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Tour recommendations for Crete and Rhodes


ssbeard1
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Will be in Crete from 10 AM - 7 PM and Rhodes 8 AM-5 PM.   Since cruising is just starting back up, there is not a lot of activity on the boards at this moment.  Was hoping someone had some advice to share on what to see/do in these ports.  We are not interested in a day at the beach.  

Thanks!

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You should first understand that Crete is a very large island (about 160 miles from one end to the other) so what you can do depends on which port you will dock.  If you have any interest in ruins and related history consider a tour (or do it yourself) to Knossos.  There is also an excellent archaeological museum in Iraklion that has many artifacts from Knossos and elsewhere on the island.  

 

Rhodes is a different situation.  I assume you will dock at Rhodes Town and this is within walking distance of both the Old Town and New Town.  The city does have some interesting places (including the palace) and can be done on your own or with a walking tour.  There are also plenty of cafes/restaurants if you want to enjoy a lunch off the ship.  There will also be some tour options to Lindos (which is some distance from Rhodes Town) which is an area with ruins (overlooking the sea).  Unfortunately Lindos has been so darn commercialized that you have to walk through the gamut of vendors who mostly sell tacky tourist items (although a smart shopper might find a few decent things).  The ruins at Lindos are pretty ruined (you can probably pull up some photos online) and I do not personally recommend the place, but many of us have gone and there are many who enjoyed the visit.    The thing about Rhodes is that the island is also a very popular sea resort with Europeans (especially from the UK and Germany).  There are quite a few excellent beaches, resorts, etc although I did note you are not interested in beaches.  We will be in Rhodes twice in August (back to back cruises) and have recently been talking about what we want to do given that we have been to the island 4 or 5 times.  We will certainly spend some time strolling around Old Town and possibly head out of town to one of the decent beaches.  As independent travelers, DW and I often prefer not to make solid plans since we often react to weather conditions.  It can hot in the islands and that would be a consideration.  I just look at Tripadvisor and noticed that 2 of the top 6 recommendations are beaches and 1 is a water park.

 

I suspect that quite a few travel starved folks will be heading to Greece in July-August in order to satisfy their travel bug.  Just keep in mind that Greece can get quite hot in the summer (sea breezes can often help on islands) and folks should prepare with a decent wide brimmed hat, lots of sunscreen, clothes intended for hot weather, etc.  DW recently reminded me of a July trip to Athens when our guide (a lovely Greek lady) collapsed on the Acropolis because of the excessive heat (it hit about 115f that day).  We have also been there in the summer when the weather was near perfect.

 

Hank

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Thanks, this is really helpful. I'm interested in ancient/medieval history and archaeology, and the comments about Lindos are interesting. Seems like a lot turns on whether we will be limited to the ship's excursions. I usually like to be independent but I'm trying to remain flexible.

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Just now, irvington said:

Thanks, this is really helpful. I'm interested in ancient/medieval history and archaeology, and the comments about Lindos are interesting. Seems like a lot turns on whether we will be limited to the ship's excursions. I usually like to be independent but I'm trying to remain flexible.

One reason we booked Seabourn (in Greece) is that they are not requiring that passengers take ship excursions.  To the best of my knowledge there is also no such requirement being imposed by the Greek government who has gone out of their way to open up to tourism and make it very clear that tourists are very welcomed to their country.   With the exception of Lindos, Rhodes is a great island for the DIY traveler (I have rented cars, used buses, etc).  But Crete is a tough place for the DIYer unless you are OK with a rental car.  That being said, if you are on a ship that has a long day docked in Irakion one can certainly handle that city on foot and make a deal with a taxi to take then to Knossos.  

 

I hope some others here jump in on my Lindos comment.   DW and I do love ruins and have been to many in various places of the world.  But Lindos is just not high on our list.  I will get flamed for saying this, but my favorite part of Lindos was the spectacular view of the sea.  Perhaps I have become to crass in my old age :).  I went and read some reviews on Tripadvisor and many did like the restaurants, shops, narrow streets in the village, etc.  Others mentioned the views from the Acropolis.   If you decide to go please remember to post your thoughts.  DW also reminded me that we have been there twice, the first time decades ago on a cruise ship tour, and the 2nd time when we had a rental car and decided to make Lindos a stop.  One advantage to having a car (or booking a private tour with car/driver) is that you can go, see, and stay or leave as you please.  I just wonder if it is one of those places folks need to go see for themselves.  With a full day on Rhodes you would have time for both the Old Town and a tour (cruise ship or private) to Lindos which is probably what a majority of non-beach folks do on their first visit to the island.

 

Hank

 

Hank

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Posted (edited)

I also found Lindos somewhat underwhelming. The acropolis at the top of Lindos has been so re-made over time that very little of its ancient character is apparent. Instead, it is mostly medieval (courtesy of the Knights of St. John).  I also found the journey up rather harrowing, as I am not particularly fond of heights and the path is quite narrow. The town itself is rather charming in the usual whitewashed, twisty-turny street way. Lots of shops and cafes. It was shadier than I would've thought. If your objective is to have a nice fish lunch in a nice cafe, perhaps with a lovely view of one of the coves, it would be the place to go.

 

I would recommend simply spending the day in Rhodes town. If you want to see ancient Greek and Roman culture, there is a nice museum in the old town with a number of Roman artifacts nicely presented in what was the hospital of the Knights. The Grand Master's palace is also worth seeing -- it's also medieval. I enjoyed it more than the more opulent Grand Masters place in Malta (later period). Interestingly, recent research suggests that the Palace stands where there was a temple to Helios in antiquity and it is very likely that the famed Colossos of Rhodes actually stood nearby (not actually at the harbor as has been speculated....). The street of the Knights is also worth walking, preferably with some material in hand that can help you make sense of the ancient "signs".

 

If you really crave an acropolis, there is also one just above Rhodes town -- you can walk there, but in the heat I would just take a quick taxi ride from one of the gates of the old Town. That's what I did and it was fast and inexpensive. The ruins are interesting but not extensive, and they are located in a nice park, high on a hill with great views as far as Turkey on a clear day.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acropolis_of_Rhodes

 

 

Edited by cruisemom42
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Thanks, these are great insights. I've been intrigued by Rhodes ever since my husband (then boyfriend) and I did a 5 week driving vacation in Turkey and saw Rhodes from Turkey, but never went over.  That was in '89 and I have been reluctant to return since I'm sure Turkey isn't as unspoiled as I remember. 

 

Anyway, this is getting me very excited to see these places in Greece. Thanks for the veterans posting!

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9 hours ago, Hlitner said:

You should first understand that Crete is a very large island (about 160 miles from one end to the other) so what you can do depends on which port you will dock.  If you have any interest in ruins and related history consider a tour (or do it yourself) to Knossos.  There is also an excellent archaeological museum in Iraklion that has many artifacts from Knossos and elsewhere on the island.  

 

Rhodes is a different situation.  I assume you will dock at Rhodes Town and this is within walking distance of both the Old Town and New Town.  The city does have some interesting places (including the palace) and can be done on your own or with a walking tour.  There are also plenty of cafes/restaurants if you want to enjoy a lunch off the ship.  There will also be some tour options to Lindos (which is some distance from Rhodes Town) which is an area with ruins (overlooking the sea).  Unfortunately Lindos has been so darn commercialized that you have to walk through the gamut of vendors who mostly sell tacky tourist items (although a smart shopper might find a few decent things).  The ruins at Lindos are pretty ruined (you can probably pull up some photos online) and I do not personally recommend the place, but many of us have gone and there are many who enjoyed the visit.    The thing about Rhodes is that the island is also a very popular sea resort with Europeans (especially from the UK and Germany).  There are quite a few excellent beaches, resorts, etc although I did note you are not interested in beaches.  We will be in Rhodes twice in August (back to back cruises) and have recently been talking about what we want to do given that we have been to the island 4 or 5 times.  We will certainly spend some time strolling around Old Town and possibly head out of town to one of the decent beaches.  As independent travelers, DW and I often prefer not to make solid plans since we often react to weather conditions.  It can hot in the islands and that would be a consideration.  I just look at Tripadvisor and noticed that 2 of the top 6 recommendations are beaches and 1 is a water park.

 

I suspect that quite a few travel starved folks will be heading to Greece in July-August in order to satisfy their travel bug.  Just keep in mind that Greece can get quite hot in the summer (sea breezes can often help on islands) and folks should prepare with a decent wide brimmed hat, lots of sunscreen, clothes intended for hot weather, etc.  DW recently reminded me of a July trip to Athens when our guide (a lovely Greek lady) collapsed on the Acropolis because of the excessive heat (it hit about 115f that day).  We have also been there in the summer when the weather was near perfect.

 

Hank

Thanks for info.   We will be docking in Iraklion.    Our trip isn’t until September.     Very interested in the archeological aspects.    Just having trouble currently finding info on tour offerings, which is understandable at this point.    

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35 minutes ago, ssbeard1 said:

Thanks for info.   We will be docking in Iraklion.    Our trip isn’t until September.     Very interested in the archeological aspects.    Just having trouble currently finding info on tour offerings, which is understandable at this point.    

You might want to consider a relatively simple day Hbased around 2 "events."  Book a morning tour (either your ship's excursion or a private tour) to Knossos.   An alternative is that you can just hire a local taxi for the drive (it is less then a half hour).   Then spend the afternoon on your own exploring Iraklion and its excellent archaeological museum.  Having been to Knossos will make seeing what is in the museum more interesting.   This simple itinerary also gives you the option of returning to your ship for free lunch or enjoying one of the many restaurant/cafes in Iraklion.  For those that ruminate about "missing the ship" this also means you are back within within walking distance of your ship for the entire afternoon.

 

Hank

 

 

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On 5/15/2021 at 10:24 PM, irvington said:

Thanks, this is really helpful. I'm interested in ancient/medieval history and archaeology, and the comments about Lindos are interesting. Seems like a lot turns on whether we will be limited to the ship's excursions. I usually like to be independent but I'm trying to remain flexible.

If you’re sailing Norwegian, they’ve announced that you can explore independently and aren’t tied to ship excursions. Not sure about other lines. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

I’m resurrecting this thread because I’m continuing to think about what to do in Rhodes. If I were traveling by myself or with someone just like me, I would tend to sign up for an ambitious day of sightseeing. I’m trying to balance my urges to do that with what my younger son would like, since he’s my travel companion this time. He wants to avoid nonstop organized tours. So I’m wondering, even though he and I both really like ancient and medieval history, and that’s why we’re going to Greece, this would be a good day to DIY and focus on the old town. Does anyone have a recommendation of a resource either in print or online about what to see in the area near the cruise ship? If we can wander and go to museums, and I can get what I would get out of a tour guide through something in print, that may serve both of our needs. Does the Blue Guide series still exist?

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Rhodes city is easy DIY,  lots to see,  perhaps grab some guides from the library and I’m sure you could find lots of info.   The town is cute, lots of restaurants,  we enjoy exploring there in the morning.  Last time we then took a cab to a fish restaurant and had a lovely lunch and swim in the sea.  

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4 hours ago, irvington said:

I’m resurrecting this thread because I’m continuing to think about what to do in Rhodes. If I were traveling by myself or with someone just like me, I would tend to sign up for an ambitious day of sightseeing. I’m trying to balance my urges to do that with what my younger son would like, since he’s my travel companion this time. He wants to avoid nonstop organized tours. So I’m wondering, even though he and I both really like ancient and medieval history, and that’s why we’re going to Greece, this would be a good day to DIY and focus on the old town. Does anyone have a recommendation of a resource either in print or online about what to see in the area near the cruise ship? If we can wander and go to museums, and I can get what I would get out of a tour guide through something in print, that may serve both of our needs. Does the Blue Guide series still exist?

 

You can buy the Blue Guide chapter on Rhodes on Amazon (caveat -- I haven't used it so can't say how worthwhile it is, but if it's up to Blue Guide standards it probably has more info than most other guides...)

 

https://www.amazon.com/Rhodes-Chapter-Greece-Aegean-Islands-ebook/dp/B0080GLYOC

 

Lonely Planet has a suggested walking tour (which you could supplement with the Blue Guide info:

 

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/greece/dodecanese/rhodes-town/narratives/in-location/self-guided-tours

 

There are also downloadable mp3 tours if you prefer, such as these:

 

https://www.gpsmycity.com/tours/medieval-town-landmarks-tour-4302.html

 

And finally, you might want to check with the tourist office on Plateia Alexandrias in town where you can get maps and details of several different self guided walks .

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On 5/16/2021 at 7:59 AM, Hlitner said:

You might want to consider a relatively simple day Hbased around 2 "events."  Book a morning tour (either your ship's excursion or a private tour) to Knossos.   An alternative is that you can just hire a local taxi for the drive (it is less then a half hour).   Then spend the afternoon on your own exploring Iraklion and its excellent archaeological museum.  Having been to Knossos will make seeing what is in the museum more interesting.   This simple itinerary also gives you the option of returning to your ship for free lunch or enjoying one of the many restaurant/cafes in Iraklion.  For those that ruminate about "missing the ship" this also means you are back within within walking distance of your ship for the entire afternoon.

 

Hank

 

 

 

Our Greek isles cruise isn't until next year, but I'm enjoying some early planning now.   We do want to do pretty much what you've laid out above, Hank.   My question is around doing Knossos on our own, taxi out, find a tour guide (is that part of the entry ticket?), then return to town, etc.    How easy is it to find a taxi for the return trip from Knossos?    There are 2 of us; we're comfortable doing ports on our own, but sometimes it turns out to be easier/cost effective to take advantage of a ship's tour.   Trying to figure out if this is one of those times.

 

Thanks,

Mary

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On 6/13/2021 at 1:37 PM, irvington said:

I’m resurrecting this thread because I’m continuing to think about what to do in Rhodes. If I were traveling by myself or with someone just like me, I would tend to sign up for an ambitious day of sightseeing. I’m trying to balance my urges to do that with what my younger son would like, since he’s my travel companion this time. He wants to avoid nonstop organized tours. So I’m wondering, even though he and I both really like ancient and medieval history, and that’s why we’re going to Greece, this would be a good day to DIY and focus on the old town. Does anyone have a recommendation of a resource either in print or online about what to see in the area near the cruise ship? If we can wander and go to museums, and I can get what I would get out of a tour guide through something in print, that may serve both of our needs. Does the Blue Guide series still exist?

There are some good YouTube videos about what to do & see in Rhodes. Perhaps you can watch them with your son to get you both pumped for the trip.

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1 hour ago, Mary loves to travel said:

 

Our Greek isles cruise isn't until next year, but I'm enjoying some early planning now.   We do want to do pretty much what you've laid out above, Hank.   My question is around doing Knossos on our own, taxi out, find a tour guide (is that part of the entry ticket?), then return to town, etc.    How easy is it to find a taxi for the return trip from Knossos?    There are 2 of us; we're comfortable doing ports on our own, but sometimes it turns out to be easier/cost effective to take advantage of a ship's tour.   Trying to figure out if this is one of those times.

 

Thanks,

Mary

Since its a long time until your visit it might be wise to get some up to date info as your time nears.  We never took a taxi out to Knossos as our style has always been to rent a car (gives us maximum flexibility).  I do not recall seeing licensed guides just standing around waiting for customers but times have changed and we will get a better feel for all things Greece when we return in a few weeks.  When it comes to taxis many of our friends tell us they simply arrange to have the taxi return at a specific time, but I have seen some taxis just sitting at Knossos (although we could never be sure if they were looking for a fare of just waiting for somebody who was in the ruins).   My issue with cruise ship tours is that DW and I have a strong dislike for being part of a large group.  When we do take tours they are usually small group private tours..often organized right here on CCs Roll Call boards.

 

Hank

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1 hour ago, Mary loves to travel said:

 

Our Greek isles cruise isn't until next year, but I'm enjoying some early planning now.   We do want to do pretty much what you've laid out above, Hank.   My question is around doing Knossos on our own, taxi out, find a tour guide (is that part of the entry ticket?), then return to town, etc.    How easy is it to find a taxi for the return trip from Knossos?    There are 2 of us; we're comfortable doing ports on our own, but sometimes it turns out to be easier/cost effective to take advantage of a ship's tour.   Trying to figure out if this is one of those times.

 

Thanks,

Mary

 

In the past there have been tour guides at Knossos waiting in the little paved area near the ticket kiosk and gift store. Their services aren't included in your ticket price, you have to make the arrangement directly with them. I'm not sure how long their set tours are, but when I went on a small group tour with an archaeologist we were on the site for at least 2.5 hours. The palace is huge and there are a few places where lines tend to develop (e.g., to get inside the "throne room".

 

I went back a second time on my own via taxi. I made arrangements for where and when to be picked up (there is a large parking area beside the site where many taxis pick up). That time I spent even longer onsite but I had a lot of material to read and I like to take my time looking around. The gift shop has many good books, maps, etc.

 

I imagine you could easily pick up a taxi on the site if you didn't want to arrange a pickup in advance. Any taxi waiting for another fare could easily call a vehicle for you which will arrive shortly (although I imagine the cost would be more since they will charge you from their starting point to pick you up).

 

Do not miss the museum; it was completely redone less than 10 years ago and everything is well displayed with good explanations. The museum itself seems to me to have been about a 20-30 minute walk from the port, but I was probably dawdling, window-shopping, taking photos....

 

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1 hour ago, Mary loves to travel said:

 

Our Greek isles cruise isn't until next year, but I'm enjoying some early planning now.   We do want to do pretty much what you've laid out above, Hank.   My question is around doing Knossos on our own, taxi out, find a tour guide (is that part of the entry ticket?), then return to town, etc.    How easy is it to find a taxi for the return trip from Knossos?    There are 2 of us; we're comfortable doing ports on our own, but sometimes it turns out to be easier/cost effective to take advantage of a ship's tour.   Trying to figure out if this is one of those times.

 

Thanks,

Mary

I’m guessing you’re docking in Heraklion?  As it’s a very long way from Souda or Chania.  There is no tour guide with the entry fee.   It might be worthwhile to take an excursion to get the guide and transportation.   After make sure and see the museum in Heraklion where a lot of the treasures are on display. 
 

Taxis can be an issue, we once visited during a Taxi strike, not much fun! 

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