Symi Island is a postcard-perfect island located in the Dodecanese archipelago around 42 kilometers from Rhodes. Symi is known for its picturesque harbor, colourful buildings, and stunning natural landscapes. In around an hour and a half, you can reach Symi by boat from Rhodes making it perfect for a day trip!

What is to offer?

Symi Island Harbour with colourful houses

Beautiful Scenery
The main draw to Symi Island has got to be the scenery. The town itself is one of the prettiest places I’ve visited. Symi’s main harbor is one of the most picturesque in Greece, with colorful neoclassical buildings lining the waterfront. The island itself has a charming and relaxed atmosphere so it was nice just to walk along the promenade, take a look at the fishing boats, and take in the scenery!

Symi Island Harbour

Charming Towns and Villages

Pretty town in Symi Island

The island is home to several charming towns and villages, each with its own unique character. Symi Town, is the main port and features narrow streets, traditional houses, and quaint cafes. Other notable villages include Chorio, and Panormitis. I didn’t have time to explore any further than Symi town myself but if you have a bit longer on the island these may be worth exploring!

Panormitis Monastery

Image of Panormitis Monsastery at Symi Island

Panormitis Monastery is located on the southern tip of the island, the Panormitis Monastery is a major religious and cultural landmark. Dedicated to the Archangel Michael, the monastery features impressive architecture, beautiful frescoes, and a museum showcasing religious artifacts. The Panormitis Monastery is on the southern coast of Symi Island, overlooking the bay of Panormitis. It is approximately 12 kilometers from Symi Town (Gialos), the main port of the island. There are several options to reach the monastery.

  • By Boat – The most common way to reach the Panormitis Monastery is by boat. There are regular boat excursions from Symi Town (Gialos) that take visitors to the monastery. Some of these include other stops along the scenic coastline.
  • By Bus or Taxi – You can take a bus or taxi from Symi Town to the Panormitis Monastery. Buses typically depart from the main square in Symi Town and follow a scenic route along the coast to the monastery.
  • Hike – This option is not for the fainthearted as the hike from Symi town to the monastery is takes 5-6 hours over rough ground. The trail would also be particularly challenging in the summer months. So this option is only viable if you’re an experienced hiker with a lot of time on the island!

Hiking and Nature
Symi’s rugged landscape is perfect for hiking and exploring nature. You could embark on scenic walks along coastal trails, through olive groves and pine forests, and up to panoramic viewpoints overlooking the island and the Aegean Sea. Or if you’re more like me, you could sit in a taverna by the harbour drinking wine and eating gyros… each to their own!

Beaches and Swimming

Beach at Symi Island

Symi boasts several beautiful beaches with crystal-clear waters, perfect for swimming and sunbathing. Some popular beaches include Nos Beach, Pedi Beach, and Marathounda Beach. Many beaches on Symi Island are accessible by boat, either through organised boat tours or by hiring a water taxi. Boat tours usually depart from Symi Town and some include visits to multiple beaches along the coast. There are also some beaches that are accessable by foot.

Boat Trips and Excursions

Symi island harbour with large boat

There are options to book boat trips to explore nearby islands, secluded coves, and hidden beaches. These typically include include snorkeling, swimming, and opportunities to admire the island’s coastline from the water.

Food and Drink

Picture of glass of wine and gyros

Symi Island, like many places in Greece, offers a delicious array of traditional Greek cuisine with its own unique twist. Being an island, Symi offers an abundance of fresh seafood. Expect to find dishes such as grilled octopus, fried calamari, seafood soups, and traditional Greek fish dishes although the real star of the show is the well-known Symi Shrimp. Of course, I had to go for gyros though, as when in Greece, I just can’t stop myself! Of course, washed down by a glass of wine while looking out onto the harbour.

Hand holding a glass of wine in front of Symi Island harbour

How to get there

There are several options for travelling to Symi Island from Rhodes. Ferry’s run every day from Rhodes to Symi and back and take around one hour and 10 minutes. The ferry companies that usually operate between Rhodes and Symi are Blue Star Ferries, Dodekanisos Seaways, Sea Dreams, and Sebeco Lines. You could also book a day trip through a tour company.

If you don’t fancy taking the ferry you can book a boat via a tour operator such as Get Your Guide or Viator. If you plan to do this, I’d recommend booking a fast boat. These take just over an hour. I learned this lesson the hard way as the boat we chose at the time was not a fast boat and took over an hour and a half. It was also oversubscribed therefore we ended up having to sit on the floor getting splashed by waves the whole time which wasn’t fun as you can see below! Be mindful to check the details and reviews of any boats or trips before booking to avoid this mistake!

That concludes my guide to the beautiful Symi Island! I hope this has inspired you to visit this Greek Island that offers a captivating blend of natural beauty, picturesque scenery and good vibes all around!

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