What makes Symi so special is its beautiful architecture, colourful houses and laidback atmosphere. The port of Symi is an absolute beauty catching your eye as soon as your boat turns the final cliffs before the bay of Symi Town. The setting oozes an irresistible charm and you cannot wait to put your feet on the ground. This place is an ultimate spot for sunset gazing and romantic walks!
The port of Symi is the heart of the island. From here you can visit many little villages and beaches within a walking distance. The beaches are small, clean, and washed by mesmerizing, crystal-clear waters. A few are organized, the rest are secluded and some of them can only be reached by boat, like the stunning beach of Saint George. Symi offers ideal holidays for families and couples who seek to relax far away from the hustle and bustle.
Where is Symi Greece?
Symi is a mountainous Greek island belonging to the Dodecanese island group. The settlements on the island include the harbor of Symi and its adjacent upper town Ano Symi, as well as several smaller settlements, beaches, and areas of significance in history and mythology.Read more
Geographically, Symi is located about 41 km northwest of Rhodes (and 425 km from Piraeus, the port of Athens), with 58 km² of mountainous terrain. Its nearest land neighbors are the Datça and Reşadiye peninsulas of Muğla Province in Turkey. Its interior is dotted with small valleys, and its coastline alternates between rocky cliffs and beaches, and isolated coves. Its main town, located on the northeast coast, is also named Symi and consists of the lower town around the harbour, typically referred to as Yialos, and the upper town is called Horio or Ano Symi. Other inhabited settlements are Pedi, Nimborio, Marathounda and Panormitis. Panormitis is the location of the island’s famous monastery which is visited by people from all over the world, and many Greeks pay homage to St Michael of Panormitis each year. In addition to its many historical sites, the island’s isolated beaches, many reachable only with small boats, are popular with tourists.
The shipbuilding and sponge industries were substantial on the island and, while at their peak near the end of the 19th century, the population reached 22,500. Symi’s main industry is now tourism and the population has declined to 2,500.
Map of Symi
How to get to Symi Greece?
A ferry connection between Symi and Athens is available about three times a week, but the trip is rather long, lasting approximately 20 hours. A more convenient way to travel to Symi from Athens would be to reach Rhodes by plane within one hour and then to travel to Symi by ferry from Rhodes port. Symi is also connected by ferry from Kalymnos, Patmos, Tilos, and Leros.
Airport near Symi
The closest airport to Symi is located on Rhodes island. Rhodes International Airport “Diagoras” is one of the four most busy airports in Greece, receiving domestic flights from Athens, Thessaloniki, and other towns. In the summer months it receives direct flights from many countries around Europe, as well.
Day tours from Rhodes island
You can also choose to go sightseeing in Symi on a day trip from Rhodes harbour. The trips last 8 hours and usually make two stops in Symi – one in Symi Town and one at St. George’s beach, where you can swim from the rear of the boat for an hour.
What to do in Symi Greece?
Symi is a small and quiet island with only a limited number of things to do besides swimming in the stunning blue sea from the secluded beaches around the rocky island. Symi is a place of total relaxation, where you spend the afternoons lunching at the seaside taverns and the evenings under the stars with a drink in a lounge café-bar. One special activity in Symi is hiking along the many old footpaths crisscrossing the island, leading you to secluded beaches, tiny chapels, small settlements, and hilltops with a stunning view to the deep blue sea. During the hot summer months hiking long trips can be uncomfortable. Autumn and spring are the best seasons for hiking in Symi.
What to see in Symi Greece?
The Holy Monastery of Panormitis
In Symi the most important sightseeing is the Holy Monastery of Panormitis, protector of the island. It is located on the southern coast of Symi, and you can visit it on a boat trip from Simi Town or from Rhodes island. Do not miss a stroll in the picturesque town of Simi, enjoying its medieval style and breathtaking sea views. Try to follow the street “Kali Strada” to the top and you will be rewarded with a spectacular view.
The Venetian castle of Symi was built on the site of a byzantine castle by the Knights of Saint John. It rises above Symi Town from a hill with great views of the habour below.
In Gialos you find the nautical museum of Symi hosting ship models, compasses, maritime instruments, and old maps, as well as old diving uniforms and other items depicting the long nautical history of Symi.
Archaeological and Folklore Museum
In the town of Symi the Archaeological museum of Symi is housed in an elegant Venetian mansion. The collection includes Hellenistic sculptures, grave offerings, small statues, and ancient coins. The Folklore Museum housed in the same mansion exhibits rare Byzantine manuscripts, traditional clothing and musical instruments.
Byzantine Wine Presses
The many wine presses found around the island of Symi mainly date from the Byzantine era. More than 120 presses were recently (1992) discovered scattered all over Symi.
Monastery of Roukouniotis
The Monastery of Roukouniotis dates from the 15th century and looks like a fortress with tall walls overviewing the rocky landscape.
Symi Beach Guide
Find the 8 best beaches in Symi here below.
- Nos Beach – Sandy, family friendly, located 300 meters from Symi Town
- Nimborio of Emborios Beach – Pebbled, family friendly, located 3 km northwest of Symi Town
- Pedi Beach – Pebbled, family friendly, located 2 km west of Symi Town
- Gialos Beach – Pebbled, Harbour, located 1 km northwest of Symi Town
- Panormitis Beach – Pebbled, located 12 km south of Symi Town
- Beach between town and Nimborio Beach – Pebbled, located one km northwest of Symi Town
- St George Bay – Pebbled, accessible only by boat
- Nanou Bay – Pebbled, accessible only by boat
Weather and climate in Symi
During high summer season the weather in Symi is characterized by hot days with warm breezes. This makes Symi a great destination for summer holidays, especially from June to September. If you want to enjoy hiking trips in Symi or just a bit lower temperature the autumn and spring seasons are gorgeous as well.
What does “Symi” mean?
In Greek mythology, Symi is reputed to be the birthplace of the Charites and to take its name from the nymph Syme (in antiquity the island was known as Aigli and Metapontis).Read more
Modern history of Symi
The island, along with the rest of the Dodecanese, changed hands several times in the 20th century: in 1912 the Dodecanese declared independence from the Ottomans as the Federation of the Dodecanese Islands, though they were almost immediately occupied by Italy. The island was formally ceded to Italy in 1923, and on 12 October 1943 it was occupied by the Nazis. At the end of World War II, the surrender of German forces in the region took place on Symi and the island was subject to several years of occupation by the British. Symi was finally rejoined with Greece in 1948. The island has become a haven for tourists from abroad, especially British and Italians, and is now the permanent home of about 120 non-Greek residents, some 50 of whom are British. The influx of tourists has led to the restoration of a great number of homes (many of which were destroyed during World War II); these restorations, by law, have to conform to “guidelines laid down by the Greek culture ministry’s Archaeological Service.”