Symi is a tiny Greek island situated north of Rhodes and not far from the rocky hills of Turkey. Famous for its beaches and colourful architecture, the port of Symi is a bustling little place made up of chilled-out tavernas and quaint shops stocked with luxurious souvenirs.
Traditionally a hub of industry for both shipbuilding and sponge-diving, this hilly paradise is now a haven for tourists looking to explore a spot off the beaten track. Remnants of the past can still be spotted around the charming seafront town, from old gentlemen fixing up boats to the endless array of beauty stores selling fresh sponges and fragrant, home-made olive oil soaps.
The only way to reach Symi is by ferry from Rhodes Island and the harbour, with its crystal waters and hillside architecture, is a beautiful place to explore for a day.
Arriving at Symi harbour, the sun glistening off perfect sapphire waters, the first thing you see is the rainbow colours of houses sprinkled across the hills. Luxury sailboats bob in the waters and the seafront is lined with wonderful little tavernas and gelaterias.
All of the unique architecture in Symi is listed and therefore protected. There has been a great effort to restore the houses to their glory and, in so doing, to encourage tourism to this place. That's why the local industry of sponge-diving is evident in every store along the seafront. Selling natural sponges - renowned for being highly absorbent, creating a luxurious lather, and promoting healthy skin - as well as locally-produced olive oil soaps, the Symi traders offer homegrown luxury goods to visitors.
The tavernas offer everything from traditional Greek dishes to fresh seafood. The atmosphere is relaxed, friendly, and unabashedly happy. The locals are incredibly polite and greet you with warm smiles. Eating a lunch or dinner on Symi doesn't just offer delicious food and good company. You also get an amazing view.
The waters are so clear that from the shore you can see the sun dappling along the seabed. Between the moorings of the little sailboats, there are steps that go down straight into the waters and it's not uncommon to see a few casual swimmers dip into the sea during a hot day. Sand and sea lovers seek out Symi's tiny, but lovely beach found along the street named Aggelidi.
Symi is a slice of paradise, a relaxing sanctuary away from the noise and bustle of the world. It is one of the most beautiful places I've ever visited and it's already calling me back again.