Kos Or Rhodes? How To Choose Between Greek Islands Rhodes Or Kos

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Written by our local expert Guru

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Rhodes and Kos are two Greek islands near the southern Turkish Coast. They both have direct flights from major European cities and nice beaches and are cheaper than the more popular Greek islands of Santorini and Mykonos.

Want to know right away how to choose between Rhodes or Kos for your next vacation? Here is what we think you should know:

Rhodes Kos
Better for history and nightlife Better for laid-back beach vibes, much less crowded
More impressive beaches, coastlines, hikes, etc. Cheaper than Rhodes
A lot bigger island means more driving A blend of Greek + Turkish culture

If you want to plan a getaway from Europe for a few days (or even a week!), deciding between Rhodes and Kos can be challenging. In the end, it all depends on what you’re looking for in your trip.

To help you decide which Greek island to visit on your upcoming trip, we’ve put together this post with an in-depth comparison of Rhodes and Kos.

Read on for everything you need to know to decide whether Rhodes or Kos is the right Greek island for you.

Overview Of Rhodes And Kos

Whether you’re looking for a weekend getaway or the best family-friendly vacation you could dream of, Rhodes and Kos are both excellent options. Here is a synopsis of Rhodes and Kos to help you decide.

Rhodes

Traganou Beach on Rhodes island, Greece

Rhodes is a very historic island. It has one of the largest Old Towns in all of Europe, used as a hub to control the seas by the Roman Empire.

Rhodes also has a stunning coastline with some wonderful beaches and bays, reminding us of the nearby Turkish Riviera Coastline. Plus, it has an authentic Greek white-washed village to visit.

Kos

A white windmill with a sail on the Island of Kos, Greece

Kos also has quite a bit of history to it. It has a historic Old Town that’s not as crowded as Old Town Rhodes.

Kos doesn’t have quite the impressive cliffside rocky beaches like Rhodes, but it definitely has its share of beautiful and sandy beaches. Kos is known for being a lot more relaxed and peaceful than Rhodes.

Pros And Cons Of Rhodes Over Kos

A narrow cobblestone alley lined with historic stone buildings, intricate ironwork, and an arched entrance, evoking the charm of the Greek Islands like Kos and Rhodes, with a clear blue sky above.

Here are some pros and cons to keep in mind if you are planning to visit Rhodes.

Rhodes Pros:

  • Old Town Rhodes is very impressive to see. One of the best-preserved Medieval Towns in all of Europe, it is labelled a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Amazing natural beauty. Crystal-clear blue bays, rocky beaches, and great coastal hikes.
  • Amazing white-washed Greek village to visit along the coast (Lindos)

Rhodes Cons:

  • You definitely need a car to explore everything Rhodes has to offer.
  • Rhodes is a big island. It will take you 1.5 hours to drive from the top (Old Town) to the bottom (Prasonisi)
  • It is more crowded than Kos, much more touristy

Pros And Cons Of Kos Over Rhodes

A coastal shoreline on Kos with rocky cliffs and a pebble beach, waves crashing against the shore. Sparse greenery is visible on the cliff tops under a clear sky.

Here are some pros and cons to keep in mind if you’re planning on visiting Kos.

Kos Pros:

  • Beautiful sandy beaches to visit
  • Don’t NEED a car, can get by with a motorbike or quad
  • There is tons of history to explore (the Father of Modern Medicine – Hippocrates, is from Kos)
  • Much more calm and peaceful than Rhodes
  • It is a bit cheaper than Rhodes for accommodation and food

Kos Cons:

  • Not as many hikes and beautiful cliffs to visit
  • Not as authentically “Greek” as Rhodes – Kos comes with a lot of Turkish influence (Bodrum, Turkey, is only a 20-minute ferry ride)
  • Not as much going on. It is much more of a seaside resort destination than Rhodes is.
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Cost Of A Vacation In Rhodes Vs Kos

A historic stone building with arched windows and a main entrance, adorned with climbing purple flowering plants flanking the doorway, reminiscent of the charming architecture found in Kos and Rhodes of the Greek Islands.

Cost is obviously a big factor in deciding where to go on vacation. However, we would say it shouldn’t be when deciding between Rhodes and Kos. Both are on the cheaper side for a Greek Island experience.

Accommodation

Accommodation in Rhodes is a bit more expensive. So is dining out.

The cost to hire a car will be similar, as long as you can drive a manual transmission. If you need an automatic transmission, Rhodes will be A LOT cheaper in our experience. We paid 24 euros per day for our Toyota CHR in Rhodes, and we paid 60 EUROS per day for our small Hyundai i20 in Kos! I think there are just a lot fewer automatic cars available on the island.

It’s also worth noting that if you are American and only have an American Driver’s License, you can only rent a car on these islands. You will need an International Driver’s Permit to rent a motorbike or Quad on Rhodes or Kos.

Every beach we went to in both Rhodes and Kos was free.

Must-See Places In Rhodes

A coastal landscape with rocky cliffs, clear blue water, and white buildings scattered on the hillside, reminiscent of the beauty found in the Greek Islands. A fortress is visible atop the highest cliff under a clear blue sky.

1. Old Town

It’s like something out of a movie. Cobblestone streets, historic buildings built by the Ottomans and Romans, and one of the most impressively preserved Medieval towns in the world.

2. Lindos

How To Visit The Greek Islands From Turkey In One Day - Rhodes, Lindos bay

White-washed Greek village built into the mountains, right next to the sea. Great for shopping and renowned restaurants. St Paul’s and Lindos Beach are both walkable from here.

3. St Paul’s Bay

It’s one of the most beautiful bays I’ve ever seen in my life. This was the most impressive thing I saw on Rhodes. A blue, calm bay with the Lindos castle in the background.

4. Butterfly Valley

A must for tourists coming to Rhodes. Full of multi-colored butterflies.

5. Monolithos Castle And Coastline

Our favorite thing that we did on Rhodes was a hike up and around the Monolithos Castle. This side of Rhodes isn’t very touristy and developed, which makes for beautiful seaside views. (A perfect place to watch the sunset!)

6. Prasonisi

At the very bottom of Rhodes, the Aegean Sea meets the Mediterranean Sea here. During high tide, Prasonisi becomes an island that is not connected to Rhodes. During low tide (summer), this becomes an islet where you can stand on the sand in between the two seas!

Must-See Places In Kos

A person rides a bicycle down a paved road bordered by greenery, with distant hills and a few palm trees visible in the background, reminiscent of the scenic beauty found on the Greek Islands like Rhodes and Kos.

1. Sunset At The Village Of Zia

No matter where you’re staying on Kos, everyone comes here to eat dinner and watch the sunset at least one time during their visit to the island. Make sure to go early before the parking lot fills up!

2. Swim To Kastri Island From Agios Stefanos Beach

A wonderful afternoon activity. In about 10 minutes, you can swim from the sandy beach over to the island, where you’ll find a beautiful church to explore.

3. Climb Mt Dikeos

It is a wonderful hike that begins in Zia and ends at the highest point on Kos. If you’re a hiker, this is a must-do when you come to Kos!

4. Asklipieio

It is one of Greece’s longest-surviving archaeological sites. This is where the father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, founded his school and taught medicine.

5. Day Trip To Bodrum

Bodrum, Turkey, is only a 20-minute ferry from Kos. If you’re never been to the Turkish Riviera, we highly recommend you visit. Turkey’s coast is stunning and looks at a very unique culture!

Beach Comparisons Between Rhodes And Kos

Beachgoers relax on wooden sun loungers under straw umbrellas. A Greek flag is visible in the background near the lifeguard hut on this beautiful day in Kos. The sky is clear, and the sea is visible in the distance, capturing the essence of the Greek Islands.

In short, Rhodes has much more impressive beaches. Everything Kos offers, Rhodes offers as well, but better. The only thing to note is that the top beaches on Rhodes can get very crowded, while Kos beaches are pretty much always calm and peaceful. There are plenty of quiet and peaceful beaches on Rhodes as well, but you are just going to have to go more off the beaten path.

Both Rhodes and Kos have plenty of seaside resorts if this is what you’re looking for.

Rhodes Beaches

  • More beaches to choose from
  • Much more impressive bays (St. Pauls Bay)
  • Beautiful, massive cliffs along the water to hike on

Kos Beaches

  • More peaceful and less-crowded beaches
  • Much more flat than Rhodes

Kos Or Rhodes For Authentic Greek Villages?

A rocky hill topped with ancient ruins overlooks a densely packed cluster of white buildings under a clear blue sky, evoking the timeless beauty reminiscent of the Greek Islands.

If you’re looking for a taste of authentic Greece, we wouldn’t recommend either of these islands, as Rhodes and Kos are very touristy. However, Rhodes definitely offers more in this category than does Kos.

Rhodes

  • Lindos: Seaside, a white-washed village with tons of shopping and many restaurants serving excellent Greek food. Two VERY famous beaches are located near Lindos, and a beautiful historic castle is atop the city. Lindos is a must-visit when you come to Rhodes.
  • Old Town Rhodes: Very historic and fantastic to see, but this place caters to tourists. You’re constantly going to have people talking to you in the streets, trying to sell you stuff. There is not much “authentic Greece” here.

Kos

  • Zia: This village is located in the mountains near the middle of Kos, where everyone comes to watch the sunset. It’s a beautiful little town with tons of restaurants and shopping, but it’s not really very Greek. Hardly anyone lives here, and the only reason people come here is for the beautiful sunset view. If you do come to Kos, eating at __ is a must!
  • Old Town Kos: Less crowded than Old Town Rhodes, but definitely still caters to tourists. There are some wonderful corner Tavernas to eat at in Kos. See our complete guide to Kos here.

Is Rhodes Or Kos Better For Hiking?

Best Beaches In Rhodes - St. Pauls Bay
St. Paul’s Bay

While both islands have good hiking opportunities, Rhodes is definitely the better destination. The coastal mountains on Rhodes provide tons of opportunities for mountainside hikes with a view of the sea. Kos has a mountain in the middle of the island, which makes for a great hike, but this is pretty much it.

If you are looking for great hikes, Rhodes is definitely the better option.

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Rhodes Vs. Kos For Public Transport?

An illustration of an Uber car driving down a road with a view of the sea in Rhodes while wondering, "Is There Uber In Rhodes?

We don’t recommend relying on public transport on either island, as it tended to be late and unreliable. However, it is certainly possible to get there by using the public bus on the island of Rhodes.

Rhodes

Rhodes has decent public transport that you can use to get to most of the highlights. There is a bus that goes around the outside of the island, and you can use it to get from the airport to Old Town, and then Old Town to Faliraki (a beach town) and Lindos (a must-visit white-washed village in the Southeast of the island).

There are plenty of tourists who come to Rhodes and rely on public transport to get around. You won’t be alone if you choose to rely on the public buses!

Kos

The public transport in Kos is almost non-existent. You are going to need some wheels when you come to Kos if you want to see all that the island has to offer. Keep in mind it’s also possible to bike to a few beaches from Kos Old Town if you’re not interested in renting a car.


Why Is Rhodes Worth Visiting?

A person stands on a large rock overlooking a hilly coastal landscape with green shrubs and the vast blue ocean of Rhodes under a clear sky.

Rhodes is worth visiting for many reasons.

  • Old Town Rhodes has a ton going on, and you will truly feel as if you’ve been transported back to town as you’re wandering the cobblestone streets of the castle.
  • St Paul’s Bay and Lindos Beach are stunning sights and are must-visits for anyone who comes to Rhodes
  • There are a ton of direct flights from Europe to Rhodes
  • Great nightlife in Faliraki (15 minutes Southeast of Old Town Rhodes)

Why Is Kos Worth Visiting?

Outdoor terrace with several empty tables and chairs, overlooking a hazy, scenic landscape reminiscent of the Greek Islands, with trees and distant mountains. Daylight gives a warm, atmospheric glow to the setting.

In general, we would say Kos is only worth visiting if you have already visited Rhodes or if you are looking for a quiet beach getaway in a low-stress environment.

  • The sunset from Zia village is beautiful
  • Swimming across the bay from Agios Stefanos to Kastri Island is a must-do
  • Tons of peaceful resorts in secluded and quiet spots on the island
  • Not too much traffic on the road makes for very easy driving

So, Is Rhodes Or Kos Better?

Greece Travel Blog_Rhodes Vs Kos Island

We highly recommend Rhodes over Kos. The Old Town is more impressive, the hikes are better, and the beaches are a lot cooler. Rhodes is much more authentically Greek, as Kos tends to be a blend of Greek and Turkish culture.

We would only recommend Kos is you are looking for a quieter and more peaceful get-a-way. Kos definitely has fewer tourists on the island than Rhodes.

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