Rhodes to Symi: A Travel Guide to this hidden gem

Rhodes to Symi: A Travel Guide to this hidden gem

May 07, 2023

Had enough of the tourists in Rhodes? Want to escape to a place with where friendly goats grace the beaches shore? Then Symi is your answer!

Located just an hour and a half away from Rhodes, Symi is a tiny dodecanese island located in the Aegean Sea. It boasts crystal clear blue waters, beautiful architecture, great food and the best place in Greece to buy sponges (if thats your thing).

With a population of around 2,500, the island has a rich history that dates back to ancient Greece. The island was known for its shipbuilding and sponge diving with the later still thriving to this day.

During the Byzantine era, Symi was a center of art and culture, and many of its churches and monasteries still stand today. In the 19th century, Symi became a prosperous merchant town, and many of its elegant mansions and public buildings were constructed during this period.

How to Get to Symi

During summer multiple ferries will leave daily for Symi. Tickets start from €8 and the trip can take a maximum of 1.5 hours. On the faster ferries the trip is just over an hour long.

If you are coming from Athens, your best option is a flight to Rhodes, which will take you an hour. Then make your way to the port to jump on to a ferry to Symi.


How to get around Symi

One  of the best ways to see the island is to use your own 2 feet and explore. The island is not large at all, so walking through the tiny streets until you pop up in to a square or even a beach is probably the best way to get around.

If walking isnt your thing then you can jump in a taxi and see the island. Via taxi you will reach those far out places, that exploring on foot might not get you to.

There is also a bus service that operates 2 bus routes. It is semi-reliable. The buses can be found at the port.

Outside of jumping on a boat tour, my favourite way to get around Symi is to jump on fishing boat / water taxi, pay a small fee and get taken to the some of the best beaches you willl see in Greece.

The water taxis are available from the port.

Renting a car on Symi

You can rent a car on the island of Symi. The car rental places are at the port. Alternatively you can bring you car over from Rhodes to drive around the island - just make sure the ferry you book allows for your car.

Two things to keep in mind when renting a car, make sure the place you are staying at has parking. Being a small island with tiny streets, you may not be able to park your car!

Also, as most of the places to see are accessed via stairs, hiring a car is probably only needed when you have visit sites you cant get to by foot or water taxi.

Best beaches on Symi

Panormitis Beach: Located 12km south from the main port of Symi is an un-organised beach. The beach is accessed by water taxi and also by foot.

There is a beautiful village and monastery close by, so the surrounding areas can get very busy with tour groups.

Pedi Beach: A well organised family beach located just 2km west of the main town of Symi. The beach is accessible via taxi, walking or by bus. Being well organised you are able to hire a sun-bed and umbrella and order food and cocktails throughout the day.

Nimborio / Emborios beach: 3km northwest of Symi town, this beach is the jewel of the island. It is a well organised beach. The beach has some of the best waters on the island while the neighbouring village is well worth a visit.

The beach is pebbly, and if you are just passing by for a swim, there are plenty of trees where you can keep your belongings under while you take a quick dip.

Gialos Beach: Located just 1km from the port,  the beach is a tranquil and charming spot, ideal for swimming due to its clear waters. You won't find any sun-beds or umbrellas on this beach so bring everything you need for the day with you.

However, if you are wanting to venuture out from the beach, there are boats that depart from Gialos for day trips to nearby beaches and secluded coves.

Nos Beach: Located just a stones throw away from the port, this beach is perfect for people visiting Symi for the day. Hop off the ferry and walk around the port until you find Nos beach. It is an organised beach that has a taverana serving classic Greek dishes all day.

The water is crystal clear and as its near the port, it gets deep pretty quickly! 


Agios Georgious Beach: A pebbled and unorganised beach that sits between Pedi and Marathounta is a fantastic spot to take a swim. Its only accessed by taxi boat, but is well worth the trip. Another must see beach on the island.


Things To Do on Symi

As Symi is a small island, there isnt really much to do besides, swim, eat and wonder through the tiny streets in and around the main village. Make sure you take the main stairs called Kali Strata (good way!). Tkaing these stairs will bring you to the top of the island where you will see a beautiful view of Gialos.


Also, visit the village of Myloi where the castle of Pontikokastro is. This historical site features a prehistoric tomb and the remains of old mills that were once used for grinding grains into flour. 

Cooking Classes

Symi Island is famous for its delicious cuisine, which combines the flavours of the sea and the land. You can attend a cooking class and learn how to prepare traditional dishes, such as the Symi shrimp with tomato sauce, the Symi sardines with onions and raisins, and the Symi almond cookies.

You can also visit the local markets and buy fresh ingredients, herbs, and spices. Just ask at the port or at your hotel for the times and classes available.

Diving and Snorkeling

Symi Island has a rich underwater world that is waiting to be discovered. You can go diving or snorkelling and explore the colourful reefs, the sea caves, and the shipwrecks that lie beneath the surface. The waters around Symi are home to a variety of marine life, such as octopuses, seahorses, and barracudas.

Best Restaurants on Symi

Haris: Located at Gialos this family owned business serves traditional Greek dishes with all the vegetables grown within the families own garden.

Pantelis: Situated at Gialos, Pantelis serves seafood dishes on the upper scale side of things. The lobster and Symi shrimps are a must try.


Meraklis: In one of the paved laneways is Meraklis restaurant. Runnings since 1983 this place serves the best meze on the island. Also their seafood and meat dishes are great! The restaurant is in a neoclassical terrace with tables and chairs along the pebbled footpath. 


Best Time to Visit Symi

The best time to visit Symi Island is from May to October, when the weather is warm and sunny, and the sea is calm. July and August are the peak tourist months, so the island can get crowded. If you prefer a quieter and more authentic experience, you can visit in May, June, September, or October.