Symi (often also spelled Simi) is a small island (22 sq. miles, pop. about 2,500) with perhaps the most beautiful harbour in Greece. It's one of the friendliest places in Greece. The market for overnighting is a bit exclusive; the minimum price to overnight in Ano Symi is more than double that of on nearby Rhodes.
In the nineteenth century Symi grew wealthy from the sponge trade: boats sailed as far afield as the coast of North Africa and the sponge fisherman were away from home for months on end. Sponges are still sold in local shops, but are now all imported. The harbour is a protected site, since most of the buildings are Neo-classical in design and date from the 19th C.
Ferries, and fast catamarans operate several services daily between Rhodes and Symi. These services are provided by two companies: Dodekanisos Seaways and Blue Star ferries. These Ferry Services also travel to other islands.
During the tourist season you can reach Symi from many of the surrounding islands in the Dodecanese, and even from Piraeus (Athens).
Depending on where you are travelling from, Kos can also be a destination (like Rhodes) to fly in to and then catch a ferry to Symi.
Ferry travel is comfortable and efficient, but is dependent upon weather conditions. During winter and Spring high winds may curtail ferry services for a day or more.
More information about Dodekanisos Seaways can be found here: www.12ne.gr/en/
More information about Blue Star Ferries can be found here: www.bluestarferries.com
There is a bus service that runs from Yialos (Harbour also known as Symi Village) through Chorio (Upper Village) to Pedi. The service operates throughout the day and evening.There are also numerous places to rent a car or moped, and the main road from Symi harbour to Panormitis Monastery offers an easy drive with spectacular views. Taxi service is also available.
Panormitis - Monastery is located at the southend of Symi island. It can be accessed by boat, car, motorbike, and some people walk the 5 hours from the Upper Village or Harbour as a pilgrimage. The monastery is situated in a cove that is surrounded by a mountainous backdrop. It is a large 18th century Venetian styled building with the highest baroque bell tower in the world. Archangel Michael of Panormitis (Gr. O Πανορμίτης) refers to a miraculous icon of the Archangel Michael and is one of the four miraculous icons of the Archangel in the Dodecanese of Greece. The Greek Orthodox Monastery of Taxiarchis Mihail Panormitis is the most important monastery on the island and second largest in the Dodecanese islands after the monastery of St John the Theologian in Patmos.
Climb the 300 stone stairs that connect Yialos the harbour area to Chorio - the Upper Village. As you climb you will experience beautiful views overlooking the harbour and marvel at the mansions. These steps are called the Kalistrata. Importantly, get away from the tourist centre of the harbour to truly experience Symi.
Relax for a cool drink or a Greek coffee at one of several cafeneons in Chorio.
Visit the museum in the Upper Village area.
Symi offers a fantastic landscape for walkers, particularly in the Spring or late summer when it is not too hot. The terrain in places can be tough but rewarding.
Catch a boat to one of the beaches or circumnavigate the island.
Bring your crayons, paints and capture the magic of the island.
Symi offers a wonderful selection of seafood and Greek restaurants. All restaurants are family owned, and whether you eat at one of the harbour restaurants (which can be more expensive) or restaurants in Chorio (Upper Village) or Pedi, you will enjoy the culinary delights that Symi has to offer.
A wide selection of drinks is served at bars/cafenions on Symi, including cold beers, ouzo and cocktails, or Greek coffee and tea.
Symi town gets extremely crowded in season with visitors, both day trippers and those staying longer, and even in the slower season it can be difficult to find accommodation on weekends and holidays without advance booking. If you want to be in the heart of the hustle and bustle, then Symi town (Yialos) is the place to be. If you want quiet when you sleep, then Chrorio (Upper Village) is the place to stay.
Symi is full of characterful villas and houses. You can stay in a restored house in the Upper Village of Chorio. It requires a walk up the Kalistrata (the stone steps, or a very short ride by bus, taxi, moped or motorbike. There is also accommodation in the quiet beach villages of Pedi and Nimborio. (No bus service runs to Nimborio)