Located in amongst the Dodecanese islands lies a charming little island most commonly known as Symi (or Simi) with hillsides filled with colorful homes.
Symi is a short 1 hour ferry ride from the well known Greek island of Rhodes and was once known for its ship-building and sea sponge industries. Nowadays, the island thrives on tourism.
If you’re in search of a lesser known, nearby island getaway from your vacation to a larger island such as Rhodes or Kos, Symi is definitely the island you’re looking for.
Table of Contents
- 1 Things to Do in Symi
- 2 Explore the Symi Folk Museum
- 3 Visit the Monastery of Archangel Michael
- 4 Visit the Symi War Memorial
- 5 Hike to Chorio
- 6 Enjoy the Views from the Kastro
- 7 Attend the Symi Film Festival
- 8 Explore Yialos Harbor
- 9 Visit the Nautical Museum
- 10 Visit the Megali Panagia Church
- 11 Take a Boat Tour Around the Island
- 12 Visit the Agios Ioannis Church
- 13 Go Souvenir Shopping
- 14 Beaches in Symi
- 15 Recommended Restaurants & Tavernas in Symi
Things to Do in Symi
Below, you’ll find a list of 14 Recommended Things to Do in Symi, Greece. If you think we missed something on this list, please feel free to leave a comment below with your recommendations.
Explore the Symi Folk Museum
While you’re in Galios, get a taste of the former Symian life through a rich collection of old photographs, paintings, musical instruments, hand-woven tools, and traditional costumes at the Symi Folk Museum.
Within this recently restored neoclassical building, which was a former Hatziagapiditis family home, there are collections from the Byzantine Period, like musical instruments and manuscripts.
The archaeological collection that includes finds dating back to the Hellenistic Era such as ancient coins and grave offerings.
Take a stroll down its pebbled mosaic yard to see display of ancient urns and sculptures.
Visit the Monastery of Archangel Michael
A 45-minute taxi or bus ride south from Yalios will lead you to an 18th century Venetian monastery which overlooks the sea.
The Monastery of Archangel Michael of Panormitis is home to several monks, a beautiful bell tower and a silver icon of the Archangel Michael, the patron saints of sailors.
The monastery is open to visitors but please take note that it is a sacred ground therefore taking photos here is prohibited.
For those who love art and history, there are also two museums belonging to the museum that displays religious items, a gallery of paintings of the monastery and landscapes and exhibits of ancient folk culture.
Visit the Symi War Memorial
Make your way to the port of Panormitis and pay your respects as you view a collection of monuments depicting the island of Symi under German occupation during WWII.
Hike to Chorio
Venture the 15 to 20-minute steep climb up to Chorio and take the twin stairways known as the Kali Strata.
This 500-step walk/hike will eventually prove to be worthwhile once you’re rewarded with picture-perfect views of the bay below.
If you’re visiting during the summer months, don’t forget to bring water and expect to sweat.
Enjoy the Views from the Kastro
This castle perched up on the hill was built by the Knights of the Order of Saint John on 1407 to protect locals against invasions.
The Kastro has a rich history, once being a fortress before falling to the Ottomans in 1522.
Now, the Kastro serves as a great place to visit if you’re looking for breathtaking views of the town and sea below.
Attend the Symi Film Festival
If you’re a movie buff who is planning to visit Symi, it’s best to go between the months of July and September.
During this period, the local municipality hosts a festival known as the Symi International Film Festival which showcases films (which are entries for the festival) at no cost at an outdoor venue.
Explore Yialos Harbor
This little quaint port was once a haven for the rich – its coastline lined with colorful mansions.
These days, the port consists of shops, tavernas and local restaurants.
Try the local seafood — grouper, Greek lobsters and the infamous shrimp of Symi – small shrimps which are eaten whole with the shell.
Along the harbour, there are also beautiful churches and a clock tower stands in the water.
Visit the Nautical Museum
Dive into in Symi’s rich naval history by visiting Symi’s Nautical Museum.
As mentioned above, Symi was once famous for its ship-building, therefore within this museum you can find old maps, compasses, maritime devices and models of old ships.
Visit the Megali Panagia Church
A five-minute walk from the town square will lead you to the Megali Panagia Church also known as Panagia Tou Kastrou.
This beautiful white church is the place to be for a perfect panoramic view of the island.
From here you can the ruins of the ancient acropolis and the Kastro.
Take a Boat Tour Around the Island
A trip to Symi would not be complete without taking a boat tour around the island — you’ll be able to swim in the beautiful waters that surround the island as well as get a different perspective of Symi from the sea.
Fortunately, there are a number of daily boat tours offered down by the port so you won’t have to worry about booking too far in advance.
Most tours usually include light meals and drinks throughout the day at sea and you can expect to pay somewhere in the range of 40 EUR or so.
Visit the Agios Ioannis Church
If you’re in Yialos, it’s recommended to stop by the Agios Ioannis Church and see its beautiful mosaic floors and gorgeous bell tower.
Go Souvenir Shopping
Looking to take home a memory from the island of Symi?
Sponge-diving was once a huge business on the island and sea sponges are one of the most purchased souvenirs on the island.
If you’re into traditional handmade leather goods, be sure not to miss Taki’s Leather Fashion shop located in the heart of Symi Harbor.
Taki is a famous designer on the island and inside of his shop you’ll find photos of him with all sorts of celebrities that have stopped in and purchased his leather products.
Beaches in Symi
- Nimborio Beach – Take a stroll past all of the colorful homes of Symi on your way to the pebble beach of Nimborio which is famous for its crystal clear waters. We recommend renting a sun chair here — the cost should be approximately 3 euros/chair.
- Marathounda Beach – Deemed by many as the best beach in Symi with its clear waters and serene atmosphere, Marathounda Beach is the best place to watch the sunset while enjoying food and drink from the nearby taverna.
- St. Nicholas Beach – This beach is best for families with children. This is a great beach for snorkeling and swimming. There’s also reasonably good food as well as sun loungers here.
- Pedi Beach – Away from crowds and the buzzing streets, this is a great place for those in search of peace and quiet. Pedi beach is very accessible by water or land. We recommend renting a scooter and enjoy this beach at your leisure.
- Emborios – A beach, a port and a settlement all in one. The beach includes a large bay and a pebble beach. Dine at one of the local tavernas for some of the freshest seafood you can find.
Recommended Restaurants & Tavernas in Symi
- Marathounda Taverna – This taverna is famous for its food. They serve fresh cheeses, fresh seafood and fresh vegetables from their very own garden. They also have beachfront studios if you opt to stay, for the price of around 125 euros/night.
- Taverna Meraklis – If you want to have a meal in the more traditional Symian style you should go here. This is probably where it’s best to try that famous Symi shrimp. Since this business is family-run expect to get that traditional Symian homey ambience.
- Tholos Restaurant – This restaurant has one of the most beautiful locations of all of the restaurants on this list and is just a short five minute walk from Nos Beach. Tholos is known to serve some of the best Greek food on the island and the romantic ambience found here lies in the fact that the restaurant is conveniently situated on the edge of the water.
- The Windmill Mezeth Restaurant – Known as one of the more elegant places to eat on Symi, The Windmill Restaurant is a little on the expensive side of the spectrum but the food is said to be well worth it. Located in the center of the town it is the perfect place if you want to have a decent meal within the town and away from the beaches.
- Mythos Restaurant – Mythos is famous not only with the locals but also for tourists. They are known to serve good food at reasonable prices. Since it is located near the harbor you are guaranteed freshness of seafood.
You can find our in-depth travel guide to Symi here: Symi 101: The Beginner’s Guide to Symi, Greece.
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