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Good To Know

Active Holidays in the Dodecanese

Do you love exploring areas rich in cultural diversity? Are you eager to take a journey through time from antiquity to the present day? Then the Dodecanese Islands are the perfect active holiday destination for you.

The Dodecanese Islands are located in the southern Aegean Sea just off the coast of Turkey. The diverse blend of Greek, Turkish, and Italian influences make this archipelago one of the most multifaceted travel destinations in Greece. The rich and varied history is also evident in the islands’ cuisine: the Dodecanese scores highly with its culinary delights.

The Dodecanese Islands also offer you numerous exciting outdoor activities. Enjoy cycling tours and hikes to fantastic lookout points and beaches! Additionally, there are numerous spectacular MTB trails just waiting to be discovered by you. If you would like to explore the coast, you can paddle to secluded, dream-like bays by sea kayak.

Furthermore, on Kalymnos, you find spectacular locations for rock climbing, known far beyond the borders of Greece. If you are a passionate kite surfer, Rhodes and Kos with their numerous water sports spots are the perfect islands for you. Whether you are traveling alone, as a couple or a family – we have the best package deals for active holidays on the Dodecanese Islands.

Where does the name 'Dodecanese' come from?
The name Dodecanese is a combination of the Greek words dodeka (twelve) and nissos (island). It refers to the archipelago’s twelve main islands.

Which islands belong to the Dodecanese Islands?
In total, 160 islands belong to the Dodecanese, 25 of which are inhabited. Directly off the Turkish mainland from north to south lie the islands of Patmos, Lipsi, Leros, Kalymnos, Kos, Nissyros, Symi, Tilos, Chalki, Rhodes, and Kastelorizo. A little farther from the coast are the islands of Astypalaia, Karpathos, and Kassos.

Which Dodecanese islands have an airport?
There are airports on Rhodes, Kos, and Karpathos. These islands can be reached by plane, either directly or with a connecting flight in Athens.

If you would like to spend part of your holiday in Turkey, Bodrum Airport is also an option. There is a ferry connection between Bodrum and Kos.


What ferry connections are there on the Dodecanese Islands?
All the Dodecanese islands are accessible by ferry. For this reason, they are particularly well suited for the popular island hopping and backpacking trips.

The Dodecanese islands off the Turkish coast are connected by the Dodekanisos Seaways catamarans. For a visit to Astypalaia or Karpathos there are ferry connections from Piraeus port. You can find and book ferry connections here.


What is the best time to visit the Dodecanese Islands?
The best time to visit the Dodecanese is from April to October. Spring is particularly beautiful. In April and May, the otherwise rather barren islands are transformed into an ocean of flowers.

September and October also have their charm, with the sea wonderfully warm after the heat of the peak summer months. During these months, all swimming enthusiasts are sure to get their money’s worth!

For windsurfers and kite surfers, the summer months of July and August are particularly popular. During these months the Meltemi blows especially strongly. Sailors, however, should avoid these two months if possible.  The sea is often very rough and crossings to the nearby islands are often not possible due to the wind.


Which are the most popular Dodecanese islands?
The most frequently visited Dodecanese islands are Rhodes, Kos, and Karpathos. This is probably because they are the easiest to reach and also the largest islands in the archipelago.

Therefore, there is a wide range of active holidaying possibilities on these islands. Of course, the good transport connections attract many holidaymakers. Therefore, these islands are the busiest. Consequently, the prices are also the highest here.


Which are the lesser-known Dodecanese islands?
The lesser-known jewels among the Dodecanese islands are almost inexhaustible. Are you yearning for peace and quiet? Would you like to experience Greece in its purest form? Then the small island of Lipsi will offer you everything your heart desires: a small village with a modest number of typical tavernas, friendly inhabitants, and an abundance of nature. In short: a Greek idyll in white and blue.

Close by lies the holy island of Patmos. The island is a popular destination for pilgrims with its monastery of St. John and the snow-white Chora. This is the place to be if you are looking for peace and tranquillity. In addition, you will also find a greater selection of restaurants and shopping possibilities. The only time it gets really lively is when cruise ship guests come ashore in the morning. However, you can spend this time on one of several beautiful beaches. Or you get out and explore the island on the MTB trails. There are also extensive hikes for your escapes from the tourist hustle and bustle. By midday at the latest, the island belongs to the locals again.

Spectacular volcanic landscapes can be found on the island of Nisyros. This gem in the Aegean Sea is distinguished by its small villages with lovingly designed pebble mosaics. Nikia in particular is worth a visit, perched on the rim of the crater. Thanks to the volcanic rock, Nisyros is extremely fertile and beautiful to visit, especially in spring when everything is in bloom. The beaches are also exceptional, often red or deep black, depending on the type of rock in the area.

Geographically and culturally, the island of Astipaleia is a bridge to the islands of the Cyclades.  Here, you can find the typical charm of the Cyclades. The beautiful Chora with its white cube houses is absolutely worth seeing and the dream-like beaches of the secluded bays are unparalleled.


Where are the most beautiful beaches on the Dodecanese Islands?
The large islands of Rhodes and Kos have a great selection of beautiful fine sand beaches. However, you will usually have to share them with a large number of other tourists.

The Embros thermal baths about 10 km from Kos Town are particularly special. Here, sulphurous water with a temperature of about 122 °F / 50 °C pours out of the rock into natural pools. There it mixes with the seawater – a truly special bathing experience if you don’t mind extremely limited facilities.

If you prefer somewhere quieter, we can recommend the beaches on Patmos, Leros, and Lipsi: Here you can enjoy the pleasure of swimming in the crystal-clear waters. The somewhat secluded Platis Gialos Beach on Lipsi appears almost Caribbean: The light, fine-grained sand makes the crystal-clear water shimmer in various shades of blue.


Are there are culinary specialities on the Dodecanese Islands?
The proximity of the archipelago to Turkey cannot be overlooked when it comes to the culinary highlights on the Dodecanese Islands. A considerable number of Turkish specialities have made the small leap to the islands. They have become established and further developed in Dodecanese cuisine.

One example is stuffed aubergines, also known as Imam bayıldı in Turkey. Of course, fish and seafood also play an important role in the Dodecanese Islands. You should absolutely try a fresh octopus salad – preferably at sunset in a beach taverna.

Sweet Turkish treats such as baklava are also common in the Aegean region and it’s said that you won’t find better anywhere else in Greece. If you’d like to try it for yourself, pop into our favourite pastry chef’s shop in the port of Lipsi.


What archaeological sites are there in the Dodecanese Islands?
Almost all of the Dodecanese islands have small archaeological sites and museums that you can visit during your holiday. However, there are a number of real cultural highlights that you should not miss!

The Dodecanese Islands are particularly special due to their rich heritage of the Knights of St. John and the Ottoman Empire in addition to the ancient excavations. So, if you would like to go on a historical expedition, here on this small group of islands you will find remnants of many millennia of rich history.

The best example is the old town of Rhodes, characterised by the architectural legacies of the Crusaders. If you keep an eye out while walking through the medieval alleyways, you will come across numerous remains of the ancient city, mosques, and fountains from when the island was under Ottoman rule. Another of the island’s highlights is the ancient acropolis of Lindos.

Kos is also well worth a visit. While exploring the old town you will encounter traces of the ancient Greeks, the Crusaders, and the Ottoman Empire at every turn. Be sure not to miss a visit to the Asklepeion, nestled into a hillside surrounded by beautiful landscape.

If you are interested in the Dodecanese’s Byzantine past, we recommend a visit to the holy island of Patmos. With the Grotto of the Apocalypse and the Monastery of St. John, this island offers two outstanding sites of the Christian Orthodox faith.

Boat & Bike Jewels of the Dodecanese

From€ 1890
8 days/7 nights
Apr - Jun, Sep, Oct
Moderate
Bodrum
Bodrum
Persons: 14+
Age: 12+

MTB & Boat Trail Fun In the Aegean

From€ 1390
8 days/7 nights
May, Sep, Oct
Moderate - Challenging
Bodrum
Bodrum
Persons: 8+
Age: 18+

Athens

Buzzing Metropolis
History & Culture
Gateway to the Aegean

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Cyclades

Endless Blue
Picture-book Villages
Incredible Beaches

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Crete

Mountains & Sea
Minoan Culture
Excellent Cuisine

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