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Map & Synopsis: Greek Island of Symi (Dodecanese)
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greece travel map symi greek islandGreek Island of Symi

This little island to the northwest of Rhodes has a exceptionally beautiful harbor with neoclassical mansions on its slopes, built with fortunes from ship building and the sponge diving industry.

Architecturally protected, its beauty draws large crowds of day trippers from Rhodes in summer, and large numbers of yachts.

The lower harbor area is called Yialos (seashore), and the upper part on the hill (up some 375 steps) is called Horio (village), the latter with a folk museum housed in two old mansions. Many houses in Horio resemble Cycladic houses externally, with neoclassical elements in their doorways and windows, and some Ottoman elements inside, such as carved woodwork and beds on raised platforms.

An all summer festival (July to September) is held on Symi and other Dodecanese islands, with free concerts. Aside from tiny fishing ports, there are no real villages of any size on Symi, though there are trees inland, including oaks, junipers, cypresses, and pines.

Good hiking paths pass monasteries and lead to some fine coves and gulfs; on the east cost there's a fijord surrounded by steep cliffs, and islets off both the north and south tips of the island. A nice walk of forty-five minutes from Yialos is to the fishing village of Pedhi, which has become a resort visited by many yachts, with a pebble beach and some inexpensive tavernas on the waterfront.

Behind this village is the island's most fertile plain. The only sandy beach on Symi is another fifteen minutes past Pedhi at Ayios Nikolaos, with tamarisk trees and a taverna; on another path from Pedhi is the little beach of Aghia Marina, from which one can swim to an islet with a monastery on it .

There are nice seclued coves for snorkeling and nude bathing past the boatyards in Yialos; bays and inlets are numerous on the indented coast of Symi. Another fijord-like inlet on the southeast coast is Ayios Yiorgios Dhyssalona, with more bay beaches to the south of it.

Symi is a good island for hiking. There are quite a few monasteries on the island, including the enormous one at the southern tip of the island, Txiarkis Mikhail Panormitis, where pilgrims come in summer. Ayios Vassilios monastery, on a beautiful gulf on the the central west coast, is a nice trek from Horio. The long pebble beach offers seclusion to nude bathers. More monasteries and bays are found along the northwest coast; there's another monastery on the large barren islet of Nimos off the northeast tip, but the islet where one can swim is off of the south coast, and is called Sesklia. Greener and wetter than Nimos, it has a long pebble beach shaded by tamarisk trees , and very clear water.