Symi is a small island with charming neoclassical houses and beaches with crystal clear waters. It is also home to the 18th-century Monastery of Archangel Michael Panormitis, an important pilgrimage site. Due to its proximity to the island of Rhodes, Symi makes a perfect day trip. This is how I experienced this popular day trip from Rhodes to Symi.
A Boat Trip from Rhodes to Symi
My boat trip from Rhodes to Symi started with a pick-up from our hotel that took us to the Mandraki Port, minutes away from the impressive old town of Rhodes, where our boat was docked.
Once there, we received our boarding cards and boarded the boat.
Now, it was time to relax and enjoy the trip, as it took approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes to reach Symi.
Light gusts of wind smiting your face, the sound of excited seagulls that loyally follow the boat, and a warm, bright sun reminding you of the beauty of the Mediterranean. Perfection.
If you like, you can sit on the deck or inside, wherever it feels more comfortable.
Keep in mind that you have to experience a boat trip in Greece to appreciate the country’s glory. Plus, everywhere you look, you will be greeted with the deep blue of the Aegean Sea, the crystal waters that connect mainland Greece and the Greek islands with Asia Minor and Turkey.
What to expect on a day trip from Rhodes to Symi
The first stop is the Monastery of Archangel Michael Panormitis, also known as the Monastery of the Taxiarchis. The name of the monastery refers to an important icon of Archangel Michael. It is considered miraculous for Eastern Orthodox Christians and is also one of the four miraculous icons of the Archangel in the Dodecanese.
Situated on the seafront of the picturesque village of Panormitis, the monastery is a spacious and imposing 18th-century Venetian-style building. Its landmark feature is the impressive baroque bell tower.
The main structure’s facade is the classic white of island Greece, showing purity and humbleness. Also, a fantastic bakery is nearby. Fresh pastries, delicious local sweets, and excellent snacks await. In other words, it is perfect for treating hunger and boosting your energy levels before heading into the main monastery area.
After you pass the main gate, you will be welcomed by an inner courtyard decorated with beautiful flowers and trees. The church is located on the left and contains the grand two-meter-high and silver-leafed Panormiti icon. The church interior is covered with Byzantine iconography and spectacular murals, like the Fall of the Angels fresco. Elaborate chandeliers complete the medieval-baroque environment.
The church is supposed to have been built around 450 AD on the foundations of a temple dedicated to the Greek god Apollo. In the 18th century, a major renovation took place to bring the building to its modern standard.
Inside the monastery, you will find two museums. One is rich in ecclesiastical exhibits, like silver icons, pontificals, Russian epitaphs, and religious utensils. The other houses objects of the island’s folk culture, primarily relevant to agriculture, shepherding, and fishing. On top of this, I was amazed at the abundance of Eastern Roman manuscripts and editions of historical and ecclesiastic content housed in the monastery library.
After the guide gives you all the historical information, you need to know about the monastery; you will have approximately 1-hour of free time to appreciate this holy place. After your boat cruise commences, you can enjoy a scenic 40-minute cruise around the island’s west coast.
As you enter the harbor of Symi, prepare to be amazed by the island’s colorful houses and private sailing boats. You will have about 3.5 hours of free time to get the most out of this little village.
As soon as I stepped down from the boat, I admired the neoclassical mansions.
Symi is not just imposing structures, though. There are many more things to discover. For example, Symi village is packed with folk and art shops, relaxing cafes, hospitable seafront taverns with yummy, fresh food (meat and fish), and stalls full of wooden carvings and sponges. The latter is perfect for sourcing souvenirs for loved ones back home!
Besides being a place to find true peace, Symi is quite historic, too. According to Greek mythology, Symi appears to be the birthplace of the Charites, the goddesses of nature, fertility, and human creativity.
The island’s name is disputed, as some suggest it comes from the nymph Syme. At the same time, Pliny the Elder, a well-known Roman author, and natural philosopher, and other writers claim that the name derived from scimmia, meaning monkey.
Symi became a prosperous island thanks to the Knights of St John’s interest in commerce and shipping, while most of the island’s wealth came from its high-quality sponges, which are still noted today. Symi became officially part of Greece in 1948, after being part of the Ottoman Empire and Italy for most of its modern history. The fact that diverse cultures have influenced Symi makes your visit to the island a must.
Once more, your guide will talk to you about the island’s history and answer all the questions you have. Then, one of the things you can do is get the fun train for a drive through Symi town or go swimming at the nearby Nos beach, a 10-minute walk from where your boat is docked. Alternatively, you can hop on a bus or taxi to nearby Pedi beach. It is a short 10-minute drive away.
Alternatively, you can take the steps ( Kali Strata) leading to the upper part of Symi town and visit the Archaeological Museum and the Venetian Castle, which stands on a hill, offering spectacular views.
Check out: The best things to do in Symi island.
After the free time was over, we boarded the boat for the return trip to the Rhodes Mandraki Port and our hotel.
Symi is the perfect day trip from Rhodes, as it gives you the chance to explore one of the most picturesque Greek islands while enjoying the warm sun and the endless blue of the Aegean.
For more information and to book this trip, click here.
Things to know about your day trip to Symi island
- A pickup and drop-off at your hotel are included.
- This is a guided trip; a licensed guide will accompany you.
- Bring comfortable walking shoes if you want to get up to the castle.
- You must be modestly dressed if you want to enter the monastery. A long skirt is provided at the entrance for the ladies.
- A swimsuit, sunglasses, sunscreen, and a hat are a must.
- If you take the day trip early or late in the season, you might consider bringing a light jacket. If you decide to sit in the shade, it might be a little chilly early in the morning and late in the afternoon.
- The boat has a cantine offering coffee, refreshments, and light snacks.