Overview of Symi
Symi is a tiny gem in the Dodecanese complex; a Greek island that you fall in love at first sight, mainly thanks to its picture perfect port and capital, the first thing you see as you approach onboard. Symi once thrived as a ship building, sponge fishing and commerce industry, but began to decline in WWI, when steam power and artificial sponge made their appearance. Nowadays the island is not considered anymore only as a day-trip from the neighboring Rhodes.
Over the years it has gained many fans (celebrities, politicians and yacht owners included) and truly boasts of an unexpected cosmopolitan -yet down to earth- atmosphere. Mountainous and rocky Symi features a few nice beaches, most of which are accessible by boat, same as the surrounding islets. Despite its small size, the island has more than sufficient (and quality) accommodation and dining options, keeping tourism and tradition in balance. It is ideal for peaceful vacations and a popular hiking destination, too. Moreover, thanks to the well-known summer Symi Festival, as well as the many monasteries scattered all over, it also attracts numerous culture lovers and pilgrims.
All visitors simply adore the island’s capital, one of the most photogenic among the Greek islands. Gialos is a preserved settlement comprised of amphitheatrically built, gorgeous colorful Italian era mansions, the trademark Clock Tower (gr Roloi) and public buildings, as well as stylish waterfront cafes and tavernas. 500 steps (the so called “Kali Strata”) lead to the atmospheric Chorio, the capital’s old hilltop village, with more neoclassical houses, a maze of alleys, museums, the remains of the Knights’ of St John castle and the church of Panagia tou Kastrou, among other sights. Elegant and serene, Symi celebrates colors and light, resembling a Greek island card postal you will never forget.
: The most impressive beach on the island features a vertical 300m rock at the background (this also means natural shade for most of the day). It has pebbles, blue-green waters and zero facilities. : Located at a wind protected bay, this pebbly beach with crystalline emerald waters is perfect for swimming and relaxation. As for amenities, it has a few sun beds, umbrellas and a tavern. : A highly scenic pebbly beach with lovely azure waters, accessible by boat or foot. It’s surrounded by cypress trees and has the basic facilities, as well as a tavern. : Agios Emilianos, Agia Marina, Sesklia and Nimos are the most popular options to enjoy a wonderful day at the beach. They are accessible by caique (for more details, check the “Things to see & do” section below). : Situated at the island’s bay of the same name, this quiet pebbly beach is set in beautiful surroundings with cypress trees and rocks. You can reach it by boat. : A small organized sandy beach, quite popular too, as it’s located at walking distance from the settlement of Gialos. Nudism is also tolerated here.
: Gialos, Modern cuisine. : Gialos, Modern cuisine.
: It’s a must-do, in order to visit the island’s beaches and of course the beautiful surrounding islets; Agios Emilianos (with a picturesque chapel and lovely beach), Agia Marina (it features a sandy, organized and popular beach with turquoise waters), Sesklia (beach with crystalline waters and trees) and Nimos at the island’s north. : Boat connections are available from Symi to the neighboring Greek islands of Rhodes, Tilos, Nisyros, Kalymnos, Kos, Leros, Patmos and also Kastellorizo. : They are located at the island’s north, not far from the capital. Pedi is a charming picturesque fishing settlement that resembles a miniature version of the capital, boasting of some tourist facilities and a beach. Traditional Nimborio is a developing tourist resort situated at the bay of the same name. : Located at a very scenic spot of the homonymous coastal settlement, this historic monastery is dedicated to Taxiarchos Michail, the island’s patron saint. It is one of the top monuments on Symi (with a trademark belfry and frescoes) and also a major pilgrimage centre in the Dodecanese. The icon of St Michael is considered miraculous and attracts numerous visitors and offerings, especially on November 8th, the saint’s feast day. The monastery also boasts of two interesting museums (Ecclesiastical and Folklore Museum), as well as a library. : The Archaeological Folklore Museum and the Nautical Museum at Chorio display fascinating findings and exhibits about the island’s history, lifestyle and traditions. They are both housed in two beautiful neoclassical buildings. Next to the Archaeological Folklore Museum lies the four-storey mansion of Chatziagapitos, also worth a visit. Spetsaria, the village’s old pharmacy (now the municipal clinic) is another must-see example of local architecture.
The relics of an ancient monument called Pontikokastro and the island’s old Mills, located at the hilltop of Chorio.
Viniculture flourished on Symi, especially at byzantine times. The island features more than a hundred wine stone presses, eleven of which have been restored (at the inland area of Kourkouniotis) and are available to visit.
The fortified Monastery of Archangel Michail Roukouniotis: It is famous for its frescoes and the icon of St Michael, a work of great artistic value.
: Symi is famous for its abundant and delicious fresh fish & sea food and, most of all, for the tiny simian shrimp. You can also try gaelopita (pie made with smelt fish), butter cookies and akoumia (local sweets that resemble donuts), among others. Before you leave the island, remember to buy goodies such as sponges and dried figs. : It’s considered as one of the most successful cultural attractions in the Dodecanese. For the past 17 years, it hosts a variety of art events related to music, film, theatre, dance etc, with the participation of many acclaimed performers. If you also add the island’s traditional summer feasts, you have an excellent opportunity for entertainment and fun on Symi.
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