Take a day trip to Symi and you’ll find things to do that revolve around quiet Greek island life. It all starts with one of the most stunning harbor views in the Dodecanese.
Day Trip to Symi from Rhodes
During my visit to Rhodes, I took a day trip to Symi with my good friend Amina. We agreed that the word charming sums up how to describe this little island.
From Rhodes to Symi and Back
It’s easy to get to Symi from Rhodes. We departed from the harbor in Rhodes Town at 9:30 am and made it to the harbor in Symi in about 1.5 hours. We had until 4:30 pm to see what we could. We found that you can get a good sample of Symi’s beauty in that time.
What Symi is Known For
What can you find on Symi? It isn’t known for sandy stretches of beaches which perhaps prevents mass hordes of tourists. There aren’t any large beach resorts or fancy hotels either.
What you’ll probably be spending money on is eating! The harbor town is lined with upscale restaurants and pricey fish taverns which are popular with day visitors from Rhodes.
Besides a full meal, taking in the panoramic views, admiring the colorful houses, checking out the sea sponge shops and enjoying a pretty walk is also part of the day trip to Symi package. Sounds good? Read on…
Top Things to Do on Symi Island
Here’s a list of things to do to help you out during your time there and it all starts even before you get off the ferry!
Take Photos or Video from the Ferry Boat
Gliding into Yialos, which is Symi’s harbor town, is one of the highlights. Be sure you are out on the deck while the boat is approaching to grab some video or a few panoramic shots. Symi harbor is set like a gorgeous amphitheater, where two- and three-storey stone homes painted in a range of pastels are stacked down lush hillsides. It is simply stunning to take it all in as you approach.
Stroll Yialos Harbor
You’ll get off at Yialos. If you want, you can rent a scooter for the day here. Or you can just walk it like we did.
There are little fishing boats bobbing in the water and you’ll see fishermen tending to their nets.
Agios Ioannis Church
While in Yialos, check out this 19th-century church’s bell tower. I also loved the intricate stone pebbled mosaic floors on the outside grounds of the church. The inside of this church was also very beautiful to see.
Symi Folk Museum
Another one of the things to do during your day trip to Symi is check out the little museums. They are in Yialos. The Folk Museum is housed in a neoclassical building and features Hellenistic and Roman sculptures and inscriptions as well as more recent carvings, icons and costumes.
The Nautical Museum is near the Folk Museum in Yialos. Here you can learn about the interesting sponge diving culture of the Dodecanese islands. Take a look at tools, model ships and vintage anchors used in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Buy a Sea Sponge
Symi was once one of the world’s great sponge-diving centers. One of the best souvenirs to take home is a funny looking sea sponge. You’ll see lots of sponge shops selling all types of natural sea sponges which are perfect for loofah use, bath time and for exfoliation. Living in Greece, I have completely abandoned the plastic bath sponge. This is the way to go.
Hike Up to the Chorio
One of the top things to do on your day trip to Symi – is get walking up that hill!
It isn’t a long hike but you do need to take hundreds of steps (500 to be exact) to get to the panoramic views of the hilltop village called Chorio.
There are a few “entrances,” I don’t think you can go wrong. The “official” steps are called Kali Strata which means good way/walk.
The truth is the ascent isn’t hard if you are fairly fit. There’s shade here and there. Plus, you’ll want to stop to admire the homes and architecture along the way. The top can be reached in 15 to 20 minutes but it took us way longer because we meandered this way and that.
Once you get to Chorio, there’s a quiet central square with not much going on except a well-reputed restaurant and a few cafes. Here you can take a breather and order a refreshment or coffee.
Stop at Megali Panagia Church for a Panoramic View
Keep walking up another five minutes from the Chorio’s square to get to this whitewashed church (also known as Panagia Tou Kastrou) for a beautiful panoramic view. We were advised by a nice local that this is the place to go and he even walked us the entire way to make sure we wouldn’t get lost. Gotta love the wonderful Greek people.
See What Remains of Historic Castle Walls
From Megali Panagia, you can look out at the fragments of an ancient acropolis that once protected the town, as well as remnants of a 16th-century castle built by the Knights of St. John.
The traditional village of Emborios is Symi’s second port. Locals told us they like to go swimming here. The ancient town of Metapontis was situated close by. We didn’t have a chance to go.
A famous landmark on Symi is the 18th-century Monastery of the Archangel Michael Panormitis. This monastery is on the southwest coast, overlooking the sea. During the summer, the monks rent out cells of the monastery for overnight stays.
Ferries sometimes stop in Panormitis before heading to Yialos. Otherwise, you can take a bus or taxi from Yialos.
Bask in the Sun at Symi Beaches
During your day trip to Symi you may want to check out the beaches. Pedi Beach is a popular one. On August 15, there’s a traditional folk festival here at the monastery of Panagia Altheini.
Marathounda Bay, Yiorgos Disalonas and Nanou are all secluded beaches with lovely settings and clear waters. Other beaches are situated on small islets around Symi including Agia Marina, Agios Emilianos, Nimos and Sesklia.
Disclosure: There are some affiliate links below, but these are all services and places I highly recommend. I won’t put anything on this page that I haven’t verified and/or personally used.
That sums up the things you can do on a perfect day trip to Symi! Are you ready to go?
How to Get to Symi
Symi can only be reached by boat or ferry. It is easy to take a day trip to Symi from Rhodes Town.
There are two ferry departure points on Rhodes. Head to Kolonna port if you are taking the high-speed catamarans Dodekanisos Pride and Dodekanisos Express. Head to Akandia port if you are taking the car transport ferries Panagia Skiadeni and Blue Star Diagoras Naxos.
To check ferry times, head to this site.
Be sure you know which port you are going to! They are not within easy walking distance from each other. We took a taxi from our Rhodes Town hotel and it was 7 euro. We showed our driver the ticket and that guaranteed we arrived on time in the right place.
You can book your travel to Symi through Triton Tours. They are experts in travel throughout the Dodecanese islands. Great service and reputation. A round trip ticket to Symi from Rhodes starts at 30 euro.
How to Get Around on Symi
If you rented a car on Rhodes and you’re on a day trip to Symi, leave the car behind. It is more convenient to walk around, hop on the bus, rent a scooter or grab a taxi. Even for the sights farther from the port, like Panormitis you can plan accordingly and catch the public bus.
Where to Eat on Symi
We dined at Manos Fish Tavern is considered the most famous fish restaurant in Symi. Many A-listers and Hollywood celebrities vacationing in the Greek isles have stopped in here for a meal. I spotted a pic of Sarah Jessica Parker on the wall. In general, I found the fish taverns on Symi to be quite pricey compared to other islands.
Where to Stay
Symi doesn’t have many hotels and since I went on a day trip from Rhodes, I don’t have any advice to give you. I only recommend hotels I have stayed at. If you are looking for great accommodation in Rhodes Town which is close to the ports, check out the five-star beach resort Mitsis Grand Hotel. For a boutique stay with lots of style and service, check out Melenos Lindos in gorgeous Lindos.
Need more inspiration to travel the amazing Dodecanese islands of Greece? Check out my earlier post: Top Things to Do in Rhodes Old Town.
Have you ever been on a day trip to Symi? Would you like to go?
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