Dodecanese – Medieval, Cosmopolitan, and Unique Islands with Great Beaches

In the southeastern part of Greece, with the Cyclades islands to the one side and the coasts of Turkey to the other, you find the Dodecanese islands. Not quite as popular as the Cyclades you will find that these Greek islands have a different style, interesting Medieval architecture and long, quiet, sandy beaches.

View of Koutsomytis islet near Astypalea, Dodecanese Greece


Like a little butterfly Astypalea is spreading its wings in the Aegean Sea. It is one of the most stunning Greek islands of the Dodecanese archipelago. It is yet to be discovered by travellers and therefore still a haven of tranquillity.

Windmills in Chora Patmos, Dodecanese Greece


Patmos island is also known as the “Island of the Apocalypse”. Therefore, it has a strong spiritual atmosphere. It is, though, also one of the most stunning Greek islands in the Aegean Sea.

Kastri Islet near Kefalos village in Kos, Dodecanese Greece


Kos is the third biggest among the Greek Dodecanese islands and has a lot to offer for a great holiday! Sandy beaches, extraordinary sights, a lively nightlife, luxurious hotels, and many water sports centres around the island.

Apella beach, Karpathos, Dodecanese Greece


Karpathos is one of the most beautiful Dodecanese islands. Due to its rather secluded position between Rhodes and Crete, Karpathos is an unspoiled beauty, keeping its wild natural charm.

Fishing boat in the port of Kastellorizo (Megisti), Dodecanese Greece


Kastellorizo is just 2 km off the southern coast of Turkey and the town Kaş. This far-east tiny Greek island is insanely beautiful with its ruined castle, its minaret and pastel-coloured neoclassical houses like pearls on a string around the darkblue bay Mandraki.

Panoramic view from a cafe in Leros island, Dodecanese Greece


Leros, a rather small island, is situated between Kalymnos and Patmos, perfect for island hopping to its two neighbors and the nearby tiny island of Lipsi.

Rock climber at the "Palace", one of the most impressive rock formations in Kalymnos, Dodecanese, Greece


Kalymnos is a top climbing destination due to the amazing rock formations on the island. Climbing is an extremely popular activity in Kalymnos and every year a climbing festival is taking place in the island.

View from the ruins of Monolithos Castle in Rhodes island, Dodecanese Greece

Rhodes island

Rhodes is the capital of the Dodecanese and perfect for a relaxed holiday with its green hills, long golden beaches, blissful valleys, and great diving, windsurfing and kitesurfing activities.


What makes Symi so special is its beautiful architecture, colourful houses and laidback atmosphere. The port of Symi is an absolute beauty catching your eye as soon as your boat turns the final cliffs before the bay of Symi Town.

Summer in Tilos island, Dodecanese Greece


Tilos has a rare charm that will make you relax from the first moment. You are heading for a green adventure in an island where you can hike on mountains paths through valleys and meadows in your search for wildlife and the many secluded beaches.

The big volcano crater in Nisyros, Dodecanese Greece


Nisyros is one of those peaceful and relaxed Greek islands, still untouched by mass tourism. Today it has emerged like a great alternative Greek destination with its unique, active volcano.

Armatheia beach, Kasos, Dodecanese, Greece


Kasos, the southernmost Dodecanese island, seems to be forgotten by time and the world. During summer it is charming with its wild nature and gorgeous beaches.

The climate in the Dodecanese

Squids drying in the sun, Nisyros island, Dodecanese, Greece

The island group of Dodecanese in the south-eastern Aegean is the warmest and most sunny part of Greece. Twelve large islands, among them cosmopolitan Rhodes, Patmos and Kos and a number of smaller ones with crystal clear waters, sandy or pebbly beaches, important archaeological sites, great Byzantine and medieval monuments and the most charming traditional settlements are waiting to be discovered.
The Dodecanese Islands have a Mediterranean climate, with mild, rainy winters and hot, sunny summers.

Old windmills in Astypalaia - Photo by S. Lambadaridis
Astypalaia@S. Lambadaridis

Map of the Dodecanese archipelago

Map of Dodecanese Archipelagos
Click to enlarge the map

Facts about the Dodecanese Islands

The Dodecanese (meaning: twelve islands) are a group of 12 larger plus 150 smaller Greek islands in the Aegean Sea, of which 26 are inhabited. They are situated off the southwest coast of Turkey, southward of the island of Samos and northeastward of the island of Crete; this island group generally defines the eastern limit of the Sea of Crete. They belong to the Southern Sporades island group. They have a rich history, and many of even the smallest inhabited islands boast dozens of Byzantine churches and medieval castles.

Harbor of Symi, Dodecanese, Greece

Dodecanese – Medieval history and rock climbing

Rock climbing in Kalymnos, Greece

It is among the Dodecanese islands that you find famous Rhodes and popular Kos. Over the last years some of the others as well have gained international attention for their color and charm: Karpathos, with its beautiful beaches and the villages hanging on the steep cliffs, Astypalea, formed like a butterfly with old windmills, exciting ancient history and great natural ports. Symi is gorgeous with its idyllic town houses at the harbor and Leros is great for diving. Since the year 2000 Kalymnos has become one of the worlds prime destinations for rock climbing with the rock-climbing festival taking place every year in October. Patmos with all its churches and monasteries is famous for its spiritual character. The smaller islands of Dodecanese are considered more alternative holiday destinations.

Which are the Dodecanese Islands?

Apella beach, Karpathos, Dodecanese, Greece

The most historically important and well-known is Rhodes (Rodos), which for millennia has been the island from which the region is controlled. Of the others, Kos and Patmos are historically more important; the remaining nine are Astipalea, Kalymnos, Karpathos, Kasos, Leros, Nisyros, Symi, Tilos and Kastelorizo (which lies in the eastern Mediterranean). Other islands in the chain include Agathonisi, Alimia, Arkoi, Chalki, Farmakonisi, Gyali, Kinaros, Levitha, Lipsi, Nimos, Pserimos, Saria, Syrna and Telendos.

What traveller type are you?

Kitesurfing and windsurfing in Greece

The Dodecanese have experiences for any traveler type, whether you are into extreme sports like rock climbing, interested in culture and history or enjoy water sports like scuba diving or windsurfing.

If you belong to the more adventurous type of travellers seeking to discover new paths with lesser-known, unspoiled destinations, have a look at my posts about the Dodecanese. You will find detailed descriptions of the more cosmopolitan islands like Rhodes, islands that have played an important role in the long and rich history of Greece.

Kolofonas, Chalkis, Dodecanese islands, Greece

My posts here at GO GREECE YOUR WAY will give you all the necessary information to find YOUR best holidays ever in Greece!