Destination Inspiration: Dodecanese Islands, Greece

Destination Inspiration: Dodecanese Islands, Greece

Island hop on the far-flung corner of the Aegean, where the sun-soaked Dodecanese sands are lapped by cerulean waters. Rhodes and Kos are the star attraction of this cluster of islands, but when you’ve done eyeing medieval monuments, make tracks for slow-living Leros and the dramatic hiking trails of Kalymnos.

Where?

Dodecanese, Greece

Why now?

Many flock to the famous isles of Santorini, Mykonos or Halkidiki for a Grecian fix, only in-the-know
travellers visit this cluster of islands in the far-flung corner of
Greece. Peppered with whitewashed houses, ancient castles and
caves, this archipelago remains virtually unspoiled. It’s as ideal
for keen explorers as it is those looking to sail offshore with an
ice-cream and Sally Rooney’s latest rom-com.

The largest of the islands, Rhodes, has been the cultural and
commercial capital of the Dodecanese since antiquity. Recognised
for housing one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (the
Colossus of Rhodes) and one of Europe’s best-preserved medieval
towns, this is stomping ground for history buffs and aesthetes.
Trace the walls that form a crescent around the old town before
sinking into a feta salad and the cerulean waters that lap against
Elli Beach. We’d suggest starting your Dodecanese Island escape
here before embarking on an island-hopping tour of the rest of the
archipelago.

Keen to skip the crowds? Hop to Kalymnos, threaded with some of
the toughest hiking trails in the Mediterranean. Embark on the
100km Kalymnos Trail, a multi-day route that takes you between
mountain-top vistas and secluded shores, through crumbling caves
and ramshackle villages. Warning: it’ll test your stamina. We’re
not judging if you doze with a bottle of local plonk instead.

To really embrace the slow-travel movement, add another
lesser-known isle to your plans. Venture across to Leros, where
beaches are outshone only by the shipwrecks that surround them.
Avid divers (and keen snorkelers) will want to hire a fisherman to
take them to the numerous skeletons of military vessels that are
dotted beneath the waves – most of them are remnants of the
island’s once-thriving naval complex. Elsewhere, you’ll find a
distinctively Italian feel (Leros was conquered by Mussolini in
1912). Spot art-deco-style architecture and inhale the garlicky
scent of taverna dishes.



Don’t miss…

Visiting Kastellorizo. Geographically closer to Turkey than to
mainland Greece, it has nailed the “charming island” aesthetic.
Bright-coloured neoclassical houses are set like an amphitheatre
around the harbour – residents position their sunbeds right outside
their front doors. Forget snagging a spot on the beach (there is
none), do as the locals and dive straight into the sea.

Where to stay

Nefeli Hotel. The creeping bougainvillea,
blooming geraniums and waterfront location in Leros will leave you
weak at the knees.

Where to go for dinner…

El Greco. A pretty taverna perched on Leros’s
waterfront.

And for a drink…

The Savana Bar. The crescent-shaped bay beyond makes this spot
ideal for sundowners.



Who to take with you

Take anyone who doesn’t get seasick. There’ll be much seafaring
between the islands.

When to go

Despite not registering on most travellers’ radars, the
Dodecanese islands still have a busier midsummer period, so visit
in June or September
to escape any crowds.

Essentials to pack

To appreciate the clear waters, pack this Leica X-U Typ 113 compact underwater camera.
Your ‘gram will appreciate the under-the-sea updates.

How to get there

Flights direct from London to Rhodes take four hours. To visit
the surrounding islands, there are plenty of charters with island
tours available or check out the traditional ferry routes that link
the islands.

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