Symi, a small island with its traditional charm, exudes the splendor of its old capital. Despite being mountainous, rocky, barren, and arid, it still rewards even the most demanding visitor. With just over 2,500 inhabitants, the island is characterized by stunning vegetation in the mountains and beautiful beaches hidden among rocks.
History of Symi
Symi has been inhabited since prehistoric times. Some of the names mentioned are Kariki, Metapontis, Aigle, and Symi, named after the wife of Glaukos, who is considered the first inhabitant of the island. It is speculated that the original inhabitants were the Carians and the Phoenicians. Later, the Dorians arrived.
In antiquity, Symi was also known by other names such as Kariki, Elcusa, Aigle, and Metapontis, which were earlier names. In Homer's Iliad, it is mentioned that its king, Nereus, led three ships to Troy. Symi has always been part of the territory of the Rhodians.
Its history in later years parallels that of the other islands of the Dodecanese. Initially, it came under Roman rule and later became part of the Byzantine Empire until 1309 when it was conquered by the Knights of the Order of Saint John of Rhodes. Recognizing the privileged position of the island, they propelled it into a long period of prosperity, associated with the development of trade, navigation, sponge fishing, and shipbuilding.
In 1522, it fell into the hands of the Turks. The occupation lasted until 1912 when the island came under Italian control. The Italian occupation was particularly harsh for the inhabitants, who experienced years of great poverty. The Italian sovereignty ended in 1943. It definitively came under British control on September 25, 1944. On May 8, 1945, German military commander of the Dodecanese, Otto Wagener, signed the Protocol of Surrender of the Dodecanese to the Allies. Present at the signing were British Major Muffatt, the commander of the Sacred Band of Chivalry, an Indian, and a French officer. The Germans wanted the islands to be handed over to the Greeks, but the British did not accept this and later sought to make the islands a province of the British Commonwealth. On March 31, 1947, the Protocol of Surrender was signed in Greece, and the British Military Administration handed over duties to the Greek Administration. The final integration and handover of the Dodecanese to mainland Greece took place on March 7, 1948.
Today, the island has become a paradise for tourists from foreign countries, mainly the British and Italians.
Beaches in Symi
- Aghios Georgios Dysalona, the largest beach in Symi, impresses with its crystal-clear turquoise waters and stunning scenery as it touches a vertical rock towering 300 meters high, offering endless views of the azure sea. It takes its name from the homonymous church located atop the cliff. Access to this beach is only possible by sea.
- Mountainous, sun-drenched, and full of beauty, Nanou Beach is considered the most impressive on the island. Its large pebbles, deep green waters, and cypress trees casting shadows on the sea create a paradise. It is fully organized with sunbeds and a taverna. Access is only by sea, but it is worth visiting if you choose to explore Symi.
- Nos Beach is one of the popular beaches on Symi, located a short distance from the town of Symi. Despite being organized, it combines a cosmopolitan atmosphere with relaxation and tranquility. Its coastline is sandy, and its waters are crystalline. It's worth taking a walk from the Clock Tower in the harbor to reach and enjoy this beach.
- Marathounta Beach is one of the most beautiful and peaceful beaches on the island, with white pebbles and turquoise-green waters. It is fully organized with umbrellas, sunbeds, and a taverna where you can enjoy snacks and refreshing drinks. You can reach it by car, approximately 17 kilometers southeast of Chora. A charming element is the goats often wandering on the sandy shore.
- Agios Nikolaos Beach is a sandy beach with a few pebbles, trees providing natural shade, and shallow turquoise waters, ideal for families with children. It is very popular and offers amenities such as sunbeds and a taverna. At one end of the beach, you'll find the homonymous chapel of Agios Nikolaos."
I hope this paraphrase helps you describe the beaches of Symi in your own way.
Sights in Symi
- Walk along the Kalí Stráta, a path of 500 stone steps that connects Yialos with Ano Symi. This old commercial road crosses a magical scene with picturesque alleys, beautiful churches, impressive neoclassical mansions with eagles, moon gates, and tiled roofs, elaborate courtyards with pebble and decorative floors, charming shops, and a central square with lovely cafes and stunning views of the Aegean Sea.
- Explore the magnificent and beautiful town of Symi, one of the largest and most beautiful neoclassical cities in Greece. The mansions of wealthy captains and merchants, with colors of ochre, white, blue, salmon, and red, are like living paintings and captivate visitors.
- Don't miss the opportunity to visit the historic Monastery of Archangel Michael Panormitis, dating back to the 6th century. It is one of the major pilgrimages in the Aegean and you can admire its exquisite Byzantine frescoes and baroque bell tower.
- Visit the Archaeological and Folklore Museum of Symi, where you will find archaeological findings from the classical to the Byzantine period.
- Discover the island's maritime tradition at the excellent Naval Museum. Its collection is dedicated to the Symian sailors, merchants, and sponge divers.
- Walk along the path that traverses a forest with cypress trees in the area of Kourkounioti and you will encounter 11 restored Byzantine wine presses, which bear witness to the island's rich history of winemaking until the 18th century.
- Enjoy a romantic stroll in Yialos and admire the imposing Clock Tower (1881) and the statue of "Michalakis," the young fisherman with a fishing rod in hand.
- Marvel at the breathtaking view of the island from the Castle of the Knights (14th century), located at the highest point of Chora. You will admire the coat of arms of the Grand Masters on the fortifications and the Church of the Megali Panagia (Great Virgin) inside.
- Participate in the iconic Symi Festival (July-September), which takes place every year, featuring Greek and foreign artists. The festival offers a unique opportunity to enjoy music, dance, theater, and other artistic events.
Activities in Symi
- Take a pleasant stroll through the traditional settlement of Pedi, where you will encounter dense vineyards, olive groves, and fruit-bearing trees. The walk through this picturesque landscape will relax you and allow you to enjoy nature.
- You can climb up to Pontikokastro and behold the 20 windmills that were once used for grinding grain. Today, some of them have been converted into residences, adding a special charm to the landscape.
- For a day trip, visit the islets of Nimos and Sesklia, which have been declared archaeological sites. Nimos is renowned for its olive groves and the wildlife found there, while Sesklia stands out for its beautiful beaches and springs.
- Don't miss the opportunity to enjoy a coffee at the traditional cafes by the waterfront in the harbor. There, you will experience the atmosphere of local life and have the chance to meet the locals while enjoying the sea view.
- Remember to acquire a wooden sculpture from the craftsmen of Symi as a souvenir of your visit to the island. The craftsmen of Symi are known for their ability to create beautiful wooden artworks.
- Also, visit the Metropolitan Church of Agios Ioannis, with its elaborate courtyard made of pebbles and its stone bell tower. This church is an important spiritual center in Symi, and its architecture is impressive.
- Lastly, don't forget to take a walk in Emporeio, the island's second harbor, also known as the "twelve caves." These underground cellars and burial monuments offer an enigmatic character and have also been attributed to Byzantine painting and sculpture workshops. Visiting this place will transport you back in time and impress you with the history of Symi.
These are some of the suggestions to enjoy your visit to Symi and discover the island's rich cultural heritage and natural beauty.
How to travel to / from Symi?
Symi has ferry connections to various island destinations in the Aegean. Initially, it is connected by ferry to Athens via Piraeus. Additionally, there are ferry connections to Astypalea, Kalymnos, Lipsi, Kastellorizo, Kos, Leros, Nisyros, Patmos, Agathonisi, Rhodes, and Tilos. The ferry companies serving Symi are Blue Star Ferries and Dodekanisos Seaways.
Some popular ferry routes to and from Symi include the following:
- Ferry Routes Piraeus - Symi: Flying Dolphins and ships bound for Symi depart daily from Gate E1 of the Piraeus port. The cost of a one-way ticket starts at €63.5 and the journey takes 16.5 hours. The ship's route includes stops at the islands of Lipsi, Kalymnos, Kos, Nisyros and Tilos.
- Ferry Routes Symi - Rhodes: Book your ferry tickets on booktickets for the trip from Rhodes to Symi. There are frequent ferry connections, especially during the summer. At least two ships depart daily from Rhodes to Symi. The ferry journey takes approximately 1.5 hours. Tickets cost between €8 and €22.
- Ferry Routes Symi - Kos: Ferries from Kos to Symi operate almost daily during the peak season. The journey duration by hydrofoil is about 1.5 hours, while conventional ships take 2-5 hours. Tickets cost from €13 to €26.
- Ferry Routes Kalymnos - Symi: The companies that operate this route are Blue Star Ferries and Dodekanisos Seaways. The journey duration ranges from 2 to 5 hours depending on the type of ship. Ticket prices range from €18 to €39.
- Ferry Routes Patmos - Symi: Dodekanisos Seaways operates daily routes between Patmos and Symi. The ticket cost is €56, and the journey takes 5 hours.
Make your reservation for your trip to and from Symi by ferry with the ease and speed of our online booktickets system. Through the booktickets online ticket reservation system, you can instantly view real-time available prices and departures for ferries to and from Symi and book your tickets in just a few minutes.