Following the sad events of the last few days I found myself reminiscing about last summer's. holidays. Watching the news and seeing Rhodes burned by wildfires saddened my heart and got me hoping that they can get back to normal asap.
Across the months of August and September 2022 I had the good fortune of spending two glorious weeks between the two greek islands of Rhodes and Symi in the dodecannese archipelago.
Very well publicised the first, quite understated and remote the second.
There is one main reason the two islands are so different: Rhodes has an airport and Symi does not. A larger, more touristically established island the first, one for those in the know the second.
I have been to Greece several times and I always find it somewhat tricky to choose which location to visit; there are just so many islands and all of them seem so pretty and unique that, in the past, making a decision proved so difficult that I actually left it altogether and went elsewhere. But last year my partner in crime and I were quite determined and, boy, did we choose well.
Getting to Rhodes from London is easy enough, if a little long, nearly four hours flight.
A couple of years previously - the last pre-covid holiday in fact - we went to Kos and, a little bored after ten days, we took the ferry to spend the night in Rhodes town; on the way there, we made a stop in Symi port and it looked really striking from the sea.
What we found in Rhodes pushed us to go back last year and there is actually quite a lot to see. Firstly the collection of Hellenistic artefacts that the city hosts is absolutely first rate. Mosaics and sculptures from all over the archipelago can be seen in beautiful, atmospheric locations.
I particularly recommend the examples on show in the beautiful garden of the Archaeological Museum, mostly dating from the 4th century BC. I had a very pleasant visit there as it was shaded and cool and nice to shelter me from the heat. Also if you go at lunchtime, when everybody is either eating or at the beach, you are pretty much guaranteed to have the place to yourself.
We have a considerable amount of Ancient Greek art in London, but obviously seeing it in the motherland (where, quite frankly, it should be!) is another thing altogether.
I would like to link the museum here but the website is not great and has not English translation, what a shame.
However, if you want to visit, it is in the Old Town, very easy to find and there is no need to book, they even do a combined ticket with which you can visit the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights and another small museum, of utensils, if I remember correctly.
Rhodes town is one of those places that really makes you feel that you are on the site of one of the oldest, culturally richest cultures in the world. The first time I went there my accommodation was on Pythagoras street (!) and fridge magnets bear the famous quotes of local philosophers.
Arty stuff aside, there is much to do on the island. First of all, in the whole time I spent in Greece in my whole life I have never once seen a cloud in the sky. Ok, I do go at the end of August / beginning of September, but, yes, 30 degrees every day, solid. So, once you have seen what you went to see, do yourself a favour and relax on the beach or by the pool with a nice glass of Mythos. After two weeks in Greece I came to take the icy jar for granted and had a bit of a reality check when I next visited the pub in London.
Where we stayed
I visited a couple of beaches without straying too much away from the town and, to be honest, I did not find one that I could recommend, in the immediate vicinity, although I am sure there are plenty. I ended up spending a few afternoons by the pool of the apartment we rented, which was jolly nice.
A town (and a beach) that is well worth a visit is Lindos. Easily reachable by bus from Rhodes Town, the village is mostly pedestrianised and whitewashed in the typical greek fashion. It has its own acropolis and offers a large selection of nice restaurants and small, beautiful boutiques. In my opinion this size of town could do with having less souvenir shops to be honest, but hey! maybe some tourists like them, I am not one of those tourists.
Where we ate
Rhodes Town is a touristic destination, there is no getting away from it, but, apart from being steeped in history and culture, it's a far cry from the loud party capital that is Faliraki. In terms of restaurants for example: make sure not to miss:
Paneri - for stylish ambience and dishes packed full of flavour.
Ta Kardasia - to eat delicious traditional food on the best terrace in town.
After a week on Rhodes we made our way to the port to catch the ferry to Symi, Just over an hour later we arrived and it was just as beautiful as we remembered it...
Just off the coast of Turkey, this quaint, little island has a vibe of its own.
As you approach from the sea, it hits you with a multitude of tidy, colourful buildings. Small and well maintained, they frame the bay beautifully.
For our week's stay we choose a small hotel overlooking the water only six rooms located in a quiet spot towards the end of the bay of Yialos.
After settling in and enjoying a well deserved aperitif on our terrace, we hit the (very small) town. Symi has a cool, low profile vibe - never mind the elegant sailing boats that moor here - so no need to don stilettos in the evening; also some nice restaurants are perched up high on the cliff and the only way to reach them is by climbing pretty cobbled streets on foot.
Leaving every hour from Yialos towards all the island's main beaches, are comfortable and affordable shuttle boats.
Before setting off on your perusing though, I must recommend that you get yourselves a pair of rubber shoes; these are available in many shops on the island for about ten euros and they are a must if you want to walk easily on the pebbly seashores. See photo of my chubby feet inside a beloved pair :)
The closest beach is the laid back Agia Marina. Well equipped and tranquil it is only a 15 minutes boat ride from Yialos marina. Like many of Simi's beaches it is not the easiest choice if you have a pram size baby or child (hence the lovely silence haha).
A little further down the coast is Agios Nikolaos beach.
Again, easy to reach and super quiet, this was our favorite. Simple lunches are served by friendly staff in the lovely taverna overlooking the sea.
Watch until the end for some seriously beautiful, intense colours. The trip to the beach was always my favorite part of the day in Symi. Crystal clear waters in stark contrast with the dry, harsh land made for absolutely spectacular journeys
Another lovely beach is located further south, still on the east coast of the island, It is called Marathounda and there you will have the privilege of making the acquaintance of cute, friendly goats; they are used to beachgoers and enjoy vegetable snacks should you choose to feed them.
Overall I would score the island of Symi a great 9/10.
The water is so clean and blue, fresh yet not cold; the people are extremely welcoming yet not overbearing; it is exotic and familiar at the same time.
It really is very chilled and absolutely stunning. To me it felt like a little corner of paradise and I would like to go back sooner rather than later. So long beautiful Symi <3