Symi - An Authentic Greek Island Experience

The glamour yachts are back.  We don't see as many huge megayachts as we used to but there is evidently still  money around, judging by this line up earlier in the week

A cat-nap

It is not all gin palaces and 'stink boats'.  We do see occasional sailing yachts like this one in Yialos.

Yes, this is Symi.  If you go up the mountain you enter a different world.  One of ancient forests, orchards and olive groves, mountain chapels and tumble-down terraces.

Cats and chickens living in peaceful co-existence on a corner in Lieni, an area on the top edge of the Pedi valley.

The voluptuously extravagant flowers of the wild caper bushes are a well-kept secret, only visible to early risers.  The tiny buds form in the evening, swelling over night and bursting into bloom at dawn, only to shrivel away in the morning heat.  The Greeks use almost every part of the caper plant, pickling and brining not just the immature flower buds but also the tender leaf tips and the seed pods.

A Symi scarecrow.

Blue and white.  The colonnade is part of Giorgio and Maria's taverna, a Symi landmark since the 1970s and still going strong, although the eponymous Giorgio and his wife have long since departed this earth.

The last gasp of the Kali Strata steps. The Olive Tree cafe is screened by the verdant garden on the left. Giorgio's taverna is the blue sign at the top centre.  There is a very charming small boutique selling artisanal sandals and other items immediately opposite the taverna entrance.  A bit higher up you will find the Rainbow bar and Boulmas/Lefteris Kafeneion, a butcher, a baker and various other shops.

The  blue studios at the Hotel Fiona in Chorio.

The traditional herb shop, just down from the Olive Tree at the top of the Kali Strata. They also sell Greek coffee and other ethnic delicacies.

Free range on the Kali Strata. There is no real division between town and country on Symi and many Symiots keep a small flock of hens and a rooster to supply the family with eggs and the occasional bird for the pot.

The lanes of Yialos abound with shops and boutiques to suit every budget and taste.  Symi has quite a reputation for its excellent shopping opportunities in the summer and you will find far better and more interesting items for sale here than in Rhodes Old Town.

Symi's new fresh fish shop, next to the Georgina's Market in Yialos.

Day visitors from Rhodes enjoying a seafood lunch at one of the traditional tavernas in Yialos.

Not all of the lanes are busy and bustling. Some of them are peaceful oases.
Symi is getting busier as July progresses.  Hot sunny days by the sea merge into warm summer evenings in the bars and tavernas.  Visitors grow browner by the day.  Most of Symi's beaches can only be reached by water taxis operating out of Yialos and Pedi.  Others can be reached on foot in Nimborio and Pedi and there is also a mini-bus service several times a week to take people across the island to Toli Bay for the day or down to Marathounda, the tiny seaside village near Panormitis.  On Symi you can go to a different beach or bay everyday, or find your favourite and visit it time after time. The choice is yours.

Symi is very popular with single travelers.  An advantage of staying on an island where visitors stay among the locals is that everyone quickly knows everyone else.  The locals eat at the same tavernas as the tourists, visitors travel on the same bus as the locals and shop in the same shops.  First names are quickly exchanged and no one remains a stranger for long. This is why people keep coming back, year after year, visiting friends and making new ones.  Symi is a totally authentic and unique Greek island experience.

There is still quite a lot of accommodation available on the island for this summer if you have flexibility with your dates.  Have a look at our travel blog to see what flight options connect with the ferries to Symi and drop us an email.

Have a good week!


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About this Blog

I sailed into Panormitis Bay, Symi, by chance one windy July day in 1993 and have been here ever since. The locals tell me that this is one of the miracles of St Michael of Panormitis. A BA graduate with majors in English, Philosophy and Classical Civilisation, the idea of living in what is to all intents and purposes an archaeological site appeals to me. Not as small as Kastellorizo, not as touristy as Rhodes, Symi is just the right size. I live on a small holding which my husband and I have reclaimed from a ruin of over-grazing and neglect and turned into a small oasis over the course of the past 22 years. I also work part-time for Symi Visitor Accommodation, helping independent travellers discover and enjoy Symi's simple pleasures for themselves.

This page is kindly sponsored by Wendy Wilcox, Symi Visitor Accommodation.

Adriana Shum

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