Greece is worldwide known for its islands and many are considered to be an ideal destination for a vacation. In this article, I would like to talk to you about a hidden gem of the Dodecanese, the island of Symi. Located at the north of Rhodes, Symi is an island characterized by colorful houses and outstanding shores to swim. Whether you are traveling alone or with a company, there are a lot of things to experience.
How to get to Symi
After reading this article you may be interested in visiting Symi so allow me to tell you how someone can go there. To visit Symi you have to be in Rhodes, Kos or Bodrum (located in Turkey). The most convenient place to be to get to Symi is from Rhodes. The process is quite simple. First of all, it is recommended to pre-order your tickets from Dodekanisos Seaways. After that, you will have to take the boat from Rhodes Visitors Harbor located near the old town of Rhodes. You are then just one hour away from Symi. Dodekanisos Seaways offer a wide variety of connections in the Dodecanese area and their ships are quite modern with friendly personnel. You can find more information here.
The best things to do in Symi, Greece
Beaches of Symi
There are for sure a lot of things to do in Symi. First of all, I would suggest taking a taxi boat and go explore a private beach. Although it is not private (you don’t have to pay an extra fee), we call it that way, since there is a maximum of 25 people and it is very quiet. I choose the beach of Agia Marina since it was 10 minutes away with the taxi boat and included free sunbeds. The pebble beach of Agia Marina is characterized by tranquility and clear blue-green waters. There is also a small restaurant offering all kinds of food and special meals if you are traveling with kids. Prices are reasonable, and the personnel is very kind.
Other beaches you can visit are Nos Beach, Agios Nikolaos Beach and Marathounda Beach. All the above offer crystal clear waters and tranquility.
You should also visit Panormitis Monastery. It is not a common monastery; it is considered to be the religious emblem of Dodecanese. You can reach there by taking the boat or the bus. Bus transportation may be cheaper but if you ask me the journey through the sea is more beautiful. Panormitis is built in a bay and the monastery is dedicated to the Archangel Michael. Architectonically speaking, Panormitis has a stone-built interior and an amazing bell tower. In the monastery, there are also two small museums with a small entrance fee, worth visiting, along with some souvenir shops. Even for non-religious people, it is a worthwhile visit.
Archaeological & Folklore Museum
Another worth visiting place in Symi is the Archaeological & Folklore Museum of Symi. There you will get a small taste of the history of the island. The employee is also very hospitable! The museum entrance is free, and visitors can see there, traditional costumes and experience the folklore of the island. All in all, the museum itself is very interesting and full of local history, photographs, and works of art.
Last but not least, I highly recommend a walk to Kali Strata. You can either walk from Kali Strata located in the port of Symi and reach Chora or Chorio by climbing 500 steps or you can take the local bus, reach Chora and then walk down Kali Strata and reach the port of Symi. Prefer to do the second especially in the afternoon to enjoy a more romantic route. Infinite steps and cobbled streets, captain’s houses and mansions, some of them are also habitable, beautiful taverns and cafes and panoramic views of the port of Kato Symi are some of the things you can see. Neoclassical houses, blooming bougainvillea, imposing mansions can also be the perfect spot for awesome photos.
Extra Tip: Wear comfortable shoes and do not forget to bring some water.
The best way to get around the island
Symi is rather a small island, yet this island offers a lot of transport means. Some of them are cheap, while others are more expensive.
Getting around Symi by taxi. Taxis are expensive, and it is possible to wait in a queue for long during peak season. Moreover, it is not easy to find them because there are only 6 taxi drivers around the island.
Rent a scooter. Renting a scooter in Symi is an affordable way of transport. Plus, it’s very flexible and you won’t have any problem finding parking. Keep in mind that Symi has 3 central roads and in some cases taking the bus or the taxi boat may be more pleasant and less tiring.
Rent a car. Symi is not that large to rent a car but you can discover some hidden gems of the island while driving a car. I would suggest renting a car especially if you are traveling with friends (max 5 persons) to reduce all the other transportation costs. You can find information for scooter and car rentals here.
Take the local bus. Moving around Symi with the bus is the cheapest option. However, timetables are not on-demand available so this means that you will have to get more information upon arrival. There are 2 main connections. The first one, Yalos-Chorio-Pedi and the second one, Symi-Panormitis. The second route is operated 2 or 3 times a day depending on the season you are traveling. The 1st route cost around 1.50-1.70 euros one way while the 2nd route 4 euros one way. The basic advantage of the local bus is the low price.
Get around Symi by day or taxi boat. Your last option to get around Symi which I highly recommend is to use a day boat or taxi boat. The Taxi boats heading to the beaches range from c. €8 to €15, with a return, usually including sunbeds. Timetables are not available on demand but usually, taxi boats depart every 15 minutes. Moreover, information kiosks are everywhere, and some people speak good English. What day boats are considered, these are bigger ships which you can take from the harbor of Symi and go to other islands near Symi. However, if you do not have that much time it is not recommended to choose them.
Extra tip: Panormitis is accessible by both boats. If you wish to visit Panormitis choose the day boat because price rates are slightly lower.
The best way to get around Symi is a combination of walking and taxi boats. Boats are quite affordable and flexible. When traveling with friends choose to rent a car or a scooter. Traveling with the local busses is the cheapest option for a solo traveler or with a low budget. Though, finding timetable information is not so convenient. Finally, the taxi option is not recommended in any way.
Where to stay in Symi
Generally speaking, there are a lot of choices to choose from. All hotels and apartments are very close to the center so any hotel near that region would be a great choice. Keep in mind that Symi is rather a small island so booking in advance is a huge advantage. However, if you are looking for something fancier like pools and private suites this is not going to happen. Instead, you can enjoy all this pure luxury in Rhodes Island and simultaneously visit Symi. In Symi, you will find small apartments or hotels in the center of the town while offering the traditional hospitality of the Dodecanese. Here you can find all the hotels and apartments located in Symi.
The best time to visit Symi
The best time to visit Symi is not July nor August. Symi is a small island and tends to gather a lot of tourists at once, considering that the boat arrives once a day. So, a suggestion that I would make is to visit Symi in September. For me this is the most suitable month to experience Symi. Slightly decreased temperatures 30-35°C and less crowded. This means that you can enjoy more the island of itself. Moreover, hotel and rental prices tend to be slightly lower than those in the previous months.
Imagine walking on an island with picturesque buildings, hot air blowing in your face while you are ready to explore every corner of it. In the morning you can enjoy the sea and then taste the traditional Greek gastronomy in one of the many taverns. The local people of the island will make you feel welcome from the first moment you step on your foot. Don’t forget to take a walk around or on the island. However, if you are traveling with friends take another dip in the colorful waters of Symi. If you ask me, this is the ultimate paradise vacation.