The most colorful harbor in Greece
Less than two hours’ ferry ride from Rhodes, Symi is an island with strong elements of romanticism that resembles a colorful canvas.
While approaching the port of Symi, one has the overwhelming feeling of entering a perfectly painted image of a scenic traditional village. The colourful island houses climbing to the slopes of the mountain seem like an image of a fairy tale novel that people remain agape and cannot take their eyes off the spectacular sight.
Built by 19th-century sponge and spice merchants, the whole town is now a national monument. You need strong legs to climb the five hundred stone steps that lead to the once most commercial street of the island.
Sumptuous mansions in every shade of peach, apricot and cantaloupe, abandoned captain houses and pebbled mosaic courtyards lend an air of nobility while the elegant shops and the sailing yachts add a cosmopolitan aura to the island.
There’s only one ragged road that careers across the island’s mountainous spine to Panormitis monastery, a seaside sanctuary for Greek Orthodox pilgrims. The rest of this spellbinding island is largely deserted, but blue castaway coves and dramatic beaches, aglitter with crystal-clear water so transparent that boats can look as if they’re floating on thin air, surround it.
With its laid-back glamour, luminous sea and almost tropical microclimate, Symi is a hit with French and Italian yachties who fall for the ravishing sunsets and amazing seafood or come for the laidback vibe and elegant architecture.
Beautiful Symi is especially lovely in low season. That’s a blessing, because regulars snap up the best houses in high summer. But you don’t have to worry about that as we can unlock some gorgeous villas and mansions on Symi that epitomize timeless Greek island style.
Symi will charm you from the first moment, as it is blessed with a noble atmosphere found in few places in the world. We challenge you to flirt with this unique experience!
City of Symi
Simi Town consists of two preservable settlements, Ano Symi which is the Castle of the Knights, and Yialos which is the island’s port. On the main street of the city of Symi you will see the Town Clock, the Police buildings and the Post Office, and the historic house “Catherinettes” where the treaty surrendering the Dodecanese islands to the Allies was signed. Worth visiting in Ano Symi is Pontikokastro, a prehistoric barrow and one of the most ancient monuments in the whole island.
The Archaeological Museum
The Archaeological Museum of Simi is housed in an old traditional restored mansion in Ano Simi. The museum has three collections: an archaeological, a Byzantine and a folklore collection. The archaeological collection includes findings from excavations held on the island, such as Hellenistic and Roman sculptures and vessels, while the Byzantine collection consists of Byzantine and post-Byzantine icons, coins and musical manuscripts. The folklore collection is richer than the other two and includes traditional costumes, musical instruments, hand-woven materials, tools of everyday life, like a sewing machine, and photos that depict life some decades ago. The pebbled yard of the museum displays some ancient sculptures and urns. This museum may be small but is very interesting and gives a clear view of the history and the traditions of Simi island.
THE MARITIME MUSEUM
On the square you will see the old shipyards where ships have been built on the island. The Maritime Museum of Symi is located in Yialos, just 2 km from the main town. The museum was established in 1983 and in 1990 it found its home inside an elegant neoclassical house, where the central shipyards of Symi were housed in the past. The Museum displays old maps, ship models, diver SUITS, nautical tools and other exhibits that depict the long marine and sponge-fishing tradition of the island. In fact, there is a special section dedicated to sponge diving with exhibits including diving suits, diving machines for oxygen production, a collection of sponges, diving stones and others. The museum also hosts paintings and wooden-carved sailboats of the craftsman Antonis Polias.
Venetian Castle of the Knights
The Venetian Castle of Simi is located at the highest point of the village, The Byzantine Castle on the island of Simi was also the site of the Knights Castle, built by the Knights of Saint John in the 14th century. The Knights Castle shared a wall with the ruins of the Byzantine Castle, many of which are still visible. It also shares the wall that surrounds the acropolis, on top of the hill and contains an emblem of the Knights of Saint John over the main entrance. It overlooks the harbor on one side and a small valley on the other, offering a breathtaking view of the entire town as well as of the Aegean Sea beyond it. There is also a small chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary (Kyra Panaghia). This chapel occupies the highest point on the castle and offers spectacular views of the towns of Chorio and Yialos.
Monastery of Archangel Michael Panormitis
The village of Panormitis, to the south west of the main town, hosts the main monastery of Simi island, a monastery dedicated to the Archangel Michael. The exact construction date is unknown but, according to an old manuscript, it existed in the 15th century. It is said that this monastery was built on the ruins of an ancient temple, but this has not been proved. The Monastery of Panormitis is tied with the Christian faith of the Symiot people. The interior is covered with wall paintings from the Byzantine period, made by the native hagiographers Nikitas and Michaelos Karakostidis. The image of the Archangel Michael is depicted in one of the frescoes. There are also nice wooden carved icons, most of which are gifts from the pilgrims.
The monastery also includes two museums in its yard. The first museum hosts silver icons, pontificals, Russian epitaphs, ecclesiastical vessels and various religious items. The other museum displays an exhibition of folk culture, including items relevant to fishing, agriculture and shepherding. The Monastery of Archangel Michael also hosts a library with Byzantine manuscripts of religious, historical and philosophical content. Some books date from the 16th and the 18th century. Furthermore, a gallery includes paintings of the monastery and its surrounding landscape. The Monastery of Archangel Michael in Panormitis village celebrates on November 8th and a religious festival is held every year with a lot of pilgrims coming to the island.
To anyone who wants to know the island on foot, the perfect start is the route Symi – Panormitis. The wayfarer should start early in order to avoid the midday heat. The route is quite green, and it is dotted with churches: Agios Konstantinos, Strateri Virgin, Saint John, Saint Marina and the monastery of Great Sotiras. A detour from here leads through a forest of cypresses, to Kourkouniotis, where there are 11 newly reconstructed stone wine presses.
Monastery of Archangel Michael Roukouniotis
Explore the natural beauty of secret Symi
Surrounded by turquoise seas with crystal clear waters make Symi an increasingly sought after location among the Greek islands.
Swimming in nice beaches and soaking the summer sun are pretty much the main things to do on the island. If you like snorkeling is such a popular activity here on the island. With its crystal clear waters and calm pebble bays, it’s easy to see why. You’ll be able to spend hours admiring the shoals of rainbow-colored fish, as well as a host of other marine life native to the region. Alternatively, enjoy a leisurely stroll along the waterfront promenade with a guide.
Hear about the island’s sponge diving history, a practice that dates back to Ancient Greece, with works by Aristotle, Plato and Homer all mentioning the use of sponges for bathing.
Then, enjoy free time to explore the island at your leisure. Wander through the hive of cobbled streets, dropping in at charming shops to browse the local wares.
Perhaps refuel with lunch at a traditional Greek tavern or indulge in a traditional coffee and a sweet treat in an airy café.
One of the locations which contributed to the excellent reputation of Symi island, is Nos Beach, as it has the exact balance between being a peaceful location offering at the same time the necessary facilities for tourists to enjoy a relaxing holiday. if you would like to take a relaxing holiday near the harbor but far away enough from it to enjoy clean waters and a golden sand beach, don’t hesitate to choose Nos Beach. You may also dare walk barefoot and naked along the pebbly strip of sand from the clock tower and on, to feel yourself completely free.
Agios Georgios Dysalonas
Most people consider this beach as the best in Symi and one of the most impressive in the world. The vertical 300-meter cliff, which stands at the rear of an unspoiled pebbled beach, creates a fantastic place for swimmers. Dysalonas is accessible only by the sea and there are no taverns or restaurants available. Therefore, you need to be prepared by carrying water and the most essential with you. .
It is a popular beach on Symi by virtue of its sand/shingle beach, natural shade, safe swimming, excellent tavern and beach-bar. Popular with families with younger children, as the beach slopes gently into the sea, particularly on the far side. The journey on a taxi-boat from Symi harbor or Pedi Bay will take you about twenty minutes. There are sunbeds and umbrellas for hire, but many people opt for the natural shade provided by the trees. You can buy cold soft drinks, beer and water from the tavern as well as meals and there are two modern, clean toilets there. The last taxi-boat back leaves at 6.30 p.m. You can also walk from Pedi Bay; following a path marked by red paint circles over the rocks will take you around 20 minutes.
Nanou is only accessible by taxi-boat or a very long walk! The journey will take between 30-45 minutes. The last taxi boat back to the harbor leaves at 6.30pm. Nanou is a large, sweeping bay, backed by high cliffs, with astonishingly clear water, marvelous for snorkeling (particularly on the far side). The beach itself is made up of medium to large pebbles, so wear something more substantial than flip-flops. It is quieter than Agios Nikolaos and the lack of sand makes it less popular for families with children. There are plenty of sunbeds and umbrellas for hire. There is also a tavern which sells water, soft drinks and beer as well as a meal. There are two clean, modern toilets inside the tavern.
Marathounda is the last stop on the taxi boat run and the latest of Symi’s beaches to be developed for tourism. It is also accessible by road. The water is very clear and perfect for swimming or snorkeling. There is a large, newly-built tavern which serves snacks and meals and where you can buy drinks.
Newly opened up to the public, this small bay is now accessible by car or motorbike, or for the more adventurous a long hike! Taxi boats do not, as yet, run here. With a brand new tavern serving excellent food, sunbeds and good swimming, Toli is fast becoming a popular destination for tourists.
Beautiful bay which can be reached on foot from Panormitis.
Panormitis Bay can best be reached with an excursion boat or by car. The bay is situated in the south of the island and is famous for the monastery of the Archangel Michael, that stands at the head of the bay and attracts many visitors every summer. In the bay of Panormitis there is also a beach and there are a couple of taverns and shops to serve all the tourists that come to take a look at the monastery (mainly day trippers from Rhodes).
By boat you can reach this beautiful island at the southern end of Symi with clear water.
Pedi Bay is a popular destination on Symi and it is situated on the east side of the island within walking distance of the harbor of Yialos. Pedi Bay has several small beaches and serves as a starting point by water-taxi and on foot to several other beaches. Pedi Bay is served by a bus and there are several taverns in the village. There are sunbeds and umbrellas for rent. It is an easy walk from Chorio. The area attracts many visitors, as there are remains of early Christian churches and the church of St. George. It is one of the most popular beaches Joined Simi rather unfairly. A visit will convince you.
Agia Marina on the northern side of the entrance to Pedi can be reached on foot or by water-taxi from the harbor or Pedi Bay. It has a newly-built tavern, sunbeds and umbrellas for hire. You can buy a drink from the bar and relax on the terrace. There is a picturesque chapel on a small island which is very popular as a wedding venue. The water is incredibly clear; great for snorkeling and safe for children.
This is the second port of the island and it has a picturesque village and a fantastic beach. “Yiala” is a large pebble beach, which is accessible even on foot from Symi port (about 15-20 minutes). It is worth seeing “Twelve Caves” – twelve Byzantine domes formerly used as painting and sculpture workshops in “Mesa Niborio”.
The beach is accessible only by boat or vessel.
The island at the northern end of Simi has a clean pebble beach. You can reach Nimos island by boat and swim into the beach with its crystal clear waters.
The only other beach of note on the west coast is at Agios Emilianos, a favorite spot for round-island boat trips where the attraction is the dramatic setting of the monastery on an islet linked to the shore by a small causeway. Agios Emilianos has a small, shingle beach below the whitewashed chapel. Picturesque it may be but the beach is very scruffy and stony, but a popular spot for beach barbeques.
This beach, Agios Vasilios or Lapathos Beach, cannot be reached by water taxi (except some days in the high season). If you want to visit the beach the only way is by foot. The walk takes a couple of hours. It is a remote and quiet beach without any facilities, which means that you have to bring your own water supply and something to eat. Because it is so remote and quiet it is an ideal naturist beach. It is made out of pebbles and just a few bits of sand. At the beach there are a couple of trees where you can get some shade (no umbrellas & sunbeds). The last part of the walk is a rather steep and a bit slippery climb down, so it is advised to wear good walking shoes.
Ignite your gastronomic senses
You do not necessarily have to be a gourmet when looking for irresistible gastronomic sensations that will ignite your senses.
On Symi you are spoiled for choice: Picturesque taverns by the sea, fine restaurants and traditional ouzo and meze taverns will cater for you with delicious tastes, among which fresh fish and seafood knock spots off. What you should really not miss are the famous little shrimps from the infinite beauty of the sea of Symi.
There is also a choice of traditional or more modern bars, for those who seek nightlife.
Symi is really a gem for those with a taste for the traditional gastronomy and cool summer nights.
A fascinating experience of local tastes cannot exclude the miniature shrimps of Symi island, well-known all over Greece. This is the most famous and traditional dish in Symi. Small and flavorful, you’ll eat them fried in the taverns of Yialo and Chorio. Since they are so small and delicate, one should eat the whole shrimp – shells, tails and even the heads! It tastes like crispy French fries, but from the sea! Other typical Symiot fish snacks are: spinalos, octopus and lobster on the barbecue, salted common mackerel, sun-dried saddled beam, and sea bass and all that with raki or ouzo!!! Challenge: Try to ask for the dish with its Greek name “Garidaki Simiako”, locals will be impressed.
Akoumia are not widely known even by Greeks because they are Symi’s local traditional doughnut recipe. These doughnuts are unique because apart from the usual doughnut ingredients, flour, yeast, sugar, salt and water, they have boiled rice in them (the taste of which is not noticeable) and are flavored with orange and ouzo.
Fried pies with smelt.
Stuffed grape leaves very popular in Symi.
When to go
With an almost tropical microclimate, Symi is especially lovely in low season when the landscape is still green, the sea has warmed up to feasible swimming temperatures, but the crowds have yet to descend. In spring, you can expect attractive prices for villa accommodation compared to summer.
Symi is located on the southeast part of Greece. The island’s climate is mild throughout the year. May marks the beginning of the summer, which is usually very hot. On average, Symi enjoys approximately 300 days of sunshine a year. The renowned Aegean winds, the so-called “meltemia”, do not exactly affect the island, as they mainly blow in the center of the archipelagos.
The area Code for Symi is +30 22460, which is followed by a 5-digit number (e.g. 22460 55555). If you wish to call abroad, you have to start by dialing the other country’s national prefix (i.e. Germany is 0049, England is 0044, etc.) and continue with the area code and the number you wish to call.
Euro € Euro Bank Notes: come in 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500. It is not always easy to receive change from 200 and 500 euro notes.
BY AIR (via Rhodes island)
There are multiple flights between the International Airport of Athens and the International Airport “Diagoras” of Rhodes, especially during the summer months. There are also charter flights between many countries and Rhodes, between the months of May and October. For more information, contact:
- Athens International Airport: +30 210 3530000
- Rhodes International Airport: +30 22410 82400
Symi is connected with Rhodes by boat. For more information, contact:
- Dodekanisos Seaways: +3022410 70590
- Blue star ferries: +302108919800
Symi is connected with Rhodes by boat. It is also connected with Piraeus and the rest of the Dodecanese islands. Check out the timetables of the boats that connect Symi to Rhodes and Piraeus as they do not keep the same frequency throughout the year.
- Piraeus Port Authorities: +30 210 4226000
- Rhodes Port Authorities: +30 22410 22220
- The Symi Bus
Phone: 69453 16248 The Symi bus runs on the hour from the south side of Yialos and goes to Chorio and then on to Pedi. It leaves Pedi at half past and goes back up to Chorio and then on to Yialos. All journeys are €1.50 (July 2014). Ask Lakis for the times of the first and last bus as these vary throughout the year.
- Panormitis Bus
Phone: 22460 71311 or 6936 946 830 Look on the windscreen for details of the running times of the Panormitis bus. The bus leaves from the bus stop on the south side of the harbour.
- Phone George: 6974 623492
- Phone Kostas: 6945 252308
- Phone Stamatis: 6945 226348
- Phone Thanasis: 6946 568731
- Phone Thodoris: 6945 273842
- The taxis are located in a taxi rank on the south side of the harbour near the pharmacy. There is no taxi rank in Horio or Pedi.
Rent a Car / Motorbike / Boat
- Glaros Car Rental
Phone: 22460 71926 Glaros Rent a Car offers its customers cars and motorbikes to make their holidays unforgettable! They also offer full technical support both for cars and motorbikes. Glaros Rent a Car is situated right on the harbor front just a few meters away from where the boats moor.
- Jimmy’s Bike Rental
Phone: 22460 72110, Mobile: 69724 43445 Found in Yialos (south side) near the taxi rank. Hire bikes and also collect your courier deliveries; open regular shop hours. Booking ahead of time is advised in high season.
- Back Street Bikes
Phone: 69414 19500 We are located in Yialos (behind Symi Tours).
- Roditis Yachting Agency
Phone: 22460 70108 Mobile: 6930 167120 Yacht clearance and formalities, Berth bookings, Customs clearance, Cruising permits, Immigration procedures, Port pilots, Spare parts and Concierge services. Located above Pacho’s Kafenion
Banks and ATMs
- Alpha Bank
Phone: 22460 71122 Yialos south side, half way between the bridge and the clok tower. ATM available in Engish & Greek.
- National Bank of Greece
Phone: 22460 72294 Yialos south side just by the bridge. ATM.
Phone: 22460 71315 Recently moved from beside the clock tower, the post office is now located in the square behind the International Taverna, turn left just before the bridge, on the West side of the harbor.
- Courier Services
Parcel delivery companies like DHL use agents on Symi to accept deliveries from the ferries and hold them for the recipients to collect. Various businesses on the island act as agents, if you are expecting a delivery try these first: Costas Book Shop: 22460 72573 Jimmy’s Bike Rental: 22460 72110
Phone: 22460 71111 Situated beside the clock tower on the north side of the harbor.
- EKO Fuel Station
Phone: 22460 72367 Fuel for boats and cars, to be found on the south side of Yialos as you head out of town. Turn left just before the hill, or if sailing in, head to the south entrance to Symi harbor and look for the tall flags.
- ARGO Fuel Station
Phone: 22460 71713 This petrol station is to be found on the road to Pedi, opposite the power station on the left as you go down the hill. Also sells oil, car accessories and has a car wash.
Phone: 22460 71339 On the Chorio road, South side of the harbor, beneath Mythos Restaurant roof terrace. Beside St John’s church tower, west area of the harbor.
- Customs Office
Phone: 22460 71249
- Yialos Medical Clinic
Phone: 22460 71290 Beside St John’s church tower, west area of the harbor.
- Chorio Medical Clinic
Phone: 22460 71316 The village medical clinic is situated at Campos, along from the bus stop (big white building) and is open mornings and evenings, Monday to Saturday. There is an emergency phone number on the door if the clinic is closed.
- Yialos Pharmacy
Phone: 22460 71888 South side of the harbor near the taxi rank.
- Dental surgery Tsavaris
Phone: 22460 72050 Located at the bottom of the Kataractids in the very south-west corner, towards the back of the harbor
- Dental surgery Volonakis
Phone: 22460 71272 To be found in ‘International Square’ in the west area of Yilaos just before the bridge
Symi’s optician. Located in the square behind the International Tavern, turn left just before the bridge, on the West side of the harbor. Repairs, frames and eye tests by appointment. English spoken.
Phone: 22460 71410 Pediatrician located in Syllogos Square Horio.