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Exploring the island of Symi, Greece, a gem in the Aegean Sea

Symi is a small, and picturesque island in the Aegean Sea, a short ferry ride away from Rhodes. The island is famous for its crystal-clear waters, shrimps, stunning colourful architecture, sea-sponges and has a rich history. Heres a few things you can get up to while exploring the island of Symi, Greece.


We booked our ferry tickets from Ferryhopper, long before our trip. This is what we did when travelling from Santorini to Ios in September 2021.

We booked a great little apartment through booking.com for this trip. It was close to the harbour, so it was in the perfect location for restaurants and shopping. The Maravelia Apartments was a fantastic little place. We met up with our host at an agreed time, who passed on the key and all relevant bits of info. Our room was clean, quiet and air-conditioned. It was plenty big enough for our overnight stay. Once we finished checking in, we dumped our bags and carried on exploring.


One of the first things you will notice when you arrive at Symi is the islands unique architecture. They paint the hillside buildings in bright pastel colors, which makes the place even more beautiful. The clear waters that surround the island are perfect for swimming and diving. You can expect to see a variety of marine life, such as colorful fish and sea urchins. You can drive to the island’s beaches or take one of the many busses that depart from the harbour.

Explore the island’s history by visiting the Archaeological and Folklore Museum. The museum is in the old town and showcases artifacts from various periods. There is also the Panormitis Monastery, which dates back to the 18th century. The monastery is located on the southwest side of the island and is a popular site for Orthodox Christians.

If you visit in the summer months, you can take part in the island’s various festivals and celebrations. The Sympotia Festival, held in August, is a celebration of traditional music and dancing, and the perfect opportunity to experience Greek culture.


During our overnight stay, we mainly hung out around the port area of the island. Even here, there was still so much to do. Maybe if we’d had longer on the island, we would have caught a bus and explored further. There are some great shops to look around, all full of local crafts and goodies. I enjoyed visiting the fruit stores to buy peaches bigger than your fist. Restaurants all serving fresh seafood, amazing Gyro’s and Symi’s famous shrimp.

Beautiful Symi harbour, clear blue sea and fishing boats.
Beautiful Symi harbour, clear blue sea and fishing boats.


If you’re after a bit of adventure, you can hike up to the top of the island. The walk up to the main town is quite challenging, but the views at the top make it all worthwhile.

We stopped off half way and ate some lunch we bought from a shop down by the port. We found a beautiful square surrounded by trees; we fed the pigeons and entertained a couple of cats before we carried on with our journey. To find this square, on a map app, search for ‘Σύλλογος’.

The Port of Symi, Greece.


This beautiful, blue and white church stands proudly overlooking the Port of Symi. We knew about this church before travelling and was the main reason we wanted to hike to the top of the hill to see it. It is located in the Symi Acropolis area.

Once at the top, the views out over the island were breathtaking, all the colourful buildings below looked even more pretty from above, the view out over the Aegean and the old windmills were incredible.

Aswell as taking some water with us for the climb, I bought the biggest peach to eat at the top, I soon made light work of it once there.


Another short walk, around the corner from The Church of Our Lady, and you will find yet more small chapels. These are all within the Symi Acropolis and Castle area. Worth a visit for yet more amazing views out across the island.


The Annunciation Church is a stunning example of Orthodox Christian architecture and is located a short 15-minute walk from the main port area. With its own small cemetery, this cream coloured church isn’t like the stereotypical blue and white churches of the Greek isles.


The windmills, like the Church of Our Lady, sit high on a hill overlooking the port and town below. There are approximately 12, some lie in ruin and they even converted some into accommodation you can stay in. Check this out – The Windmill, Symi.


The Greek island of Symi is a food lover’s paradise. Seafood is a staple of the islands cuisine, and the harbour is full of fishing boats that bring in a daily catch of fish, squid, and octopus. They then send them off to be cooked in many of the local cafes and restaurants. Other specialties include Pitaridia, a type of handmade pasta served with tomato sauce, onions, and cheese, and Sfougato, a savory pie made with zucchini, feta cheese, and herbs.


Symi shrimp is a delicacy in Greece that is highly sought after by seafood connoisseurs. Locals catch these small, pink shrimp in the waters around the island. Known for their sweet flavour and tender texture, this makes them popular in Mediterranean cuisine. They can be sauteed with garlic and lemon or grilled with olive oil and sea salt.

Symi is also known for its sweets, which are made with local ingredients such as almonds, honey, and sesame seeds. One of the most famous desserts is Simigdalenios, a dense almond cake that is flavored with rosewater.

While we were there, we were just happy to stuff our faces with, yes, you’ve guessed it, more delicious Gyro’s!


Symi harbour comes alive at night. Busy restaurants, cocktail bars, music, the hillside surrounding the port lights up and boats and yachts worth millions come in to dock overnight. Find a place to eat, enjoy a drink and soak up the atmosphere.


If you are staying on the island for longer and are looking for a few more things to add to your itinerary, then here are some more incredible things to do.

  • Visit the fascinating Symi Archaeological and Folklore Museum to learn about the island’s rich history and culture.
  • Take a day trip to the nearby island of Nimos to explore the rugged coastline and swim in the crystal-clear waters.
  • Go snorkeling in the many beautiful bays and coves around Symi.
  • Visit the famous Symi Festival in July and August and experience traditional music, dance, and food.
  • Take a cooking class and learn how to prepare local dishes such as moussaka and souvlaki.
  • Visit the beautiful and historical Byzantine Church of St John the Theologian.
  • Explore the rugged landscape of the island by renting a quad bike or motorcycle.
  • Take a trip to the tiny islet of Sesklio and swim in the turquoise waters of the nearby Blue Cave.
  • Stroll through the quaint village of Pedi and enjoy the calm and peaceful atmosphere.
  • Finally, visit the stunningly beautiful Convent of the Archangel Michael Roukouniotis and experience its historical and religious significance.


So far we have travelled from Santorini to Ios and Rhodes to Symi using Ferryhopper. Compare different routes and plan a trip around the Greek Isles. We are already planning our next adventure, and can’t wait to share it with you.

Read: Rhodes, Greece: A must-visit destination for history lovers and beach enthusiasts.

Also, ferry hop to the island of Ios from Santorini: Island hopping from Santorini to Ios.

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