Home to the picture-perfect town of Symi and a mountainous interior, the Greek island of Symi forms part of the Dodecanese archipelago, just off the coast of Turkey. Rocky cliffs and isolated coves ring the island, while the 18th-century Monastery of Archangel Michael Panormitis lies on the southwest coast, serving as a major Greek Orthodox pilgrimage site.
The port of Symi is the sight that greets most visitors to the island, clustered with colourful neoclassical buildings that cling to the hills, many of which have been heritage-listed. The town is divided into two area - the harbour of Gialós and the village of Chorió - with the Rolói clock tower dominating the entrance to the horseshoe-shaped port.
Gialós features traditional stone houses painted in indigo and ochre, with red-tiled roofs and charming balconies. The picturesque kaldirími bridge connects the two sides of the port, leading to the attractive cathedral and town hall. Be sure to visit the Naval Museum of Symi to discover the island’s maritime history and the evolution of sponge fishing here.
A stone stairway leads to the village of Chorió where atmospheric churches line the streets. Don’t miss a visit to the Kástro (castle) that overlooks the town of Symi, having been built by the Knights of St. John in the 14th century.
Symi’s mountainous interior is dotted with small valleys to explore, while beautiful sand and pebble beaches line the coast. Feast on freshly caught seafood at the traditional tavernas, with shrimps the local specialty.
Symi is just a short hop from the Turkish coastline and the town of Bozburun where gulet yachts are crafted in waterfront workshops. Follow the walking trail that leads from Bozburun to the ancient city of Larymna to explore the remains of its city walls and tombstones, then soak up the impressive views of the Bozburun Peninsula.
From Symi you can continue to the small Greek island of Tilos where ancient dwarf elephant bones have been discovered, then on to the charismatic island of Rhodes. Wander its UNESCO-listed medieval Old Town and explore the whitewashed town of Lindos and its ancient cliff-top acropolis.