Holiday guide to the islands of the Dodecanese

dodecaneseThe Dodecanese islands located on the southeastern side of the Aegean Sea, near the border of Turkey. The Dodecanese group of islands in Greece is becoming very popular for summer holidays.

Due to the long Venetian occupation, these islands have a strong medieval style and many interesting monuments.
The name Dodecanese means “the twelve islands” in Greek, as it is the number of the largest islands in the group. In addition to these twelve islands, there are smaller ones and many uninhabited islets.

Rhodes and Kos are the most popular islands of the group. By far the largest and the capital of the group is the island of Rhodes, popular with visitors arriving by cruise ship.

The island is also an excellent center from which to leave to reach the other islands. Kos is another very popular holiday destination, with beautiful beaches and nightlife.

If you want to escape the crowds and find yourself a bit in “real” Greece, visit smaller islands such as Karpathos or Patmos which are gradually developing, without losing their original character.

Karpathos, the third largest island in the chain, has a splendid coastline divided between the beaches and bays of the south and the rocks of the north and is much loved by kitesurfers for its legendary winds.

Smaller islands such as Kalymnos, Kasos, Kastellorizo ​​and Symi are less lush than their larger companions, but they all have elegant harbors, a legacy of their trading past and rocky interiors that offer the opportunity for excellent walks or climbs on the limestone cliffs.

In islands such as Tilos, Leros, Nisyros, Halki and Astypalaia, tourism is present and there are excellent hotels and restaurants, but they are still not too crowded with visitors. But what is beautiful and quiet for one visitor may be too quiet for someone else. The only sure thing is that among all the islands it is easy to find the right one for you.

However, it is not the end of the Dodecanese. The chain includes 14 other smaller islands and countless rocks that boast few goats and a beach.

What binds them all is a common history, especially due to their strategic position, near the coast of West Asia, which led to them being conquered for centuries by the Crusaders, the Ottomans, the British and the Germans, among others.

Twelve large islands and several smaller ones with crystal clear waters, sandy or pebble beaches, important archaeological discoveries, impressive Byzantine and medieval monuments and unique traditional settlements are waiting to be discovered.

What are the Dodecanese islands

The main islands that make up the archipelago are: Agathonisi, Astypalea, Kalymnos, Karpathos, Kasos, Kastellorizo, Kos, Lipsi, Leros, Nisyros, Patmos, Rhodes (the largest and most important), Symi, Tìlos and Halki
There is also a large number of smaller islands and islets, including Nìssiros, Pserimos, Farmakonisi (or Farmaco), Telendo, Archi, Saria, Gyali, Lèvita, Ro, Strongili, Alinnia and Sirna.

Weather in the Dodecanese

Being in the eastern part of the Aegean, in summer the islands are warmer than the Cyclades, because they are less intensely and continuously affected by the meltemi, the north wind that blows in the summer in the central part of the Aegean, except for the most westerners such as Astypalaia, which have a climate similar to that of the Cyclades. Also, sometimes there is a period of intense heat, with highs around 36/37 degrees or more.

Even in winter, the Dodecanese islands tend to be milder than the Cyclades, in particular they are less prone to cold outbursts from the continent, since the winds from the north-west have to travel over a wider stretch of sea, for this reason the snowfalls in the islands of the Dodecanese are very rare, and in practice an accumulation never occurs, at least in the plains.

However, sometimes it can be a bit cold, so much so that the minimums can drop to 2/3 degrees, and the maximums to 5/7 degrees, and the wind can increase the feeling of cold.

Precipitation in the Dodecanese islands generally fluctuates between 650 and 750 millimeters per year, and is concentrated in the cold period, from October to March, when it can occur in the form of downpours or thunderstorms, and can sometimes be abundant.
Due to the long summer drought, the landscape is generally semi-arid, especially in the flat and low-altitude islands (within some islands there are hilly and mountainous areas, which are greener).
Here, for example, is the average rainfall in Rhodes.

When to go

The best time to go to the Dodecanese islands for a beach holiday is summer, from June to mid-September. At the beginning of June it can still be a bit cool in the evening: to be safe, you can bring a sweatshirt. Especially in the westernmost islands, you can bring a light sweatshirt for windy evenings even in midsummer.
In May, not only is the sea still a bit cold, but the air can also be too cool for sunbathing, at least on certain days.
To visit the remains of ancient Greece or the cities, or to make excursions in the interior of the islands, you can choose spring, in April and May, since in summer it can be very hot. You can also choose autumn, at least in the first half of October, because then the rains become more likely.