Your views on the Greek island of Symi are most welcome, not only by me, but other visitors to this page who may be thinking of booking a Symi holiday. If you have visited Symi please let me have your views, opinions, memories. All opinions, recommendations and criticism are most appreciated.
If you would like to add your comments please email Greek Island Postcards
Good:Although long discovered by discerning British travelers as a holiday island, Symi has retained its character and a great deal of charm. Though stylish and cosmopolitan, it has managed to remain simple and unspoiled.
Bad: The beautiful scenery goes some way towards making up for the fact that the locals here may find the constant stream of foreign visitors rather tiring, and seem less than welcoming.
Good: At the lively port, an architecturally protected area since the early 1970s, spice and sponge stalls are thronged with Rhodes-based day trippers. But one street back from the water the more peaceful pace of village life takes over.
Bad: You're best off avoiding entirely the north and west side of the port, where menus, prices and attitudes, tend to have been terminally warped by the day-trip trade.
Good: Gialos is one of the most breathtaking sights in Greece. Few other islands have Symi's crisp brightness and its amphitheatre of imposing neo-classical mansions, in soft ochre and traditional shades, stacked one on top of the other up the barren hillside.
Bad: Avoid August when the island is heaving, rooms are expensive and tempers frayed in the heat; because it's in a basin and the heat bounces off the rocks, Symi sizzles like a cat on a hot tin roof from July to September.
My husband and I have visited Symi on several occasions, we have always found the welcome very warm. We have stayed both in pensions and studios. The last time we stayed with Anastasia the taxi driver and ate at her daughter's place - real Symion hospitality - real Greek food. This made for a wonderful fortnight of escape.
If you need to leave the island during the busy times all you need to do is go aboard the Triton, a wonderful little boat, that will sail you to safe swimming spots, monasteries, deserted islands, caves- and you will be fed to boot. All in the price. With regard to the ex-pats I would move to Symi tomorrow but would hope to integrate more. This is typical of the British. We expect others to learn our language and integrate but it appears we don't reciprocate. My last words on Symi would be - if you are looking for heaven, this is it.
Having just read the comments I have to offer a defence of Symi and the Symiots. At no time has there ever been a discernible "rapacious" look in the eye of any taverna owner. Yes, they have greeters - they have a living to make. They do not become "off-hand" or weary - unlike some.
My wife and I are early morning walkers and arrive back in the harbour area around the time the trip boats arrive. We have never been hassled to eat, discounted as not being cash-cows or any such thing. The owners do differentiate between day-trippers and guests who are Symi-based . . .they always acknowledge you even when rushed off their feet.
It is a place of beauty, starkness, peace (in places - surprising when you consider it's recent history from 1040 onwards) and the Symiots are wonderful, friendly people. Try saying "hello" first..it helps. A polite "no thank-you" is sufficient - they are not time-share salesmen from Portugal! If there is a difference in the quality of food and service it is only because everyone and his dog all want to eat at a similar time and then get back on the boat. Most of the "expert" comments are from when there were only three tourists sharing a ruc-sac....the rest of us apparently shouldn't go.
It is a familiar refrain through a lot of publications for a lot of places.. ..I was in Greece when package tours only went to Spain and were a middle-class phenomenon and to a point they are correct. But the world has gotten smaller and even us working-class oiks can afford it and know not to lick the knife. My advice . . . Symi is a beautiful place, it develops slowly because of the water availability and control, the Symiots are a warm, welcoming people (but they don't beat a path to your door) - just go, and make your own mind up.....you don't need people to tell you what is good and what isn't.
Any questions, put an enquiry on The Symi Visitor web page - information, not opinion comes at you. Ah ! That's better. I feel good now 'cos we're off shortly . . . and watching the day-trippers is a hobby best enjoyed with a miso-kilo of chilled wine and mezethes! P.S. if the day trippers insist on using the public loo...leave it clean !
The Symi seen by the day-trippers is so different from the Symi felt by those people lucky enough to stay there for a couple of weeks. There is a magic about the island that just draws you back. We have been five times so far and we are so lucky to have found our piece of paradise. The locals are so friendly and always remember us when we go back.
The trick for us is to get out of Gialos when the day trippers are in! The beaches which can be reached by taxi boats or foot, are lovely with superb tavernas. When we were there we went to Nimborio and watched the taverna owner catch the fish at 11am that we then ate at 1pm!
The interior of the island is full of woods and trees and when walking , the smell of the herbs ia amazing. So it is not a case of what you get is what you see, there is so much more to the island than that seen by the day-tripper. But I really shouldn't decry the day-tripper as they are a good source of income to the islanders and just maybe a day-tripper might return to spend a holiday on our beautiful island. But shhh, keep it a secret!
Chris and Peter McKelvie
Symi is perhaps the most beautiful Greek island that I have ever visited and certainly worth a two week holiday. The dry landscape has a rugged charm - reddy-brown hills beneath a baking sun. Symi harbour - Gialos - is literally breathtaking. If you enjoy walking, then get a copy of the excellent Symi Walks book, available locally. As other contributors have suggested, Gialos is full of day trippers from Rhodes during the day. To avoid them, take the long staircase, the Kali Strata, which connects Gialos with Chorio, the old town. The Kali Strata is lined with ruined Venetian-style houses, many of which were damaged during the war. Chorio is a maze of old streets full of churches. From there, you can wander down a steep track for twenty minutes to Pedi Bay.
Or better still, you can take the winding track that leads to a white-painted stone monastery - Zoodochos Pigi Brisi - where the island's only natural water supply (a small spring) irrigates a single orange tree. You walk higher and higher with no-one around, only the occasional goat or an eagle flying overhead, eventually reaching a stone courtyard with a locked chapel and stunning views over the island to the Turkish mainland.
If you aren't feeling energetic, there is one bus on the island which every hour goes from Gialos to Pedi and back again. There are some excellent bakeries in Gialos: dark, warm, stone and tiled interiors, many of them hundreds of years old. Also in Gialos, check out the Vapori bar. The only downside of Symi is that there are many British ex-pats, creating a somewhat cliquey atmosphere at venues such as the Jean and Tonic bar in Chorio. I would also avoid the To Klima taverna in Chorio - head for Syllogos instead.
I couldn't let it go without responding to some of the very derogatory remarks made about my favourite place on this Earth! I think that everyone reporting on Symi on this web site has a rather false interpretation of the place. Symi is quiet and unspoilt except for the noise and chatter of the day tripper boats which arrive at 11am are gone by 4pm when Symi returns to it's peaceful slow pace of life. There is a warmth and vitality on this island that I have never had the fortune to experience elsewhere. The locals and expatriates seem to get on in an open kind of harmony and there is always a friendly hello or yassou from anyone who may recognise your face or be just sitting in the welcome shade of their doorway.
During my stay in Symi last year, on two separate occasions I was offered hospitality from locals, by way of an offering of refreshments, this was unexpected and warmed me to base of my shoes. If you arrive on a tripper boat all you will be aware of is a crowd of tourists, but if you escape into the hills during this time you will find tranquility unmatched elsewhere.If you have the good fortune to be staying on Symi you will soon become aware of the wide array of incredible views. The hills of Symi provide shelter from the relentless sun and a cool breeze can generally be found, what better way to while a way a few hours than sitting on a step or in the courtyard of a Greek Orthodox church absorbing the view of Eden which lays below you.
The tavernas provide an excellent array of taste temptations of local tradition and Symi is uncrowded by loud bars and booming night clubs such as you will find on other islands in Greece. I have found the best time to visit Symi is in the spring or early summer when the meadows are full of wildflowers and fresh herbs such as thyme, rosemary, oregano and sage. Sit on a rock and breath in the aromas whilst observing the movements of funny little lizards and colourful grasshoppers. Really the point to my e-mail about Symi is to make people understand that they need to do more than observe as they arrive on a tripper boat, they need to let Symi into their lives and she will take over and fill your dreams with a little piece of heaven to remember throughout the year keeping you going until the next opportunity you have to return. Symi is in my blood now and has the will to draw me back again and again. Go to Symi and become absorbed!
I have been to Symi twice now and I’m coming back for a third time this summer. My first trip was decided, initially, as a result of an article in “The Independent”, I can’t remember the exact content of the item but I seem to remember that it was along the lines of the “stepping back fifty years” sort of thing. Although, having read the article, I felt sufficiently inspired to gain more balanced information via travel guides, such as “The Rough Guide” and from various web sites. I think that most of us get used to reading between the lines of travel writing and you can interpret the writer’s comments and opinions and draw you own conclusions. When all is said and done, none of us regular visitors to this site need anymore convincing of Symi’s attributes than we already have. We all come back because of the way of life that exists there and no amount of travel writing is going to dissuade us.
I do believe that you are totally misinformed about the island of Symi, I think you may be The island is NOT expensive, the people are NOT fraught with the pressure of the day trippers, they are very friendly and most helpful. As for the beaches, there are many to choose from and it all depends whether you like getting sand in places you never knew existed or are perfectly happy lying on a comfortable sun lounger on a peaceful beach, where the sun is shining, there is a cool clear sea and a taverna on each beach offering beautiful views and good food. Pedi beach is very nice and has a very reasonable English-owned taverna The Anchorage. The views walking down the road to Pedi make it worth the walk. So, I think that before you judge the place I think you should at least visit the place for more than a day!
Third-time visitors to the most beautiful island Symi
Have to agree with the views on this page about Symi! Lovely little place. I would go back ( and our accommodation was at the top of the steps!) Great taverna up there. Some of the best Greek food I have ever tasted.