"Symi..A place to return to again and again and ..." Top 5 Page for this destination Symi by suvanki

Symi Travel Guide: 226 reviews and 366 photos

Symi .. A bit about the island

Symi belongs to the Dodecanese group of islands. Although this term means Twelve Islands, there are 14 !
23 miles North of Rhodes, and 4 miles from the Turkish coastline, the island is 58sq kilometres in size, with about 2,800 inhabitants, though in high season this can swell to 5,000, by holiday makers and day trippers.

There is no airport on Symi. Ferry /catamaran /hydrofoil from Rhodes or Kos are the usual transport.

On first sighting, Symi appears as a barren rock, but there are also fertile valleys, and mountains. Mt.Vigla being the highest point (616m)

During the 18th and 19th centuries Symi became very wealthy, due to the islanders' ship building skills (hence the now barren landscape) and sponge diving. This wealth is reflected in the neo classic mansions and houses, that rise up from the horseshoe shaped harbour.
Unfortunately, with the demise of these industries, many of the then 20,000 inhabitants were forced to leave the island in search of work. Many moving as far away as America and Australia.

Tourism is now Symis main industry.

Symi Town is divided into 2 main areas The Harbour (Yialos or Gialos) and the upper town (Chorio or Horio) (which literally means the village)These 2 areas are linked by a stairway of about 350 stone steps known as the Kali Strata " Good Road" There are bars at the top! as well as a great view!

Walking through the village, down the valley is Pedi Bay. With beaches, water taxis, tavernas, a Church, one hotel and a handful of pensions. Easily reached by bus from Yialos.

Other settlements are Nimborios(an old fishing village, reached by boat, road or footpath from the harbour) and Panormitis (a major centre of pilgrimage) Overnight accomodation is available at the monastery of Archangel Michael (the patron saint of sailors)

About 2/3 of tourists that visit Symi annually are believed to be repeat visitors, with some of these buying holiday homes. There is quite a large ex-pat community here, about 120 foreign residents, the majority being English.

My first visit to Symi May 2002

Happily my holiday co - incided with Greek Easter. Having the honour of being invited to spend Easter with a family in Crete a few years ago, I was really looking forward to my week on Symi!

I always find it magical to arrive by boat at nightime, especially to an unfamiliar place. Symi harbour was no exception. I was soon caught up in the bustle, of people eagerly returning home for the Easter celebrations from Rhodes or further afield, being greeted by family and friends; holidaymakers, arriving for the first time, or the umteenth, the unloading of vehicles and cargo of furniture, fruit and veg, and more besides.

Setting foot on the harbour, the warm air carried voices and noises of people eating and drinking in the nearby dimly lit tavernas. The smell of charcoal grills cooking freshly caught fish and herb scented meats..Aaaah yes, I was in Greece!!

I was soon travelling to my destination in Pedi with the luggage truck, winding around the harbour then up the narrow roads of Chorio, depositing cases at other arrivees hotels/pensions, before the road ran out, and I was dragging my case up the path to my new home for the week.
I immediately fell in love with my room and the view over Pedi Bay to Chorio.

Hunger had set in, so soon I was sitting in The Anchorage taverna (now under new management with a different name) enjoying my first Mythos (a greek beer) Calamari and village salad.

The quiet night air was soon ripped apart by a deafening explosion, shortly followed by an even louder one, that ricochetted round the bay.
In Crete I'd been used to firecrackers being used in the Easter celebrations, on Symi they use DYNAMITE !!, with competition between Pedi, Chorio and Yialos to produce the loudest bangs !!
Didn't know who was winning!! (see my Must See tips for more about Greek Easter)

I eased nicely into Symi life and Pedi in particular. Although there are many beaches on Symi, I tended to stay on the beach near my appartment. Evenings being spent at the aforementioned taverna, as there was now a small gang of us there, a mix of solo travellers and couples. Every night I tried one of the chefs delicious meals. I did venture further afield though.
Many an hour was happily spent wandering around the narrow winding paths of Chorio, upto the windmills and fortifications, enjoying the views over Symi and beyond to Turkey, and tackling the Kali Strata (350 steps).

A day out I really enjoyed was over to Datca (Datcha) in Turkey. The boat I travelled on had a mix of holidaymakers from a variety of countries and ex pats, on a shopping trip. I've travelled over much of Turkey, but hadn't been here. I enjoyed a traditional Turkish bath,scrub and massage for GBP10. Then wandered around the market..I had a shopping list of things the taverna owners wanted..cheese, olives etc. I also bought some fruit, turkish music Cd's, a watch, Silver bangle,spices, some lace curtains, a cushion cover, and wooden cooking utensils.

On the return journey, it was like a market place, as we all showed each other what we'd purchased. There was much laughter and chat, 1 of the party even performed a belly dance!

All too soon my week was over, I'd had a great time, met new friends, seen and done loads, and had lots of happy memories (and photographs to develop!!)

Back again!! May 2003

It wasn't long before I was booking for Symi again. I'd kept in touch with some of the friends I'd made in Pedi, and found out that co-incidentally we were all going to be there again at the same time! This time I'd booked for 2 weeks at The Pedi Studios. Unfortunately pre departure I found this property had been cancelled, I eventually booked a "2 centre" option 1 week in Pedi 1 week in Chorio.

Soon our gang was reunited on the ferry, and we met other people that we recognised from last year. Settling down to enjoy the journey with a cold beer or 2, the hassle of Rhodes airport was soon forgotten.
Symi was in sight.

This time I was able to enjoy the view of entering the harbour, and soon we landed. Again the magic of arriving at night was there, and we were met by another of "our gang" who'd arrived earlier.

I checked into Stelios Appartments nice enough, but not like Pedi Studios..then headed off to meet up for food. The Anchorage was shut down, but we soon found another taverna.

The next day 4 of us walked into Yialos (The bus was on Rhodes being repaired) as we'd heard there was a parade. We took ringside seats at a taverna and waited. The parade was in honour of VE day when on 8.5.1945 Germany surrendered, with documentation being signed in the front room of Les Katerinettes Hotel in Yialos.

Due to The Anchorage being closed, and the tavernas that were open closing early, we ventured further afield. This gave me the chance to try other restaurants in Chorio and Yialos. Again, with it being early season, some of the items on the menu weren't available.

I returned to Datca, for Turkish bath and Shopping at the market, and
another day out was spent on a boat trip around the island and Panormitis. Our arrival being timed to miss the crowds that visit the monastery daily. We had plenty of time to look around the frescoed church, with its icons and offerings from the infirm and childless. Near the monestery is a bakery, where delicious bread and pastries can be purchased. We then continued by boat for swimming at a cave..before stopping for BBQ lunch and exploring. We also stopped at Seskli Island and St George for swimming/snorkelling.

Again, I didn't get to see as much of the island as I intended.
It was too easy to get into a routine, of spending the afternoon relaxing on the beach, then heading for a night eating and drinking til the early hours.
My second weeks accomodation was at Gallini 1, which was ideally located, being halfway between Pedi and Yialos. A 2 min walk from the top of the Kali Strata.

Would I visit again? probably, but there's a big world out there!

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Scenic Harbour, Plenty of hidden bays and walks, Easter Celebrations and other festivities.
  • Cons:Yialos overcrowded when daytrippers arrive, The 'I've been to Symi 36 times' brigade
  • In a nutshell:Worth a visit, (at least once)
  • Last visit to Symi: May 2003
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (56)

Comments (28)

  • jumpingnorman's Profile Photo
    Jul 17, 2009 at 3:22 PM

    That parade in Symi looks very colourful...wonderful pages and makes me want to go there! Panormitis Monastery looks awesome...Norman :)

  • Balam's Profile Photo
    Jun 23, 2009 at 2:54 PM

    Great Symi pages and fantastic pics, i went to Symi in the early 80's for the day from Rhodes.

  • Jul 26, 2008 at 2:57 PM

    Hey Suvanki!I read your descriptions about Clock bar in Symi.And that briought back memories .Is there any chance that you have e mail adress of Yannis, the owner of the bar?Or any kind of the adress?Thanks a lot.

  • Jul 23, 2008 at 6:40 AM

    Fish is not expensive in Greece... is expensive in Manos... and is not even fresh there

  • Feb 19, 2008 at 9:01 AM

    I never been in Simi. But i show u website and think that i should go there one day! volopolo

  • agapotravel's Profile Photo
    Jan 5, 2008 at 2:19 PM

    Hi! I really enjoyed your Symi pages. It's definitely "off the beaten path" and has been added to my list of places to see whenever we get to Greece.

  • Nov 30, 2007 at 3:13 PM

    Jean Manship of Jean & Tonic will be retiring on 31st December.

  • gilabrand's Profile Photo
    Apr 24, 2007 at 10:51 PM

    Very interesting introduction and set of customs tips.

  • Feb 22, 2007 at 7:13 AM

    Glaros bar has been re-decorated this winter and is looking rather smart. Also have internet all the time.Now on ADSL so faster than before

  • angiebabe's Profile Photo
    Feb 22, 2007 at 7:08 AM

    Hi again Sue, wow your pics and write up on Symi really have me wanting to go there!


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