A backpackers guide to Symi in Greece
We Last Visited Simi in 1996
Architecturally, Symi doesn`t belong in the Dodeconese. You could believe you were in the Italian Riviera which is hardly surprising since the Italians didn`t relinquish its grip on this part of the aegean until 1943. 24 nautical miles north of Rhodes and covering only 26 square miles in area, Symi enjoys a convenient arrangement with its neighbour. Boat loads of tourists arrive from Rhodes every day making the harbour of Yialos pretty busy. The Symiots are only too happy to relieve them of some money and tolerate them for the afternoon in the knowledge that come evening a more tranquil scene will return. This may be a less stressful way to visit the island since it isn`t bursting with reasonably priced rooms of any sort.
We initially took a room at the Glafkos Hotel. 4000drs (08/96) bought us a shoebox of a room albeit with a view of the square but after 2 nights we moved to rooms belonging to the owners of the Aegli Hotel which proved to be far more comfortable and worth the extra thousand drachmas. On a sidenote, Symi hosts a very good cultural festival on the square during July and August with different nights devoted to various styles of popular music as well as classical soloists. The close by Dolphin taverna making a particularly good vantage point. Exactly where Yialos finishes and Chorio starts is not known but the 400+ step Kali Strata links the two. Along the way are a few tavernas and the derelict remains of what were obviosly once grande houses which we understand are protected from demolotion. Several churhes also offer distraction with good views over the harbour and beyond. Having arrived in Chorio you will notice it provides a lot of the residents dwellings although rooms are available for rent assuming you are fit enough to carry your backpack this far. The islands interesting museum is also housed here.
There is no town beach unfortunately. The closest are either to the north past the Harani district at Nimborio - a quiet little village with some facilities and a narrow pebble beach and quickly shelving sea. Or over the peninsular to the east at Pedhi. The beach is fairly narrow here but has some rooms to rent although mainly dominated by package hotels. It is not as pretty as Yialos either. The majority of beaches are on the west coast. We walked to the one at Aghios Vassilios.
You`ll need sturdy foot wear since it is rough track after you leave the road with the last part down a picturesque pine clad valley. Just follow the red dots painted on the stones. We may just have been lucky but we didn`t see a soul all day. Our fortune continued with the very welcome offer of a lift back to Yialos in the back of a pick up truck. If you are not so lucky we would hazard a guess at 5 hours round trip so make sure you have plenty of drinking water.
The other main atrraction is the monastery at Panormitis in the south. The excursion boats from Rhodes also stop here first. This huge building could house hundreds but is home to apparently only one monk now. A gift shop and cafe provide the refreshments. Symi has little water, it is literally shipped in from Rhodes during the summer, so it is unlikely to experience a boom in business hopefully protecting it from the ravages of mass tourism.No comments yet. Scroll