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As someone that loves architecture and ruins, Symi is a little dreamland. The port area is incredibly picturesque with rustic ruins dotting the landscape. I knew about the architecture but not the ruins, they’re everywhere!
Symi is a rather small island, but the terrain does limit access. There are good ways of getting around though; buses, personal rentals (cars, scooters, quads, boats, etc.), water taxis, boat charters/tours, and taxi cabs. I enjoyed the walks/hikes to both Pedi and Emporios from the port area. I think getting to the south of the island, where I understand there are some great beaches (Panormitis and Marathounta) would be best done by bus.
I’m glad I stayed right next to the port for this first visit, there are plenty of restaurants, connections for getting around the island, and I liked seeing the boats line the harbor. The glow of the architecture around the port at sunset with boats making their way in to dock for the night was a beautiful sight.
Below is the info for some of the places I frequented, but this is by no means an extensive list. There looked to be a lot of very good businesses in Symi. I didn’t find websites for many of them, but I’m typing the names as they are shown on Google Maps whenever possible and they are all in town down around the port.
Gyros/traditional Greek food
ΤΟ ΣΟΥΒΛΑΚΙ ΤΟΥ ΓΙΑΝΝΗ – is a pretty popular spot right at one of the inside corners of the port (it’s the gyros shop with a noodle bar inside). A noodle bar was unexpected, but also very good. I also think it’s why they have an incredible sriracha sauce I recommend trying on top of the tzatziki in your gyros; the combo tasted a lot like hot wing sauce with ranch to me.
grill house kantirimi – is on the opposite inside corner of the port from the spot above. This one is right on the corner of where they’re building some kind of new square/central feature.
Bakery – A few doors down from grill house kantirimi (going toward the water) you’ll see this bakery that sells bread, pastries, and traditional “pies” every day. The pies are usually a filling wrapped in filo dough, which can be sweet or savory. I liked everything I tried, bougatsa cream, apple, chicken, spinach and cheese, etc.; and they were all only around 1,70-2,20 euros each. This one doesn’t even show on Google Maps, but it’s very easy to see; unless they’ve sold out and closed up, then there’s just an old sign up on a building you might not be sure is still in operation.
Giorgina’s Market – This shop is on an alley just off the main street wrapping the inside of the port. This market has a great wine selection, dry goods, cheese, deli meats, a small refrigerated section, and cleaning/personal care items. I think fresh produce is the only thing you might need another store for.
There are a few markets you can get your produce from, but a little one right in the center of things looked to have the freshest products. Again, not listed on Google, but it was just off another alley connecting to the street wrapping around the inside of the port, so it’s pretty easy to find too.
There were a few really good spots, and none I thought were bad. I personally just look for homemade sellers; the problem is I can’t find any of them on Google Maps to list here. I think you can handle this one though, it’s hard to go wrong with sweets.
Turned out the place I stayed also runs a boat excursion on the island and when talking to one of the owners she set me up with a ticket and said “go see Symi!” So this may sound like a sponsored thing, but it’s not; I just had a great time and want to share. The trip was given with no expectations of me promoting it or talking about it in any way; I just think it’s right for me to let you all know this detail.
The trip takes you around the island to some great swimming spots; I think all require a boat to get to. In the middle of the trip, they stop at a small island nearby where they have things set up for lunch; the food was so good!
If I understood correctly they are the last ones doing these daily trips on Symi, but other captains are doing private trips/charters, and there are boat taxis that do short routes regularly (a sort of hop on hop off style). No matter what one you choose I highly recommend getting out to some of the gorgeous spots around the island. The ones I saw were amazing!
The Symi Center – https://symicenter.gr/The
The internet here was far better than any other I’ve found on the islands so far. I’m not saying it is extremely fast but decent. Others have been extremely slow and in some cases just flat out useless for uploading videos to YouTube.
Costs for this stop…
This was an 11-night stay…
- Accommodation – $764.86**
- Getting around locally – $0
- Living expenses, including any day trips, groceries and eating out – $259.35 (only groceries and eating out this time)
- Mobile phones (I’m carrying a US line and an Italian line. My Italian line dinged me pretty hard for what I can only imagine was use they thought was out of the EU. I’m going to have a fight on my hands with this one, but anyway, I’m leaving it out of this.) – $16.27
- SafetyWing Insurance – $23.48
- Total $ 1,063.96/ 11 nights = $96.72 per
Transportation can be a big expense that I feel would vary too much to be worth including here, so I’ve left it out along with any incidental/one time costs.
I convert local currency to USD after the trip so there will be a slight variation from the real-time conversion. The USD to Euro has taken quite a hit lately, so my costs have risen, though when staying in hotels as I have been lately also ads to costs because I eat out a lot more than usual.
** The coronavirus pandemic likely kept rates a little lower than normal.
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