The top 10 things to do in Symi, Greece, are pretty hard to narrow down. Symi island is just spectacular in every way, and you’ll be hard pushed to find a prettier town in Greece. Add to that the fact that it isn’t as popular or touristy as some of Greece’s better known islands and you’ve got a great combination of local charm and pure beauty.
Symi town is the main place to head when visiting Symi island. Before you head here you should be aware that there are stairs literally everywhere! It isn’t the easiest place to explore without climbing your way through the many stair-cased alleyways. That being said, the harbour front is all pretty flat and lined with lovely tavernas and shops. Some of the most impressive views are from the harbour front and as you enter the bay by sea, so if you don’t fancy getting a sweat on then you won’t miss out!
How To Get To Symi Island
There is no airport on the little island of Symi in Greece, so the easiest place to fly into is Rhodes. Depending on when you visit there are usually good flight deals to be had to Rhodes as it’s such a tourist hub.
Once you’re in Rhodes it’s super easy to get directly to Symi island via ferry, just make sure you book in advance and read through their terms. We booked through Direct Ferries, which finds the best ferry for the day and time you want to leave. It cost about 8 euros. You’ll need to wear a mask and fill out a little form (though they didn’t request ours!) You can use the booking confirmation on your phone, just make sure you have battery!
The ferry terminal in Rhodes is easy to find – just follow the south-east road along the harbour front until you reach a ship yard. It’s at the end of the pontoon here. The ferries are large, with all the facilities you could need on board. They don’t all terminate at Symi island so don’t fall asleep and miss your stop!
Personally I would want to stay for at least a night or two on Symi island in Greece, as it’s so beautiful here and there’s a lot to explore. If you don’t have the time then the best way to see Symi would be by tour boat. That way you can see all the best bits of the island without any faff!
Get Your Guide do a very well rated tour of Symi island that you can pre-book here. This tour includes a stop of at Panormitis Monastery – one of the top 10 things to do on Symi island. It also gives you a really decent chunk of time to explore Symi island. They use fast ferries to make sure you get the maximum amount of time on the island itself.
Where To Stay
There are tonnes of incredible places to stay on Symi island in Greece, most of them are concentrated around Symi town itself. From the many we saw I’ve included some of the ones we felt looked the nicest, and some of the best budget options. I’ve also included a few based in the little village of Pedi – find out why below.
Where To Stay In Symi Town
As I mentioned earlier, Symi is a town of stairs! It’s tricky to find accommodation that doesn’t involve climbing at least a few flights! That being said, I managed to seek out a great option listed below if you’d rather not make the climb, but be aware that Symi isn’t very flat in nature!
Pitini apartment boasts the perfect location, being only a few minutes walk from the harbour and all the restaurants and bars. It’s got a real traditional vibe, and coffee on the balcony in the morning with those views is like something from a movie set! You have to stay here to believe it! You can book here now but be aware this place sells out quickly during peak season!
One of the highest rated places to stay in the whole of Symi and we can see why! This apartment is worth staying in just for the bathroom! With incredible views and in a great location you should definitely consider a stay here when visiting Symi island in Greece.
Danezis is a great option if you aren’t keen on stairs. This villa is on the harbour front and is just a short walk from the main town, so you still get the views but without the big climb!
Where To Stay In Pedi, Symi
Just a short bus ride or a half an hour walk from Symi town itself is the pretty village of Pedi. If you’re looking for quieter surroundings then head here. There are a few pretty tavernas on the harbour front and a bay that’s perfect for swimming. There’s also a pretty beach just 10 minutes walk away.
The main place to stay in Pedi is Pedi Beach Hotel. The outside is a little tired looking but it’s nice inside, and the front terrace is a lovely spot for evening drinks.
If you’re visiting as a family or big group then head to Royal Villa Pedi, luxury accommodation that sleeps 12 with it’s own private pool and gorgeous interior and exterior (check out that pizza oven/outdoor cooking area!)
When To Go To Symi
Symi is beautiful at all times of year, but like most places it’s definitely a little better in the sunshine. Luckily Greece enjoys good weather most of the year round, so even if you’re visiting in the winter months you should get at least a few days of sunshine. In fact, Rhodes is one of the top places to head to for winter sun in Europe and Symi is just a few hours north of here – why not combine the two on a cheeky winter getaway! Use the winter months to go hiking around the many trails (as listed below), but don’t expect to enjoy sunbathing on the beaches and you’ll have to be a little braver about swimming in the sea!
If you decide to visit Symi during the peak summer months of July and August you should be aware that it will probably be blisteringly hot. There are A LOT of stairs in Symi and if you want to really make the most of the island you’ll want to be a little active, so if you don’t cope well in the heat then try to wait for the cooler shoulder months. July and August are also peak season for the Meltemi, a wind system that blows strongly from North to South, so be prepared for some windy days too!
We were there at the end of August till the end of September and the weather began to cool noticeably. It was still a lovely temperature for a morning swim in the sea and evening drinks on terraces, but walking around became considerably more comfortable! May, June and October would also be ideal for this (though the sea may be a little colder in the Spring!) These shoulder months often bring impressive thunderstorms so make sure you’re prepared for the odd downpour!
Top 10 Things To Do In Symi, Greece
#1 Explore The Beautiful Town
The top thing to do in Symi has to be simply exploring Symi town. Visiting the colourful town of Symi is on most people’s bucket list, and when we visited we could see why. The pastel coloured houses, each with their own individual architecture, appear to be stacked on top of one another as they tumble down the hillside. You could easily spend a whole day just wondering the little alleyways and stopping for refreshing drinks at pretty tavernas.
#2 Pick A Beach!
If it’s relaxation you’re after then Symi has beaches galore. The beach right next to Symi town is small and can get crowded but there’s watersports on offer here for the restless. If you want a little more peace then head to Pedi, a short bus ride away. Explore the little village before taking the walking route to the south. Follow the sea front until you reach a gate, which will take you over a little hill and down a pretty flight of stairs to a secluded beach. There are sun umbrellas and a shower here, as well as a beach café.
#3 Climb To The Kastro For Sunset
Built in 1407 by the Knights of the Order of Saint John, the Kastro overlooks Symi town and gives incredible views of both Symi town and Pedi. There isn’t much to see of the actual castle but you can walk around some of it’s remains and see the pretty church that stands there. It’s still in use and was locked up when we visited. We went at sunset on several occasions and it was very quiet. We often had the site all to ourselves and it was a lovely spot to sit and watch the sun go down behind the mountains.
#4 Visit Panormitis
This is the Monastery of Archangel Micheal Panormitis and is one of the top 10 things to do in Symi. The 18th century monastery is located on the seafront of the village and is a working monastery where monks live and practice today. It’s a peaceful place and interesting to explore, with two small museums and beautiful inner courtyards.
#5 Hike your way across the island
Hiking is a little tricky on Symi island, but if you’re prepared to get a little lost then you’ll be rewarded with amazing views and little beach coves. Although there are many walking trails around they are hard to find and follow, so we just picked a direction and followed whatever trails we could find!
You can try asking the locals, though they didn’t seem any the wiser! You can pick up maps from the shops in town but they don’t always correlate with accessible paths. Be aware that you’ll need good walking shoes, plenty of water and sun cream/sun covers! Try to make sure you have phone signal and if possible, tell someone the route you’re heading on and your expected return time. Luckily Symi island isn’t that big and the paths almost always lead back to a main village or town!
#6 Hire A Boat In Pedi
If you’re bored of exploring on land then hire a little day boat from Pedi and explore the nearby coves of the island. As you motor out of Pedi bay turn left into the next door bay and you’ll find a gorgeous little cove with a very shallow sandbank next to a tiny island with a chapel. This is the perfect lunch spot and the snorkelling in the shallows is great!
#7 Enjoy Dinner With A View
This isn’t the top rated restaurant in Symi, though we’re pretty sure it should be! You’ve got a bit of a climb to get here but I promise it’s worth it. This restaurant is perfectly positioned for you to watch the sunset behind Symi town, and the food is absolutely delicious. Try the courgette fritters – they were our favourite!
#8 Visit The Archaeological & Folklore Museum
This small museum has a certain amount of charm and is well worth a look if you’re in Symi for a few days. It’s only a few euros to get in, and contains lots of interesting and well displayed artefacts detailing Symi’s historical past, with a special focus on it’s maritime history. It won’t take you long to wonder round, but will give you a new insight into this beautiful Greek island.
#9 Have Drinks At The Secret Garden
This hidden gem of a restaurant can be found between Symi and Pedi. It’s hidden away from the main town but that doesn’t mean it’s any less popular. It’s a little different to your usual Greek tavernas, with a garden of tropical plants and a sort of Asian feel to it – you could be sat in a café in Bali! They put on live music some evenings so check the billboard outside to see what’s going on. They also have a small menu, though we’d recommend it as a place for evening drinks and a whole lot of atmosphere!
#10 See The Windmills
Only for the energetic! The walk up the Kali Strata through Symi’s unique colourful houses and past several old windmills is one of the best in Symi, and also one of the steepest! The windmills are mostly in a state of ruin, which only adds to their charm. The views looking down into Symi bay are spectacular and this is one of the most photographed places on Symi island.
What To Pack For A Trip To Symi
There are certain things you’ll want to pack for a trip to Symi (asides from the obvious things like a camera and your bikini!) that will make life easier and save you some money. You can get them all pretty cheaply on Amazon (links below). For a super detailed packing list for a holiday to Greece check out our Greek packing list with some top tips about what clothes to bring and some ways to save space in your luggage.
Filter water bottle – The tap water in Greece isn’t great for you. Most of the locals buy bottled water, which becomes not only expensive but also terrible for the environment. Get yourself a filter water bottle so you can fill up where ever you go!
Walking shoes – Even if you aren’t planning on going hiking in Symi, you’ll want a pair of decent walking shoes to tackle all the uneven stairs. Get some walking sandals that are comfortable and keep you cool.
Travel torch – Symi is one big maze of alleyways, not all of them well lit. Keep a torch on you for evening strolls back from tavernas.
Revolut – This visa card is amazing and Adam and I both use ours as our main debit card on our travels. It’s a top up card that hardly charges anything when you use it abroad. It tracks all your spending so you can keep track of your money in a handy app. You can get yours for free using this link.
Reusable straw – They haven’t seem to have cottoned on here just how bad straws are for the environment. Bring your own and show them it when you order your drinks and they won’t bring one out for you.
I hope this article was useful, and that it’s helped you plan an awesome trip to Symi island in Greece. If we’ve missed anything out then make sure you comment below and we’ll add to our list!