Beautiful summers day on the Greek island of Symi
EXPERIENCE

A boat trip from Rhodes to the old world charm of Symi

Be transported to the days of colourful mansion houses and simple living on little Symi, an island with a grand past and an equally big appetite for life
Thrace region-id="pin-13";Macedonia Macedonia Epirus Thessaly Sporades Ionian Islands Western Greece Central Greece Attica Peloponnese Crete Cyclades North Aegean Islands Dodecanese Dodecanese Karpathos Astypalea Tilos Sitia Faistos - Matala Patmos Kastelorizo Kasos Kos Leros Halki Rhodes Symi Sfakia - Loutro Rethymno Elounda - Agios Nikolaos Agia Galini Plakias Hersonissos - Malia Ierapetra Heraklion Chania Nisyros Ikaria Lipsi Tzia - Kea Thasos Samos Lesvos Samothrace Limnos Chios Kalymnos Paros Naxos Zante - Zakynthos Lefkada Corfu Santorini Milos Kythnos Kimolos Serifos Syros Sifnos Koufonisia Ios Kefalonia Mykonos Paxi Ithaca Arta Ioannina Tinos Parga - Sivota Metsovo Anafi Sikinos Folegandros Donousa - Iraklia - Schinoussa Antiparos Zagori Mountainous Arkadia Porto Heli - Ermioni Preveza Amorgos Andros Delos Messolongi Ancient Olympia Aegina Kythira Archea Epidavros Patra Nafplio Kardamyli Kalamata Ilia Corinth Western Messinia Kalavryta Elafonissos Nafpaktos Spetses Poros Hydra Alexandroupolis Pylos Mycenae Monemvasia Loutraki Piraeus Athens Arahova Xanthi Galaxidi Mystra - Sparta Mani Edipsos Delphi Chalkida Karystos Evia Skyros Vergina Alonissos Volos Karditsa Skopelos Skiathos Kastoria Thessaloniki Prespes Agios Athanasios Edessa Serres Veria Larissa - Tempi Elati - Pertouli Trikala Pelion Meteora Drama Ammouliani Mount Athos - Ouranopolis Nymfeo Mount Olympos Katerini Halkidiki Grevena Lake Kerkini Naoussa Kozani Kilkis Kavala Pella Lake Plastira
Duration
Full day
Season
May - October

OVERVIEW

Arriving at Gialos, Symi’s main port imprints itself into your memory like a photograph. But you’ll have no idea which era the photo was taken in.

There’s an old world grandness to the multicoloured mansion houses within and above the port. So much so that you’re instantly transported to the days when this small Dodecanese island was awash with the fortunes earned from shipping. Except that back then, towards the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, some 25,000 people lived here and the island’s famous boatyards produced around 500 new ships a year.

These days, the fishing and sailing boats in the waterfront bob to a different, more relaxed tune. That, though, hasn’t stopped Symi retaining its authenticity and traditions. So taking a boat trip here from bustling, cosmopolitan, Rhodes, right next door, is to instantly step into another kind of island charm.

Take a look around you … at the generously-laid out tavernas and those houses rising theatrically up the hillside towards the upper town. You’ll be gripped by the urge explore.

Read More Read Less

DON'T MISS

A stroll around Gialos

Before you head anywhere else, make sure to give the port the time it deserves. The clocktower and much-photographed belfry of the church of Panagia Evangelistria stand out. But mostly this is where you can best appreciate the colours and grandeur of the mansion houses rising up the hill.

Climbing Kali Strata

It’s quite a climb but tackling the 500 stone steps of Kali Strata, connecting the harbour to Ano Symi, is the best way to explore the town. Essentially one long winding staircase, takes you through the lower and upper town, allowing you to enjoy the neoclassical architecture, pebbled courtyards and tiled roofs from every angle. You’ll be stopping at the shops with local handmade products, or maybe a bakery or café along the way.

The view from the Byzantine Castle

If you can, keep climbing all the way to the Byzantine Castle above the town. It was built in the 14th century by the Knights of St John as an expansion to an existing fortification and there are even remains of an ancient citadel up here. But the highlight is the view of all the town’s roof-tiled houses and the port of Gialos.

The local cuisine

Whether you eat in the port or the upper town, you’ll love the food. There are traditional cafeterias and ouzeries for a coffee and a snack, but you should definitely try a fish taverna by the sea. Symi is legendary for its seafood, particularly the prawns. Keep an eye out for atherinopita (a seafood pie), the handmade pasta and local honey balls called akoumia.

The monastery of the Archangel Michael Panormitis

Some boat trips include a stop at the 18th century monastery in Panormo Bay, which was traditionally a pilgrimage site for seamen. It has two museums (one folklore and one religious) and is famous for its frescoes and wood carvings.

St George’s Beach

Most boat trips stop for a swim here and it’s not hard to see why. Accessible only by boat, it’s the largest and most impressive beach on the island, with a massive vertical rockface reaching a height of 300m. 

Read More Read Less

From the main port of Rhodes:

  • Ferry Boat: Leaving at 8:00-9:00 and returning at 16:00-17:00. 
  • Boat trips: Leaving at 9:00-10:00 and returning at 16:00-17:00.

    From Gialos (If you arrive by ferry):

    • To St George’s Beach: By kaiki (traditional boat) or taxi boat from the port. 
    • Monastery of Panormitis: By bus or taxi (20km)

    More info

    • Ferries from Rhodes operate all year round, but organised boat trips are available from May-October.
    • All boat trips are dependent on weather conditions.

    May-June and September-October are the best and quietest months to visit.

    • Autumn
    • Spring
    • Summer
    • Winter
    • Tickets for organised boat trips start from €25 and for ferries from €15 (each way).
    • The crossing from Rhodes port is 1-1½hrs, depending on which boat trip you choose.  
    • A full day excursion will last 8-10hrs.
    • Symi has everything you need (shops, tavernas etc) but the beach at St George’s Bay has no facilities.
    • Make sure you have everything you need for a day in the sun: 

    Plan your trip

    TRAVEL RESPONSIBLY

    Please help preserve the magic of Greece’s islands, cultural sites and natural environment for future generations.

    Use the bins provided or, if need be, take your rubbish with you. Use a refillable water bottle to try to minimise your use of plastic.
    Respect the cultural monuments and relics and don’t use flash photography if there’s a sign forbidding it. It’s to protect the relics.
    Do your best to support small, independent family-owned stores and local producers, taking home something handmade and local.
    Respect the marine life and the plants and animals on shore.
    Leave only your footprints on the beach and don’t remove any shells, rocks, fossils or sand.
    Making fires on beaches is strictly forbidden.
    Be inquisitive and definitely ask the locals for tips.
    YOU NEED TO KNOW ·

    See also

    You might be interested in
    High on the hill above Hora, The Monastery of St John the Theologian

    Discovering the mystical aura of Patmos’ Hora

    The Acropolis and the beach of Lindos

    Discovering the wonder of Lindos on Rhodes

    View of the medieval castle in Rhodes

    Exploring the medieval old town of Rhodes

    View from Lycabetus hill in Athens

    Fill your lungs with the unexpected green spaces of Athens

    Sunset in Poros island

    A day cruise to the islands close to Athens

    View of traditional tavern in Pythagoreio

    Village-hopping in Samos, from mountain to coast

    Heading northeast, you reach Ermoupouli’s magnificent main church, known locally as Agios Nikolaos of the Rich

    A walking tour of colourful Ermoupoli in Syros

    Amazing view of a beach on Koufonisi island with turquoise waters

    A boat trip to Crete’s desert island of Koufonisi