Dodecanese

The word Dodecanese, or Dodekanissa in Greek, means literally 'twelve islands' (dodeka = twelve and nissi = island). However, this being Greece there are in fact fourteen large islands, three smaller, and a few dozen more that are uninhabited but which can be called islands rather than rocks.

Symi

They are the most southerly group of islands and very popular with visitors due to the hot summer climate. This can lead to water shortages on some of the smaller islands towards the end of the summer, so visitors at all times should use water sparingly and drink bottled water if possible. By the autumn the islands can be quite barren, in complete contrast to the greenness of spring which is when those who like to see wild flowers should try to visit.

For the most part the islands hug the Turkish coastline, and one of them, Kastellorizo, is less than 3km (1.9 miles) from Turkey with a population of fewer than 300 people. By contrast, the biggest island, Rhodes, is home to 100,000 people, and many more in summer as it is also the most developed for tourism, with the island of Kos being not far behind, but much smaller.

The Acropolis at Lindos on Rhodes

Rhodes is also the capital of the Dodecanese and is popular with package holiday visitors and with cruise ships alike. It's also a good hub for getting around some of the other islands in the group. Kos is another very popular holiday destination, with good beaches and nightlife.

Kos

In-between there are islands such as Tilos and Chalki, where tourism has arrived but on a modest and more manageable level, and where visitors will still be treated with friendliness rather than avarice. The group also includes the island of Patmos, where St John is said to have had the vision described in The Book of Revelations, and little Nisyros, a volcanic island whose sulphurous crater still bubbles quietly.

The Volcanic Crater on Nisyros

Two hours by ferry from Rhodes is the island of Symi, one of the gems in the Aegean which has a harbour that is almost too perfect to be true, as anyone who has ever sailed into it at dusk with the harbour lights twinkling will know.

The Village of Olympos on Karpathos

Despite the fact that the islands are so close to Turkey they show no more Turkish influence than any of the other island groups, and if anything have something of an Italian feel to them, having been occupied by the Italians during World War II and only returned to Greece in a treaty signed in 1948. Since then, the Dodecanese have certainly welcomed tourists, needing the boost to their economies which was once provided by shipbuilding, fishing and sponge-fishing. 

If you want to escape the crowds and find yourself a bit of the 'real' Greece, try the lesser-known islands like Karpathos or Kastellorizo. Inbetween are islands where there's some tourism, good hotels and restaurants, but they're not yet over-run by visitors. These include Tilos, Leros, Nisyros, Halki, and Astypalaia

The Dodecanese group includes:

You might like these

  • Kastellorizo

    Travel information on Kastellorizo in the Dodecanese group of Greek islands, including flight and ferry information from Greece Travel Secrets.

  • Astypalaia in the Dodecanese Islands of Greece

    Astypalaia in the Dodecanese islands of Greece is a largely unspoilt island with good beaches.

  • Arki

    Arki is a small island in the Dodecanese close to Lipsi, with beaches and tavernas with rooms to rent and ferry connections with Patmos, Samos and Marathi.

  • Agathonisi in the Dodecanese islands of Greece

    Agathonisi is a small island in the Dodecanese with quiet beaches, a few hotels, pensions and rooms to rent.

  • A Walk in the Old Town of Rhodes

    This walk through the Old Town of Rhodes takes you through this World Heritage Site and along the main streets and past the city walls, palaces and mosques.

  • Rhodes

    Travel advice, information on Rhodes in the Dodecanese, with ferries from Piraeus for Athens, Symi, Crete, Kos, Patmos, Santorini, and flights from Europe

  • Wild Abandon

    Wild Abandon by Jennifer Barclay and published by Bradt Guides is A Journey to Deserted Places of the Dodecanese islands in Greece, including Rhodes and Kos.

  • Tilos in the Dodecanese Islands of Greece

    Tilos is a small island in the Dodecanese between Rhodes and Kos with regular ferry connections, hotels, rooms to rent, beaches, tavernas and ancient remains.

  • Symi in the Dodecanese Islands of Greece

    Symi (or Simi) is a small island in the Dodecanese near Rhodes with regular ferry connections, hotels, rooms to rent, beaches, tavernas.

Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.

Latest Posts

  1. Greek Recovery Funds to Go into Acropolis Upgrade Works

    Twelve projects including upgrade works on the Acropolis have been cleared for funding out of “Greece 2.0” – the country’s recovery plan approved earlier this month. Alternate Finance Minister Theodor…

    Read More

  2. US Keeps Covid-19 Travel Restrictions Due to Delta Variant

    The United States will keep all existing Covid-19 travel restrictions in place due to concerns over the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announce…

    Read More

  3. Chania, in Western Crete

    Chania is the main city in Western Crete with a lovely setting and a beautiful harbour as well as several museums.

    Read More

  4. Cyprus Obliges Travelers from Greece to Undergo Testing Before Arrival

    Greece has been placed on the Covid-19 orange list of Cyprus’ colour-coded country categorization travel system, based on a new epidemiological risk assessment of countries. The new changes come into…

    Read More

  5. Greece’s Indoor Restaurants, Venues Only for the Vaccinated

    Starting Friday, July 16, indoor venues such as restaurants, bars, and theaters will only be accepting vaccinated and seated-only customers until August 31, Development and Investments Minister Adonis…

    Read More

  6. AEGEAN Begins Operation of Seasonal Base on Mykonos

    Greek carrier AEGEAN has started the operation of its seasonal base on Mykonos, aiming to enhance its flagship quality services and improve the connection of the popular Cycladic island with major int…

    Read More

  7. UK Revises Advisory for Greece, Paves Way for Travel

    The UK’s FCDO revised its travel advisory for Greece after announcing on Thursday that as of July 19 travelers from amber-listed countries would not be required to self-isolate upon return.

    Read More

  8. Greece to Launch ‘Covid Pass’ App that Checks Customer ‘Safe’ Status

    Greece said this week that starting July 15, restaurant and F&B business owners would be able to download an application that will check whether the health/vaccination status information provided by c…

    Read More

  9. Authorities Recommend Self-test for Land Travel in Greece

    Travel by road domestically in Greece will not require a negative rapid test but the presentation of a negative self-test is highly recommended, said Deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias d…

    Read More

  10. Covid-19: Greece Extends Rules for Domestic Flights to the Islands

    The Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority (HCAA) has extended the travel rules for passengers of domestic flights traveling from the mainland to the islands, until 6am, on Thursday, July 15.

    Read More