Part of the Dodecanese Island chain, Symi is located north of Rhodes and close to the coast of south-west Turkey. Its main town, commonly referred to by the same name as the island itself, is divided in two parts: the harbor-side one, called Gialós, and the adjacent one on the slopes of the hills, called Chorió. On arrival to Symi, we usually berth at the main harbor, a perfect base from which to explore this little romantic paradise.
Gialós is a galore of two and three-story traditional stone houses, painted in a wide range of colors but mostly in indigo, ochre and terracotta, with red tiled roofs and miniature balconies. The two sides of the port are joined together by a gorgeous stone-block bridge. The Town Hall, the cathedral, the square and the Naval Museum of Symi are the main attractions on this side. The latter lends an insight to the naval tradition of the island and boasts, amongst else, exhibits representing the evolution of sponge fishing through the years.
There is a stony stairway of 500 steps leading to Chorió, the upper part of the town. The locals call it Kalí Stráta, which means “good way”; what else would you name such a wonderful walkway under the trees with satisfying views over Gialos? Some awesome churches fill the streets of Chorió with beauty. Icon screens, post-byzantine icons and grave yards are worth seeing here. Overlooking Chorió, are the remnants of a castle built by the knights of St John in the 14th century as an expansion to an old byzantine castle on the same site.
One of the island’s most famous landmarks is the monastery of the Archangel Michael Panormitis on the southwest coast. Built in the early 18th century, it overlooks the bay bearing its name, in an spectacular setting, combining mountains and sea. During the summer months, the monks accommodate visitors in the cells of the monastery for a token charge.
There is no lack of beautiful beaches on the island. Many of them are off the beaten track and reachable only by boat. Some of them are sandy, some of them are pebbly, some of them are situated on small islets around Symi but all of them are bathed by crystal clear water. Picturesque tavernas by the sea, fine restaurants and traditional ouzo and meze tavernas will cater for you with delicious tastes.