To Simy Island
As you leave the airport you can catch a taxi outside the entrance. Tell the driver you want to go to Mandraki or The Commercial Harbour (see below)-if you tell him you are going to Symi he will put you down at the right spot. The fare is approximately 15 euro.
There are three 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.
The Dodecanese Express hydrofoil also runs regular services between the Dodecanese islands in season; their timetables are here. These boats leave from Kolona.
Windy? Does your ferry go??
if you want to fly from Rhodes, make sure the ferry goes! In summertime, the "Flying Dolphin" speedboats do not go in Meltemi wind situations... some people miss planes every year by that reason! Check the current situation and make sure, your ferry will be on time!
Symi has no airport so arrivals will be by boat - several choices exist.The ferry to Symi from Rhodes departs at 9am from the commercial harbour (a bus from Mandraki harbour wisks you there in time to catch it). This was our preferred vessel as even though its a longer journey of some 2 hours it still arrived before the later catamaran. (10.30 am start for this for day trips to Symi and Panormitis). Plus we could sit out, enjoy the sail and the views en-route, passing the rugged Turkish coastline and catching the first impressions of beautiful Symi harbour. Fare was just 13 euros for the return trip (returning on the catamaran).
Triton is another island excursion boat - often operates in conjucntion with Poseidon. Weather permitting (and unfortunately too windy during our short stay) it tours around Symi's coastline for various swim stops, visits Seskia Island and Panormitis monastery. Price is fairly expenive at 35 euros each but again a delicious BBQ is supplied with wine and retsina on tap.
The Poseidon is one of the excursion boats that makes trips around the island to various bays for swim stops and a delicious BBQ lunch. Walking tours are also arranged in conjucnction with this - they conveniently join in time for lunch and then enjoy a swim and sail back. Excursions vary on a dalily basis so check the itinerary on the blackboard displayed by the boat on the quayside.
Departure time is about 10.30am and arrives back about 5.30pm. a wonderful day out and highly recommended.
Two buses exist on Symi:
The green bus makes the short but bone-shaking journey to Chorio and then Pedi By on the hour and then returns from Pedi on the half hour. Well frequented by the locals and at only 70 cents its beats climbing the up to Chorio in the heat of the day! - plus it saves time if on a day trip and then you can walk DOWN the steps of the kali Strata back to the harbour.
The white minibus makes two trips a day to Panormiits one at 7.45am and the other at the more reasonable time of 1.00pm. Price was 2.5 euros each way for the 30 minute journey which enjoys fabulous views over Symi as it climbs up the island and down to Panormiits. The driver will kindly stop for those all-important photo snaps too.
Both buses depart from the far side of the harbour.
The hydrofoil is the quickest way to reach Symi from Rhodes. Its leaves Rhodes Mandraki harbour at 9am and reaches Symi by 10am. It carries a small supplement and you cannot sit outside of course to capture those first few magical glimpses of Symi but it does arrive in time to join one of the 10.30am boat trips if you are trying to make the most of a stay here.
The Symi bus runs between Yialos, Chorio and Pedi at regular intervals. It leaves from the harbour on the hour, then returns from Pedi on the half hour.
The fare is the same however far you're travelling. In 2003 it was 70cents.
During the summer season the bus runs from early morning (for the school run), then continues upto about 23.30.Lakis ,the driver has a break mid afternoon in Pedi (so check the time of the next journey as you depart the bus)
Out of season it stops running earlier, but there are taxis (about 4).
The bus runs more or less to time. Lakis stops the bus in Yialos, then zooms off on his pushbike to a nearby cafe , returning on time to drive back to Pedi.
Enjoy the views of the island, and the local ladies scolding Lakis if he's late setting off!
If you can't face the thought of climbing the Kali Strata, catch the bus to Chorio, explore etc, then walk back down.
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On Foot is a good way to see the island
On foot is a good way to get around the nooks and crannies of the island, and it's the only way up the Kali Strata!
There are guided walks, with the tour companies, some included with boat trips. Hugo, a British ex - pat is well known on the island for his walks and wealth of knowledge.
There are a couple of booklets/maps that are sometimes obtainable from the tour offices or Symi Visitor office. The Symi Visitor (free monthly, see my Symi Visitor tip) has a basic map.
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Boat trips around the Bay.
Daily boat trips set sail from Yialos, offering a relaxing way to see the coastline and islands around Symi.
The Poseidon and Triton boats offer a varied programme
This is the list from July 2003 (Think it's been a similar itinary for 04) Check the blackboard in the harbour, or advert in Symivisitor
Mon, Tues,Wed, Fri, Sun
Around the island Stop offs for swimming, Panormitis, Sesklia island (BBQ lunch) and St Georges Bay
St Emilianos including a guided walk., swimming and BBQ
BBQ at Nimos Island
St Vassillis including guided walk, swimming and BBQ
Panormitis and Faneromeni including guided walk, swimming and BBQ
It may also be possible to arrange sunset cruises/ night swimming.
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There is no airport on Symi Island. Most people coming here are the daytripers from Rhodes. There are few ships coming from Mandraki Harbour in Rhodes City.
You always pay for a round trip but the prices vary a lot, depending on where you're from, where do you buy it, how big is the group and so on. If you buy a ticket directly in the harbour you pay half comparing to the hotel, tourist agency prices. My tourist agency charged me 30 Euro which was a rip off, just after coming back I realized I could have payed half of it.
Most streets in Symi are narrow lanes, which can be accesible by motorbikes and only few are accesible by cars - rather small cars too. The houses located by the stairway can only be reached by feet or donkeys. Maybe it's not the easiest place for delivering goods but it's so charming on the other hand.
Over water is the only way here..
No airport on the island. Usual way of arrival is via Rhodes ferry (2 hours) catamaran/ hydrofoil (55mins). Other usual routes Kos or Datca (Turkey)..unless you have your private means of transport!
Ferry timetable is subject to change, and weather conditions can affect travel too, especially @ beginning/end of season) it can mean staying over in Rhodes for an extra night.....if on package..accom sorted by company..if independent, plenty of choice, to suit all budgets.
www.symivisitor.com is a very useful site which gives ferry timetable info..as well as loads of other Symi related stuff. Theres also a "visitors questions" page where Symi lovers are on stand by to help with your questions.
Both times I've travelled in early May, on 18.30 ferry from Rhodes..The 2 hour journey soon passes by...as you near Symi, just after the sun sets, and the scent of Thyme/ oregano starts to hit you, you'll notice a rush to the front of the boat..stake a claim to your place, to catch your first sight of Yialos (the harbour). As the ferry rounds the corner of the bay, you'll see white neo classical buildings clinging to the "walls " of the harbour, then one by one the lights come on in the houses/restaurants/bars as night falls. As you float nearer, you can recognise individual buildings, smell freshly caught fish being grilled over charcoal, and hear the chatter as people set about their work/relaxation.
As the ferry lands, locals and holidaymakers alike rush to greet family, friends, or to make their way to be transported to their homes, whether permanent or just for a week or 2!
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Get your sea legs on
Alot of people, such as myself, arrive in Symi by boat from Rhodes on a day trip. There are no roads on Symi as such, mostly paths and tracks, but it can be explored by boat if you don't fancy walking. Beaches and coves can be reached either by taxi-boat or foot.
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Symi is on the schedule of some of the cruise liners (as well as the large inter-island ferries). When we arrived at Symi the Cruise Ship "Atalante" was just leaving. This is a boat of around 20,000 tons and is an "grand old lady of the sea", having been launched in 1952. Dunno what facilities are like onboard, but she looked nice and kind of "classic" compared to the large modern cruise ships of today.
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