The Dodecanese island that will have you smitten minutes upon arrival, Symi is famous for its colorful neoclassical architecture, secluded turquoise coves, and an endemic variety of shrimps that will tickle your palate in one of the superb seaside restaurants. Attracting A-lister guests with its stunning coastline, the island still remains beautifully underexplored. Sometimes overshadowed by more touristy Rhodes, Symi (sometimes referred to as Simi or Symni) is the ultimate destination for your next romantic getaway. With dreamy harbors surrounded by Venetian mansions painted in every color you can think of and sleepy villages, it’s not hard to see why many famous Greek sculptures and painters were born here.
Located very close to Turkey, its closest land neighbors are Datça and Bozburun peninsulas, while by sea Rhodes is just 41 km away. The island has a cosmopolitan aura and was the melting pot for different cultures, all of whom left a trace in the rich heritage of Symi. The birthplace of the goddess of charm, beauty, and creativity, Charities, was named after a nymph Syme who eloped with the god of the sea, Poseidon.
When planning your next luxury charter cruise, you should make sure to include this captivating Dodecanese island in your itinerary - doing so, you’ll discover spectacular tavernas, rich history, and hidden coves that will have you coming back year after year.
Best Beaches in Symi
During your cruise through the Aegean, you’re likely to find several hidden coves where you’ll enjoy complete privacy - Symi is no different. A number of azure bays can be found on the island, and some don’t even have a name. These are the most popular picks, but with the help of your experienced captain you’ll come across many, many more.
Just 300 meters from the main town of the island, you’ll stumble upon this sandy beach famous for its intensely colored seas. Ideal for families traveling with children, Nos also has a taverna that serves truly magnificent food. While it does get a bit busy in peak summer months, there’s still enough space on the beach, so it never feels overcrowded.
A natural oasis very popular among the locals, Nimborio is a scenic beach with crystal clear aquamarine water. The surrounding area is also worth exploring - you can even book a donkey ride to one of the neighboring villages. The unspoiled oasis is serene and shaded by verdant pine trees, perfect for a relaxing day with friends and family.
Easily accessible by boat, this laid-back beach has both pebbly and sandy strips with translucent waters ideal for a refreshing swim. Large and under crowded, the beach affords beautiful views of the area and swimmers can enjoy some shade under lush green trees.
If you’re a fan of nature, make sure to spend a few hours at this rocky cove, often visited by adorable goats who come for a bite from the tourists and a pet if they manage to get one. The water is incredibly pure, and free parasols are available on the shore. There’s one small coffee on the beach and a taverna that serves some of the most authentic Greek dishes you’ll find on the island.
St Nicholas Beach
A divine beach where you can enjoy swimming and snorkeling in the limpid seas also has climbing cliffs and rocks you can dive off, St. Nicholas is a scenic spot adored both by locals and tourists - but somehow never gets too busy. At the beach, you can get drinks and refreshments in a lovely taverna and some shade under the pine trees.
Best Places To See in Symi
The capital of the island resembles a painting from the neoclassical era. Once a very affluent city, with its main source of income coming from the shipbuilding industry and sponge diving, this Symi Town is known to cast a spell over visitors, some of whom quickly decided to stay forever. Although small, it’s divided into two parts. Gialos is the first, an enchanting harbor with brightly colored Venetian mansions. Uphill, you’ll find Chorio, with a maze of narrow, cobblestone streets, dotted with vibrant cafes that serve strong Greek coffee and baklava. Here, you’ll find the Archeological Museum with exhibitions from the Classical, Hellenistic, and Roman eras, as well as folklore items that tell the story of the colorful traditions and customs of the island. Above Chorio, you’ll notice the impressive Kastro castle, built on the remains of a Byzantine fortress by the Knights of St. John who ruled the island in medieval times. You can reach it by taking some 400 steps in the vertiginous Kali Strata street, and after feeling the burn in your legs, you’ll be awarded panoramic views of the terracotta roofs, colorful roofs, and sapphire-colored bay. Nearby, the whitewashed church of Megali Panagia is well worth a stop, with blue accents that fit perfectly with the azure surroundings.
Back at the port, you’ll see a beautiful clocktower from 1890, one of the island’s most famous landmarks. It’s surrounded by casual kafani where you can rest after a long walk or hop on your luxury charter yacht to sail away to new adventures.
Just 12 km from the main town, you’ll find this picturesque village that has a unique allure and picture-perfect architecture. It’s mostly famous for the 18th-century monastery, built in Venetian fashion, with marvelous artifacts like the unique antique chandelier and a silver icon of the patron of the island and protector of sailors, Archangel. The monastery of Panormitis is often frequented by many Greeks who come to pray for love, health, and fertility since it is reported that many miracles have happened in this holy orthodox site. Additionally, the monastery also has two museums with eclectic displays and a garden full of exotic plants that create a lovely scenery enjoyed by visitors. On November 8th, a celebration of the patron saint brings the village to life, and street dances, wine, and theater are enjoyed both by locals and those who come to partake in this charming event.
A serene and sleepy village not far from the main town, Pedi dazzles visitors with an authentic character, bobby fishermen boats bringing their daily catch to taverns, and turquoise seas. There are no crowds to interfere with the lovely environment and the unhurried Mediterranean tempo - time passes as it did decades ago, and no one is rushing anywhere. come here to relax by the almond orchard and olive groves, surrounded by the glittery bay.
Best Restaurants in Symi
Anywhere you make a stop during your luxury charter in Symi, you’re likely to stumble across several exceptional tavernas by pure chance. Thanks to input from several different cultures, dining in Symi is a unique culinary journey. From the flavorful greek meals to the small shrimps unique to the island, eaten with the shell - Symi is a playground for the hedonists with dishes that speak volumes.
The Secret Garden
A quaint restaurant is hidden in the ancient streets of Chora, The Secret Garden is a true find with flavourful dishes and innovative meze plates to share with family and friends. The king prawn saganaki steals the show, while the lamb lemonata is out of this world. Book a table here and reward yourself for taking the stairs to explore Chora, and enjoy the food and chic surroundings.
Taverna O Haris
Located by the Gialos port in the main town, Taverna O Haris offers both stellar meat and freshly caught fish. With breathtaking views of the harbor and a traditional atmosphere, O Haris is frequented both by locals and visitors who return to the island for a gourmet experience in this restaurant. Top picks would be the Symi shrimps and honey feta, but you’ll find numerous mouthwatering options on the menu and a great house wine to pair your food with.
A great place for a romantic dining experience, Haritomeni tucked away on a breathtaking terrace in Pitini, and offers Greek dishes with a twist. The views of the bay are simply mesmerizing, and there are few other places where you’ll enjoy such a seductive atmosphere. The lamb and rabbit are sensational, and those with a sweet tooth will love their dessert pastries. Book a table for an early dinner and enjoy the ravishing vistas and sunsets.
Stuffed aubergine, tagine, oven feta, fava puree, and the blue cheese salad are just some of the reasons to visit this chic taverna in Gialos port. Served in traditional style, the dishes are Greek gourmand spectacles, while the vistas of the yacht-studded port only accentuate the whole experience. There’s more than wine to quench your thirst - instead, opt for the pear-base liqueur only made in Symi, found in every restaurant on the coast.
Shopping in Symi
If you feel like bringing a few gifts to friends and family back home, you’ll find several cute shops selling souvenirs on the island. Shop art and leather goods in Takis, a chic store with items made by the owner, or get small presents in Olive Wood. You’ll find pretty unique items here, including olive wood kitchen utensils, eyeglass frames, bow ties, and natural cosmetics. The bohemian Talea FX has a good selection of handmade jewelry, interior decor items, and accessories, but make sure to buy gourmet goodies on the street and support the local economy as well.