One of the most popular Greek islands, Syros is a unique blend of contrasts. Cycladic minimalism and medieval charm, Orthodox and Catholic heritage and rugged hillsides and little fishing villages … the diversity is astounding. It’s also a Greek island that is a firm family favourite, with a great variety of food and local products and beaches all around the coastline. Here are the top things to do to help you plan your holidays in Syros.
First impressions in the capital of the Cyclades
Your introduction to the capital of the Cyclades islands can be no other than Ermoupoli, the lively main town unlike any other in Greece’s most celebrated island chain. Colourful mansion houses and a cosmopolitan aura are testament to Syros’ stature as a mid-19th-century commercial, political and cultural hub. You feel it everywhere… in Miaouli Square (with its grand Town Hall, palm trees and cafes and shops), the Apollo Theatre (modelled on the Scala di Milano) and the prestigious Vaporia district (with its captain’s houses). Next door is Asteria, a rocky platform you can sunbathe on or dive off. Or just pull up a chair and order a cocktail. Not a bad way to kick off your bucket list of things to do in Syros.
An introduction to wonderfully preserved Ano Syros
Talk about contrasts! Rising above stately Ermoupoli is Ano Syros, one of the stars of the Cyclades. It’s both a Venetian settlement that was once a fortress town and a classic Cycladic settlement of winding lanes and whitewashed houses.
And it is famous for having both an Orthodox and Catholic heritage, centring on the Cathedral of San Georgio dominating its highest point. Savour the view of the Aegean from here as well as flower-filled courtyards and the shops and cafes of the Piatsa as you stroll back down to Ermoupoli.
The mouth-watering local delicacies
Syros’ local products are part of its culture every bit as much as the architecture and history. The icing sugar-dusted loukoumia (Turkish delight) and halvadopita (soft nougat with fillings like nuts or cranberries) are a legacy of 19th-century migrants from Asia Minor. Ask for Syros sausages (flavoured with fennel and garlic), louza (an air-dried pork meze marinated in red wine and spices) and a selection of local cheeses (San Michali, sweet gruyere and spicy Kopanisti) in delicatessens in Ermoupoli. And if you’re on the ferry, look out for the man selling local delights before leaving port. He’s a cult figure.
The quaint fishing village of Kini
On the west coast, around 10km from Ermoupoli, Kini presents yet another face of Syros. It’s not just a fishing village, perfect for a seafood meal, but the location of one of the island’s most memorable beaches. Take your time to enjoy the sandy bay and incredibly clear water, as well as the fresh seafood and deliciously presented local dishes. The statue of a mermaid holding a fisherman is part of Kini’s identity, as is the magical sunset from here. Nearby is Delfini, another great beach.
Galissas beach and the western coast
Another highlight of the west coast is Galissas, one of Syros’ most popular beaches. There’s everything you need to spend a full day here (sunbeds & parasols, beach bars with cool drinks and snacks and tavernas). The sand and shallow water make it a hit with families and there are water sports, such as windsurfing, to enjoy. There’s also a path leading up to the diminutive church of Agia Pakou, with great views of the Aegean and a tiny bay.
Vari and the beaches to the south
There’s no doubt which is the most popular coast for beach-goers. The rugged southern coastline is dotted with sandy bays synonymous with summer holidays in Syros: Vari (another family favourite), Megas Gialos (not just fully organised but with shade-giving trees) and Agathopes (with all the comforts as well as more golden sand and shallow water). There are others to discover (Posidonia, Finikas…) so take a drive along the coast and choose your favourite.
Apano Meria and Syros’ intoxicating sunset
Over to the top end of the island now and yet another contrast. Apano Meria refers to the northern part of Syros and is a mixture of greenery, hillside and plenty more rugged coastline. As you explore the countryside, you’ll be drawn on by the aromas of wild fennel and thyme and the shimmering of olive trees. There are a few settlements, such as Mytakas, Papouri, Rihopos, Marmari and Plati Vouni. Quiet little San Michali stands out, with its taverna offering fantastic local dishes and an unforgettable sunset view.
Hiking to the beaches in the north
Of all the things to do on Syros, hiking is the best way to get to know the north. There are numerous signposted trails to follow (the paths of goat herders), crisscrossing the countryside. The routes leading out of Kampos (the northernmost village) are memorable not just taking you across remote mountainside but also leading to secluded beaches (Lia, Marmari, Amerikanou, Grammata…). Another great hiking trail takes you from the village of Richopo, past the Cave of Ferekidis and on to Plati Vouni village.
Top things to do in Syros
From its many highlights to the lesser-known experiences, Syros is an island of intriguing blends. It’s a great choice for a summer holiday in the Aegean but is also alive at other times of the year. Easter is a very special experience in Syros, especially as part of a springtime island break – yet another idea in all the things to do in Syros.
Discover Greece Your Way
Discover authentic local experiences and secure your bookings for activities and tours with our official online rates.