Symi is one of Greece’s best kept secrets and sailing into the harbour from Rhodes is an experience visitors never forget. It’s a breathtakingly beautiful view of brightly painted neo-classical mansions tumbling down the hillside, traditional fishing boats and yachts bobbing in the azure sea that twinkles as if stars are dancing across the water while lively chatter from tavernas and bars echoes around the quayside to seal the welcoming atmosphere.
Yialos, the lower part of Symi Town, has a cosmopolitan feel and in summer there’s a lively buzz around the pretty boutiques, cafes, tavernas and bars. Visitors can stroll through the quaint upper town to reach a medieval castle.
Chorio village is higher up from the quayside; the 350 or so steps put off some people from visiting but it is well worth the effort because Chorio retains a feel of old, laid-back Greece with lots of narrow passageways, ruins and kafenion – cafes where locals relax, discuss news of the day and play cards.
Symi , in the south-east Aegean, has dozens of small, often isolated, beaches tucked away in coves which can be reached by water taxi so choose a different beach every day! There’s usually a friendly taverna on the beach to add more pleasure to the experience. Some beaches can also be reached by bus or hire car but arriving by boat makes for a special holiday memory of Symi. Well-marked footpaths make the island an excellent destination for walkers who can explore the rugged inland with forests of juniper and oak as well as tiny monasteries that are scattered across the island. The finest frescoes on the island are at the hilltop Kokkimidhis monastery which is reached by a steep path off the Panormitis road.
Taxiarchis Mikhail Roukountis is Symi’s oldest monastery and it can be seen during a three-hour walk across the island from Yialos to the western coast where Aylos Emilianos monastery is on a small islet connected to the coast through a narrow causeway.