There are three ferry boats connecting Rhodes and Symi, the 'Proteus' and 'Symi' car-ferries and the 'Aegli' hydrofoil. The Aegli leaves from Mandraki Harbour in Rhodes New Town, the car-ferries from the Commercial Harbour outside the walls of the Old Town. You can also catch one of the day-trip boats from Rhodes to Symi from April to October. They leave from Mandraki every day at 9.00am. Be aware that there may restrictions on luggage on these boats. There will also be connections from Rhodes to Symi on a 'big boat'; an inter-island ferry or one connecting the Dodecanese with Piraeus. However, these take much longer. The Dodecanese Express hydrofoil also runs regular services between the Dodecanese islands in season. These boats leave from Kolona. The journey takes one hour.
Ferry Boat and hydrofoils operate a twice weekly service between Piraeus and Rhodes via Symi island provided by GA Ferries. This service is usually not offered during the winter so check the booking engine above for more details.
Sightseeing in Symi
Symi harbour: Katarinettes on the harbour front is where the Germans signed the surrender of the Dodecanese at the end of World War II. A little further along towards the bridge there is a replica of the Lindos ship with a war memorial. The Nautical Museum is at the back of the Town Square and is easily identifiable by the canons outside. Open Tuesday to Sunday from 10.00 to 14.00.
The Town Square is one of the venues for the Symi Festival. St. John's Church has a interesting burial ground as well as a fine, recently restored pebble courtyard which is also a Festival venue, as is the nearby Petrides School. The Kataratkis, a steep footpath at the back of the harbour towards the Castle and Chorio, was the ancient road connecting the village with the harbour before the Kali Strata was built in the 19th century. The Kali Strata starts at the back of the square in the south-western corner of the harbour and is about 350 steps up to Chorio, with interesting 19th century mansions lining the way.
Sightseeing in Chorio, the 'village' area: The Kali Strata opens into Syllogos Square (also a Festival venue), from the back of which a road leads round behind the Castle and to Lemonitsa Church. There are spectacular views over the harbour and this route eventually connects up with the top of the Kataraktis, the original staircase connecting Yialos to Chorio.
The Castle was rebuilt by the Knights of St. John in the early 15th century on the site of a much older fortification. It survived in reasonable condition until World War II when it was used as an Axis munitions store. This was blown up, destroying the Castle and the Church of the Assumption which was within its walls. Parts of the walls remain and there is a plaque visible, commemorating Filibert de Niallac, the Knight's French Grand Master.
Continuing further along the Kali Strata, the Old Pharmacy has been restored and houses an interesting collection of French medicine jars and other paraphanelia. The Museum is further up, in Old Chorio. Follow the signposts. Open Tuesday to Sunday from 10.00 to 14.00 and contains many interesting artefacts. Chatziagapitos House, a restored 18th century mansion is nearby and is open during museum hours.
There are many old churches and monasteries to be seen. Some of the most accessible are described here: The church of Constantinos and Eleni on the southern slopes of the Vigla along the Panormitis road has gardens, terraces and a well. There is usually someone there in the summer. The monastery of the Archangel Michael at Roukouniotis was built by the knights of St. John in the 14th century on the ruins of an important 5th century monastery, which in turn was built on the remains of a pre-Christian temple. The monastery of Sotiris Megalos, shortly before the road descends to Panormitis, is very picturesque and has spectacular views. There is a sign-posted walk to an old vinery and the ruins of old wine presses.
The Monastery of the Archangel Michael at Panormitis, is the island's most famous monastery. The original church of St. Michael was built around 450 AD on the site of an ancient temple to Apollo. It contains a splendid icon of the Archangel and two interesting museum sections. Overnight accommodation can be arranged. There are other churches and monasteries of interest which are best visited as part of an organised excursion or by boat as foot access is difficult, or in the case of Nimos, impossible.
Getting Around Symi
The Symi bus does an hourly shuttle from the harbour to the village and down to Pedi Bay up to 11 o'clock at night. Air-conditioned and very reliable. There is also an early morning bus to Panormitis-check timetable as schedules vary according to the time of year. Both buses leave from the bus stop on the right-hand side of the harbour. There are five taxis based again on the right-hand side of the harbour; the furthest trip they do is down to Panormitis in the south of the island. Car and moped hire is readily available in the harbour and in Pedi Bay.
Regular water-taxis leave the harbour in the morning to ferry tourists to the beaches around the island-some beaches can be reached on foot; check our beach guide for more details. In the summer there are daily round the island cruises or shorter trips for barbecues and swimming at the more secluded bays and beaches. The boats display details and prices in the harbour next to the water-taxis. Small boats are also available to hire.