Luckily for visitors, Rhodes enjoys a close proximity to Symi Island, which can easily be reached by ferry from Mandraki Harbor in Rhodes Old Town. Upon approaching Symi port, you will be greeted by a number of colorful fishing boats bobbing in the harbor and an expanse of neoclassical island homes stretching up the hillside. Gialos is the main harbor on Symi and the island’s capital. From here it is easy to rent a scooter for the day, which is definitely the best way to see the island’s sites! If you are looking for a regionally appropriate souvenir, buy yourself a natural sea sponge. Symi’s fishermen have been widely respected as some of the Aegean’s most courageous sponge divers for centuries!
The 15th century monastery of the village of Panormitis is amongst the island’s main attractions. The monastery is dedicated to Symi’s patron saint, the Archangel Michael. Many boats will stop over for an hour or so on their way into Gialos, making it a convenient part of your day trip.
Situated on the hill overlooking Gialos is the village of Chorio. Those who do not wish to enlist a scooter for the day will have to contend with the “Kali Strata”, a long stepped-street leading up to the village. Regardless, the slope is gentle and the steps are mercifully spaced. The top can easily be reached in 15 minutes. Chorio’s streets are narrow, dotted with herb sellers, and lined with neo-classic dwellings. The 19th century apothecary is one of the town’s highlights. It is located near the peak of the village, where you will get the best panoramic views of the city and the harbor.
If beaches are what you seek, then head over to the small coastal village of Pedi. There are a few options for accommodations, and a number of welcoming tavernas. If you want secluded relaxation, off the grid and away from fellow tourists, head to the beautiful Marathounda Bay. It is located roughly 45 minutes away from the main harbor on scooter, and is one of Symi’s best kept secrets. There is nothing at Marathounda except for an exceptional natural backdrop and crystalline waters, so be sure to bring whatever you are going to need, including water, sunscreen and a towel.
Getting Around Symi
If you’re coming to Symi just for the day, the most convenient and affordable option is to rent a scooter. There are a few scooter rental shops in Gialos just steps from where the ferry docks. If you plan to stay for a couple of days, and wish to access some of the island’s more remote beaches, we recommend renting a compact car.
Due to its size, Symi has a limited amount of restaurants. The majority of them are clustered in and around Gialos. As a general rule, the restaurants closest to the ferry terminal are the priciest. There are also a handful of eateries along the Kali Strata (350 steps) and the village square in Chorio.
Symi’s best hotels are centered around the harbor, many of which boast water views and apartment-style guest rooms.
Article by Ana Lambrakopoulos