Symi is a beauteous little town located on the island of the same name. When you sail along the coast, it always appears in front of the eye quite sudden from the headland, and first thought you have is that it is the mirage, and not a real settlement full of live and vibrant colors, with infinite beauty and fairytale-like views. It is because when you travel with a yacht along Dodecanese islands, which mostly look alike and have poor greenery, and Symi is one of them, you don’t expect to see anything like this town among lifeless landscapes.
To be honest with you I had no idea that we were going to visit Symi. I was travelling aboard a luxury motor-sailing yacht ‘Blue Eyes” which earlier that day had left her home port in Marmaris to go to Croatia where she planned to spend a charter season. But here we were, getting closer and closer to one of my most favorite places on Earth, so ravishing and peaceful. There was no limit to the joy I felt that very moment.
Symi is love. This picturesque town is like nothing you’ve seen before. There are no loud bars and discos, no lusty noises and traffic jams, and no big queues. However, there is everything you need for a perfect and calm summer holiday in Aegean Sea: miniature beaches with crystal clear turquoise and emerald waters, yachts of all types and sizes, the sun, pictorial hills, somewhere lush, but mostly without a hint of anything green growing on top of them, and yet – still beautiful.
Here is also some general information about Symi if you haven’t visited or heard about it yet. This little piece of land is located in the South-Eastern part of Aegean Sea, and it is one of the most beautiful islands of the Dodecanese. ‘Just around the corner’ there’s a famous island of Rhodes, and across the sea you have south-west Turkey with its most beautiful turquoise coastline. One of the most popular luxury yacht charter itineraries often consist of visiting both Symi, Rhodes, Kos, and Turkish Datça, Bodrum, Marmaris, and Fethiye.
Perhaps, there’s no rood in Greece which wouldn’t be wrapt in myths and legends. Symi is no exception. According to the Greek mythology, the island is named after the daughter of the king Ialyssos. Back in the times Greek Sea God of fishermen Glaucus kidnapped the princess and kept her at the island, which later received the girl’s name. Nobody knows whether it’s true or not.
The town of Symi isn’t big, that’s a fact. But don’t underestimate it. It does require some physical efforts to explore it if it happens you have more than an hour. You’ll be going up and down its numerous stairs and hills. But it is worth of every step, as you’ll receive most stunning landscapes of the island as a reward.
There are plenty of little stores and shops with cute souvenirs, restaurant and cafés, all different and colorful, churches and neoclassical houses painted in all kinds of light apricot and melon shades with what it seems - identical terracotta roofs.
When approaching the town and its pretty port from the sea, Symi reminds one big multi-layered cake with party-colored glaze or one big doll town, which you want to discover from its every angle, take a look at its every narrow street.
We didn’t enter the marina but anchored near the clock tower in front of a tiny cosy beach with tourists slackening under the sun. I was devouringly taking photos when the crew called me to go on shore as we had to go through the passport control. In a jiff I’m already in a tender. A minute later an officer is already checking my passport. Everything is fine. We just need to wait for about one hour until the paper work is over for all of us, and we can go on with our journey to Croatia.
So, we have sixty minutes to walk around Symi. It’s nothing at all, but at the same time – it’s at least something. We’ll have time to feel again the soul of this place, style of its inhabitants, to watch the tourists, while sitting at the café’s terrace and drinking cold frappe with ice-cream. Alternatively, we can walk along the quay, explore few streets and gaze at what local vendors have to offer. Perhaps, the most popular souvenir from Symi is a sponge. They say, locals don’t collect sponges in the sea anymore as they used to. Back in the times this métier paid well. As for other mementos, you can buy silk items and all kinds of jewelry.
If you’re more into gastronomic adventures and don’t want to prowl around shops, then you’ll have time for a quick taste of baby shrimps in one of the local taverns. This Symi dish gets kudos far beyond the island.
“How can people live here? It’s so boring! No cars, no big shopping malls, no entertainment”, one would say. Another would respond, “There’s absolutely everything what you need for an unhurried pace of life, to enjoy the taste of every single day, to appreciate the nature and Aegean ‘dolce vita’.
And yes, in one hour you won’t have enough time to walk the Kali Strata stone staircase which is always known as “The Good Way”. Its around 500 steps link the old part of Symi and the harbor. When you reach to the top, there are ruins of the 15-th century castle built by the Knights of Saint John on the site of more ancient citadel. You need more time to explore not only the town of Symi, but the whole island. As in its hinterlands there are plenty of ravishing places accessible only by feet or a boat. And don’t forget to visit a major pilgrimage site - famous Panormitis Monastery which attracts people from the whole world. It is located on the opposite site of the island.
Nevertheless, still Symi is always a good idea, even if it’s just for one hour.