Guide To Symi Island, Greece (But Super Close To Turkey!)

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Post author Nick

Written by our local expert Nick

Nick is is digital nomad originally from Athens, Greece. You will now find him exploring the Greek islands, Bulgaria and beyond.

Here is all the Symi, Greece travel advice that you need. We’ve got a list of things to do on Symi Island, top Symi sites, and tips for where to stay on Symi Island, Greece.

Greece Travel Blog_Guide To Symi Island Greece

Symi Island is a Greek island situated in the southeastern Aegean Sea, approximately four nautical miles off the Turkish coast. It’s popular with tourists because of its beaches and neoclassical architecture. The island was first settled by ancient Greeks around 3000 BC and is known as Symi (Συμείν).

The Dodecanese Islands—a chain of 12 Greek islands located south of Crete—are one of Greece’s most popular tourist destinations. Many people visit them for their beautiful beaches but also for their historical sites, such as Megalochori Castle (where King Alexander the Great died) or Monemvasia Fortress (built by Byzantine Emperor Justinian I).

In Greek mythology, Symi was known as Pedalion (“Rudder”) due to its shape as a sailing ship’s rudder; Zeus placed it near Rhodes to guide ships safely through the surrounding rocks.

Symi Island has a fascinating history with many legends surrounding it. If you want to visit Symi Greece, and want to know what to do in Symi, here is what we suggest!

How To Get To Symi Island Greece

Symi town, Symi island Greece

Flying To Symi Island Greece

You can get to Symi by plane. There are flights from Athens to Rhodes (the closest airport to Symi), and then you catch a ferry from Rhodes to Symi, which takes about 1 hour.

Ferry From Athens To Symi

You can also take a ferry from Athens directly to Symi. A great option if you are on a tight budget. You should know that the ferry from Athens to Symi is an overnight ride, so you will spend a night on a ferry and arrive on the Greek island of Symi early in the morning.


Ferry To Symi From Rhodes Or Kos

Symi Island is one of the Dodecanese Islands located just southwest of Rhodes, close to the Turkish coastline. It’s most easily accessed from Rhodes or Kos by ferry or daily hydrofoil connections. Four ferry services make the run daily from Rhodes in the summer

  • With an early-morning departure (7 am) on PSC Express (Rhodes Port → Symi Port; 22 euro) and
  • Three departures between 11 am and 3 pm with Dodekanisos Seaways (Rhodes Old Town → Symi Panormitis; 21 euro), Blue Star Ferries (Rhodes Old Town → Symi Panormitis; 27 euro) and Aegean Flying Dolphins (Rhodes Old Town → Symi Panormitis; 24 euro)

These ferries all head for either the main port at Gialos or for Panormitis.


Ferry To Symi From Bodrum and Marmaris, Turkey

The cheapest and most convenient way to reach Symi is by hydrofoil, which operates between Bodrum and Marmaris daily during July and August. The trip takes around 1 hour and 30 minutes, but you’ll need to book your ticket in advance as space is limited.

You can purchase your ticket from any travel agency or at the port in Bodrum or Marmaris (depending on where you’re heading). A round-trip ticket costs 12 euro per person; children under 12 pay half price—6 euro for an adult/child pair—and people over 65 are entitled to a 50% discount; there’s also a special offer for groups of five or more persons traveling together who use the same method of transport by ferry (1st class seats only).

Things To Do In Symi Island Greece

Guide to Symi Island Greece

Symi is the most southern of the Dodecanese islands, located between Rhodes and Kos. It is known for its gorgeous beaches, rich history, and architecture. The island also has an exceptional charm with its neoclassical houses built on terraces and outdoor stairs connecting different levels of the villages. Symi is also well known for being an excellent base to explore other islands, such as Nisyros or Kalymnos, by renting a car, motorcycle, or even renting a scooter.

The island of Symi is known for its stunning beauty, incredible architecture, and rich history. It’s also one of the few islands in Greece where you can swim in freshwater all year round. The beaches are sandy with clear blue waters, and plenty of restaurants serve traditional Greek dishes on the shoreline.

The town itself has many mesmerizing sites to explore.

Buy A Sponge

Sea sponges - Symi Island Greece

Sponges (also known as “Spongia” or “Sponge”) – These sponges grow abundantly off the coast here, which makes them an essential part of Greek seafood culture. When dried up, they were collected by fishermen who brought them home along with other goods from their trip at sea, such as fish or olive oil; these were then sorted into different grades according to quality before being sold via markets across Greece!

Symi was once one of the most prosperous island towns in the Dodecanese, famous for its sponges and shipyards. It is known as a small jewel, with unique architecture and outdoor stairs that lead to its maximum height of 1,700 meters above sea level.

The history of this island is quite interesting because it was where Aristotle lived during his exile from Athens. He established his school on this tiny island where he taught many future philosophers who visited him there, such as Plato, who later became famous for his philosophical treatise “The Republic,” which dealt with politics & government systems in ancient Greece (500 BC).

Head To The Beach

Symi is a small island with a population of about 2,000, so it is an ideal place to relax and enjoy the sun in quiet. There are many beaches on Symi, some of which are very quiet; others have sandy coves perfect for swimming or snorkeling.

Churches And Monasteries

The island also has plenty of things to do and see if you’re looking for fun activities such as exploring its rich history (it was once part of ancient Greece), visiting one of its many churches or monasteries (most have been restored), hiking through mountains covered in wildflowers or stopping by one of its many wineries where you can sample local wines while learning all about their production methods over lunch at their restaurants.

Admire The Architecture

When you arrive on the island, you’ll immediately notice its unique architecture with neoclassical mansions built on terraces. The residences were built for wealthy families in the 19th century. They were designed to maximize the view of the sea and surrounding hills, often by arranging their windows, so they faced directly out over water or land.

The Greek Revival style is characterized by symmetrical design elements such as columns, pediments, and entablatures (decorated molding around a window frame), which are used to create an elegant appearance while still being functional for everyday life inside these grand homes.

Climb The Stairs

Stairs in Symi Greece

Symi is famous for its outdoor stairs, connecting the island’s different levels. These stairs are called “klimaka” in Greek, and they were designed to get people from their houses to the beach.

Fun facts: The word “klimaka” comes from the Greek word “klima,” which means climate or weather conditions related to wind.

Take A Boat Trip To Panormitis Monastery 

Panormitis Monastery Greece - Symi Island

If you can take only one boat trip from Symi, make it Gialos – a boat trip to Panormitis Monastery is a must when visiting Symi. The monastery is located on the island of Panormitis, which is accessible by boat from Gialos.

The monastery was built in 1952 and was named after Saint Panteleimon (Greek: Παντελής), one of the twelve disciples who accompanied Christ during his forty days in the wilderness following his baptism by John. This UNESCO World Heritage Site houses some beautiful Byzantine mosaics dating back to the 10th century AD. There are also remains from ancient Greek temples destroyed by earthquakes centuries ago; these include columns carved with figures, while others hold up arches or dome roofs over hallways inside buildings such as churches or monasteries!

Take In The Architecture On Foot

If you are into history and architecture or are interested in exploring this beautiful island on foot, buy a map and visit some interesting villages near Symi town, such as Pedi and Nimborio.

Head Underground

The village of Gialos is located at the island’s west end and is known for its caves where prehistoric inhabitants lived. These caves have been inhabited since Paleolithic times (about 40 000 years ago). The most famous cave here is called “Olympic” because it was used by athletes from ancient Greece who competed at Olympia during their sporting competitions there every four years!

Visit A Church

Another interesting site worth visiting would be Vlyhada which has an ancient church dating back to 1150 AD with frescoes painted inside it depicting biblical events such as Noah’s Ark taking refuge on Mount Ararat after being destroyed by flood waters caused by God sending his anger down onto humankind because they had sinned against Him by eating meat without asking permission first!

Explore The Village

Horio or Chorio meaning “village,” was built on top of an ancient town known as Metropolis. Horio has been declared a traditional settlement because of its old neoclassical architecture, which hasn’t changed much over the years.

Head To The Beach

Many beaches around Symi are worth visiting by boat excursions or private transportation (renting a scooter is an ideal way to explore the island): Nimborio Beach, Vlyhada Beach, Palouki Beach, Marathounda Beach, and Petra Beach which is outstanding for snorkeling.

These beaches are beautiful, safe, and easy to get to. They also have good facilities, including restaurants and bars where you can eat lunch or dinner after spending time in the water. Keep reading below for more options on where you can swim or relax on the beach enjoying some sunbathing!

Enjoy The Port Area

Symi’s chilled-out vibe is evident everywhere, particularly in the port area, packed with architecture, cafes, and places to sit and watch the world go by. This is also a fantastic spot to take great photos of colorful buildings and small boats bobbing in the water.

Explore Chorio Castle

High above the town of Chorio sits the Venetian castle that once used to keep watch for invaders and other kinds of trouble. Dating back to the 15th century, the castle was built on the orders of the Knights of Saint John, and the views are simply stunning. While the castle lies in ruin, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth exploring.

Learn About Chorio In The Archaeological & Folklore Museum

As you’re enjoying beach time and the chilled-out vibes of Symi, why not head to the Archaeological & Folklore Museum and learn about a bit of history? You’ll find plenty of artifacts from days gone by, and you can find out about the local customs on the island too.

Take A Boat Trip

If sitting on the beach isn’t enough for you, why not jump on a boat and head off to check out the coastline from a different viewpoint? Head down to the harbor, and plenty of boats offer half-day and full-day trips. Take your time making your decision, as other boats have different routes. Some beaches on Symi can only be accessed by sea, so choosing a trip that takes you to these means you’re getting more out of your time.

Enjoy The Local Cuisine

garidaki symiako

Symi has plenty of food options, from local choices to international dishes. However, make sure you chow down on some locally caught fish and try garidaki symiako, a dish synonymous with the island. These are small shrimps, marinated and deep fried. They’re delicious!

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The Best Beaches On Symi Island

Panormitis Bay

Monastery at Panormitis. Island of Symi Dodecanese

Panormitis bay is famous for its beach and monastery. The beach is located south of Symi; it’s a superb place to spend the day with your family or friends. There are many restaurants and cafes nearby where you can enjoy delicious local food or relax under the sun with some refreshing drinks!

St Demetrius built the monastery of Panormitis during his stay on this island; hence, it became one of the main places where he preached Christianity. Today it remains an important religious place that attracts many tourists every year who come here wanting to see what life was like back then when this island was inhabited by Greeks who lived there peacefully without any conflicts between them. At the same time, they worshiped God together without clashes between nations which caused wars among people instead!

Grande Beach

Grande beach, with its crystal clear waters, is perfect for swimming. It has a length of around 1km, and there are no waves, so it’s very calm. The water is clean, warm, and very smooth. You can go snorkeling here, too, if you like being underwater.

There are many facilities on this beach, including toilets, showers, sunbeds, and umbrellas, as well as lifeguards who patrol the area during high season (Mar-May).

Agios Georgios

View on beautiful coast on Symi island in Greece

Agios Georgios beach is considered one of the best beaches on the island of Symi. It’s a secluded cove with crystal-clear waters and a small taverna.

If you are looking for an afternoon stroll or some time out with your family, then this is an ideal place to visit. The beach has been awarded several times as one of the best beaches in Greece, and it’s easy to see why!

Agios Nektarios Beach

Agios Nektarios beach is located near the village of Horio. It views the historic Panormitis Monastery and is famous for its amazing sunsets and vibrant atmosphere at night. The beach also has architecture very similar to Santorini in Greece, as it was built on an ancient settlement with characteristics identical to that island’s Acropolis hilltop town.

This area is ideal for swimming, snorkeling, or sunbathing because it has crystal-clear waters with plenty of coral reefs surrounding them! There are plenty of restaurants where you can have lunch or dinner while enjoying your time on this beautiful island paradise!

Where To Stay In Symi

Greece Travel Blog_Guide To The Island Of Symi_Old Markets Hotel
Photo: Old Markets Hotel
  • The Old Markets Located in heart of Old Symi town, you can book at The Old Markets boutique hotel. With some rooms have private balconies view ocean views. 
  • Opera House Just a few minutes from the harbor, you’ll find a self-catering apartment with cozy rooms and a garden. Next to the apartments are also cafes and restaurants
  • 1900 Hotel Less than 2km from Nos Beach, 1900 Hotel has a sun terrace and rooms with a chic modern feel. 


Final Word On The Island Of Symi Greece

If you want to visit the most beautiful island in Greece and enjoy its natural beauty, then Symi is the best place to do so. It’s a fantastic place with a rich history and culture – it’s not just another Greek island but rather an island with a unique identity. If you want to see some of the world’s best architecture and architecture at its best, then Symi is definitely worth visiting!

Symi island Greece is a beautiful place to visit, with its rich history and beautiful beaches. I hope this article was helpful for you in planning your trip to the Greek island of Symi.

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