If you’re looking for a small, quiet, authentic Greek island, look no further! Symi Island is the perfect choice for every traveler looking for a genuine feeling: eating in the same tavernas, shopping in the same shops and markets with the locals, getting lost in cobblestoned alleys, and laying in the sun at secluded beaches.

If Symi Island is on your schedule, find out all the things to do on this gorgeous island from this article.

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The best things to do on Symi Island, Greece

Things To Know Before Visiting Symi Island

About Symi Island 

Symi is a small mountainous island in the Dodecanese, mostly known for its shipbuilding industry and sea sponge. Situated between the Greek islands of Rhodes, Kos, and Tilos and the Turkish mainland, the island is the perfect getaway for every nature lover searching for silence and an authentic Greek feeling.

Symi is one of the smaller holiday islands in the Dodecanese group, just over 13 kilometers long and 8 kilometers wide.

This lovely island is divided into Chorio, the upper town; Gialos, the lower town, also known as the main harbor; Pedi Bay, just below Chorio; Nimborios Bay to the north of Gialos; and the Panormitis Monastery complex.

You’ll discover many beautiful, colorful residences, gorgeous monasteries, hidden beaches, azure waters, and hiking trails.

How many days to spend on Symi Island

Most of the tourists visit Symi on daily cruises from Rhodes. This might be an option if you’re short on time but still want to hit the main sights.

Of course, you can easily spend 3-4 days on the island and get a glimpse of the island’s treasures.

Ideally, spending at least one week on Symi would be best. This gives you enough time to visit everything without rushing, to go on a boat tour, and to relax at the beach. 

Best time to visit Symi Island

boat facing the main town of Symi Island

If you’re looking for a more relaxed atmosphere, the best time for visiting the island is the spring and autumn months, when the temperatures drop, and the weather is sunny and warm, making the experience more pleasant. The scent of rosemary, oregano, and oleander will accompany you wherever you are on the island.

The island is busiest in July and August, but finding accommodation is possible if you book in advance. However, it doesn’t get busy even during the summer months, as it is a small island.

Get an eSIM before the trip

Because phones have become our most important devices, it’s necessary to have a data connection as soon as you step foot in a different country. Your home data plan might only work if you paid for a much more expensive package, finding wifi connections in airports or train stations might be tricky, and seeking a local store to buy a SIM card might be exhausting. Forget all of that!

You just purchase an e-SIM, install it on your phone, and activate the plan when you’re ready to use it. Getting out of the plane and instantly connecting to data was a game changer for me. I didn’t have to waste time standing in line to get a local SIM card or finding a wifi connection to book a taxi to reach my hotel.
If you ask me, getting an e-SIM is a quintessential part of traveling. There is no physical installation and no long-term commitments. And the best part is that you can always top up or purchase a new plan through the app. Pretty convenient, right? Find the best data plan for GREECE HERE.

How to get to Symi Island 

lovely views of Gialos town

Taking a ferry from Rhodes is the most popular option since Symi doesn’t have an airport. You can take the night ferry from Athens Piraeus port, but the trip lasts 13 hours.

The easiest way is to fly to Rhodes or Kos islands and embark on a ferry. Generally, the journey from Rhodes takes around one hour, while you’re looking at around 2 hours if you plan on coming from Kos.

Usually, you will find more ferry operators and timetables running on the same route, and the price will vary depending on which ferry you take.

Book a day tour from Rhodes

Due to the islands’ proximity to Rhodes, you will have the chance to discover the best things to do on Symi Island on a day trip from Rhodes. A few companies in Rhodes offer day trips to Symi, with tickets starting from 40€. As a rule of thumb, the faster the ferry, the more pricey it will be. They usually begin in the morning and end late in the afternoon. The boat journey from Rhodes takes around one hour.

As soon as you reach the shoreline of Symi, you have a few hours at your disposal to discover the island. While many choose to visit the main port and lay in the sun at the nearby Nos beach, the island has so much more to offer. Hike to Chorio for the best vistas, rent a scooter and explore the hidden places, indulge in authentic Greek cuisine at one of the tavernas, and do some souvenir shopping.

Once you return to the ferry at the designated hour, the tour takes you to the Panormitis Monastery complex, the island’s jewelry. Here, you’ll have another hour to stroll, take pictures and taste delicious ice cream. From here, the ferry takes another hour to reach Rhodes.

In case you’re wondering where to start, I already made a selection for you, so feel free to choose one:

Take a speedboat cruise to the picturesque island of Symi. Enjoy free time to explore the island and make a 30-minute swim stop at one of the most beautiful bays in the world, St. George Bay. BOOK YOUR TOUR HERE

Another great tour takes you to Symi and allows you to spend 3.5-4 hours visiting Symi town and another hour at the Monastery of Archangel Michael Panormitis. BOOK YOUR TICKETS TO SYMI ISLAND

Where to stay on Symi Island

facing the main harbour of Gialos town

If you’re looking for holiday all-inclusive groups, you won’t find them here. But you’ll find plenty of villas, self-catering apartments, studios, and a few small hotels. The owners and the residents are generally kind and ready to satisfy all your wishes. 

Accommodation prices in Symi vary depending on the time of year. The prices are at their highest in July and August, but if you book in advance, you can find reasonably priced accommodation. 

Most holiday accommodation is only open from April until October, so keep that in mind if you wish to visit Symi during the off-season. 

I’m sure that once you have stayed on Symi Island, you will fall in love with the island and want to return!

Note. The water on Symi is brought by ship from Rodhes since there is no natural water apart from the one saved during the rains. So, if you’re staying on Symi Island, always use water wisely, as every drop matters. 

Getting around Symi Island 

renting a scooter on Symi Island is so much fun!

First, consider that Symi is a small mountainous island, with some places reached only on foot. Once you arrive, you will walk a lot or use the local bus to wander around. The island has a public bus system, which is great if you don’t plan on renting a scooter or a car or you’re on a budget. The buses cover most of the island, between the Gialos port, Pedi Beach, Nos Beach, and Panormitis Monastery. They run regularly, every hour, and a ticket costs no more than €2.

There are only a few cars on the island, and renting one won’t help much. Scooters are the best way to get to various places; just don’t plan on doing any off-roading. You’ll find scooter rental places when you reach the small port and Symi town.

Another option to wander around is to get on a taxi boat, which will take you to the beaches that are inaccessible by road.

How to spend one day on Symi Island when visiting on your own

Get on an early ferry to Symi to make the most of your day. Once here, I recommend hiking to Chorio for the best views, not to mention the best temperatures. The rest of the time can be spent exploring the main town and the port area. One of the best things to do during midday is to hang out at one of the tavernas, do some souvenir shopping, and enjoy the little peace. 

There is a motor road from Gialos to Panormitis on the other side of the island, so you can navigate there if you’re renting a scooter. If time allows, take the local bus or a water taxi to visit the Panormitis Monastery on the other side of the island. 

Secure your travel Insurance 

We never leave home without travel insurance designed to cover our expenses if something goes wrong. If you’re still on the lookout for travel insurance for your trip to Symi Island, I highly recommend HEYMONDO, a trusted insurance provider for leisure and business trips, backpackers, long-term travelers, and digital nomads. Their travel insurance protects against theft, flight delays, injury, illness, cancellations, and much more.

The Best Things To Do On Symi Island 

Whether you’re looking to explore historical sites, relax on the beach, indulge in Greek cuisine, or shop for souvenirs, there’s something for everyone on this island. So, let me walk you through the best things to do on Symi Island!

Explore Chorio, the upper part of the town, one of the best things to do on Symi Island 

wandering the alleys of Chorio on Symi Island

If you’re wondering what to do on Symi, this is a place you don’t want to leave off your itinerary. Heading to the Old Town of Chorio is undoubtedly one of the best things to do on Symi Island. But the only way to reach this stunning part of the island is on foot. 

Near the port area, you’ll find the famous Kali Strata path, connecting the upper part of the town with the lower one. The 500 stone steps leading up to Chorio are not easy to tackle, particularly on a hot day, but the views are well worth it. Once you get here, you’ll understand why it’s such a popular spot. It’s actually one of the most photographed places on Symi Island, and it tends to get busy, especially with day visitors. It’s worth scheduling your visit in the morning or late afternoon to avoid the midday heat and the crowds. This area is so peaceful that it almost feels like stepping back in time!

Allow yourself at least an hour or two to explore the cobbled-stone alleys, admire the old houses and the blooming flowers, and observe the locals and the sleepy cats. There is also a plethora of churches and bell towers. Some tavernas and cafes are along the way if you get tired, so feel free to rest!

TIP. If you get to Symi on a day trip from Rhodes, hike to Chorio first and only after, explore the port area, and relax with a cold drink at one of the many tavernas encircling the shoreline. 

Savor the views from the Kastro Castle 

the views from Chorio over the Gialos, Symi Island

Once you reach Chorio, you’ll bump into the Venetian Castle, built by the Knights of the Order of Saint John back in the 14th century. The original purpose of this castle was to protect the island against invasions, but it fell into the Ottoman hands after their attack in 1522.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much to do or see, but you can walk around its remains. Symi is full of scenic locations, but nothing can compare to the vistas from the Kastro Castle. From here, you’ll get panoramic views of Symi Town, the port area and some beaches.

If time allows, visit the castle at sunset when the sun goes down behind the mountains. It will truly take your breath away.

view from Chorio over the replica of the Big Ben tower on Symi island

Next to the Castle, you’ll uncover the beautiful small Panagia Church overlooking the Aegean Sea and Gialos within the castle grounds. After soaking in some peaceful thoughts, head to the viewpoint to take the most beautiful photos of Symi town and its surroundings.

Explore Gialos, the main town of Symi Island

girl sitting on a bench overlooking the harbour

One of the things that makes Symi so unique is the colorful fishing houses surrounding the shoreline. These houses used to be brightly painted to make them visible to fishermen out at sea. Today, they are a symbol of the island, and exploring its alleys is one of the best things to do on Symi Island.

Although Gialos is super small, it’s worth marveling at the small boats bouncing in the harbor, the fishermen tying the fishing wires, or seagulls stealing the fish. Get lost in the narrow alleys, stroll around the harbor, admire the beautiful architecture, and take plenty of photos.

You’ll even bump into a replica of the famous Big Ben, a clock tower built in 1881. The old Post Office, the Police buildings, and the St. John the Baptist Cathedral are worth a quick photo stop.

Sample the local food 

Being an island, seafood and fresh fish are the first options. There is an abundance of local delicacies, but the most famous dish appears to be “garadaki symiako” or popcorn shrimp – fried, crispy and sweet shrimps, served with a squeeze of lemon and eaten whole. Simply delicious!

Other great dishes you should try are grilled octopus, mussels, squid and salad, and oven-baked feta.

Head to Gianni Taverna for the best souvlaki made from succulent chicken and pork and served with homemade salads and chips. You’ll find this place just over the bridge in the main port.

Rent a boat and discover the secluded beaches 

Renting a boat and discovering the Symi Island

Renting a boat is one of the best things to do on Symi Island. The most stunning beaches in Symi are accessible by boat, and the only way to get there is by renting one.

If you want to make your trip memorable, rent a boat without a skipper, venture into the sea and discover the island on your own terms. Be watchful to the detailed description of how to operate the ship, and you’ll be fine.  You’ll have the choice to be your captain and explore all the secluded beaches at your leisure.

Discover shallow bays and pristine beaches, and even get to the Monastery of Archangel Michael Panormitis. Usually, the boats are rented from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., leaving plenty of time to explore. You can find out more about renting a boat here.

TIP. Not far from the departure point, you’ll get to St. George Bay, the most spectacular beach on the island. This place is famous for its vertical 300-meter cliff surrounding the shore and turquoise water. Make sure to stop, go for a swim, and enjoy the views. Also, bring some water and supplies as there is nothing else there!

Buy local souvenirs 

Sponge souvenirs on display on one of the few shops along the promenade in Symi Island

Did you know Symi is famous for its sponge products? You’ll find them in different shapes and packages in many shops along the shoreline.

If leather is your thing, head to Takis leather store in the main port. Choose from bags, shoes, wallets, belts, and other exciting leather stuff.

Forget about everything in Pedi Village 

couple walking on an empty on Symi Island

Relaxing at Pedi Beach is one of the top things to do on Symi Island. Just a half an hour’s walk or a short bus/scooter ride from Symi town, you’ll find the lovely village of Pedi. Away from the central part of the island, here you’ll find the serenity you’ve lingered. There are a few tavernas ready to fulfill all your cravings.

Once you’ve strolled around the little village, head to the beautiful Pedi beach, a relatively 10-minute walk to the south. Follow the seashore until you reach a gate, walk uphill, and then down to one of the most beautiful secluded beaches. You’ll find a small cafe and sun umbrellas here. With crystal clear waters, beautiful rock formations, and pristine sands – this is the perfect choice for a beach day. The beach is also great for snorkeling, kayaking, or stand-up paddleboarding.

Feed a stray cat 

Lovely stray cat resting in the shadow on Symi Island

I know it’s not the kind of activity to include in an itinerary. Unfortunately, Symi and many other Greek islands are famous for the many stray cats guarding cozy tavernas, roaming narrow alleys, or dozing around homestays.

It’s hard not to fall in love with them. While the locals look after them, many cats wander the streets searching for food. They last through the mercy of tourists who feed them, so make sure to leave cool water or food outside your accommodation if possible. 

Relax at one of the lovely beaches, one of the best things to do on Symi Island

boat overlooking one of the few beaches on Symi island

Symi has excellent beaches for sunbathing, swimming and cooling down. The island’s beaches are mostly pebbled, and only a few are sandy. The most popular beaches are Nos, Niborio and Agia Marina.

Next to Symi town, Nos is a small and crowded beach with water sports options for the active ones. 

Nimborio Beach is a small beach with crystal water, 3 kilometers from the harbor, accessible by boat, car, or scooter. There are a few dining options, so make sure to try some delicious seafood. 

Near Pedi Beach, you’ll find Agia Marina Beach, a beautiful bay with a depthless sandbank, a tiny cove, and a lovely chapel. This spot is perfect for lying in the sun, snorkeling, and relaxing all day long, but remember, this beach is only accessible by boat! 

Not far away from Pedi Beach is Saint Nicholas Beach, a lovely beach with a tavern, sunbeds, and umbrellas.

One of the island’s best beaches, Saint George Beach, is a rocky beach with crystal clear water. An almost 300m high, vertical rock stands behind the beach and sets breathtaking scenery! Unfortunately, it’s only accessible by boat. 

Marathounda Beach is a lovely pebble beach with beautiful crystal clear water and an excellent taverna with delicious food. You can reach the beach by bus, scooter or boat.

Nanou Beach is a lovely, picturesque beach with crystal-clear water. You can reach this hidden gem on foot or by taxi boat. But remember, the walk will take around 45 minutes. You’ll find a tavern with sunbeds and umbrellas. 

Wander around Symi Island 

hiking the paths of Symi Island

Although the island isn’t huge, there are some places you have to visit during your stay here. One of them is Vigla, the island’s highest point, sitting proudly at 616 meters. The best thing is that you can’t get lost since every path leads to a town or village. The views are amazing, and you can quickly discover some hidden gems. Make sure to bring plenty of water, wear comfortable shoes, and sunscreen protection.

Visiting the 12 catacombs or caves is one of the best things to do on Symi Island. Located in Nimborio, the 12 caves apparently served as study rooms for painting in Byzantine times, while others think they were used as catacombs. Nevertheless, it’s one of the places you should visit while exploring the island.

Visit the Monastery of Archangel Michael Panormitis 

beautiful Monastery of Archangel Michael Panormitis

Located on the southwest coast, the Monastery of Archangel Michael Panormitis is the jewelry of the island, and a visit here is one of the best things to do on Symi Island. A prominent Greek Orthodox pilgrimage site from the 18th century, the monastery has housed monks since the beginning.

The holy icon of the Archangel appeared miraculously on several occasions and was removed every time, only to reappear mysteriously in this exact location. As a result, the church was built over the site.  You can explore the impressive building and the inner courtyards, visit the two small museums, and climb the bell tower.

After the visit, try some ice cream and homemade pastry before heading to the nearby beach for a good swim. 

Go on a day trip to Rhodes

Strolling the streets of the Old Town on Rhodes Island around sunset

If Symi Island is your choice for a holiday, you can explore Rhodes on a day trip. The ferries leave in the morning and return later in the afternoon. You’ll have plenty of time to discover Rhodes’s old town and harbor area, as this part of the city is filled with tavernas, coffees, historical sights, and shopping stalls.

The scenic Lindos village is another amazing place to discover on a day trip. Walk to the Acropolis of Lindos, learn about the ancient Lindos city-state and enjoy a delicious lunch. That’s pretty much everything you’ll be able to see during one one-day trip to Rhodes, so don’t plan anything else.

Uncover the beauty of Rhodes Island on a guided bus day trip. Snap the beauty of Rhodes during a panoramic tour. Step back in time as you explore the Medieval Rhodes Town. Get lost in the picturesque streets of Lindos. BOOK YOUR DAY TRIP TO RHODES HERE

Interactive Map of The Best Things To Do on Symi Island 

Underneath, you’ll find a customized map with all the locations mentioned in this article. Just open up this article on your phone and click on the frame in the upper right corner of this map. Google Maps app will open, and you can check all the details. I hope it helps!

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