At first sight you won’t notice any road leading to the top of the hill. As you get closer, you may see some stairways between the cheerful buildings.
Symi Island is worth a visit, even if it’s only a day trip from Rhodes.
If you’re already in Rhodes and seeking for things to do in the Dodecanese, click here to see the day trip to Symi I took.
- 1 Where Is the Greek Island of Symi?
- 2 Why Visit Symi?
- 3 How To Get to Symi Island? Can You Fly to Symi?
- 4 Boat Trip from Rhodes to Symi with Swimming Stop at St. George’s Bay
- 5 Things To Do on Symi
- 6 Are There Any Beaches on Symi?
- 7 What To Take with You to Symi
Where Is the Greek Island of Symi?
Located in the Aegean Sea and belonging to the Dodecanese Islands group, the Greek island of Symi is surrounded by Turkey on this northern and eastern sides. In fact, Symi is closer to Turkey than it is to Rhodes.
Why Visit Symi?
The view of those charming houses on the hills surrounding Gialos (or Yialos) harbour is well worth it.
Everything looks like a children’s building game. The pastel colours of the houses, the triangle-shaped roofs, the ancient windmills on top of the hill, the white stairways, the yachts and the churches are all fighting for your attention, as you approach the island by sea.
Apparently, these houses were built between 1860 and 1910. The style is similar to the one of the ancient town of Smyrna, which is the modern Izmir in Turkey (source of information here).
Some visit Symi from religious reasons. Many churches on this island are dedicated to Archangel Michael of Panormitis. The Greek Orthodox Monastery of Taxiarchis Mihail Panormitis is the second-largest in the Dodecanese islands group.
Click here to see the latest prices and to book your day-trip from Rhodes to Symi with a stop by this 18th century monastery of Archangel Michael Panormitis.
Even though Symi counts only 2500 inhabitants living on a surface area of 65.75 sq km, this island can be the perfect place for a tranquil beach holiday. There are shops and tavernas, as well as lots of local boats you can hire to explore the island by water.
How To Get to Symi Island? Can You Fly to Symi?
The easiest way to get to Symi is from Rhodes. Symi is a tiny island without an airport of its own. The closest Greek airport to Symi is on Rhodes. From Rhodes airport, take a bus or a taxi to Mandraki Port and then jump on a ferry to Symi. Click here to check out the ferry schedule and to book your ride with Ferry Hopper.
There’s also a ferry connection from Symi to Chalki, Tilos, Nisyros, Kos and Kalymnos. This route is operated by Saos Ferries.
There are many ways to get from Rhodes to Symi island. If you only want to visit Symi without spending a lot of money, you can take one of the day trips to Symi from Mandraki Port, with a swimming stop by St. George’s Bay.
If you prefer to spend less time at sea, you should choose a high speed boat cruise to Symi. If you want to spend one or two nights (or even a full holiday) on Symi, you can take a regular ferry. Regular ferries are best for those who want to do their own things on Symi island rather than stick to the 3-hour visiting time imposed by leisure boat trips.
Boat Trip from Rhodes to Symi with Swimming Stop at St. George’s Bay
The reason for picking this trip above all others was that it started at 10am instead of 9am. Little did we know we were going to find such a scorching heat on Symi! Holidays during a heat wave can be challenging, especially when you don’t like to wake up early.
The boat can accommodate over 200 people. Try to show up early to catch a seat in the shadow. The journey takes more than two hours, so you’ll want to protect yourself from the sun.
There are seats on the lower deck, as well as inside the cabin. However, if you’re not a fan of gasoline smell, you’ll want to avoid the seats on this deck.
Anyway, you’ll be able to move around. The best spots, in my view, are the ones in front. You’ll feel the wind and you’ll enjoy the scenery without distractions.
Click here to read more details and to see the availability of this trip on your desired day.
What you’ll find on the boat
- A bar (drinks are not included in the ticket, but they are reasonably priced)
- Shower (the shower is by the rear of the boat – you’ll be able to use it as you climb on the deck after the swim)
- Full face snorkels to use during the swimming stop at St. George’s Bay on Symi (available for free)
Things To Do on Symi
All trips I’ve found during my holiday on Rhodes allow for three hours on the island. How much of Symi you can see in three hours depends on how willing you are to walk, as well as on the temperature. On a very hot day you won’t be able to go too far away from the water, unless you live in a very hot climate and you’re already used to that.
Unfortunately, I visited the island during the heat wave that set many areas in Turkey and Greece on fire, so I wasn’t able to explore anything but the Yialos or Gialos Port, the delicious Symi shrimps and the crystal clear waters near Symi Town. Nevertheless, I think it was a good trip.
Try to find matching patterns on the hills around
Building watching on Symi can be so rewarding! Just grab a seat at one of the tavernas in the port and enjoy!
Taste Symi shrimps (mussels saganaki are also a good idea)
If you want to try a local dish, ask for a plate of Symi shrimps. These baby shrimps are delicious, with their crunchy shells and their salty taste.
Mussels Saganaki are also very nice. Make sure you eat them with Rhodes pita.
Take the tourist train
There’s a tourist train on wheels departing every hour from the port. The 45 minutes ride will allow you to see the surroundings without having to walk. We chose to have lunch and a nice swim instead. However, people who took the train said the ride was enjoyable. You can see some photos of this tourist train here (the article is in Romanian, but you can use any automatic translation app to read it).
Swim and Snorkel by the Clock Tower in Gialos Port
Walk along the dock towards the clock tower to find the entrance to the water. You can sit at one of the tables and order a coffee to be able to leave your stuff there while you go for a swim. The water has an amazing blue colour and it is full of silvery fish. The bathing area is just by the white umbrellas in the photo below. There’s no beach and the water is deep from the very beginning.
Are There Any Beaches on Symi?
Symi is not a beach destination. When you visit it on a day trip from Rhodes, there’s no time to check out any beach other than the one near Gialos Harbor, which is just a tiny area with pebbles and with a handful of sunbeds and umbrellas.
If you don’t mind walking for 10 minutes, you can find Nos Beach. At least this is what the people at Manos Fish Taverna in Gialos told us. As we were heading toward this beach, we found the bathing spot near the Roloi (clock tower) and we stopped there.
All other beaches such as Pedi, Nimborio and Agia Marina require some form of transportation other than your feet. The beach at St. George’s Bay is beautiful, but the only access is by water. Anyway, if you come to Symi on a boat trip from Rhodes, chances are you’re going to stop for a swim here.
What To Take with You to Symi
Take your swimming suit, a snorkel, sunscreen and a hat. Don’t forget your camera. Also, a towel could come in handy, particularly if you go from Rhodes to Symi on a boat trip with swimming and snorkeling stop.
When it comes to exploring the Greek islands, many people plan their itineraries by including only big islands. Then, they complain that they don’t have enough time to see everything. Of course you can’t see all of Crete in one week. Even Rhodes or Corfu require at least six-seven days to cover. Why not add some smaller islands to your itinerary? You can set base on a larger island and then use boat trips and ferries to visit smaller islands nearby. If you want to hop the Argo-Saronic islands, for instance, you can set base on Aegina and then visit Moni, Agistri, Poros etc. In the Dodecanese, you can set base on Rhodes and visit Symi, Chalki and Kastellorizo before moving on to another island.