The Greek Islands: Syros

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When I think back to the Greek Island of Syros — my introduction to the Cyclades — one thing stands out in my mind: marble. The streets of Ermoupoli are paved in marble. Not asphalt or concrete, but slippery-smooth white marble. There are great marble mansions and fancy marble buildings that date back to the mid-1800s, when the city was rebuilt in a Neoclassical style.

Today, the marble streets are well-worn. Empty, even — especially by the time September rolls around.

Syros street

Syros was described in my Intrepid Travel tour notes as “an opportunity to see the islands as the Greeks do.” I of course was a bit skeptical about this actually being the case. But you know what? I think it might actually be pretty accurate. Ermoupoli is not only the capital of Syros, but also of the Cyclades island group — meaning Syros’ main function is not tourism.

Syros from the ferry

Syros is laid-back. Syros is pretty, but clearly has not yet been over-commercialized like some of the other islands in the Aegean; you won’t find huge cruise ships docking here or crowds taking over the beaches. Syros is, simply, the perfect island on which to get acclimated to the “slow-slow” pace of life that Greece is known for.

Syros

Ermoupoli, Syros

Places to go

Syros isn’t the biggest or most popular island in Greece. Even though it’s only a 4- or 5-hour ferry ride from Athens’ Piraeus port, people don’t make the journey here as often as they do to, say, Mykonos or Santorini. This means that there aren’t a ton of touristy or “must-see” areas of the island. But if you need something to do…

Ano Syros

Head to the hills above Ermoupoli — the hill of San Giorgio, to be exact. On top of this hill, the Venetians built the town of Ano Syros in the 13th century. This little town will be close to what you picture when you think of Greece: narrow streets, painted doors, and tons of marble steps. From Ermoupoli, you can reach the top of Ano Syros on foot in about an hour going at a leisurely pace.

Ano Syros

Ano Syros

Syros

Ano Syros

Plateia Miaouli

This huge, stately town square in Ermoupoli is always a great place to hang out, or grab a bite to eat. With the town hall building at one end of the square, the other sides are lined with palm trees and cafes. Go at night to see it come alive in a different way.

Syros square

Beaches

Syros isn’t known for its beaches, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have any — it is an island, after all. Here are a couple to check out:

The “Concrete Beach”

Located near the harbor in Ermoupoli, you won’t find any sand at this beach. What you will find, though, is incredibly clear water, and a relaxing beach bar. Grab a drink and sit at the bar, or spread out a towel on the concrete to soak up the sun and the views.

Syros concrete beach

Concrete Beach, Syros

Galissas

Catch a bus from Ermoupoli and head to the beaches on the other side of the island. The two most popular are Kini and Galissas. Galissas can be reached either by direct bus (about 20 minutes) or by a bus that traverses all along the southern coast of Syros (taking 45-60 minutes). This beach is large and sandy, with sunbeds/umbrellas for rent (roughly 5 Euro for 2 beds and an umbrella, though you can always try to haggle) and restaurants and tavernas nearby.

Galissas Beach, Syros

Galissas Beach, Syros

What makes Syros special

If I had to boil Syros down, I would say the island is laid-back, traditional, and somewhat off the tourist trail as far as the Greek Islands go.

Syros

The practical stuff…

WHERE TO STAY — I stayed at Hotel Archontissa, located on Platia Iroon. The hotel was in a good location — about 10 minutes’ walk from the ferry terminal, and with bus stops right outside to take you to the beaches. The rooms were clean, air conditioned and came with free wi-fi, and manager Yiannis was super friendly and helpful.

WHERE TO EAT — Head to any taverna, as most are family-owned on this island. There are a ton near Plateia Miaouli. Try a traditional Greek moussaka, some fresh seafood, or saganaki (fried San Michali cheese).

GETTING AROUND — You can easily explore Ermoupoli and Ano Syros by foot, or perhaps by bike. To get to the beaches on the other side of the island, you’ll need to catch a bus (with bus rides usually being less than 2 Euro).

What do you think of Syros? Is it an island you’d like to visit?

 

 

*Note: I received a complimentary Greek Islands tour from Intrepid Travel through my partnership with them. All opinions, though, as always are entirely my own.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Dude thats to funny about finding the “perfect” place. What is it about trying to find an apartment in a foreign country that makes you want to load a gun and pull the trigger vs the hassle of it? I had the same problem in Bangkok this last year and was made even harder because I was only going to be there for 3 months. My criteria I thought was pretty easy:
    1) Internet a must
    2) Kitchen would like
    3) Must be able to pronounce the name of the street to a cab driver (T-roy don’t speak Thai! lol)

    I got lucky and had a local Thai doctor friend who knew a student that had a mother who just happened to have a place that fit that description. Go figure huh?

    Lessons Learned: Always ask your doctor first! 🙂
    .-= T-roy´s last blog ..Haiti Needs Your Help! =-.

  2. Ouch…
    I have to say you scared me a bit.
    I’m a fan of street food but now im wondering if i should pay more attention to what i eat 🙂

  3. What an amazing article, the kid in me wants to experience the adventures of Mexico. Your clicks show how fun and exciting your adventure trip was. Since, it’s a great place for kids, I would plan a surprise trip for my nephews on their next school break. Thank you for sharing this information as I had no knowledge about the various places in Mexico.

  4. This sounds like such an amazing trip Lucy and seems like you have so much to already look forward to. Definitrly take a drive down the coast to Cape Peninsular as it’s one of the most beautiful drives ever. And I highly recommend roadtripping along some of the Garden Route if you get time. South Africa is one of my most favourite countries in the whole world and I am so so envious! Take me with you!!

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