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The time has come for your trip to Greece and as soon as you realize you’ve fallen in love with the Dodecanese islands, you find yourself stuck in a big dilemma: Rhodes or Kos? It is indeed difficult to make up your mind.
The truth is that although both islands do not lie very far apart from one another, the landscape is totally different and each one of them has different things to offer.
With their stunning beaches, fascinating history, lovely villages, robust nightlife and excellent tourist facilities, the islands undoubtedly have one thing in common: they are among the best destinations to visit in Greece.
Below, we provide all the basics about both islands to help you decide which one is the most suitable for you.
Keep reading to find out!
Rhodes vs Kos: what do they look like?
The island of Rhodes is one of the most beautiful gems in the Dodecanese island group! Despite its remote location, it is one of the most visited islands in Greece thanks to its spectacular scenery. As one of the country’s biggest islands, it has a diverse landscape that combines amazing beaches, traditional mountainous villages, verdant areas and more! Because of its medieval castles and Venetian monuments that are very well-preserved, Rhodes has an enchanting medieval atmosphere and is often referred to as the “Island of the Knights“.
Kos is considered by many the next most beautiful Dodecanese island to visit! Kos combines a well-developed tourism infrastructure at modern beach resorts with a relaxing atmosphere, gorgeous beaches and charming villages to visit. The island’s nightlife scene is thriving, while there are numerous historic sites all around the countryside for visitors who enjoy traveling around and exploring. Additionally, it has a lively capital town which is the center of action.
Similarly to Rhodes, the island’s remote location should not be a problem, as it can be reached both by ferry and by airplane.
Things to see & do
No matter what your preferences are, in Rhodes and Kos you will find numerous things to do. On both islands, there are wonderful locations worth visiting, including but not limited to famous landmarks, picturesque villages and lively towns. At the local restaurants, you will have the opportunity to try the gastronomic gems of the Dodecanese, while as soon as the night falls, you will get to experience the local nightlife at some amazing bars and nightclubs. A variety of organized activities, including tours, cruises, sports, workshops and excursions are also offered at both destinations.
Rhodes and Kos have rich cultural and historical backgrounds, as well as numerous well-preserved monuments, historic buildings and archeological sites worth visiting to find out more about the past of the islands.
Rhodes is famous for its Venetian castles and other historic buildings from various historic periods that are unique in Greece, including the Palace of Grand Master, the Great Hammam and Monolithos Castle. You will find important ancient archaeological sites such as the Acropolis of Lindos and several impressive monasteries or churches, as well as a few museums. Rhodes is also an amazing destination for nature lovers, as it offers many parks and forests that are popular for hiking.
In Kos, you will find many significant historic sites that date back to Ancient Greece, such as Asklepieion, the Ancient Gymnasium and the Ancient Agora. You will also discover Venetian castles, Roman monuments and Ottoman mosques.
Even though both Rhodes and Kos have touristically-developed towns and villages, the both offer many traditional settlements worth visiting in order to see a more authentic side, away from mass tourism.
In Rhodes, you will discover many picturesque villages with a peaceful atmosphere, most of which can be found on the mountains and remain relatively untouched by tourism. The prettiest ones include Archangelos, Afandou and Kritinia. You will also find a few seaside towns and villages, such as Lindos, which is considered a big pole of attraction.
Click here to discover more villages in Rhodes
On the other hand, there are less villages in Kos and the majority of them are located either right by the sea or within a short distance from the seashore. Most of these seafront settlements have turned into big tourist resorts, including Kardamena and Kefalos. Mountainous villages like Zia and Pyli also offer many tourist facilities, but at the same time they preserve their traditional essence.
Find more information about the villages.
Rhodes is famous for its nightlife and more specifically, the capital town and the area of Faliraki, with clubs and bars that remain open all night and attract numerous devoted party-goers. In addition, Lindos and other seafront places are known to be nightlife hotspots.
Kos also boasts an intense nightlife, with the island’s capital town being the center of the partying scene. You will find many stylish bars and clubs for all tastes that start getting lively during the evening and do not slow down until the early morning hours.
Rhodes and Kos share many similarities when it comes to their cuisine. On both islands, you will discover many restaurants and taverns where you can try each island’s local delicacies, as well as Mediterranean staples and even international cuisine.
As far as gastronomy is concerned, the heart of Rhodes beats in the island’s capital Town. You will certainly find numerous renowned restaurants all around the island, but the Town generally offers a wider variety, from international restaurants with influences from the eastern cuisine, to upscale restaurants and cozy taverns.
Explore the cuisine at the best local restaurants of Rhodes.
Kos also has a fascinating gastronomic scene, ranging from all-time-classic Greek dishes, to lesser known traditional recipes unique to the island. Just like in Rhodes, if you are seeking variety, the main town is where you should head to, either for fine dining or for a traditional meal. Note that in Kos, you will not find many international restaurants.
Find the best restaurants in Kos.
Although there are plenty of things to see on the island you visit, going on a trip to another place is an opportunity that can’t be missed!
From Kos, day tours to Nisyros and day tours to Kalymnos and Pserimos, are the most popular on the island. Also a day trip to Bodrum in Turkey is a great opportunity to visit the neighboring country.
From Rhodes a day tour to Simi island is one of the best things to do on the island. Also day tour to Marmaris in Turkey as well as a visit to the nearby Halki island is very popular. Lastly, Sailing tours around the island’s coastline are also quite common.
Similarly to many other islands of the Aegean Sea, both Rhodes and Kos stand out for their amazing beaches, with crystal clear turquoise waters and a captivating seafront landscape!
In Rhodes, you will discover all types of beaches, from charming coves with small pebbles and crystalline waters to kilometers-long seashores, covered with silky sand. The most popular beaches of Rhodes come with well-organized facilities, such as sun umbrellas and sunbeds to rent, beach bars and water sport facilities. Among them, discover Lindos, Ladiko, Faliraki and more beaches in Rhodes !
At the same time, several seashores around the island are only partly organized, allowing you to escape mass tourism and enjoy a relaxing day at the beach. Marmari, Paradisi and Fournou are only a few to name!
Kos also offers numerous sand and shingle seashores that will certainly steal your heart! The island promises a plethora of options, from well-organized beaches with water sport centers and sunbeds to rent that get super lively, to peaceful coves with no other facilities besides a few sets of sunbeds, turquoise waters and an unspoiled natural landscape.
Beaches such as Paradise or the Town’s beach are your go-to options if you appreciate the convenience of tourist facilities. Kefalos, Stefanos and Psalidi are popular among watersport enthusiasts, while Agios Fokas, Lagades and Polemi will show you a calmer side of the island.
Discover the best beaches in Kos!
Both islands are famous for their sea sports activities. There numerous kite surfing and wind surfing schools.
In Rhodes you can get kitesurfing courses in Theologos beach and in Kremasti beach. If you are more keen with windsurfing, then you will find a school on Ixia beach and Theologos beach too.
In Kos you can practise kitesurfing as well as wind surfing in Psalidi beach.
Both islands receive thousands of visitors every summer, resulting in a well-developed local industry of tourism. You will not have an issue finding the type of accommodation that suits you, since a plethora of options are available in both Rhodes and Kos. The only thing to keep in mind is that if you are planning to visit one of the two islands during the peak season, you will have to book your accommodation at least a few months in advance, since many hotels reach full capacity. Lodging options in Rhodes options can be divided into two main categories: big resorts and boutique hotels. Boutique hotels are a great option for central accommodation, as they are usually located in the Town or other popular areas. On the other hand, the majority of all-inclusive hotels can be found within a short distance from the beach, in less picturesque areas that have grown to be popular tourist resorts.
Depending on the location, the facilities and the style of the hotel, pricing varies. There are as many luxury suites and villas as budget hotels, family rooms and studios. Many hotels provide swimming pools, restaurants and bars on site. These are suitable for visitors who do not plan to travel around a lot.
>Our favorite boutique hotels in Rhodes are: F Charm, Melenos Art Boutique and Efchi 1904. As for all-inclusive resorts we recommend: Princess Andriana resort and spa and Aquagrand exclusive deluxe resort
As for Kos, this island is also famous for its all-inclusive hotels and resorts. Especially in seafront areas, you will find large building complexes of hotels that provide a complete accommodation experience, by offering swimming pools, restaurants, entertainment facilities and more, meters away from the golden sand!
There are various types of accommodation facilities in Kos to choose from depending on your budget and needs, including but not limited to budget-friendly studios and apartments, luxury suites, comfortable family rooms, spacious villas and stylish bungalows.
Due to their size, most hotels in Kos are located outside the island’s villages or towns, although several options for central accommodation do exist.
>Our recommendations for hotels are: Mitsis Blue Domes, Grecotel Imperial and Aqua Blue Boutique hotel
Transportation & car rentals
Both Rhodes and Kos have international airports, which means that you can reach your destination directly from Athens and other European cities. Seasonal flights may also be available during the summer. On average, a flight from Athens to Rhodes takes from 1h to 1h 15m. For Kos, travel time from Athens is 50-60 minutes.
Rhodes and Kos can also be reached by ferry, although a journey from Athens can last up to 10-15 hours, depending on the ferry company and the type of the vessel. Both islands are connected by ferry to each other and to other islands of the Aegean Sea, including the Dodecanese, the Cyclades and Crete.
Note that the port of Rhodes is located in the island’s capital town and so is the port of Kos.
Generally, both Rhodes and Kos are considered remote destinations and there are no significant differences in terms of approachability.
Traveling around the island
The most convenient way of getting around in Rhodes and Kos is with a car rental. Both islands have many remote places worth visiting that can only be reached with a private vehicle. Renting a car, motorbike or ATV will allow you to have flexibility and the freedom to get anywhere you wish.
However, visitors who cannot rent a car will be able to travel around fairly easily thanks to the public buses. Both islands have a well-developed and reliable system of public transportation, with regular buses that connect towns, villages and beaches to one another.
Kos has two types of buses: town buses that only operate locally in the capital town and K.T.E.L. buses, for long-distance routes in the countryside. For transportation in Kos, a great alternative is cycling. The island is in fact very bike-friendly, especially the Town.
In Rhodes, the central bus station is located in the main town. From there, you can travel directly to many other locations all around the island.
Other things to consider
A couple more things should be taken into account when choosing a destination, including how much time you have. The ideal duration for your trip to Kos would be 4 days. Rhodes is a bigger island with more places to visit, so 5 days would be perfect.
However, both islands are worth visiting for just 3 days or less.
Another thing to keep in mind is the kind of vacation you are looking for. Even though both islands have numerous touristy locations, Rhodes is generally more crowded and its nightlife is more intense.
Kos, on the other hand, has a more relaxing atmosphere and it is slightly more popular among honeymooners and couples of all ages.
For family vacation, both islands offer family-friendly hotels and safe beaches, although you may find that there are more options in Rhodes.