symi island holidays
As you glimpse the perfectly formed harbour of Symi island for the first time you are confronted with a beautiful picture-postcard Venetian village. Aristocratic and far off the model of mass tourism, Symi has a true romantic charm enhanced by the lack of any high-rise hotel developments found on other islands.
Symi island lies just a few nautical miles NW of Rhodes and the Turkish coastline. With a surface of 58,1 sq. kms and a coastline of 85 kms it is mountainous and rocky and surrounded by islets, the biggest ones being Nimos and Sesklia which can all be visited with caiques, or small boats.
Wonderfully well-preserved two and three storey mansions with their facades painted in bright and vivid colors reflect the island's rich past since Symi was once one of the richest islands with a tradition in sponge diving, ship building and wood carving. The divers of Symi were renowned – just think that they were the ones who inaugurated the diving suit! Symi is one of the first settlements in Greece that were characterized as being part of our wold heritage, hence remains unspoilt.
Symi island has its own sophisticated and artsy audience. Fans of intense nightlife and crowded, cosmopolitan beaches will not find pleasure here, as the island’s nightlife is lounge while the beaches are usually accessed by boat or water taxi. Symi is an ideal place for relaxing holidays, trekking the old paths and ... why not taking a trip to Turkey across.
symi | cultural INFORMATION
The history of Symi goes back to ancient times. Aigli, Metapontis and Kariki are some of Symi's ancient names where according to mythology the Graces were born. Symi got its current name from the nymph Symi, who according to the myth mated with Neptune (God of Seas) and brought to life Hthonios who became the leader of the island's first inhabitants.
Symi, small and barren, associated its name to the nautical tradition from the very ancient years. Glafkos who was a very good swimmer and sailor, taught his abilities to the island's inhabitants. Homer mentions Symi in the Heliade, for its participation in the Trojan war, headed by the Symiot King Nireas.
In 1309 the island is conquered by the Knights of St. John while at the same time begins a time of prosperity for the island wher shipping, sponge commerce, boat building and other crafts flourish. The Symiots became known as sailors, fishermen and sponge divers and brought wealth and fame to their island. Symi was conquered by the Turks in 1522 but the Symiots gained the grant of many special privileges such as the freedom of religious expression and speech which allowed them to mark great progress in letters and crafts and build shcools such as the Aghia Marina Academy (1756-1821), etc.In 1832 Symi was found under the Turkish dominion which was followed in 1912 by the Italian dominion. At last, it was on Symi that on March 8th 1948 the Protocol of integration of all Dodecanese islands to the Greek state was signed.
- Symi Archaeological & Folklore Museum (Chorio)
Housed in a neoclassical mansion it comprises a representation of a traditional Symiot house, local costumes and an archaeological collection of findings from the Classical to the Byzantine period.
- Symi Naval Museum (Gialos)
Housed in one of the most representative neoclassical houses of Gialos it exhibits Symi's brilliant naval history. It disposes of a special section dedicated to sponge diving with exhibits such as: diving suits, diving machines for oxygen production, a collection of sponges, etc.
What to see
• Monastery of Archangel Michael in Panormitis
• Ancient stone wine presses - Today 11 stone wine presses have been reconstructed using the fallen authentic rock-parts of theirs at Kourkouniotis area, where a visit through the stunning cypress forest is really a unique experience.
For more information (currently the site supports only greek though) and photographs, visit: www.patitiria.com
• Remains of a Paleochristian basilica - Nimborios
• Pontikokastro" (a prehistoric tumulus) near the windmills of Chorio
• “Spetsaria” – the old Pharmacy in Chorio
• The clock tower in Yialos built in 1881 and the statue of “Michalakis” representing the little fisher boy
• The historic Kampsopoulou building where the Dodecanese islands' surrender by the Germans to the Allies was signed.
• The island’s cathedral in Yialos (St. John) with its magnificent pebble mosaic yard (white and black pebbles)
• The church of Panagia Myrtariotissa (with paintings of the 18th century), where there are celebrations for the Announciation on the 15th of August
• The fortress-like monastery of Michael Roukouniotis (with frescoes of the 15th century).
symi | Villages
The island's of Symi has two main settlements - Yialos (the port) and Chorio (otherwise known as Ano Symi) and a few other smaller settlements : Nimborios, Pedi, Marathounda.
There is also a big monastery complex, Panormitis, where around 30 people live and take care of the monastery. In the interior of Symi there is a road that leads from Yialos to Panormitis and you can go either by car, or by bus or on foot through a pined, cypressed, holm - oaked forest. This is a walk you can do alone or with the help of guides, who are appointed by tourist offices.
Yialos settlement starts from the portand and stretches on the outskirts of the surrounding hills. Take a stroll on the port's central road to admire the Municipal Clock Tower built in 1881, the statue of the young fisherman "Michalaki" by the famous Symiot sculptor C. Valsamis and the historical "Kampsopoulou" building where the surrender of the Dodecanese islands by the Germans to the Allies was signed. Walking towards the island's central square "Kambos", you will come upon the Monument of the Fallen Soldier, the recently renovated Naval Museum and the church of Ag. Ioannis with its magnificent pebbled yard.
Continue your tour on the other side of the port (behind the Clock Tower) where you will find the island's shipyard and the church "Panaghia tou Evangelismou" that stands above it welcoming boats and visitors. Following the road you will come upon Nos, one of the island's most popular beaches and right accross it standing midseas, you will see the little islet of Nimos. The stroll ends at Nimborios, a seaside settlement where one can enjoy its crystal clear waters.
The continuation of Yialos all the way up the hill and around the Old Castle of Symi forms the capital of the island, Chorio. In Chorio which is split into districts, you will visit the remains of the Castle of the Knights of St. John inside which lies the church of the Virgin of the Castle ("Panaghia tou Kastrou"). Take long walks through the cobbled streets of Chorio and spend some time visiting the beautiful churches that present great interest for their frescoes and icon screens. Visit "Pontikokastro" (at the windmills) which is a circular construction presumed to be a prehistoric tumulus. Admire the windmills which are what is left of the 20 windmills from when Symi numbered around 30,000 inhabitants. From up there you will have a wonderful view to the verdant plains of the seaside settlement of Pedi. On the piazzas of Aleminas (with its historic cafe) and Ai-Thanassis, enjoy the colors of Symi, there where once upon a time took place the feasts of the sponge divers before embarking for their long journeys.
Nimborios is a sea resort with a small pebbly beach. A retreat spot ideal for walks starting from Nos beach and ending here. The houses are almost built on the water!
In the valley between southern Yialos and Chorio is the beautiful bay of Pedi. It is located 2 kms east of Symi town and only 10 minutes on foot from Chorio. Pedi is a small traditional fishing village with a small beach. The village is quite peaceful and counts only some excellent fish taverns and a few seaside accommodations. Pedi is popular for its stunning surroundings, crystalline beach and enchanting landscape, almond orchards and olive groves. Pedi is easy to reach while it is part of the bus route from Symi town. Visitors enjoy the local recipes and cold drinks with a nice view to the bay. Pedi village is ideal for families and for those who want a relaxing holiday.
Its unspoilt character will impress you.
symi | BEACHES
Symi’s majority of beaches are reached by daily excursion boats. There are taxi boats that depart from the port and usually return early in the afternoon or larger boats that organize daily island tours or trips to neighboring Daca in Turkey.
Only by boat
- Ai Giorgis Dissalonas : possibly the most impressive beach of the island. Only by boat. It is in front of a vertical 300m high rock. A climbing route has been designed there.
- Fokospilia : A small pebbly beach is hidden in a little cave that is the refuge of seals
- Agios Vasilios : It has fanatic supporters - pebby beach with fantastic views of the hills and the wild cypress trees
- Nanou : Large pebbles – Sunbeds and umbrellas offered by the only tavern on the beach.
- Agios Nicolaos : Sandy beach with tree shade. Can be reached by boat or on foot from Pedi beach.
- Seskli – Nimos : neighboring islets with wonderful beaches
- Agia Marina : Mini beach - tavern that offers sunbeds. Can also be reached on foot.
- Nos : The closest beach to Symi town, Yialos. Organized with sunbeds, umbrellas. There is a tavern.
- Nimborios : Small pebble beach resort with narrow coast and clean water. Some tamarisk trees provide shade. There is a tavern (accessible also by taxi boat).
- Pedi : small sandy beach well protected by winds – ideal for families 2 kmS west of SYmi Town. Part of this small beach is organized with sun beds and umbrellas. A few fish taverns line the beach.
- Marathounda : Crystal clear water – large pebbles – free sunbeds offered by the unique tavern on the beach.
- No airport
- Local bus service, Taxis, Car, moto rentals
- Health Center
- Boat rentals
- Gialos Health Office : 22460 71290
- Chorio Health Office : 22460 71316
- Pharmacy : 22460 71888
- Dentist Cabinet : 22460 71272
- Police : 22460 71111
- Town Hall : 22460 70110
- Harbourmaster : 22460 71205
- Customs Office : 22460 71249
- Post Office : 22460 71315
Symi has no airport.
By air: The best way is to fly to the nearby island of Rhodes (appx. 50’ from Athens airport) - from there, there are daily sea connections to Symi (appx. 45’ – 90’) with local sea agencies.
By sea: By boat from Pireaus port to nearby island of Rhodes with Blue Star Ferries (duration of trip appx. 16 hrs from Pireaus port), from there you will catch a local boat to go across to Symi.
Alternatively, there is a twice weekly service between Piraeus and Rhodes via Symi island provided by GA Ferries. This service is usually not offered during the winter so check with the company for more details. Appx. time of trip 17 hrs.
Symi is not a very big island but not that small! There are car/motorbike rentals agencies, taxis and local municipal buses with very frequent schedules that go to all of the island's settlements.
Lakis : +30 6945 316 248
Panormitis : +30 22460 71311
George : +30 6974 623492
Kostas : +30 6945 252308
Stamatis : +30 6945 226348
Thanasis : +30 6946 568731
Thodoris : +30 6945 273842
symi | SPORTS & ACTIVITIES
Sailing & Yachting
The endless coastline of the Dodecanese islands and the fact that many of them are close to each other are ideal for visiting these islands with your own or a rented sail or motor boat. There are many sailing agencies that offer such options.
The only Dodecanese islands that dispose of marinas are Nisyros, Rhodes, Kos, Tilos, Astypalaia and Leros.
Symi : 21.7 NM north west of Rhodes island, safe mooring, deep water with muddy sea bed, access to water, fuel, telephone, electricity, mecahnic and spare parts.
Festivals & Events
- 24th of June - St. John (Grapes)
- Pentecost - Panormitis
- Trinity - Trinity at the Village
- 17th of July - St. Marina at the homonym isle
- 20th of July - Prophet Elias
- 6th of August - The Saver at Nimborios, at the Megalos Sotiris
- 15th of August - Panagia Alithini and Panagia Myrtariotissa
- 24th of August - Panagia Ipakoi at Nimos and Panagia Alithini
- 8th of November - Archangels | Panormitis and Michael Roukouniotis
Excursions & SportsThere are no organized water sports in Symi. There are excursion boats that do daily tours of the island. Alternatively you can take a day trip to neighboring Turkey (Daca); passport requested.
Climbing: The beach of Ai Giorgis (St George) of Dysalonas is not just one of the most spectacular beaches on Symi, but also an international destination for climbers from all over the world who every summer visit Ai Giorgis and its 360 metre high vertical rockface.
Trekking: There is an important network of trails
A week on Rhodos and a week on Symi island are the perfect match for a fortnight in the Dodecanese islands of Greece. Symi may also easily be combined with the neighboring islands of Tilos, Chalki or Kastellorizo.