The Dodecanese – literally meaning 12 islands – is a group of 12 larger islands and 150 smaller ones, located in the Aegean Sea. The islands lie off the southwest coast of Turkey and northeast of Crete. Out of the 12 large islands, Rhodes is the most well known and is the heart of the archipelago (both in an administrative and tourist way).
The largest of the Dodecanese, Rhodes has become an important regional center. The capital – Rhodes- is formed of three cities: ancient, medieval and modern. The Palace of Grand Masters is probably the most well known place to visit on the island and is, indeed, a masterpiece. The island is also home to the Valley of the Butterflies and the beautiful village of Lindos. You can get to Rhodes by plane or ferry from Athens but the island is also linked to other Dodecanese and Cyclades Islands.
This is where St. John the Theologian was exiled and was inspired to write the Book of Revelation (Apocalypse). Known as “The Jerusalem of the Aegean”, Patmos is a mysterious island, with rocky soil and numerous caves. The island is dominated by the monastery/fortress which is flanked by white-washed houses. The only way to get to the island is by ferry from Piraeus (Athens).
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Lipsi is a group of tiny islands located near Patmos. The beaches are sandy and the waters crystal clear. Only one of the islands (Lipsi) is inhabited and it’s so tiny that you can walk everywhere. You can get to Lipsi by ferry from Piraeus, Patmos and Rhodes.
Located between Patmos and Kalimnos, Leros is dotted with beautiful beaches surrounded by green hills. The capital, Agia Marina, is “guarded” by the remains of the Byzantine castle, perched on top of a hill. The beaches of Laki, Agia Marina and Pandeli are great for swimming. You can get to Leros by plane or ferry from Athens (Piraeus).
The fourth largest of the islands, Kalimnos has mountainous scenery and fertile valleys. The remains of fortresses and castles stand proof that the island has always had an important role to play in the area. Beaches and caves wait for the travelers to explore them and the therapeutic springs at Therma are perfect to cure the aches and pains of everyday life. You can get to Kalimnos by ferry from Piraues.
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The third largest island of the Dodecanese, Kos is the birthplace of Hippocrates, the father of medicine. The capital of Kos is where you can still see the ruins of the ancient city and the castle. The view for the highest point in the ancient city is magnificent. You can visit the ruins of Agora and other Roman buildings. You can get to Kos by plane or ferry from Athens (Piraues).
The most western of the islands, Astypalaia has a mountainous landscape and coastline dotted with hidden coves. The capital is overlooked by the remains of the Venetian castle. You can get to the island from Athens either by plane or by ferry.
The second largest of the Dodecanese, Karpathos lies between Rhodes and Crete. The majority of the villages are located on the south coast. The beaches on the island are superb. You can get to Karpathos by plane or ferry from Athens.
This tiny island was once home to a dwarf elephant and now is one of the islands adored by paleontologists. The capital is built like an amphitheater overlooked by the remains of a castle. The island has some nice islands like Livadia and Plaka.
The island is located west of Rhodes and has been inhabited since antiquity. It is very small but has incredible beaches.
The easternmost island of the archipelago and the island’s only village is Magisti. The island doesn’t have any beaches. You can get to the island by plane or ferry from Athens.
It is the southernmost island of the Dodecanese and is located at a stone’s throw away from Crete. It is a mountainous island with few beaches. The capital of Fri is built around the picturesque Bouka Bay. You can get to Kassos by plane or ferry from Athens.