The Southern Dodecanese Islands
The Dodecanese islands are made of 12 large islands (Dodekanisa means “twelve islands” in Greek) and 150 smaller Greek Islands in the Aegean Sea. About 26 of these are inhabited, The Dodecanese Islands have been inhabited since the pre-historic times starting with Mineons. Later,came Mycenean Greeks, Dorians, Persians, Athenians, Carians, Persians, Macedonians, Romans, Byzantines, Venetians, Genoese, the Knights Hospitallers of Rhodes (Knights of St. John), Ottomans, Italians, and Greeks.
Day 1: Bodrum and Kos (or Cos)
After welcoming, you will be briefed about your itinerary. Once paperwork is completed at customs, we will set off for Kos, where Hippocrates, The Father of Medicine was born. Mythology sources say, Kos is also the birthplace of Leto, mother of Apollo and Artemis. There is a very rich history in Kos. You are greeted by the Castle of the Knights at the entrance of Kos harbour. You can start off by riding a mini-train that gives you the highlights of the main city. After that, you can walk to the sites if you want to explore more. Old town is beautiful, lined with palm and pine trees, and filled with shops, cafes, and restaurants. Here, you can see the tree dedicated to Hippocrates, the ancient agora (largest at its time), an antique temple, and a basilica. Kos is famous for its wine and silk.
About 4 km from the city center, you can visit the famous Asklepieion, an old healing center, dedicated to Asklepios, the god of health. Other places to visit include Casa Romana (1800 year old Roman villa with 26 rooms and three pools), Archeology Museum, Defterdar Mosque, Haci Hasan Mosque, ancient windmills, Aspri Peta (White Stone) cave, Plaka forest where more than fifty peacocks freely roam.
Overnight in Kos.
Day 2: Nisiros (Nisyros)
In the morning, we head for Nisiros, a small volcanic island that was mentioned in the Iliad by Homer, just 10 miles away from Kos. According to Greek mythology,during the war of the Giants,Poseidon became angry and cut off a part of Kos and threw it at the giant Polybotes (Polyvotis), burying him under the rock. That rock became Nisyros. Once in a while, Polybotes shakes the earth with his groans and awakens the volcano there.
There are many churches, four monasteries, and ancient walls dating back to the 5th century BC. Mandraki, the capital and harbour of the island, looks beautiful with its white-washed houses with blue shutters and colorful flowers. The houses are built below a huge rock where the monastery stands. Themedieval castle, Spilliani, built by the Knights Hospitaller of Rhodes (Knights of St. John) in 1315 sits impressively on the rock. There is only one main street at Mandraki with some restaurants.
There are buses from the harbour that you can take to go visit the volcano’s still-active crater and view the smoking fumaroles. Make sure to wear sturdy shoes since the high temperatures can melt rubber soles.
Overnight in Nisiros.
Day 3-4: Rhodes (Rodos)
We leave early in the morning for our next anchorage spot for two days. Rhodes is the largest of the Dodecanese islands.
Rhodes was famous for the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, built to thank the sun god, Helios, for the victory against Demetrius Poliorketes, the king of Macedonia. Unfortunately, 66 years after its completion, it was destroyed during the 226 BC earthquake. Now, two deer statues, named Elefos and Elafina, greet you when you enter the harbor.
Start exploring Rhodes by first visiting the walled medieval old town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.. It is the oldest inhabited medieval town in Europeand has a population of 6000. Built by the Knights Hospitaller of Rhodes (Knights of St. John), it reflects the gothic architecture of its time with later additions of Ottoman architecture after the 15th century. You can feel that time stopped here centuries ago. There are many key places to visit in the old town, including the Acropolis of the Knights, the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes(now a museum), the Street of Knights, Socrates Square, the clock tower, the Temple of Venus (3rd century BC), the Mosque of Suleiman, the Jewish Quarter, a Mustafa Pasha hamam, and many more. You definitely would feel the history coming alive here.
Other historical sites on the island include the Acropolis of Lidos, the Temple of Phytian Apollo, many castles, and the ancient cities of Ialysos and Kamiros. For a livelier time, visit Lindos, Salakos and Sana villages for their narrow streets and shops selling local honey, wine, olive oil and souvenirs. If you have time, visit Rodini Park, the oldest natural park in the world, famous for its peacocks and rose gardens. And, don’t forget the beautiful beaches and thermal springs.
Two nights in Rhodes.
Day 5: Simi (Symi)
After a short cruise, we arrive at Simi. The island is named after Poseidon’s wife, Nymph Syme. It was famous for its boat-building, sponge-fishing, icon painters, and wood carvers. Now, the main source of income is from tourism.
Its main town consists of the lower town by the harbor, Gialos (or Yialos) and the upper town, Chorio (or Horio), which resides at the top of a 450-step stairway, called Kali Strata. In Gialos, enjoy the beautiful stone houses with little balconies painted in all colors. There is a clock tower (Roloi), the statue of a boy (Michalaki, meaning little Michael), a beautiful sculpture (Dove of Peace), little cafes and restaurants and some shops.
Chorio (means “village”) is where most inhabitants of Symi live. With its splendid view of the harbour and the sea, enjoy your walk on the streets of this beautiful village and visit some churches and museums. Near Chorio, there are remains of some castles built by the Knights Hospitaller.
Symi’s main attraction is the St. Michael of Panormitis Monastery, which attracts visitors from all over the world.
If you are looking for a beach, you can visit Pedi or Marathuonda Bay. The beaches are beautiful, mostly with sun beds and restaurants.
Overnight in Simi.
Day 6: Datca and Knidos (Cnidus)
After completing paper work, we sail to Datca, the main city on the Datca Peninsula, to enter Turkey. Datcahas kept its charm of a small town even as its sheltered marina attracts many boaters to dock there and enjoy the food at the restaurants. The street parallel to the marina has souvenir shops and more restaurants. There are three beautiful beaches in Datca where you can watch the local kids enjoy the clean blue waters- or join them yourself. Make sure to eat fresh almonds on ice with your ice cold beer.
After Datca, we will set off for Knidos (or Cnidus) to visit this ancient city. Knidos was founded in around 360 BC by the Carians at the tip of Datca Peninsula, which separates the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. As you walk among the ruins perched on top of a hill, you will have breathtaking views of the two seas shimmering under the sun, the Triopian Island separated from the mainland by an isthmus, and two harbours that were used as a military harbour and a trade harbour. You will see the remains of the agora, the theatre, anodeum, a temple of Dionysus, a temple of the Muses, a temple of Aphrodite, and the largest sun clock of its time. Knidos was famous for its naked Aphrodite statue sculpted by Praxiteles. The famous architect of the Alexandrian Lighthouse (one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World), Sostrates is from Knidos.
Overnight in Knidos.
Day 7: Mersincik and Bodrum
We leave in the morning for Mersincik, located on the north-west of the Datca Peninsula. Mersincik is a little quiet bay with a sandy beach where you will enjoy another dip in these clear blue waters. The bay is surrounded by mountains covered with trees. Olive groves cover the lower slopes. There is a beautiful farm house on the beach. Enjoy this beautiful unspoiled spot before you head for Bodrum.
Overnight in Bodrum.
Day 8: Bodrum
Disembarkation at 0800am after breakfast.
You can explore this spectacular “Turkish Riviera” rich with history and great stores for souvenirs. With its history dating back to the 12th century BC, Bodrum (ancient name: Halicarnassus) is the birthplace of Herodutus, the “Father of History”, who lived there during the 5th century BC. Bodrum will greet you with the Mausoleum of King Mausolus (350 BC), one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and St. Peter’s Castle built by the Knights Hospitaller of Rhodes (Knights of St. John),in 14th century using the columns and reliefs from the Mausoleum. Also don’t miss the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archeology located inside the castle which is the biggest museum in the world devoted to underwater archeology, and an Amphitheatre with a capacity of 13,000 seats, still hosting many shows and concerts.