Where is Syros?
Syros is a Cycladic island located near Tinos and Mykonos. It is the administrative capital of the Cyclades but ironically, it is one of the few members of the group which looks significantly different from the rest. Instead of the whitewashed cubical houses with blue window covers, Syros is dominated by the neoclassical architecture with houses painted in various colors. The island is relatively small but densely built and populated.
What is Syros best known for?
How to get to Syros?
• By plane: The island has a small airport serving mainly flights from Athens.
• By ferry: As a capital of the Cyclades, Syros has regular daily connections with the port of Piraeus and the closest islands of the group, as well as with Rafina port. It is also connected to some of the North Aegean islands.
Where to stay in Syros?
The capital of Syros is the fascinating town of Ermoupoli, called "The Queen of the Cyclades". It is built amphitheatrically on the slopes of two high hills which will emerge in front of your eyes when you visit the island by ferry. The town offers rich cultural and vibrant social and night life with plenty of restaurants, cafes, shops and museums. However, it is not very convenient for accommodation unless you want to explore the town only and skip the beaches.
There are a few seaside settlements which have developed as popular summer resorts - Galissas, Kini, Finikas, Poseidonia, Megas Gialos, Vari and Azolimnos. Distances on Syros are short and everything is easy and fast to reach via the coastal and inner roads, except for the north part of the island which is barren and not populated. The distance from Ermoupoli to the remotest place on the island is less than 15 km.
Which are the best beaches of Syros?
Most beaches of Syros are small but sandy and suitable for kids as well, with transparent blue water. The beaches of Galissas and Kini are the largest in size, and those of Megas Gialos and Agathopes - the most shallow. Apart from the resorts, you can find other more isolated beaches like Delfini, Abella, Komito and Fabrika, yet with easy access and some of them with beach tavernas as well.
The best place for young people and couples is Kini, with beach bars, volleyball nets and great sunset views. On some of the beaches municipal parasols are placed and available to use free of charge.
Which are the best things to see and do in Syros?
♦ Ermoupoli: It needs at least one day to explore the best things the town has to offer - the Miaouli square with its traditional cafenions, the busy promenade, the alleys full of shops and tavernas, Vaporia quarter - the most aristocratic place on Syros.
♦ Ano Syros, the old neighborhood which occupies the highest area of Ermoupoli. It has steep narrow alleys between the residences, tiny squares, hidden cafes and Catholic church on the top with stunning panoramic view of the port.
♦ The picturesque fishing harbors of Finikas and Ahladi (next to Vari).
♦ The small church of Agia Pakou perched on a hill above the sea near Galissas.
♦ The church of Agios Stefanos, located in a sea cave near Galissas (accessible on foot)
♦ The wild north half with the raw landscape and the hiking trails leading to unknown coves and secluded chapels.
♦ Daily trip to Tinos, Paros or Mykonos by ferry - you can use the speed boats to go in the morning and come back in the afternoon.
♦ Boat cruise around the island
What to eat in Syros?
Still being away from mass tourism, the restaurants and tavernas in Syros provide good food and service. Whole squid stuffed with the local San Michali cheese and herbs is something you will find almost everywhere. San Michali cheese is produced in the homonymous settlement on the island and it is a well-mature type like Cheddar or Parmesan. In the bakeries you can find the famed Syros loukoumi (or Syros delight) and halvadopita (nougat pie), and the island boasts traditions in making various types of lokoumi with rose, mastic, fruit and nuts.
In one of the cafenions around Miaouli we had gorgeous hot chocolate mousse with orange flavour. It was served with a spoon as it was too thick to drink with a straw so it seemed like a hybrid between chocolate cake and hot chocolate drink but it was a nice one. We do not know however if it is a specialty of the island or of the cafeteria.
Our personal experience
Syros was actually not part of our program. We accidentally hopped to it because it was on the way of the ferry which took us back from our holiday on the islands of Milos and Kimolos. Though we do like the special Cycladic architecture in white and blue, Syros was a pleasant surprise with its neoclassic buildings in various colors. We stayed in Galissas which is a very good starting point to explore the island and just 10 minutes drive from the capital.
The first time we tried to climb up Ano Syros it was almost midnight and after some time roaming in the dark and a few dead-end streets, we ended up on the top of the neighbor hill called Vrontado (if you happen to wonder, know that Ano Syros is the higher of the two hills). On the next day it was easier to navigate and we spent a few hours wandering in the quiet alleys of Ano Syros, the climb to the top was definitely worthy.
In the middle of June Syros was very calm and there were hardly any tourists, even some of the beaches were completely empty. The only place where everything was bustling and full of people was Ermoupoli. It was a bit strange for a Cycladic island with regular ferry connections to be so quiet when the season is on but probably that has helped Syros to stay "more Greek". Things may change, however, as it is already on the list of travel guides and agencies searching for new and under-the-radar Greek destinations to offer.