden; here, ancient traditions meet awe-inspiring natural beauty; and here, the people are genuinely hospitable. A trip to this island of contrasts is a must for anyone who loves Greece.

The island’s main port is Pigadia, which is served by ferries from both Athens and the Cyclades, Crete, Samos, and even a few ports in Turkey. The best way to explore the island is by car, and there are plenty of rental companies that can offer a vehicle that suits your needs.

A scenic drive along the island’s spine will lead you to a number of breathtaking beaches and traditional villages. The highlight is probably the evocative village of Olympos, which sits on a hilltop overlooking the sea hundreds of feet below. The villagers still speak the local dialect and maintain many customs, and it is a unique place to visit.

Karpathos is also a great destination for hikers and nature lovers. The island is home to a network of mountainous hiking trails that offer breathtaking views of the rugged landscapes and coastline. It is also a popular destination for surfers, as the winds of Meltemi make the island a paradise for wind-sports enthusiasts. Moreover, the crystal-clear waters are perfect for snorkeling and diving.