As you approach Symi (Simi) by ferry from Rhodes, a sense of enchantment takes hold. The majestic town rises up from the hillsides, showcasing its impeccable architecture like a dream come to life. With a character that contrasts vividly with the bustling capital of the Dodecanese, Symi is a stylish and glamorous small island, exuding a rich history and culture. Yachts of the wealthy bob in the harbor, nestled beside sailboats that sway in the gentle breeze.
Symi beckons those seeking a respite from the chaos of everyday life, offering a slice of tranquility and peace that is hard to come by. It's no wonder that it's a popular destination for day trippers, with regular daily excursions from the port of Mandraki in Rhodes. Words and photos alone cannot fully capture the magic of Symi - it's an experience that must be lived to be truly appreciated.
The Monastery of Taxiarchis Michael Panormitis
Panormitis is a mystical and legendary destination on Symi, and it stands out as one of the most sacred pilgrimage sites on the island. The Monastery of Archangel Michael, the patron saint, holds an iconic and miraculous icon, attracting visitors from all over the world.
To reach the Monastery, you can embark on a mesmerizing ferry ride or take a scenic drive through a small cypress forest from Symi town. Many day tours to the island include a stop at this incredible place.
If you wish to linger longer in the peaceful and serene surroundings, the Monastery rents out its Spartan rooms, giving you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the spiritual and cultural significance of the place. Basic needs are also well taken care of with a bakery, a grocery, a restaurant, and a snack bar at your disposal.
Facts about Symi (Simi)Symi (Simi) is a rocky island nestled in the Southern Dodecanese, a slice of paradise that is mostly barren and rocky, save for the lush pine, mulberry, and fruit-bearing trees that adorn its southern shores. This charming island spans a modest 68 square km, just over 13 km long from north to south and approximately 8 km at its widest point from east to west. Symi is divided into several unique areas, each with its own personality and allure.
The main harbor, Yialos, is a bustling hub of activity that serves as the perfect introduction to Symi's Neoclassical architecture. Chorio, the island's picturesque hilltop village, offers stunning views of the island and its surroundings. Pedi Bay, located south of Yialos, is a lush valley that serves as a haven for nature lovers. Nimborios, located north of Yialos, is a small bay and settlement that exudes an idyllic charm. Marathounda is a small settlement, while Panormitis is home to a major Monastery complex and is a significant pilgrimage site, where the miraculous icon of the Archangel Michael is housed. Most houses in both Yialos and Chorio are only accessible by climbing any number of steps, and the winding lanes designed to confuse pirates add to the island's charm. The double-story houses, connected by external steps or internal ladders, are a testament to Symi's efficient use of space. While the Castle crowning the acropolis is gone, the area is still referred to as the Kastro, and the row of windmills on the crest of the hill between Yialos and Chorio stands as a relic of the days when wheat was brought across from Asia Minor to be milled on Symi.
Once a thriving commercial center, sponge fishing and ship-building hub with a population of 22,000, Symi is now a peaceful and sparsely populated island, popular among walkers, painters, photographers, and writers who seek inspiration in its natural beauty. The island's rugged landscape, with its high plateau and towering peak, Vigla, at 616 meters, provides a stunning backdrop for creativity to flow.
Symi has a rich and diverse history that spans several millennia. The first mention of Symi is in Homer's Odyssey, where King Nireus of Symi contributed three ships to the Trojan War. The island has been under the influence of several powers, including the Rhodian, Roman, Byzantine, Knights of St John, Ottoman Empire, and Italians, before becoming part of modern Greece in 1947. Surrounded by Turkey on three sides, Symi's proximity to Asia Minor and its easily defended coastline contributed to the island's prosperity.
Symi has a rich cultural heritage that includes boat-building, sponge-fishing, viticulture, icon-painters, and wood carvers, and is known for its excellent schools. Visitors can enjoy the island's natural beauty, explore its rich history, or simply soak up its tranquil atmosphere. Symi is a dreamy destination that should not be missed.
As you traverse the rugged landscape of this enchanting island, you'll find yourself surrounded by ancient olive and almond groves, their gnarled trunks standing as a testament to the island's rich agricultural heritage. While these groves may not be commercially cultivated, their beauty and serenity are a true feast for the senses.
As for sustenance, the island relies on the bounty of the sea and the commerce of nearby ports, with boats laden with fresh produce arriving regularly from Rhodes and Piraeus. And for a truly authentic island experience, keep an eye out for hawkers who arrive on the big car ferries, offering up their locally-grown vegetables and artisanal goods with a smile and a friendly chat. It's a unique and delightful way to connect with the island's vibrant community and savor the flavors of the land and sea.
As the island has no natural water apart from what is saved from the winter rains domestic water is brought in by ship from Rhodes.
Unlike other tourist destinations, it boasts no massive holiday complexes or overcrowded beaches. Instead, visitors can choose from a variety of cozy accommodations within the local community, including villa rentals, apartment hotels, and small hotels. Remember that the island's terrain is steep and rocky, so getting around involves climbing steps and slopes. However, the welcoming locals make up for any physical challenges, and many travelers return year after year to this hidden gem.
The beaches of Symi (Simi), though small and secluded, offer clear turquoise waters and stunning natural surroundings, accessible only by sea. Water taxis and small boats are available for hire to explore the coastline, and popular beaches often have small tavernas offering sun beds and umbrellas.
For those looking to explore the island's interior, small cars and scooters are available for rent year-round. With its mountainous landscape and winding roads, there's no shortage of spectacular views to discover. So, escape the hustle and bustle of the more touristy destinations and immerse yourself in Symi's natural beauty and welcoming community.
Symi boasts some of the most idyllic holiday accommodations on offer from April to October. But even outside of the tourist season, you can still experience a slice of paradise with some limited accommodation options.
During the summer months, the island buzzes with activity as excursion boats set sail to explore the island's stunning coastline. Some of these boats offer combination packages with guided walks, allowing you to soak in the beauty of the island's natural landscape while learning about its rich history. You can even take a day trip to the market in Datca on the nearby Turkish peninsula, immersing yourself in the local culture and cuisine.
With so many activities to enjoy, you'll need to refuel with some delicious food. Symi offers a diverse range of dining options, from traditional Greek taverna meals to more upscale cuisine. While most hotels only offer breakfast, the self-catering accommodations on the island cater to all tastes and budgets. Whether you prefer a basic two-ring stove and sink or a fully equipped kitchen with a BBQ, you can experiment with fresh ingredients bought from local grocers and fishermen.
It's no wonder that Symi is also a popular destination for weddings and honeymoons. The island's romantic past and picturesque landscapes make it the perfect backdrop for a dreamy ceremony. With enough advance notice, you can even arrange a civil wedding at the town hall or a blessing service on one of the island's stunning beaches.
Symi truly is a slice of paradise, and whether you're looking to explore the island's natural beauty, indulge in delicious cuisine, or celebrate your love, this magical destination has something for everyone.
The beaches of Symi (Simi)
- Nos, Popular beach - the nearest beach to the settlement of Symi.
- Agios Georgios Dysalonas, Perhaps the most impressive beach because it has a vertical rock behind it, around 300 m high.
- Agios Nikolaos, A sandy beach with trees offering shade. Accessible on foot from Pedi or by boat.
- Nanou, Picturesque beach with cypress trees.
- Marathounta, South of Nanou, Narrowest bay with crystal clear waters.
- Faneromeni, Beautiful bay 20 minutes walk from Panormitis.
- Panormitis, Small sheltered bay ideal for swimming in combination with an excursion to the homonymous monastery of Panormitis.
- Sesklia, A small island at the southern end of Symi with crystal clear waters. Accessible only by boat.
- Nymos, Island at the northern end of Symi - pebble beach.
- Agios Aimilianos, Very picturesque beach west of Symi. At this point the land narrows creating a small island on which there is a church - nearby is Maroni beach.
- Agios Vasilios, One of the most beautiful pebble beaches in a large and deep bay framed by mountains with sparse wildflowers.
- Pedi, One of the most popular beaches in Symi - accessible on foot, by taxi or bus.
- Agia Marina, A cute rocky island near the yalos with the church of Agia Marina and crystal clear waters.
- Nimborio, A long pebble beach just 15 minutes walk from the port of Symi. Accessible on foot, by taxi or by boat.
- Toli, Beach in the south of the island. Accessible by car or boat.
- Maroni, Beach accessible by boat or skiff.