Rhodes to Symi Day Trip: The Excursion You Need To Take
July 11, 2019
Rhodes to Symi Day Trip: A Pastel Lover’s Dream
One of the major highlights of our trip to Rhodes was taking a day trip from Rhodes to Symi, Greece, a small Dodecanese island 40 kilometers northwest of Rhodes. Symi is one of the Greek islands closest to Turkey geographically as it is surrounded by two peninsulas in the Mugla Province of Turkey. These neo-classical pastel facades could easily be compared to Cinque Terre or Positano, yet the island of Symi is still relatively untouched compared to these two popular hotspots.
Ferry: Rhodes to Symi
In order to best decide how to get to Symi, we looked on the ferry website for the lowest price and fastest time and chose to ride with Anes Ferries for a total round trip price of 26 euro. The ferry from Rhodes to Symi leaves at 10AM and arrives at 11:10; the Symi ferry departs at 4:45PM arriving back in Rhodes right around 6PM. I did notice that even though we left on time, our ferry arrived about a half hour late in both directions. There are a couple other ferry companies like Dodekanisos Seaways and Blue Star Ferries which also run between Rhodes and Symi, but prices were closer to 20 euro each way. Please note: It is important to determine which port in Rhodes you are leaving from in advance because Anes Ferries docks in a different area than Blue Star. We were headed to the port we had arrived from in Rhodes just a few days earlier and quickly realized we were in the wrong spot after inquiring with a group of locals. We also hadn’t booked our tickets in advance and only ended up paying 20 euros each roundtrip; but, I think that was more of a fluke than a “cheaper to buy in person rather than online” situation.
The Anes Ferry boat was actually more the size of a catamaran and was an all around pleasant journey. When you see that you are getting close to the port in Symi, make sure you grab a spot near the railings of your ferry because the Venetian harbor is best seen in its entirety from the boat. Both sides of the ferry will have a great view of Symi island, so don’t worry about choosing one over the other. Just make sure you have an unobstructed view and your camera in-hand to get those distant panoramic shots of the island.
Once you get off at Yialos, Symi’s harbor town, you’ll probably be inclined to stroll amongst the shops and restaurants. We stopped for a coffee and some breakfast at Mediterraneo Cafe which we chose solely based on location, aesthetics, and a gut feeling, but it was the perfect spot to stop and acclimate ourselves to the island. While time is limited on your Symi day trip, there is still enough of it to get a sense of the place even if you are not staying overnight.
Things To Do In Symi
Depending on your interests, you can opt to visit one of the many beaches, tour some museums near the harbor, or hike to the village of Chorio via the Kali Strata which are the 500 or so steps leading up to the old town. For these activities, you will want to make sure you have packed the key essentials like water shoes for pebbly beaches and a long sleeve button down shirt to shield yourself from the sun on your hike. For packing specifics, read my Complete Greece Packing List.
The steps up to the old town are tucked away behind a few side streets in the heart of the harbor area. There seems to be a discrepancy in the exact number of steps, but you typically hear a number ranging somewhere between 350 and 500. Make sure you follow the arrows and pay attention to where you are–we ended up completely lost and walked for about an hour before realizing we missed the village entirely as well as the local tavernas and shops on the way up. Just about five minutes or so past the village is the Megali Panagia church. The views are so beautiful it would have been worth it to get lost had it not been incredibly hot; but, even I forgot the profuse sweat and the muscle discomfort after seeing the panoramic views from the top of the church. We sat propped up against the church walls in total silence for 45 minutes just completely in awe of the scene below.
On the way down, we made it to Chorio and had a late lunch at Lefteris’ Kafenion. We ended up having a total Passport to Paris moment and got on the back of some local’s vespas and rode with them down to Pedi Beach for some beers. For those of you not getting on the back of a randos motorbike, you can easily walk back down to the harbor and explore more of the surroundings and the buildings in the area.
Back in the day, Symi was a commercial sponge fishing and ship-building center with 22,000 inhabitants. Today, Symi’s population has declined to about 2,500 people and the main industry is tourism. You can pay homage to Symi’s past industry by shopping for a natural sea sponge at any of the souvenir stores dotted along the harbor. You can also visit the Folklore Museum if time allows.
The beaches of Symi, while secluded, are pebbly and a bit difficult to get too. However, the water is incredibly clear, day beds are reasonably priced, and there is a good chance you’ll be sunbathing alongside goats during your visit. Nanou, Marathounda, St. Nicholas, and Agios Georgios are all beaches with great reputations. Pedi Beach is not the nicest of the bunch, but it is quite popular because it is a 30 minute walk from the port. If you are determined to go to the beach on your visit to Symi, I would recommend taking a water taxi to Pedi and then doing the 20 minute walk to St. Nicholas beach.
Nanou Beach: water taxi, taverna, paid sunbeds, clear water, pebbly beach, goats
Marathounda Beach: water taxi or scooter, two tavernas, free sunbeds, clear water, pebbly beach, goats
St. Nicholas Beach: water taxi or 20 minute walk from Pedi beach, taverna and beach bar, paid sunbeds, clear water, some sand, but mostly pebble beach, no goats
Agios Georgios Beach: water taxi, no taverna, no facilities, clear water, pebble beach,
If you are interested in a more structured visit, I recommend visiting Symi with a tour company. Rhodes boat trips to Symi are typically a full-day and there are multiple stops including one at a neighboring town, Panormitis, where many Greeks pay homage at the Panormitis monastery every year. Tours may also stop at a beach on the way back to Rhodes.
What are your favorite Rhodes day trips? Symi was such a remarkable place that I highly suggest you include it on your upcoming Rhodes itinerary!
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