General Information on Symi
The island of Symi is located in the southern Dodecanese area. Its nearest neighbour is Turkey just a few kilometres away. The island has a surface area of about 67km², from which 57km² are mountainous terrain, and it is inhabited by approximately 2,300 people. Its interior is dotted with small valleys, and its coastline alternates between rocky cliffs and sandy coves.
The island of Symi is quite small but it is a historic Greek island. In addition to its many sites, the island’s isolated beaches are popular among tourists. The island remains authentic and very quiet, ideal for travelers that love to walk and enjoy the unspoiled landscape of Symi.
History of Symi
Symi’s recorded history goes back as far as the Trojan Wars (1120 B.C.) and its past is marked with a series of invaders. However little is known of the island’s history until the 14th century, but archaeological evidence indicates it has been continuously inhabited, and ruins of citadels suggest it was an important location. The island was first part of the Roman Empire, later the Byzantine Empire and finally it was conquered by the Knights of St. John in 1373. This period of several centuries was very prosperous for the island, as its location in the Dodecanese made it an important waypoint for trade until the advent of steam-powered shipping in the 19th century.
In 1522 the island passed to the Ottoman Empire but it was allowed to retain many of its privileges and its prosperity continued virtually uninterrupted. In 1912 the Italians took Symi which by then had become a strategically important island. It was subsequently invaded and bombed by both the Axis and the Allies during each others’ activities. Finally, in 1947, the island along with the rest of the Dodecanese islands became part of the new Greek State.
Towns & Villages in Symi
Gialos: This is Symi’s port and one of the most beautiful towns of Greece. The harbour is really extensive considering the size of the island and that’s because Symi used to be a major trading centre for the export of sponges and for shipbuilding. The settlement is full of neoclassical mansions which are heaped up the steep hills flanking its U-shaped harbour.
Horio: Horio, along with Gialos, form the capital and the port of Symi. The old town is situated above Gialos. It has lots of alleys and no access to cars. Most of the old mansions are nowadays renovated and several taverns and tourist shops are open. The settlement is lovely and quite new to tourism.
Pedi: This small fishing village is situated in a fertile valley 2km downhill from Horio. It has a lovely pebble beach, some taverns and shops and it is very quiet. It is served by Symi bus and by water-taxis.
Beaches in Symi
Nos: This is the closest beach to Gialos, five minute walk north of the campanile. It has pebbles, clear crystal waters and tourist facilities.
Pedi: The beach at the seaside village by the same name has sand and pebbles and clear shallow waters. It is an organized beach with taverns, cafes, sunbeds and umbrellas. The beach is reachable by walk from Horio, or by taxi from Gialos.
Nimborios: Nimborios bay is quite large and it is located 2km west of Gialos. The beach is mainly pebbly and organized. The area has some taverns, sunbeds and umbrellas and it is reachable via the main road of the island.
Nanou: There is a big, sweeping bay here which is very popular among locals and visitors. The beach is very large with pebbles and many tourist facilities.
Agia Marina: This small picturesque bay is located between Pedi and Gialos. The beach has pebbles and one tavern.
Agios Nikolaos: This is the only sandy beach of Symi. Agios Nikolaos is organized and has many tamarisk trees which offer shade.
Marathounda Bay: The beach at Marathounda bay is very quiet and remote. The beach has pebbles and no facilities and it is reachable via a truck path from Gialos or by taxi-boat also from Gialos.
Agios Georgios: This is a deep bay ringed by high cliffs. The beach has shingles, no facilities and little shade. Agios Georgios is accessible only by taxi-boats.
How to Reach Symi
Sea: There are two to three ferry connections per week from Piraeus to Rhodes, via Symi. Local connections to other islands may also be available. Services tend to be weekend-oriented.
Weather in Symi
The climate of Symi is a mild Mediterranean climate characterised by sunny and dry summers and mild winters. As an island, Symi has a quite humid climate and some heavy rains during winter and autumn.
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