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.
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.