Symi in Greece is a beautiful island to explore. This guide explains how to get around Symi. Includes buses, boat trips, car and scooter rentals, hiking and more.
Symi island Greece
Symi is one of the Greek islands, and it belongs to the Dodecanese group. Some people get around Symi on a popular day trip from Rhodes island.
The tiny island is best known for its picturesque main town, and the monastery of Saint Archangel Michael Panormitis. Here are some of the best things to do in Symi Greece.
If you are traveling to Symi by ferry, you can combine walking, hiking, public buses and taxi boats to get around. Depending on where you want to go, you could also consider renting a car or scooter, but it’s not as important as on some other islands.
Intrigued? Here is how to get around Symi in Greece.
Walk around Symi town
There is only one way to properly explore Symi town, and this is on foot! The small harbor town, which is known in Greek as Gialos (or Yialos), is a feast for the eyes, and the beautiful architecture will steal your heart.
The seafront in the small town is flat, so most people would have no problems walking around. It would take you about 10-15 minutes to walk from the ferry port to the iconic clock tower, on the other side of the bay. If you walk for another few minutes, you will come across Nos beach.
There are plenty of local restaurants serving fresh fish, several cafes and shops where you can buy various Greek souvenirs. The most unique souvenir from Symi is a natural sea sponge!
During the summer season, the port town gets busy in the morning and afternoon with the people who visit on a day trip from Rhodes. If you are overnight staying, head out in the evening to taste the incredible local cuisine and have a few delicious cocktails by the sea.
Climb the stairs up to Chorio
Symi’s stunning capital town extends all the way up the hill. The iconic Kali Strata is a set of about 500 steps that zigzag up to another settlement, called Chorio.
If you enjoy walking, the most rewarding way to enjoy the breathtaking views from the top is to climb all the way up to Chorio. To your right and left, you will see literally hundreds of incredible houses and churches.
Apart from Kali Stratathere are several sets of stairs leading back down to the port town, so you can enjoy different views on the way back.
Note: I visited Symi in early May, and the temperature was mild enough to walk up to Chorio. Not sure I would have enjoyed it during the summer months!
Is there another way to visit Chorio?
If you are not a fan of steps, you can also reach Chorio on the asphalt road by bus, vehicle or taxi. More on this, below.
You will still need to walk up and down some stairs if you want to explore Chorio itself. This includes visiting the excellent Archaeological Museum, and the ancient acropolis.
When you are tired of all the walking, stop for some food at Secret Garden. This was my favorite traditional taverna in Symi, and the owners are very cool!
Take the buses in Symi
The buses in Symi are a cheap and convenient way to get around the small island. There are two bus routes, both departing from the bus terminal next to the main Symi port.
One bus service goes to the beautiful monastery of Archangel Michael Panormitis, the patron saint of the island. The other bus route serves Chorio and ends up in Pedi village, a lovely coastal settlement.
The buses in Symi are small, in fact they look more like large minivans. Bus timetables may vary by season, so check the announcement board just next to the terminal.
Discover the beautiful Symi beaches on a boat tour
Symi may be best known for its picturesque town, but it has a number of beautiful beaches as well. Although you can reach many of them by road, the nicest beaches are only accessible by sea.
Small boats depart from Symi port and take you to the remote beaches of St George Disalonas and Nanou beach. The natural beauty and crystal clear waters of those wild beaches will blow your mind away!
In case of strong meltemi winds, which is often the case in the Aegean Sea, the trip may be postponed or even canceled. If you are thinking to take a boat trip around Symi, it’s best to plan it early during your stay, so that you can re-book if necessary.
Note: Some of the organized day trips from Rhodes include a stop at St George Bay. This might be the best option if you have no time to visit Symi independently.
Take a water taxi boat to a beach
Apart from the organized boat tours, various water taxis operate in Symi port. These are often converted fishing boats. If you want to get to a specific beach, you can hire a taxi boat to get you there, and pick you up at a pre-arranged time.
Apart from Nanou and St George Bay, one of our favorite beaches in Symi was Agios Nikolaos beach. Although you can easily walk there from Pedi beach in about 10-15 minutes, you can also take a water taxi from the port.
When I visited Symi in early May, St Nicholas had some beach chairs with umbrellas and a canteen. It was an idyllic location to spend the whole day!
Go on a kayaking trip around Symi Greece
I was lucky to explore Symi’s beautiful coastline on a kayak! The friendly Trekking Hellas team took us around the famous bays of the island, and we were there entirely on our own, with no other visitors. Heaven!
You can read more about our experience here: Kayaking trip around Symi
Rent a car / scooter and explore Symi island
In order to explore other parts of the island, you can always rent a scooter or a car. There are several agencies in the port town, like Glaros or Jimmy’s, so you can easily compare prices.
If you are planning to rent a car while staying in the port town, check if your accommodation has private parking nearby. And remember that many hotels can only be reached by stairs!
While the roads in Symi are generally in good condition, expect some tight turns and switchbacks. Here are a few more tips on driving in Greece.
Driving to the Monastery of Panormitis
The road from the port town to the Monastery of Panormitis, on the south west coast of Symi island, is very winding in places. You might find it easier to take the bus or a taxi, rather than rent your own vehicle.
Take one of the Symi taxis
Another way to get around Symi is by taxi. Depending on the time of year you are visiting, you may have to pre-arrange your ride.
The taxi stand is located by the port, close to the bus terminal. Make sure you get a quote before you book.
Hike around Symi
People who like hiking will enjoy reaching the more remote, otherwise inaccessible beaches in Symi. Agia Marina and Agios Vasilios beach, also known as Lapathos, are two of the beaches which are ideal for hikers. Remember to bring everything you will need for the day.
As we were visiting Symi in early May, we saw many hikers around the island. It appeared that some of them were walking from the port town to the monastery, a distance of 18.5 kms (11.5 miles). Not for everyone, and best to be avoided in summer!
How to get to Symi island in Greece
The only way to get to Symi is by sea. International visitors should fly into Rhodes airport, and then take an onward ferry or day tour. During spring, summer and autumn there are several ferries a day from Rhodes island to Symi.
The popular Blue Star Ferries run on most days, and are the fastest and cheapest option if you want to travel one way. Other companies include Dodecanisos Seaways, Sea Dreams and SAOS ferries.
Note that these ferries do not arrive at the same location in Symi harbor. The Blue Star terminal is located a little outside the small bay, as the ferry is too large!
You can book cheap ferry tickets here: Ferryscanner.
Tip: If you are traveling during the high season, it’s best to book your tickets in advance.
FAQ about the Greek island of Symi
If you are going to Symi, have a look at these popular questions:
Can you walk around Symi?
The only way to explore Symi town and Chorio is on foot! Brace yourself as there are hundreds of stairs that you’ll need to climb. Most people wouldn’t want to walk all around the island, but serious hikers could probably hike everywhere.
Do you need a car on Symi?
Strictly speaking, a car is not necessary on Symi island. You can get to most places on foot, by bus, or by water taxi. Still, if you want to explore all of the island, renting a car or scooter for a day or two is a good idea.
Does Symi have sandy beaches?
Symi doesn’t have any long sandy beaches, like Rhodes or Kos. You will mostly find pebble beaches, rocky bays and small coves.
How long is the ferry from Rhodes to Symi?
The fastest ferry from Rhodes to Symi takes about an hour. Other ferries take up to an hour and a half.
Is Symi nice?
Most visitors absolutely love Symi island! It’s an amazing place for anyone who likes quaint, picturesque towns and stunning architecture. Plus, the people are super friendly!
More guides on the Greek islands and island hopping in Greece
I hope you enjoyed this quick guide on getting around the island of Symi! Here are some more travel guides about the Greek islands:
Hi! I’m Vanessa from Athens and I’ve been to about 60 Greek islands… still so many more to visit! If you have any questions about Symi, leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for more news and photos of Greece!