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The “Jewel of the Dodecanese”

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Discover Symi

Located not far from Rhodes, Symi has been called the “jewel of the Dodecanese”. This cosmopolitan island with its picture-postcard beauty and Italian refinement is one of the most popular sailing destinations in the Aegean and a magnet for international celebrities.

It has a charming aristocratic elegance, seen in particular in the striking and colourful neoclassical architecture of the main town. Everything here testifies to the wealth and splendour of the island in the 19th century, when it was a global leader in the processing and trade of natural sponges, with the world’s largest sponge-fishing fleet.

At the same time, its crenelated coastline, with enchanting capes and idyllic coves, and its exotic uninhabited islets, make this a paradise for nature lovers.

Symi is perfect for a day trip if you are holidaying on Rhodes or sailing in the Dodecanese. Make the most of this opportunity and book your ferry tickets to Symi.

3 memorable experiences on Symi
  1. A day trip to the uninhabited islets of Nimos and Sesklia, two verdant idylls to the north and south of Symi respectively. They have both been declared archaeological sites. The beaches at Sesklia are excellent for swimming.
  2. If you choose one of the itineraries to Symi, don’t forget to visit Saint John’s Cathedral to admire its elaborate pebble-mosaic courtyard and stone bell tower.
  3. The iconic Symi Festival, which takes place every summer with the participation of Greek and foreign artists.
Beaches of Symi

Symi has a number of treasures hidden around its coast. The most scenic and popular beaches are accessible only by sea, on boats departing from the port. It is worth discovering:

  • Saint George, Symi’s largest and most impressive beach, distinguished by 300-metre-high cliffs and crystal-clear turquoise waters. It can be reached only by boat and there are no amenities, so make sure you have everything you need before you go.
  • Nanou, with its enormous cypress trees and an emerald sea that is great for snorkelling. There are umbrellas, sunbeds and a taverna here. Access is only by boat.
  • The sandy Nos beach, with crystalline waters and good facilities, not far from Symi Town. The laid-back atmosphere makes it a good place to relax. It is pleasant walking here from the Clock Tower in the port.
  • The small cove of Marathounda, with its sheltered blue-green waters for those seeking peace and tranquillity. Amenities include umbrellas and it is accessible by road.
  • The family-friendly Saint Nicholas, with its shallow turquoise sea and trees providing natural shade. It has sunbeds and a taverna.
  • Agia Marina, a gorgeous cove with limpid blue-green waters and a small sandy beach. It is worth swimming out to the tiny islet at the mouth of the bay to dive off its rocks.
Postcards from Symi: 10 things not to miss

Symi Town
The stately town, with its superb neoclassical buildings, has been declared a protected settlement. It is a uniquely elegant architectural ensemble of two-storey mansions painted in various shades, which line the seafront and testify to the prosperity of Symi during the 19th century.

The Monastery of the Archangel Michael in Panormitis Bay
One of the most important places of pilgrimage in the Greek islands, this huge monastery complex is notable for its elegant baroque bell tower and wonderful Byzantine icons.

This traditional fishing village, curving around a charming bay in an area green with olive trees, vineyards and orchards, is ideal for an atmospheric stroll outside Symi Town. Walk along the seafront, where the houses are built right next to the shore, and around the rest of the village, to see its pretty churches.

Kali Strata
The most attractive part of Symi Town is bisected by 500 wide stone steps, essentially the old high street, which connect Horio (Ano Symi) with the harbour area, Yialos. The picturesque side streets are worth exploring for their neoclassical mansions with well-kept pebble-mosaic courtyards. The steps lead to the main square, where you can relax in one of the cafes overlooking the sea.

The Archaeological & Folklore Museum
This small museum contains archaeological finds from the Classical to the Byzantine period, as well as a folklore collection that includes regional costumes and a re-creation of a local home.

The Maritime Museum
Occupying a beautiful neoclassical building, this excellent museum is devoted to Symi’s great seafaring past. There is a particular focus on the art of sponge-fishing, with a wealth of exhibits such as diving suits, skandalopetra diving stones, diving equipment, and models of sponge-fishing boats.

The wine presses
Testifying to the great viticultural tradition of Symi until the late 18th century, the eleven restored Byzantine wine presses in the area of ​​Kourkounioti are a unique attraction. There is a stunning trail that leads here through a forest of cypress trees. When wine production was at its peak on the island, it had as many as 120 presses.

The cosmopolitan area around the port of Symi Town is like an open-air architectural park, with magnificent neoclassical houses next to the sea. It is also among the most romantic places on the island. Cross the wooden bridge that connects the two sides of the port, wander around the fish market or the old shipyard, and admire the imposing Clock Tower (1881) in the Harani neighbourhood, as well as the famous “Michalaki”, the statue of a boy holding a fishing pole.

The Castle of the Knights of St. John
Built in the 14th century at the highest point in the town, the medieval castle offers unparalleled views of the island. Inside it is the church of the Virgin Mary and the stone church of Lemonitria, while its fortifications are decorated with the escutcheons of the Grand Masters.

The Twelve Caves
Perhaps the most mysterious sight on Symi, these twelve hollow vaults might have been catacombs, burial monuments, or workshops used by painters and sculptors in Byzantine times. They are located in Emporeio, the island’s second port.

Tastes of Symi

The most famous local delicacy is Symi shrimp, a tiny variety found in the waters around the island that is eaten fried and goes well with ouzo. Other favourite mezes include gaelopita (smelt fried together in a pie), cabbage-leaf dolmades with fava (split-pea puree), chickpeas with mushrooms and dill, and psarokeftedes (fishcakes).

Be sure to try tourtes (the local cheese pie) and the traditional speciality of slow-cooked goat. For those with a sweet tooth, Symi is renowned for its akoumia (doughnuts) and misokofti (a pudding made with boiled prickly pears).

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