Holiday Sailing Area: The Dodecanese

The Dodecanese islands are located on the southeastern side of Greece, between the Cyclades and the coasts of Turkey. Less popular than the Cyclades and with a different style, these Greek islands distinguish for their Medieval architecture and the peaceful beaches. The Dodecanese, literally “twelve islands”) are a group of 15 larger plus 150 smaller Greek islands.

Some of the Dodecannese Islands still maintain their tradition look despite the years passed by. All over the Dodecannese Islands, you will find clean and crystal clear water with sandy beaches.


The Dodecanese islands have been inhabited since pre-Minoan times, and by the Archaic period, Rhodes and Kos had emerged as the dominant islands within the group. Distance from Athens gave the Dodecanese considerable autonomy and they were, for the most part, free to prosper unencumbered by subjugation to imperial Athens.

The Dodecanese islanders were the first Greeks to become Christians. This was through the tireless efforts of St Paul, who made two journeys to the archipelago, and through St John, who was banished to Patmos, where he had his revelation. By the early 14th century, it was the crusaders – the Knights of St John of Jerusalem, or Knights Hospitallers – who eventually became rulers of almost all the Dodecanese, building mighty fortifications,

After the Knights, the Turks ruled over the islands from 1522 until 1912. The Turks were ousted by the Italians in 1912 during a tussle over possession of Libya. The Italians, inspired by Mussolini’s vision of a vast Mediterranean empire constructed grandiose public buildings in the Fascist style, which was the antithesis of archetypal Greek architecture. More beneficially, they excavated and restored many archaeological monuments. The Dodecanese were formally returned to Greece in 1947.


The Dodecanese is the sunniest corner in Greece. Twelve large islands and numerous smaller ones with crystal clear waters, sandy or pebbly beaches, important archaeological finds, imposing Byzantine and medieval monuments and unique traditional settlements are waiting to be discovered. Unsure where to start? In this section, we try to shed some light on the different islands and exploring the Dodecanese by sailboat, catamaran or motor yacht.

The beaches on the Dodecanese Islands are amongst the cleanest and most beautiful in Greece. Here you will enjoy unforgettable moments under the hot Aegean Sea summer sun. You will find some of the islands in the Dodecanese cosmopolitan and full of life, but at the same time, you can easily retreat to the quiet and peaceful places. Many of the islands have retained their traditional appearances, and provide many charming photo opportunities.



A yacht holiday provides access that can not be achieved in any other way — your floating hotel suite allows you to travel effortlessly and provides access to the finest islands, villages, beaches, and experiences.

With so much to see and visit, we recommend you allow at least two weeks to explore this paradise. If you want to sail for a week your first decision has to be where to start; Kos, Rhodes or maybe Samos (technically not part of the Dodecanese) and what area to explore, the southern or northern Dodecanese.


In the summer the prevailing wind is the Meltemi that is blowing from the N-NW. It can blow strongly in July through to September but not as strong as in the Cyclades. In the summer months, it regularly blows Force 4-6 and may on occasion reach Force 7. Temperatures in the summer can reach 35 degrees Celsius.

If you want to sail early or late summer, the Dodecanese is a good choice as this sailing area is the most southern sailing area in Greece.


Sailing Routes or Itineraries for the Dodecanese


When sailing the Dodecanese you have two choices to start from; Rhodes or Kos. The biggest selection of quality yachts can be found in Kos. Kos is situated in the center of the Dodecanese, Rhodes is situated in the South Side of the Dodecanese. If you want to sail for two weeks and explore most of the islands of the Dodecanese I would suggest starting in Rhodes.

Greek Island yacht holidays provide the best access to the islands of the Dodecanese.

You’ll be surprised at how reasonable your private floating hotel suite (yacht with captain and cook/host) is.

Contact us now for a quotation on your magic Cyclades yacht holiday.

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Some of our clients like to extend their Yacht Holiday by staying a few days before or after their cruise in Kos, Rhodes or on one of the islands.

A few days in Kos or Rhodes can be a great holiday starter, and if your group is flying in from different or distant countries this allows you time to catch up and recover from jet lag before your cruise. If you’re interested in history and art you may enjoy a visit to the

We are happy to recommend great places to stay, dine, explore and shop and can book your hotels and arrange airport and port transfers for you.

If you plan to spend some days on one of the islands, here is a brief overview of tourist numbers you can expect to encounter.


The Dodecanese have been popular with visitors for centuries and they are a perfect choice for a sailing and island holiday in Greece.



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The Dodecanese have been inhabited since prehistoric times. In the Neopalatial period on Crete, the islands were heavily Minoanized (contact beginning in the second millennium BC). Following the downfall of the Minoans, the islands were ruled by the Mycenaean Greeks from circa 1400 BC, until the arrival of the Dorians circa 1100 BC. It is in the Dorian period that they began to prosper as an independent entity, developing a thriving economy and culture through the following centuries. By the early Archaic period, Rhodes and Kos emerged as the major islands in the group, and in the 6th century BC, the Dorians founded three major cities on Rhodes (Lindos, Kameiros, and Ialyssos). Together with the island of Kos and the cities of Knidos and Halicarnassos on the mainland of Asia Minor, these made up the Dorian Hexapolis.

This development was interrupted around 499 BC by the Persian Wars, during which the islands were captured by the Persians for a brief period. Following the defeat of the Persians by the Athenians in 478 BC, the cities joined the Athenian-dominated Delian League. When the Peloponnesian War broke out in 431 BC, they remained largely neutral although they were still members of the League.

The Peloponnesian War had weakened the entire Greek civilization’s military strength that it lay open to invasion. In 357 BC, the islands were conquered by the king Mausolus of Caria, then in 340 BC by the Persians. But this second period of Persian rule proved to be nearly as short as the first, and the islands became part of the rapidly growing Macedonian Empire as Alexander the Great swept through and defeated the Persians in 332 BC, to the great relief of the islands’ inhabitants.

Following the death of Alexander, the islands, and even Rhodes itself, were split up among the many generals who contended to succeed him. The islands formed strong commercial ties with the Ptolemies in Egypt, and together they formed the Rhodo-Egyptian alliance which controlled trade throughout the Aegean in the 3rd century BC.

In 164 BC, Rhodes signed a treaty with Rome, and the islands became aligned to a greater or lesser extent with the Roman Republic while mostly maintaining their autonomy. Rhodes quickly became a major schooling center for Roman noble families, and, as the islands (and particularly Rhodes) were important allies of Rome, they enjoyed numerous privileges and generally friendly relations. These were eventually lost in 42 BC, in the turmoil following the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BC, after which Cassius invaded and sacked the islands.

In the 1st century, Saint Paul visited the islands twice, and Saint John visited numerous times; they succeeded in converting the islands to Christianity, placing them among the first dominantly Christian regions. Saint John eventually came to reside among them, being exiled to Patmos, where he wrote his famous Revelation.

During the Byzantine years, the inhabitants of the Dodecanese followed Christianity. In the centuries that followed, they suffered a lot from the Persians, Arabs, Venetians, Genouates, and Ottomans. Under these circumstances, the inhabitants were forced to abandon their houses and retreat to the mountainous regions. After the first Crusades and the indulgence of the privileges from the Pope, the order of Knights of Saint John started was developed as a strong military and political power. In 1312 AC the order of Knights occupies Rhodes and the rest of its neighboring islands. Rhodes was greatly influenced by the western culture and its port became one of the most important trading centers in the Dodecanese. During that long period, Rhodes shined in art, sculpture, architecture, and letters. The order of Knights fortified the whole town of Rhodes with strong walls to protect the Aegean from the Turkish invasions.

In 1523, with the arrival of sultan Souleiman, Dodecanese is no longer under the rule of the Knights but under the Ottoman occupation. This is one of the darkest periods in the Dodecanese characterized by terror and destruction. The churches are turned into mosques and personal belongings are damaged. Above all, their act of participation in the Greek revolution was greatly punished with slaughters and holocausts.

In 1912, the Ottomans sold the Dodecanese islands to the Italians and a new period of occupation starts. Although the Italians made many public works, including ports, official buildings, and even restored the Medieval Town of Rhodes, the locals were always fighting for their independence. Finally, in 1947 with the Treaty of Paris, the Dodecanese islands became officially part of Greece.



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Dear Captain Peter, Andriana, and beautiful Malena…from the very first moment stepped on Malena you have treated us very lovely and since then the time has flown, and here we are on our last night on board. We would like to thank you for all the good memories and your hospitality. Peter, you are a great Captain with a big sense of humor, you were always been available for us and you did your best, to make all have an unforgettable time. With your guideless, we ‘ve seen beautiful places, dined at wonderful tavernas, swimming in amazing waters. It was an unforgettable week for us and we would definitely come back to explore new places and to live a new adventure with you if possible. From now on you have a family in Istanbul and we know that we have a friend in Greece! Thank you again for the unforgettable journey!

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  • A fantastic week sailing! | Erik
    We are a family of 8 and wanted to sail for a week on the Greek islands. As we are not advanced sailors, we chose to hire a skipper. We had the luck to get Walter as a skipper in the Piraeus Marina, where we started for our week in the Saronic Sea. Arriving on Saturday, we started our sail ...
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    My two daughters and I sailed with Walter and Aleka in the Argo-Saronic in July and couldn’t possibly have had a better experience. From the planning stages, it was a pleasure. He was helpful finding a sailboat that fit our needs and budget. We were very inexperienced in sailing, so his input led to the right boat and the right ...
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    I had one week on board of “Argo”. Yacht is good, clean, and it is very easy to sail. Walter is an owner, and he assist with all issues. Great man and experienced skipper. Highly recommended! Stas Blokhin