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Symi is part of the Dodecanese islands and it is located 41 km north-west from Rhodes. Symi is considered the most colourful island of the Dodecanese because of the coloured houses that you will see immediately arriving on the island. The main village is wonderful and it appears to have been painting for how colourful and nice it looks. This village is often referred to as Symi and it is divided in two parts: Gialòs near the port and Choriò by the hills.
Symi is connected to many other islands of the Dodecanese besides Samos in the Northern Aegean and Piraeus (Athens). There are daily catamarans to Rhodes, that once a week set from Palormitis (the other port of the island) but the route Symi-Rhodes is the main one. There are also frequent ferries that travel to Kos.
Why choose Symi?
If you choose Symi as your next destination the first thing you will notice is how much different this island is compared to the others. If you are used to the typical white and blue houses in the Cyclades islands you will see how much more colourful buildings become in the Dodecanese, and especially in Symi.
Symi is considered a paradise for snorkeling thanks to the transparent water that makes the boats look like if they were floating! The mediterranean smell of herbs like oregano and rosemary will accompany you while you discover the island’s sponge fishing and naval history.
You will find nice restaurants by the sea besides the many taverns that offer Ouzo and Meze to drink while you are having some delicious Greek food like fresh fish and shellfish. Some typical dishes that you will find on the island are: chickpeas with dill, cabbage leaves stuffed with beans, fishballs, goat cheese and the delicious tiny prawns fished directly in Symi’s coast… a true delicacy!
There aren’t many beaches on Symi. This island in the Dodecanese hasn’t got long and sandy beach. It’s deep sea bed covered with flat stones and rocks are perfect for people that like snorkeling or enjoy long swims. The main beaches are well equipped and surrounded by taverns. A small boat is the ideal vehicle to reach the most hidden beaches of the island. Here are the most famous ones:
Agios Emilianos beach
A beach covered in pebbles with crystal clear waters located in the western part of the island. Here you will find the beautiful chapel of Agios Emilianos. The beach can only be reached by boat and it doesn’t offer any service for the tourists that visit it.
Agios Georgios Disalonas beach
A beach covered in pebbles with emerald coloured waters located on the eastern part of Symi. It is the nicest beach of the island also thanks to the 300 meter cliff just behind it. The beach can be easily reached either by wlaking through a path or by boat.
Agia Marina beach
Located north-east from Symi, in the northern part of Pedi bay, Agia Marina can be reached by car, on foot or by getting a water taxi. There is also a tavern where you will have the chance to eat something after snorkeling in these lovely waters.
Agios Nikolaos beach
A sandy beach with bright blue waters and pine trees located on the eastern part of the island. The beach is well equipped with sunbeds, beach umbrellas and a tavern. It can be easily reached by following a path from Pedi or by renting a boat.
Agios Vasilios beach
A beach covered in pebbles with crystal clear waters located in the western part of the island. Agios Vasilios is surrounded by cypresses and it is a paradise for people looking for peace and quietness while watching a beautiful sunset. The easiest way to access the beach is by boat. The beach unfortunately isn’t equipped with anything a tourist may need.
Located in a bay south from Pedi this beach is covered by pebbles and rounded stones. There is a tavern near the beach besides many sunbeds that can be rented and a tavern. The fact of being so close to some cliffs makes it a perfect spot for snorkeling.
Located north-west of Gialos this beach can be easily reached on foot or by car. It is well equipped with any service a tourist may need and there is even a tavern. This bay is covered in flat stones and has emerald coloured waters taht make it one of the most beaches of the island.
Covered in pebbles and sand this beach is the closest one to Gialos and it is located not far away from the clock-tower of the island. There is also a tavern that you will have to go through before reaching the beach and for this reason this place is often very crowded.
A lovely beach covered in pebbles with crystal clear waters located on the south-western part of the island. This is one of the most fascinating areas of the island also thanks to the fact that it is very close to Panormitis monastery. Because of the closeness with the monastery nudism is forbidden
A natural bay with crystal clear waters located on the north-eastern part of the island. There are many beaches one next to each other here and they are all perfect for snorkeling and exploring the marine life that lives in this bay. There are also some taverns nearby that serve some delicious fresh fish.
Symi is an ideal location if you like snorkeling and trekking, the sea is crystal clear and many taxi boats accompany tourists to visit small and hidden creeks on a daily basis. Symi is almost completely barren and hardly has any vegetation. There are long paths where to go walking, just be careful about the sun as it can be quite strong during the hottest months of the year.
Relax and nightlife in Symi
Symi is a great compromise if you are looking for both relax and adventure while visiting lonely beaches with uncontaminated waters. The clubs and bars are open until late at night and are almost all located on Gialos’ coast.
Boat trips to Symi
This is certainly one of the best activities you can choose from when visiting Symi. There are many places that are inaccessible via land but can be easily reached with a boat. The boat trip includes a barbecue on board or a grilled meal by the beach. Another option is to visit the small islands that surround Symi or take a trip to the Turkish coasts, discovering the Aegean sea.
In Symi besides swimming in the crystal clear waters you will also have the chance to visit one of the local health centers where you will receive massages, beauty creams, pilates and many other things that will make you feel fresh at the end of the day.
Snorkeling and diving centers
The island’s beautiful coasts give you the chance to explore the island’s coast in a wonderful atmosphere. Suitable for both amateurs and professionals all the centers offer courses for learning different sports and rent all the equipment you might need. The trips are organized on a daily basis.
Discovering the island’s culture
Remember not to forget about the cultural aspects, monuments and colourful houses when visiting Symi. We also suggest you visit the knights castle located on the tallest point of Ano Symi. The fortress was built on the remains of Symi’s old acropolis by St. John’s knights in 1407 with the idea of improving the island’s defenses.
At the main entrance you will notice a symbol that represents the nights that once lived here. The outside walls surrounding it are all that is left from the original construction.
On the island of Symi it is possible to move around independently by renting a vehicle, by taking the local bus line or a taxi. On the island you will also have a chance to rent a car or a scooter. But being such a small island and having only one road we recommend renting a scooter or taking a taxi.
Moving around Symi by bus or by taxi boat
There is a bus service that connects the port of Gialos to Padi beach and runs through Horio and Panormitis, unfortunately the timetables aren’t very reliable and especially during the summer you might need to wait quite a bit. The best solution still remains taking a taxi boat and having the chance to visit all the island’s most inaccessible areas. Given the absence of roads choosing to take a taxi is still the best option.
L’isola di Symi non ha un aeroporto ed è quindi raggiungibile solo via mare. Vediamo dunque le varie soluzioni su come arrivare a Symi tramite traghetto.
The island of Symi doesn’t have an airport and can only be reached by boat. Let's see the different options to choose from:
Reaching Symi from Rhodes
The quickest and cheapest way to reach the island of Symi is to go through Rhodes. The island of Rhodes has an international airport and is served by direct flights. Once you have landed in the airport you will have to reach the city’s port to reach Symi.
There are many ferries that run on a daily basis and connect Rhodes to Symi. Dodekanisos Airways ferries take 50 minutes to reach Symi (the price is usually around 13,50 €) while the company Anes takes around 1 hour and 30 minutes (the price is usually around 11,50 €).
How to reach Symi from Kos
Another gateway to Symi is the island of Kos. Once landed at the international airport, reach the main port of Kos and embark for Symi. The ferries are not as daily as for Rhodes, and take about 1h and 30 minutes or 3h depending on whether you take the fast catamaran or the simple ferry.
Then there are other Greek islands with an airport near Symi, where you can land and take a ferry from there. These are islands with internal flights only, so they need a stopover in Athens to reach them. The islands are: Kalymnos (2 hours by ferry) and Leros (3 hours).
Most accommodations and hotels in Symi are located in Gialos and often have higher prices than most other islands of the Dodecanese. Symi is usually very crowded and many tourists rent all the neoclassical villas so if you want to rent one you may have to try a few months in advance. In Horio you will find many hotels and villas.
Where to spend the night in Symi
Almost all hotels are run by local families and offer every kind of comfort. Usually the owners are happy to meet you directly and often offer a discount. The owners can also help you to find a car or scooter at a good price.
The villas in Symi
One of the best solutions for finding an accommodation in Symi is to rent a neoclassical villa. The owner can usually be reached directly on the island and this way you will probably obtain a discount. Often the owners are very kind and even gift people fresh fruit and products of the island. Like previously said many owners will help you to rent a vehicle.
Apartments and studios
Most apartments and studios in Symi are located close to the port, the prices are lower than hotel ones and way lower than the price for a villa. The cheapest option to choose from is to rent a classic traditional Greek studios. Also in this case the best way to rent an apartment or studios is to contact directly the owners once you arrive on the island.