Information about the Dodecanese islands Greece

The Dodecanese is a group of islands in the South East Aegean in Greece, defined to the North by the island of Samos, Nothwest by the Cyclades, West by the Cretan Sea and East by Asia Minor.

The Dodecanese consists of 18 large islands, many smaller and many rocky islets.

The largest islands of the Dodecanese are: Rhodes, Kos, Karpathos, Kalymnos, Astypalea, Kasos, Tilos, Symi, Leros, Nisyros, Patmos, Kastellorizo, Halki, Lipsi, Agathonisi and Arkioi.

The Prefecture of Dodecanese has an area of ​​2,705 sq. Km. And a population of 162,439 inhabitants. The capital is Rhodes. Administratively it is divided into four provinces: Kalymnos with its capital Kalymnos, Karpathos with its capital Karpathos, Kos with its capital Kos and Rhodes with its capital Rhodes.

Due to their geographical location, they were subjected to destructive raids by the Persians, the Saracens, the Venetians, the Genoese, the Crusaders and the Turks (Seljuks and Ottomans). From 1309 they came under the rule of the Knights of St. John and remained under their rule until 1522, when they were occupied by the Ottoman Turks.

With the beginning of the national liberation struggle of 1821, the Dodecanese revolted, but in 1830 they returned together with Samos to the Ottoman Empire, in exchange for Evia, which was incorporated into the free Greek state.

During your visit to the islands of the Dodecanese, in addition to a wonderful vacation, you will have the opportunity to admire the unique scenery of nature that successfully combines the rich and colorful vegetation with the relaxing blue of the sky and the sea.

The capital of the Dodecanese is Rhodes, which offers the visitor relaxation and tranquility but at the same time an intense cosmopolitan life for those who want it.

The island of Kos is known not only for its fantastic sandy beaches but also as the birthplace of Hippocrates, the father of medicine.

Another island worth getting to know and exploring is Kalymnos, rich in history and many attractions.

The Dodecanese are here and waiting for you. They are ready to embrace you and offer you unique opportunities for holidays that will be truly unforgettable.


dodecaneseThe soil of the islands in the Dodecanese is barren and stony. 42% of the total area is flat, 26% semi-mountainous and 32% mountainous. Mountains: The center of Rhodes is covered by the mountain range of Ataviros(1,240 m.). In Kos there is the mountain range of Oromedon or Dikaios (875 m.), In Karpathos the mountain range of Kymaras (1,290 m.), In Kalymnos the mountains Profitis Ilias (752 m.) And Kyra Psili (650 m.), In Kasos Troupoulas ( 508 m.), In Tilos Ai-Lias (612 m.), In Symi Vigla (550 m.), In Leros the Key (350 m.) And in Patmos the Prophet Elia s (270 m.).
There are no rivers in the Dodecanese, although they have plenty of water in torrents and streams. Thermal Springs: Four of the islands have thermal springs. In Rhodes there is the spring of Kallithea, a cold source of sodium chloride with drinking water. In Kos there are the chlorodium hot springs of Agios Fokas and Rhodes. In Nisyros is the source of Mandraki, hot alipine and in Kalymnos the homogeneous alipine of Kalymnos.
The Dodecanese are volcanic and therefore have significant amounts of mineral wealth. In Rhodes there is gypsum, chromite and lignite, in Kos copper, iron, lead and lignite, in Nisyros sulfur and in Karpathos and Kasos gypsum.


Just as the islands are scattered and small, they do not present economic unity. Everyone has their own economy. In the larger ones the land is cultivated intensively. Their vegetable products are famous. A large part of the inhabitants of the islands are also involved in sponge fishing, which takes place both on their shores and on the coasts of North Africa. There are also small agricultural processing industries and tanneries. Tourism also plays a serious role in the economy of the prefecture. The islands have been properly utilized and are one of the best resorts in the Mediterranean.


dodecanese historyHaving suffered a turbulent history at the hands of various invaders, these days the Dodecanese happily embrace the seasonal arrival of international tourists who come here to enjoy the islands’ hot climate, beautiful beaches and spectacular historic sites.

The Dodecanese have been inhabited since the Neolithic Age. They were inhabited by Mycenaeans, Carians and Phoenicians and developed close relations with Crete during its heyday. In historical times they developed shipping and trade and flourished. They even established colonies in Lower Italy, Sicily and the coasts of Central Asia. In the 5th BC. ai. were conquered by the Persians and forced to fight against the Greeks. They were liberated at the end of the Persian Wars and became members of the Athenian Alliance.

In Byzantine times they were the Theme of the Islands. Due to their geographical location, they experienced many catastrophic raids. In the 14th ceentury AD. were granted to the Knights of St. John. Until the 15th century, when they were enslaved by the Turks.

The Dodecanese experienced economic and spiritual prosperity. During the Turkish occupation, they gained autonomy by paying only an annual tax. They were liberated from the Turks in 1912, when they were occupied by the Italians. They united with Greece after the end of World War II, with a treaty signed by Greece and Italy on February 10, 1947 and which was implemented in 1948.

On February 10, 1947, the Peace Treaty with Italy was signed in Paris, according to which the Dodecanese were ceded to Greece, while Italy was obliged to pay $ 105 million to Greece. At the insistence of the Soviet side, the text stated that the islands would remain demilitarized, a provision that Turkey would abusively invoke after 1974. From the Turkish interpretation of the text of the Greek-Italian Treaty of 1947, in conjunction with the 1932 Italian-Turkish agreements The issue of the “gray zones” raised by Ankara after the Imia Crisis in 1996 will also arise.

The handover ceremony of the Dodecanese to Greece by the British authorities took place on March 31, 1947 in Rhodes in a festive atmosphere. The first commander of the Dodecanese was taken over by Rear Admiral Pericles Ioannidis, with political advisor to the university and judge Michael Stasinopoulos, later President of the Hellenic Republic. The official ceremony of integration took place on March 7, 1948 and in 1955 the Dodecanese became a Greek prefecture with Rhodes as its capital.

Holidays in the Dodecanese

karpathosThe Dodecanese Islands hug the coast of Turkey in the far south east corner of the Aegean Sea. Dodecka means 12 in Greek and refers to the group of islands which was granted special privileges for willingly submitting to the Turkish sultans who held sway here for centuries. In fact there are 32 islands in total – 18 of which are uninhabited.

One of the largest and most diverse groups of islands in Greece, the Dodecanese offer the traveler a special view of the Greek summer. From the atmospheric Chora of Patmos and that of Astypalea to the rising neoclassical states of Symi, Agathonisi and Kastelorizo ​​and from the vast beaches and archeological sites of Rhodes and Kos to the unspoiled landscapes of Karpathos and Nisyros, every visitor he can find the type of vacation that suits him.

Fans of the beach, lovers of luxury and nightlife and families usually choose the largest and most developed tourist islands, such as Rhodes. Couples, sophisticated and young groups looking for the different have made Symi, Tilos and Nissyros their hangout.

dodecaneseArchaeologists will find interesting monuments that testify to the rich history of the islands: citadels of antiquity, medieval cities and interwar monuments-legacies of the Italian occupation.

The hotel infrastructure follows the style of the holidays of each island: luxury resorts, spas and family hotels in Rhodes and Kos, atmospheric hostels in old houses in Kastelorizo, Symi or Astypalea.

Although the connections between them are not ideal for island hopping, there are many who choose to share their vacation on two or three different islands, usually combining one of the big ones with some smaller satellites, like Rhodes with Halki , Symi or Kastelorizo ​​and Kos with Nisyros, Tilos or Lipsi.

What are the lasrgest of the Dodecanese islands ?

Rhodes is the capital of the archipelago – by far the biggest island in the group with good air and sea links to the other islands, Athens, Turkey, Cyprus and Israel. Rhodes and Kos both have international airports with regular charter flights to and from the UK and other European destinations. If you’re planning an island-hopping tour of the Dodecanese your best bet is to fly into one of the main islands then rely on ferries or hydrofoils to take you the rest of the way.

holidaysYour holiday here can be whatever you want it to be. The islands offer ancient walking trails, awe-inspiring archaeological sites, some of the holiest places of pilgrimage in Greece and magnificent medieval castles.

You’ll also find some of the liveliest nightlife in Europe – it’s been said that Rhodes has more bars and discos per person than New York, Paris or Berlin. And the frantic frolicking at the island’s top seaside resort of Faliraki has attracted international media attention on more than one occasion.

Kos, the second largest island in the group, can give Rhodes a run for its money when it comes to serious partying. Besides hardened revellers, the island also attracts hordes of visitors to the medical school and sanctuary built in the 4th century BC after the death of Hippocrates, the Father of Modern Medicine who was born on the island.

Attractions of the Dodecanese

One of the archipelago’s top tourist attractions is the magnificent Monastery of St John on the “holy island” of Patmos where the apostle compiled the Book of Revelation, the last book of the bible. You can visit the Cave of the Apocalypse where St John “The Divine” is said to have received a series of visions and heard the word of God through a cleft in the rock.

Unspoiled Dodecanese islands

lipsi dodecaneseThose thirsting for a taste of the “real Greece ” will find some lovely unspoilt corners mercifully unscathed by the ravages of mass tourism. The rugged mountains of Karpathos conceal delightful villages where age-old customs are fiercely preserved. The local women dress in traditional costumes, grind their corn in the local windmills and bake bread in outdoor communal ovens.

Kalymnos offers mountainous scenery interspersed with fertile valleys, some of the finest fresh fish tavernas in the Aegean and lovely unspoilt beaches, some of which can only be accessed by boat.

An increasing number of foreign travellers are starting to discover the many delights of Leros which boasts good beaches and tourist facilities whilst still retaining its essentially Greek character. But most package holidaymakers by-pass the small islands of Symi, Lipsi and Tilos which appeal to hikers, nature lovers and those who simply want to relax on an uncrowded beach.


The architecture and arid landscape of Astypalea are reminiscent of the Cyclades, but the map and the distance from Piraeus says Dodecanese. The postcard town with the beautiful Venetian castle defines the travel image of the island, which is a favorite summer destination for travelers with a sophisticated but also young profile – as it has camping sites and timeless night spots.

Spread between the bays of Pera Gialos (the old port) and Livadia, the capital gathers all eyes on it day and night, from the neck with the windmills and the haunts of the square to the Venetian castle of the Querini and the alleys that lead to the churches of Panagia Portaitissa and Megali Panagia.

The island is not particularly large and has a bus service as well as tourist boats, which serve your main routes to the resort of Maltezana and the beach fish taverns of Schinontas (both on the eastern side, after the natural strait that separates Astypalaia from Mesa and Exo Nissi) but also to the Livadi tourist settlement and the best beaches on the west side (at Vatses and Kaminakia you can reach them by tourist boats but also by car (by dirt road).



In the Dodecanse, between Kos and Leros, on the island of sponges you will understand first hand what the proposition “low profile holidays at low cost” means. Its strong points are the beautiful beaches, the mountainous landscape, which offers you ideal climbing routes, the idyllic seabed, in which you will discover quite a few treasures – even impressive shipwrecks -, and the very hospitable residents.

The amphitheatrically built capital of Pothia, with the church of Agios Savvas at its left end and the chapel of the Resurrection at the right, will be your starting point. Walk through its picturesque narrow streets and observe the unique architectural buildings, which have been left to tell the stories of the Italian conquerors.

As for the rest of the settlements, there are Vathi with the beautiful fjord that forms the port of the Rina, Emporios (24 km. north of Pothia), which attracts water sports enthusiasts, and the secular Masouri and Panormos, which will monopolize your rides, while also providing you with valuable recommendations for accommodation and food. Finally, it is worth renting a boat or taking one of the liners for a day trip to the nearby islands of Telendos and Pserimos.


Karpathos island in the Dodecanese, with contrasts and exciting changes of scenery. Images of mountain and sea succeeding each other, with the green areas taking center stage. This narrow island, which dominates between Rhodes and Crete, is characterized by its unadulterated touristic landscapes, picturesque settlements, the hospitality of its inhabitants and its inseparable relationship with customs and traditions.
Without a lack of tourist infrastructure, it is an ideal destination for those who are satisfied with quiet holidays without lifestyle elements, with sandy beaches and emerald waters, with open-hearted people who give their all at the local festivals.

Take the car (essential for your travel) from the capital Pigadia, on the eastern side, and drive to Mount Olympus, to experience its otherworldly beauty and its women who still wear colorful costumes today, and find yourself on the western coast looking for Finiki, to ensure fresh fish even in the panic of August 15th.
Every village and stop hides architectural surprises and traditional elements, for travelers with concerns. Diving enthusiasts, grab your bottles and head southeast to Kastellia with its underwater treasures, Fokia with its huge boulders and Achata with its pirate cave. Finally, Diakoftis with the Italian shipwreck (next to the airport) is also special.


The easternmost point of Greece and the Dodecanese, is an island for few. It has no beaches, only deep and clear waters for diving. Megisti got the name Kastellorizo ​​because of the red rocks of the hill where the Castle of the Knights is built, or Castello Rosso. Although it belongs to the barren line, it maintains something of the cosmopolitanism bequeathed to it by the Italians who “discovered” it in the 70s, bought houses here and come and come again.

Not without reason, since the whole settlement is preserved and the small, colorful neoclassical buildings that crown the natural harbor look like scenery, as they reflect on the transparent green waters. It is ideal for couples in love, for those looking for complete relaxation and for those who want to forget the sound of cars! The only road, moreover, connects the port (where the settlement is located) with the airport.

The plane is the best way to get here: there is a daily connection to Rhodes, but it is advisable to book early. At first it may seem impossible to spend more than two days on the island, but once you get into its rhythm the time passes very pleasantly.

With walks on the small pier, strolling with a view of the restored houses, with fish dishes in the few taverns and also short excursions. You can tour the island, which includes a swim in Ro and a visit and swim in the Blue Cave, or take a boat trip to Kas in Turkey to visit the sunken state of Kekova, Agios Nikolaos and the Lycian Tombs.


Kos one of the most visited island of the Dodecanes, with vast sandy beaches and visible ancient and… chivalric memories, the third largest island of the Dodecanese has not by chance emerged as one of the country’s international tourist flagships.

So, count on at least one week of stay here if you plan to indulge in an archeological and swimming safari. Naturally, the beaches have also defined the territory of the large hotel units in resorts such as Marmari, Mastichari, the family-run Tigaki and the favorite of the wild British youth, Kardamena.

Some of its most luxurious residential units are located in Psalidi, at a distance of 2.5 km south of the city. Be that as it may, however, you will put the charming capital in your plans to wander between building complexes with an aura of Italy but also chivalry as well as in archaeological sites, to drink a coffee in Eleftheria Square and in the port, while the in the evening, the youth meet at the mainstream bars in Exarchia and at the all day beach bars on the nearby beaches.

When it’s time to tour, visit the famous Asklepiion and the Hippocrates Botanic Garden studded with medicinal and aromatic plants of the Greek land, the great medieval castle of Antimachia, the Byzantine Old Gate and the traditional mountain village of Zia for dining with the whole island in your feet.


Leros island in the dodecanese in recent years it has been quietly rising, attracting mainly sophisticated foreign visitors and those looking for something different. Of special architectural interest are the Egyptian mansions of Agia Marina and the unique interwar architectural complex in Lakki in Europe.

Its center is Agia Marina, where most of the bars and restaurants are gathered along the waterfront and the main street. The main resort, a breath away from it, is Alinda, while Drymonas, Xirokambos and Panteli are small fishing villages where you will go mainly for the fish restaurants.

The beaches are not particularly numerous or impressive, but you will find quiet coves even in August, as well as shores to explore by boat. The island is small and you will easily discover its beautiful corners – as long as you have a car. A few, but satisfactory accommodation proposals, several low budget seafood options and some idiosyncratic restaurants with an Italian color make up the landscape of services offered.


The volcano of Nisyros island in the Dodecanese, whose aura characterizes the entire island, the few but authentic villages and the wild volcanic beaches, the sophisticated, sophisticated tourists who stay the night after the daytime tourists from Kos have left are just a few of the characteristics of this island.

The port and capital Mandraki will immediately steal your heart with its cobbled streets, colorful flower-filled courtyards, cafe-bars in a row next to the sea and whitewashed houses – here, after all, you will find the island’s nightlife as well as more worthwhile accommodation suggestions. Its center is the bustling and archetypal island Square of the Elderly.

Its beach, Chochlakia, is full of black pebbles. In Nikia, with the beautiful central square with the chochlakia (pebble floor) and the now-ruined Emporio you will go for picturesque walks and the panoramic views of the volcano and Palos for ouzo next to the beach. Pachia Ammos is the most famous beach: black, volcanic, gathers free campers.


Patmos is the sacred island of the Dodecanese has for years evolved into a cosmopolitan, sophisticated destination, while maintaining the mystical atmosphere. Greek and foreign (mainly Italian and French) visitors remain largely eclectic, low-key, with tendencies of inward search, but not isolation. The center of the island is the port of Skala, although the traditional white Chora with the evocative castle at the top is the most importent attraction.

Labyrinth narrows around the castle, clearings and small squares, well-preserved mansions, alleys with arches and arcades that lead to the edge of the rock giving a unique view, advanced clothes and accessories shops and chapels compose a dreamlike setting through a route without beginning and end. Even those who do not believe, do not fail to visit the two main attractions (and pilgrimages) of the island, the monastery of John the Theologian in Chora and the Cave of the Apocalypse.

As soon as you pass the gate of the castle, the atmosphere acquires another gravity, making the metaphysical dimension of the space felt. As for the beaches, the eastern and southern sides will not disappoint you at all. The boats will take you to Psili Ammos (the best on the island), while by car you will reach Diakofti, Agriolivadi, Lampi, Geranos, Groikos and Kampos.

Almost all of them have good taverns with fresh fish. Also set aside a day for a walk to the nearby islands: Lipsi, Arkoi and Agathonisi. The Easter celebrations are also particularly ritualistic: the most characteristic of the revived customs is the Ceremony of the Washbasin, the reenactment of the climax of the Last Supper, on the morning of Holy Thursday in the Town Hall Square.


Rhodes island is one of the most well-preserved medieval cities in the world, dozens of impressive beaches, important archaeological sites, interesting hinterland and, of course, a highly developed hotel infrastructure and vibrant life make Rhodes an ideal island for getaways of a different style.

It is equally enjoyed by lovers of luxury resorts and family vacations, as well as by those who want to combine relaxation on the beaches either with monuments from different historical periods (from antiquity to the Italian occupation) or with intense nightlife and worldliness.

The medieval town will monopolize your walks with both the sights and the atmospheric restaurants and bars, while the most beautiful part of the new town is the beach promenade with the casino in the historic “Hotel of the Roses” and the rest of the buildings of the Italian occupation (National Theater, Governor’s Office, Post Office, etc.) but also the much-photographed beach.

At least one day is worth spending in the island’s second-largest city, Lindos, with its citadel and unique captain’s houses. The most popular accommodation bases are the seaside resorts close to the city (Ixia, Ialyssos, Kallithea, Faliraki), while in the south there are even less crowded beaches and “hidden” villages. It is an ideal island for those who love car trips and sightseeing: from the Valley of Butterflies and the Baths of Kallithea to the hill of Filerimos and Ancient Kamiro, the occasions for a walk are many and varied.
Of course, the most unknown hinterland with its many natural beauties and monuments of the Italian occupation also deserves your attention. The villages of Kolymbia (25 km from the city) and Archangelos (28 km from the city) are also of interest: the first for its greenery and pebbly beach and the second for the faith of the inhabitants in their traditions and linguistic idiom (strongly reminiscent of Cyprus). Finally, Rhodes can be combined with one-day trips to the surrounding satellite islands, such as Chalki and Symi.


Symi one of the most impressive islands of the Dodecanese, thanks to the 2,500 colorful neoclassical buildings that stretch from Gialos (the port) to Chorio, creating a unique architectural ensemble. It is one of the first settlements in Greece to be classified as preserved, which is why it remains untouched.

From the 90s onwards, the island that was for years a hidden secret of the inquisitive English and the faithful who came from Rhodes to worship the monastery of Panormitis became fashionable for anxious Greek travelers as well, who fill it to the brim every summer – the active cultural festival also helped in this. It is loved by a sophisticated and cultured audience.

The fans of hiking will not be happy here, as the island is small and the road network is not particularly developed, while the beaches are usually reached by boat or water taxi. Accommodation options are mainly limited to boutique hotels, while renting old traditional houses is also a common practice. The center is Gialos, where you will find most restaurants and bars.

A registered trademark is the Clock of 1881 and the police building – an example of Italianate architecture. It is worth going up to the Village from the stone-paved Kali Strata with the 500 steps and enjoy wonderful views.
In the Village, look for the mansions of Hatziagapitou – Hatziioannou and Farmakidis, where the Archaeological-Folklore Museum is also housed, the Virgin of the Castle with the image of the Second Coming of the post-Byzantine hagiographer Georgios Klontzas, the ruins of the castle and the municipal clinic, where the objects are kept of the old pharmacy.

In addition to a walk to the picturesque seaside village of Pedi, it is also worth taking the route to Panormitis, through a cypress forest with many monasteries and churches.


A small island in the Dodecanese, between Nisyros and Chalki, Tilos finds its audience in the summer months with lovers of quiet holidays and free camping.
The campers seek coolness under the tamarisk trees on the popular sandy beach of Eristo and in the more remote Plaka, families and couples stay in rooms for rent mainly in the tourist port of Livadia and everyone writes routes on the one (and essentially only) asphalt road that unfolds along the backbone of the island, from the port to the monastery-eagle nest of Agios Panteleimon.

Leaving Livadia and after crossing a sheltered plain dotted with churches from the period between the 13th and 15th centuries, Megalo Chorio, the picturesque capital of the island below the castle, dominates the hillside. A detour through the valley with agricultural crops leads to Eristo.

But if you continue on the main road, you will reach the fishing village of Agios Antonios, Plaka beach and finally the monastery of the island’s patron saint. Special discoveries in the hinterland: the abandoned Mikro Chorio and the Harkadio cave, where fossilized bones of dwarf elephants were found.


Halki is a small but beautiful island of the Dodecanese, located opposite the eastern coast of Rhodes, with which it has almost the same history.
Chalki – Dodecanese

The island got its name from the copper mines that operated there in the past. Halki has recently been declared the center of “Peace and Friendship” mainly among young people who visit the area in the summer and organize various cultural events.

Everywhere on the island there is a peaceful atmosphere and the buildings are examples of interesting architecture. The only settlement is Niborio or Iborio, built amphitheatrically at the south-eastern end of the island.

As soon as the visitor arrives at the port, he thinks he is looking at a well-designed painting. Scattered throughout are traditional, stone-built buildings and interesting monasteries with that of Agios Ioannis standing imposingly at the top of the hill.