Sými Island is the home to countless blanched roofs sprawling across the mountainside. It was once a wealthy shipbuilding and sponge diving island, to find our more about the history of Sými, visit the Maritime Naval Museum in Gialos. Nowadays, Sými is a very popular day trip destination for tourists staying in nearby islands such as Rhodes, Tilos and Kos. As such, we were one of those tourists to visit on this occasion.
The pastel painted houses constructed along the sloping hillside of Sými was breathtaking. So remember to get your cameras ready when approaching the port.
Our first stop was the Panorimitis Monastery on the south side of the island and you can catch a bus or taxi from the harbour. Alternatively, car and moped hire is also an option. Some facts about the monastery:
- Major Greek Orthodox pilgrimage site with Byzantine museum
- Overlooks the bay of Saint Michael
- Monastery dates back to 450AD
- You can rent out their spartan rooms for a nights stay.
Photography inside the church is strictly prohibited, but getting a glimpse, kissing the icons and lighting the candles (if you’re a believer), is definitely worth it. The church is small, but there is also a small museum on site to visit before catching the boat to Gialos.
The Main Town
The main town is separated between the harbour – Gialos and village – Chorio. Gialos (Yialos) Port displays a horseshow shaped collection of colourful neo-classical mansion houses. Which to it’s disadvantage traps in heat and prevents any sort of breeze from entering. Making the bay extremely hot in the summer months. Temperatures here can soar above 40°C, giving it a reputation of a cauldron. However, our trip proved to be quite pleasant, although it was hot, there was also a nice sea breeze.
As we walked up the harbour of Gialos, we appraoch the hillside village of Chorio (Horio). The views of the harbour from here is amazing, but it is not an easy walk. What must have been around 500 steps up took well over 1000 for us with a toddler who kept walking back and forth. So, if this is too hardcore, you can catch the Sými bus up to the top of the village and walk back down, which will make it an friendlier adventure for tired or little legs.
The Sými bus is a hourly service from the harbour to the village and Pedi Bay to 11 o’clock at night. It is very reliable and air conditioned! Very important in such extreme hot weather. However, I definitely think the climb is worth it as the path is lined with interesting 19th century mansions. Provides a breathtaking view of Gialos and also took us away from the hustle and bustle of the harbour.
Try to keep to the main stairway, called Kali Strata, that leads from Gialos to Chorio. This is because you can easily get lost amongst the maze of archways and alleys in Chorio. We managed to find some tavernas and mini markets in the Chorio village square and it was a very much welcomed break for #JasperBean’s little legs. His face was a picture of a red tomato, but still insisted to walk it himself. We did stray from the Kali Strata a bit and ended up on rocky paths, dangerous, but we managed to see its natural history and unfading history.
After a quick pitstop, we continued our walk around Chorio, which led us to Byzantine Kástro. This is the remnants of an older castle that was re-built by the knights of St John in the 14th century. It managed to sustain considerable wear and tear until the Second World War when it was blown up.
What to eat
The most famous and traditional food to eat in Sými is their mini shrimp. They are small, but so yummy! For friends and family who have missed out on visiting the island, pick up some prickly pear liqueur and honey sweets (akoumia) for them.
Want to learn more about about Symi?
If you have time, be sure to visit the:
- Archaeological Museum of Symi where the whole islands history is revealed in paintings, photographs and many other artefacts.
- old Pharmacy in Spetsaria, which not will you see the old glass containers of bygone years, but the classical Symi architecture of the building as well.
- Maritime Museum showing the history of sponge diving and how the island flourished in this trade.
- 12 caves, byzantine ruins and knights castle fortification in the Nimborio area.
- Like ols ruins and the history of Greece? Visit the Monte Smith, here you will find the ancient Acropolis with the Temple of Apollo, the old stadium and open air conservatory.
Fancy visiting one of the beaches on Symi?
The beautiful beaches, water and landscape of Greece was probably the first thing that captured your heart. So why not visit on of the many beautiful beaches on Symi? The only one accessible by foot is Nos Beach near Gialos and possibly Pedi, which has shallow water. All the others are accessible by boat from Gialos, but don’t let that put you off, because believe me, you will not regret going.
If nothing seems to have tickled your fancy, the incredible colour and super clear Aegean Sea water will definitely charm you! It certainly has left us wanting more. We will certainly be back for a longer stay.
How to get to Sými island?
There is no airport on the island, so the only way to get there is by boat. We took the Dodekanisos Seaways “Panagia Skiadeni” from Rhodes Commerical Port, with a return ticket costing €19.00 each for me and S. #JasperBean travelled for free. They have many offers all year round and at the time of travel, received a 40% discount on return and pre-booking.
Rhodes > Panormitis 1 hour 30 minutes
Panormitis > Sými (Gialos) 45 minutes
Sými > Rhodes 1 hour 45 minutes
- Bring water! Symi is the hottest place in Greece, so you do not want to be left dehydrated!
- Transport and taxi’s literally do not exist on Symi island, so you’ll be walking alot! wear decent shoes and don’t forget the suncream.
- If you don’t want to walk, there are scooter available for hire and a shuttle bus service between Gialos and Pedi during the high season. However, these can be a bit pricey, so make sure to enquire and plan before you travel.
- If you have toddlers who don’t like to walk or can’t walk far – then bring a sling! This is definitely not a buggy friendly island. Luckily for us, #JasperBean loves walking on raggedy roads!
Thank you for reading and hope you have enjoyed our adventure with us.
Love, MsMamaBean x
*Prices correct at the time of publishing.