We’ve been going to Symi on and off since 2006 and it’s a wonderful island for walking but this time (August/Sep 2018) it was far too hot to walk any distance… so there was a lot of eating.
Symi is a small island with one town; conveniently named Symi. This is divided between Gialos (harbour) and Chorio (town) with Chorio situated above the harbour separated by the hundreds (I don’t know how many) steps of the Kali Strata. There are a good few English migrants here (and many who spend their summers in Symi and winter in Britain) giving holiday Symi a distinct flavour of ‘ex-pat life’. Despite that, we love it because of the atmosphere, the wonderful restaurants, idyllic beaches and great walking opportunities (when it’s cool enough).
With average temperatures edging up to 30C even a stroll from Gialos to Chorio along the Kali Strata required a gallon of water and frequent stops.
The Trawler (Trata):
Slightly set back from the harbour, the Trawler is cited on TripAdvisor as ‘the best restaurant on Symi’ and I would find it hard to disagree. The split peas and spinach pies are excellent as are the fish. This was our first stop on our first evening and we returned for lunch on another day. Friendly service and good, fresh food.
Just up the road from The Trawler on the harbour road looking out over the boats. To Spitiko is another ‘best restaurant in Symi’ according to TripAdvisor and, with the Trawler, we would probably vote it joint first. Great, friendly service and a very tasty avocado salad topped with pomegranate seeds and juice. The Trawler and To Spitiko were the only restaurants we ate in more than once (to be fair to the others, there is a LOT of choice on Symi).
A lovely setting at the edge of the tiny Harani harbour (the shipbuilding/repair area). Great food, well presented.
This restaurant, up on the south east side about a third of the way to Chorio, has a brilliant view over Symi Harbour. Chatty staff. Good choice of veggie food.
On Harani, between the main drag of Gialos and Tholos restaurant. This was the first time we’d been to this restaurant and it was quite possibly the best meal we had in Symi (and, given the quality of food here, that’s a good standard to live up to).
Giorgios and Maria:
In Chorio, this restaurant has changed little since we first visited about twelve years ago- they have menus now but the dishes are very similar. Courgette balls and fresh, crisp salads for me.
Another restaurant we’ve been going to for twelve years. This one still doesn’t have a menu but it does have a chalkboard. Idyllic setting, decent food – Don’t take any notice of what it says on TripAdvisor.
WALKS AND BEACHES
On our first day we walked up to the windmills above the town. There is an archeological site here and the remains of a second world war gun emplacement.
A 45 minute walk from the back of Gialos main square takes you over the top of the headland to Nimborio. A good bay for swimming although, like every bay in Symi, you need aqua shoes as the pebbles and small rocks are painful on the feet (see Metapontis Restaurant above).
Accessed by water taxi (running hourly in the mornings from Gialos and picking up at set times in the afternoon), this beach has a taverna selling everything you would need from a restaurant. A good choice for lunch. Water was lovely and warm for swimming at this time of year. This is a good beach for snorkelling.
A good hour’s walk up to Chorio and across the fields to Pedi takes you to the headland between Pedi and Ayios Nikolaos. This last part of the walk is wonderful although this time of year it wasn’t as fragrant as usual. The wild herbs growing on the headland were a little too parched. In May or June this part of the walk is heady with the buzzing of bees and the scent of Thyme and Oregano. Anytime of year it’s a great walk and it is much easier than it used to be as the family who own the restaurant on this beach (excellent fresh fish and salads) have paved and improved the path. Sadly, from my point of view, it’s not the adventure it used to be but, in 30degree heat, I was grateful I didn’t have to clamber from rock to rock again. We walked back to Pedi at the end of the day and caught the bus back to Gialos (€1.70).
St Georges beach:
Another one accessed by water taxi (although I believe either Gregory Peck or Anthony Quinn climbed down the impossible cliff face in The Guns of Navarone). This is my favourite beach on Symi. There is no taverna and there are no sunbeds but you can easily take your own lunch and drinks and the water taxi people will loan you an umbrella. This beach is in shade for much of the afternoon anyway so, if you want to sun-bathe you need to pick your time. There is a white Stuccoed chapel here set in a grove of oleander trees which is worth a little visit as are the groves of oleander nearer the cliffs.
We booked our accommodation and transfers from Diagoras Airport with Kaladoukas Holidays and, not for the first time, we were very glad we did. While it does seem cheaper and it can be very easy to book taxis and ferries from the airport, Kaladoukas take all the stress out of it. And when, as in this case, the planned ferry breaks down (it can happen!) Kaladoukas already had us booked on the next one even before our plane had landed.