Symi

One of the most scenic harbours in the Aegean
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Useful hints and travel information for a Symi holiday

The Greek island of Symi is part of the Dodecanese archipelago and renowned for having one of the most scenic harbours in the Aegean. Symi has a population of just under 3000 people, a growing proportion of which consists of expats from Britain and Italy. Many foreign nationals have been buying derelict houses in the last decades and had them elaborately restored. As a result, there is a new modern glamour to Yialos, the capital of the small Greek island, and the town of Chorio further up the mountain.

Symi’s coast is extremely rugged and there are a large number of small, isolated bays that tourists can explore by hire boat. Symi is rather mountainous with its highest elevation rising to 617m. There are some beautiful monasteries on the island, and the ruins of an old castle perch above the little town.

Holiday on Symi will be mainly spent in one of the two principal towns, as this is mainly where accommodation and evening entertainment can be found. Many foreign property owners rent out their houses to tourists during the summer months, and there is a large number of very lovingly and individually arranged places to choose from. Every day numerous pleasure boats arrive from the neighbouring islands and from the Turkish coast, and holiday makers on Symi have the opportunity to go to nearby beaches that are only accessible by boat.

A holiday on the Dodecanese island of Symi is a holiday with modern Greek flair.

Pictures from Symi

Villages of Symi

Chorio

Chorio, the little town on the hillside, is something like the other half of the capital of the island of Symi. The ‘Square of the Steps’ is at the harbour in Gialos, and this is also the beginning of the ‘Kali Strada’, the ‘Good Road’ that winds its way up the hillside to Chorio on no less than 500 steps. Those who don’t feel up to the challenge in the boiling heat can opt for taking the bus or taxi uphill and the ‘Kali Strada’ on the way back down to the harbour of Symi. Magnificent mansions line the steep climb of the ‘Kali Strada’. Most of the traditional old villas are lovingly restored and decorated with ornate wrought iron balconies, but some have fallen into decay and are waiting for their Prince Charming to restore them to their former splendour. Chorio is the oldest part of the island of Symi, with narrow lanes and small white houses with red tile roofs that look incredible in the light of the setting sun. Some quiet hotels and taverns are up here too, ideal for those who want to escape the crowds.

Gialos

Gialos is the harbour of the Dodecanese Island of Symi and is listed as a historic monument. The fishing village is situated in a bay shaped like a horseshoe on the north coast of Symi. Deep blue sea and small colourful houses stuck to the steep slopes like birds’ nests, very much like a naïve painting, sum up the first impression the visitor might get of Gialos from the sea. Gialos is small but welcomes all visitors with typical Greek hospitality. As fishing is still one of the main sources of income, the taverns of the island have fresh fish on their menu every day. There are also small, family-owned hotels near the harbour where accommodation is easy to get and quite reasonably priced. Around lunch-time the harbour gets very busy, with tourist boats from neighbouring islands coming and going, but by 3 pm peace and quiet is restored as they have left again.

Panormitis

The old monastery of Panormitis lies in a small bay on the south-western tip of the island of Symi. It is situated directly by the water and its white façade, the impressive flight of stairs at the entrance and the beautiful four-tier bell tower make a nice contrast with the green hills behind the monastery. The monastery dates back to the Byzantine rule and is dedicated to Saint Michael. Panormitis used to be one of the most important pilgrimage sites in the whole of the Aegean and still offers more than 500 accommodation places for pilgrims. Even today, a lot of worshippers undertake the pilgrimage to Panormitis on orthodox holidays. The central courtyard of the monastery is surrounded by white arcades, and there is a small church museum as well. The frescoes inside the church are quite remarkable, and so is the silver-plated icon of the archangel Michael. There are some taverns in the vicinity of the monastery where you can have a meal and a rest.

Pedi

The little resort of Pedi, directly on the beach of a long bay in the north-east of the island of Symi, is the perfect place for water babies. Protected by the bay, some of the most beautiful beaches of the Dodecanese Islands are just waiting to be discovered. Pedi has some small beaches where you can hire parasols and deck chairs, and there are hotels, taverns and bars as well. Agios Nikolaos is ideal for families with children; its very shallow sandy beach is a perfect playground for babies and toddlers. Agia Maria, a beach north of Pedi, is ideal for snorkelling. Pedi has got a beach for everybody.

Recommended Symi hotels