Updated on 18/12/2021. Symi island was always on my bucket list, as many of my friends have recommended it quite strongly. But due to the fact that it was quite remote and difficult to reach it, I postponed year after year. Till last summer!
Symi was the 2nd leg of our journey after Tilos island (check the relevant post here!)
And it can be a stop on your Greek Island hopping (we have written a dedicated post about island hopping)!
Every afternoon, while the sun goes down, the picturesque houses of the main town change colour almost every minute and they create a fabulous canvas!
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Update: Due to Coronavirus, this summer might be also “special”. We wrote an article (more information here!) where we explain the current measures and situation, and we will update it as often as possible!
- For booking ferry tickets, I always use Ferryscanner! They have done a fantastic job and it is very user-friendly. Also, if you are thinking of island hoping this is the best platform that I have seen.
- Symi has many restaurants and fish tavernas and cafes.
- Best Luxurious Hotels: Asymi Residences
- Best Restaraunt: Tholos Restaurant
- Best value for money: Nikolitsi Studios
- Best Beach: Saint George bay
- Personally, I book all my hotels in Symi and other islands through Booking.com, as nowadays it includes many apartments, just like Airbnb and it’s easier and more reliable.
When you should visit Symi island?
Like most of the Greek islands, the busiest period is July and August. Personally, I find the weather during these two months quite hot.
For me, September – preferably – and June the best months to visit the island!
Where is Symi Island?
Symi is a small island that belongs to Dodecanese island complex and it is located north from the island of Rhodes.
How to get to Symi island?
There is only one way, by ferry – and you can use Ferryhopper for more details and if you are interested in island hopping routes!
Mainly, you can reach the island by ferry from Athens (Piraeus port), but this can be quite a pain as the journey lasts approximately 13 hours!! Not ideal, I know!
Fortunately, there is another option and you can fly to Rhodes island and from there you can get a taxi from the Rhodes airport to the harbour (around 20′ ) and then get the ferry to Symi island which lasts roughly 1 – 1.5 hours. Much better, right?! 🙂
Some people that visit Rhodes island (you can find our dedicated travel guide about Rhodes here!) wants to get a quick idea from this beautiful island, so there is an option for one day trip from Rhodes to Symi Island by Boat.
P.S. There is also another option to reach the island and this is … sailing!
Things to do in Symi
#Explore the main town
The main harbour is one of the prettiest in Greece! Simple as that!
Our recommendation is that you can get lost on the narrow alleyways, admiring the old and colourful houses, which each of them have their own beautiful architecture and stroll around the port’s entire bay area!!
There are many cafes and fish restaurants! You will definitely pass by the clock tower, an island monument built in 1881 and it is rumoured that it is based on the design of London’s famous Big Ben!! Not sure if this is true, but I liked the story!
#Climb the 500 steps from Gialos to Ano Symi (Chorio)
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This is a fantastic route for energetic tourists!
This walk can be quite exhausting especially during the summer (so, take some water with you!), but you can have as many breaks as you need and take many magnificent photos during the ascend!
During the walk, you get the feeling of the village and the narrow alleys give a fantastic atmosphere. On top, you can visit the castle and enjoy some breathtaking views!
#riding a traditional boat
In Symi, it is very common to use boats to visit different places and beaches! We went for 4 days there and we didn’t use any car, just boats and buses!
You can find the stands with the taxi boat routes here on the map. I just put this company as a reference as most of the companies occupy a stand, in the same area so you can search and find the one that fits your needs.
If you go in the high season (July – August), try to visit the stands the previous day and book if necessary!
#Eat the famous shrimp from Symi
Symi is famous for its seafood and especially for the small shrimps. Don’t forget to try them!
Note that sometimes the prices of some restaurants can feel a little bit high. We ate at the below restaurants and we can definitely recommend them.
Tholos Restaurant: This was my favourite restaurant as I loved the location and food. I would think it would be wiser if you book a table, especially during the high season.
Taverna Tolis: This is a traditional taverna in Pedi village next to the sea and I think it has a value for money option.
Pantelis Restaurant: This is a good quality restaurant with tasty food and nice views. It might be a little bit more expensive but it is worth it!
Odyssia Restaurant – When we visited the island this restaurant was closed but we heard from others that it is a very good choice!
#visit Monastery of Archangel Michael Panormitis
This is an 18th-century monastery and it is situated on the seafront of the village.
It is said that a holy icon of the Archangel appeared miraculously and, on several occasions, was removed only to reappear mysteriously in this same location. The church was then built over the location!
It is a Venetian style monastery and has some nice artefacts, such as antique chandeliers, and an impressive silver icon of the Archangel, which is the Patron Saint of the island, as well as the protector of sailors.
We took a bus from the harbour and it leaves you in this beautiful monastery. You can walk around (there are some cafes etc) and then the same bus can take you to Marathounda beach which is really close! More about this beach in a while!
#visit the beaches
- Nimborio Beach – This is a small pebble beach with crystal water and it isn’t too far from the harbour. You can dine at one of the local restaurants for delicious seafood. It is accessible by car or boat.
- Agia Marina. Let’s start with the note that this is not exactly a natural beach. But it has a nice restaurant on the beach and the highlight is the small island straight opposite the beach with a church on it, where you and your children can reach swimming (really close!).
- Saint Nicholas Beach: A nice beach with a tavern and sunbeds and umbrellas.
- Saint George bay: Personally I think this is the best beach on the island! It is a rocky beach with crystal waters. There is an almost 300m high, vertical rock that stands behind the beach and creates a breathtaking landscape! It’s only is accessible by boat and please don’t’ forget some water and supplies as there is nothing else there!
- Nanou Beach: I like this pebble, picturesque beach with cypresses and clear water. You can reach it by taxi boat or on foot, (around 40′). It has many umbrellas, sunbeds and a tavern.
- Marathounda Beach – This is a nice pebble beach with beautiful crystal water and a nice taverna with tasty food. You reach the beach by bus or boat.
- Pedi Beach – For me, it is not a great beach but a great place for those who are looking for peace and quiet.
Where to stay on Symi island?
Here you present 3 choices, but we have written a dedicated post with all the best hotels in Symi, so you can have a better look here!
Royal Villa Pedi – Pedi
If you’re a big family or large group then Royal Villa Pedi is a nice and luxurious accommodation that can sleep 12 and includes its own private pool and has an amazing interior design. More Information Here!
This is my favourite place to stay in Symi and my first choice when I visit the island. The apartment is clean with its own character and it is literally 5 meters from the sea. You will definitely enjoy the morning or even better the afternoon views from the balcony. But the big plus is Fotini, the owner, who is super helpful and with a big smile and whenever she has some time extra time, she can surprise you with some nibbles, coffee or a snack. More Information Here!
It’s a beautiful and nicely renovated old house very close to the harbour. The host, Mike is very warm and helpful. And it was incredibly clean! More Information Here!
How to move around?
As we have mentioned before the taxi boats are the easiest way to discover the beaches and you can visit 2-3 different a day. Other than that there is the bus that covers the basic places of the island like the Monastery of Archangel Micheal Panormitis church etc. There is always the choice of renting a car and there are quite a few options!