things to see and do on a day trip to symi

One of the great things about the Greek islands is that there are so many of them. Wherever you are you can hop on a boat and go and visit another one. For those who don’t want to island hop there’s always a day trip.

Last week we had a friend visiting so I got to be a tourist for the week. We had several days out, including a glass bottom boat trip and a day trip to Symi.

Symi is just a couple of hours from Rhodes and yet a world away. We caught a coach from south of the island at 7am and joined in the holidaymakers for the day.

We arrived on the boat early. A fair size there was lots of room on 2 levels to sit in the sun or shade and enjoy the view. There was also an air-conditioned lounge, but we stayed outside.

Seeing Rhodes harbour from the sea is always a treat, with the view of the old walls, harbour entrance. You can see the buildings of the knights, the spires of the mosques and domes of the Orthodox Church.

The trip across was smooth with a cool breeze. On the way you get a great view of the coast of Turkey. Make sure you take plenty of sunscreen, a hat and a cover up.

two women on a boat to Symi

on our way

As you motor towards the main harbour of Symi you’ll pass coves that are only accessible by boat, with yachts moored up for the day. The coast line is rugged and rocky.

I’ve been to Symi several times now but am always impressed by the first view of the Venetian harbour and the colours of the buildings. They have slowly restored more over the years we’ve been visiting, but there’s still a few empty shells to admire too.

the entrance to Symi harbour

Entering the harbour

Symi Harbour

The boat we were on had a huge clock face by the entryway with the time it would leave. We were advised that if we missed the ferry back we would have to find and pay for any other boat.

Once you disembark there’s lots to do in the main town port of Gialos for the 2 hours you’re there. You’ll never fit it all in though.

Symi harbour full of yachts summer 2015

harbour full of yachts

Many people head up about 350 steps of the Kali Strata to the Church at the top to admire the view, there’s lots of shops and beautiful alley ways on the way lined with 19th century homes. At a steady pace it will take about an hour up and back.

horses and donkeys coming down the steps in Symi

the only way to transport goods up and down

view of Symi from the church at the top

at the top

The steps in Symi up near the church

unchanged for years

view of Symi from the church at the top

It’s worth it for the view

One passenger on our trip took a taxi to the top. At €5 she thought the views of the harbour from the taxi were better and enjoyed the walk back down.

steps coming down to the harbour

Steps coming down to the harbour

With my leg recovering I didn’t attempt the steps, instead enjoying a wander around the harbour and shops, a frappe and lunch. Watching the world go by and people on organised tours marching past with headphones in listening to their guides.

blue steps symi harbour

painted steps

wandering the streets off Symi harbour

wonderful old buildings

spice shop symi

not changed since our first trip in 2000

old buildings off symi harbour

around every corner

New additions in recent years include a land train that takes you on a little trip and a horse and cart, both take you around the harbour past the clock tower.

horse and carriage on symi harbour

a different way to see the harbour

A trip to Symi wouldn’t be complete for me without a plate of Symi shrimps, small crunchy and with a distinctive flavour.

symi shrimps


Once the horn sounded we headed back on board

leaving Symi harbour

last pictures as you leave the harbour

Next we headed about an hour round the island to the Panormitis Monastery, a beautifully imposing structure in a vast harbour. You can visit the monastery, eat and drink at a couple of tavernas, or just wander around.

Panormitis monastery symi

Panormitis monastery

I’ve always heard about the apple pies that they make in the bakery there. Each time we’ve visited there’s been none left. This time friends took up the challenge and dashed off the ferry to be first in the bakery. We weren’t disappointed they were delicious and didn’t last long enough to take a photo.

About an hour later we were heading back into Rhodes harbour and on our way back. We took an organised trip but there are many different ways to get to Symi, from hiring a yacht for the day to getting a ferry.

It’s a full days trip and completely worth it. Next time we want to stay over for a few days, see more of the island and discover what it’s like when the daytrippers have gone.

Jean and tonic bar Symi

Have to go back and check this out

Have you been to Symi or are you planning trip? If you found this interesting or useful please comment and share. We did finally make it back to Symi and visited Jean and Tonic you can read about it here. Thank you

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