The manorial capital of the Cyclades, the cosmopolitan island of Syros, with its unique atmosphere, invites you to discover every corner and spend unforgettable moments. It is the ideal destination, both for relaxing holidays and for fun partying. The beauties of the island are many, so here, we will provide you with all the information you need to explore the charming island of Syros like a local.
Table of Contents
Syros is an island of the Cyclades about 4 hours away from Piraeus. Its capital is Ermoupolis, which is also the capital of the prefecture of the Cyclades and the seat of the South Aegean Region. The name Syros comes from the first inhabitants of the island, the Phoenicians. Today there are two different versions of this name. According to the first, the name comes from the word ‘Usyra’ which means happy, while according to the second, it comes from ‘Syr’ which means rock.
Reasons to visit the charming island of Syros
Syros - credits: en.wikipedia.org
1. To walk the scenic streets of Ermoupolis. The cosmopolitan, sophisticated, yet bohemian atmosphere of the capital of the island doesn’t leave anyone untouched. The city combines the trademark Cycladic architecture with 19th-century mansions and luxurious neoclassical buildings that used to host the shipowners of the island. Ermoupolis’ most impressive key points are the archeological museum and the ornate Apollo theater, so make sure you don’t miss those during your stay.
2. To marvel at the beautiful neighborhood of Vaporia. This is where the richest merchants of the last century built their beautiful captain's houses in front of the sea so that the wave would hit them and they would look like steamers ready to set sail. Don’t leave the area without a stop at the church of Agios Nikolaos, the basilica with the blue dome, as well as the Corinthian columns.
3. To admire the most beautiful old town of the Greek islands. Perched on one of the two hills that rise behind the port of the island, Ano Syros requires a lot of walking, but compensates the visitor with its picturesqueness, and the old-time charm one cannot miss.
4. To witness the wealthy region of Delagratsia. The aristocrats of the island built ornate villas with towers and beautiful gardens in the resort of Poseidonia, which the locals call by its old name, Delagratsia. It is located near some of the most compelling beaches on the island.
5. To get to know the industrial power of Syros. The commercial flourishing of Syros in the 19th century made it the largest commercial center of liberated Greece and for many years the second largest city after Athens. After all, it is no coincidence that its capital was named after the god of trade, Hermes. Traces of this flourishing can be found in the impressive industrial buildings of Ermoupolis, three of which house the Industrial Museum of the island. It is also worth exploring the shipyard with the old cranes and the old factories on the south side of the port.
6. To swim in its stunning beaches. The most popular and organized beaches are located in the south of the island, while the most beautiful and quiet are hidden in the northwest. Some of our favorites include those of Agios Nikolaos, Delagratsia, Galissas, and Megas Gialos. But we’ll talk about those and many more below.
7. To taste the delectable cuisine of Syros. Much like most parts of Greece, Syros has local flavors and dishes that are a treat to the senses. Before leaving the island, you must try the Syrian ‘loukoumia’, San Michalis cheese, halva pies, as well as ‘louza’, which is the traditional Cycladic sausage from sirloin marinated in red wine with pepper, allspice, cloves, and cinnamon.
8. To hike its impressive trails. The size of Syros, as well as its geology, make it perfect for hiking. There are multiple routes on the island, most of which are marked, you can follow in order to appreciate the Greek land. If you’re a beginner, don’t worry, as the routes vary in size and difficulty.
9. To reveal the ancient secrets of the island. Chalandriani, less than 10 km away from Ermoupolis, is the most important archaeological site of the island, where at the end of the 19th century a prehistoric acropolis of over 5 thousand years was discovered. At the site of Kastri, which is connected to Halandriani by a large path, the excavations brought to light a prehistoric settlement of almost 5 acres from the end of the Early Cycladic period, which includes an ancient cemetery and finds of pottery, stonework, and metalwork.
10. To take advantage of the islands’ diversity. Due to its size and its tourist infrastructure, Syros has so many accommodation and entertainment options that you can find at various prices, either in coastal settlements such as Galissas or in the island’s capital, Ermoupolis.
How to get there
The ferry to Syros - credits: greektravel.com
There are two ways to access Syros: either by boat or by airplane.
If you are a fan of fast travel, and your budget allows you to, you can reach Syros by airplane from Athens International Airport. Syros’ airport is about 3 km from Ermoupolis, however, it only serves domestic flights. Dimitrios Vikelas State Airport of Syros is connected daily with Athens, with the frequency of the flights increasing during the summer months.
The most common and cheapest way to access the island, however, is by boat. The port of the island is located in Ermoupolis, its capital, and receives the main volume of visitors. The journey from Piraeus to Syros by conventional ferry takes 3.5 hours, while by speedboat access to the island is possible in just two hours. During the summer, there are routes to Syros from the port of Rafina, in Attica, with the duration of the trip being about four hours. The island is also connected by ferry with most of the other islands of the complex, but also the Dodecanese and islands of the North Aegean.
The best towns and villages to explore
Ermoupolis - credits: aspectsofstyle.com
Ermoupolis is the capital of Syros and the whole of the Cyclades. It is a city that has played the leading role in the economic history of Greece for almost a century. It was built during the Greek Revolution by refugees from Chios, Psariani, and Ayvali, after the destruction of Chios. Ermoupolis means "the city of Hermes", which was the ancient god of trade and letters.
Within a few years, Ermoupolis became the first port in the country with intense artistic and cultural movement. For many decades it was the center of trade for all of Greece and the coasts of Central Asia. At the same time, there was intense industrial development. The first Greek iron ship was built in Ermoupolis and the first branch of the National Bank was opened.
All this economic prosperity led to the creation of the cosmopolitan ambiance the city carries to this day. Greek and international architects, craftsmen, muralists, and painters contributed to the city becoming an architectural treasure. The City Hall, the church of Agios Nikolaos, the Apollo Theater, and the mansions in the Vaporia district, are some of the brightest examples of the city’s architectural allure.
From the end of the 19th century, when the Isthmus of Corinth was constructed, Ermoupolis lost its old glamor and power. Nevertheless, the city continues to be one of the most important administrative and commercial centers of southern Aegean.
Ano Syros - credits: travelpassionate.com
Built amphitheatrically by the Venetians on the hill of Agios Georgios, which is the northwestern continuation of Ermoupolis, Ano Syros retains all of its medieval charms and becoming atmosphere. Countless stairs climb to the top, between narrow streets with whitewashed houses with colorful doors composing another state. In the medieval settlement of Ano Syros, there are no vehicles, since the alleys are very small and only allow the passage of pedestrians.
The distance from the port to the main entrance of the city is 3500 meters and the road leading there is paved. The hill is dominated by the catholic church of Agios Georgios, built in the Medieval Age. From there, the magnificent view of the sea is unique giving the visitor the opportunity to see the neighboring islands of Tinos, Delos, Paros, and Naxos. No trip to Syros is complete without a visit to Ano Syros!
Ano Meria - credits: syros-island.gr
In the northern part of Syros, lies Ano Meria, an area of exceptional natural beauty and only a few inhabitants. Small scattered settlements charm the visitor. From high on the steep cliffs, the northern beaches of the island, magnetize the eye. They can only be accessed by boat from the bay of Kini during the summer month, resulting in them maintaining their pureness.
The settlements of Varvarousa, Aetos, Leia, Marmari, Grammata, and Kleisoura are worth exploring. Especially in Grammata, the inscriptions on the rocks of the coast testify to the thanks of the sailors to the savior God who showed them the way to the bay, to protect themselves from the raging sea. The area also has chapels scattered all over the area, which during the summer, hold fun festivals.
The plateau of Halandriani and its neighboring hill of Kastri, are places of legends and traditions. The ruins that still survive there, belong to a cemetery and two settlements of the Early Bronze Age. The excavations brought to light countless findings of the Cycladic civilization of the 3rd millennium BC. Fortresses of the same period, pottery, weapons, and figurines were excavated in Kastri, most of which depict pregnant women.
In the settlement of Agios (Saint) Michalis, there was an ancient city called "Elliniko", with an ancient well that survives to this day. Finally, behind the settlement of Richopos, one can witness the cave of the philosopher Ferekidis, teacher of Pythagoras.
Vari - credits: feelgreece.com
At the southeastern end of Syros, in Ormos, lies Vari with the trademark tower that creates an imposing image. In Fabrica and in Azolimnos, the visitor can find picturesque cafes, taverns, and hotels. The seal holes with Aspronisi opposite, gather in addition to the seals, cormorants, gulls, and black peregrines.
The plain with the reeds, the crops, the manganese wells, the farmhouses, and the cisterns, reveals the rural life that is particularly developed in the area and demands your attention.
Galissas - credits: travelpassionate.com
Just 7 km from Ermoupolis, on the west side of Syros, lies the beautiful village of Galissas. A former rural village that in recent years has grown rapidly and emerged as the most touristic area of the island. The organized hotels, the rooms and apartments for rent, the campsites, the taverns, and the bars, promise unforgettable moments of comfort and fun to every visitor.
The wonderful beach with the fine sand and the natural shade from the tamarisk trees, the famous hill of Agia Pako with the picturesque church, the port with the boats and the wonderful stone pier and the palm trees, are of unique beauty. There, visitors of the island can enjoy a romantic walk and catch the striking sunset. What’s more in this area of Agia Pako, traces of an ancient citadel have been discovered.
The imposing cave of Agios Stefanos with the white chapel and the running water, Armeos, Glarontas, and Agios Mamas, compose a magnificent landscape. Legend has it, that the chapel was built by a fisherman who escaped from a giant octopus.
Particularly intense is the cultural movement in Galissa where two cultural associations are located, as well as the Gail Nautical Club.
Danakos - credits: exploring-greece.gr
Leaving Galissas, one stumbles upon the quiet and hospitable village of Danakos where the oldest church of Syros, Agios Kyrikos, and the church of Agia Theresia are located. Make a stop and walk around to get close to nature.
Kini - credits: greektravel.com
On the west side of Syros, just 9 km from Ermoupolis, lies the gorgeous Kini. It is a picturesque seaside fishing village, that is one of the most popular and cosmopolitan areas of the island. In Agathopes, sea lilies bloom in abundance, a fact that testifies to its rich ecosystem.
Finikas - credits: syrosisland.gr
Finikas is a seaside village located in the southwestern part of Syros. It includes the settlement of Vissa with 733 inhabitants. In recent years, tourism has developed significantly there, due to the wonderful natural location and the incredible tourist infrastructure.
It is noteworthy that the port Finikas is one of the two natural ports of Syros, the other one being that of Ermoupolis. This picturesque port serves as a shelter, refueling station, and mooring for small yachts. The beautiful beach of Finikas, with its golden sand, water sports, and other sports facilities, offers special moments of rest, relaxation, and entertainment. walks on its picturesque beach.
Chroussa - credits: syrosisland.gr
The settlement of Chroussa consists of lush vegetation, modern houses that maintain a traditional character, and old mansions that betray a past grandeur. At the top of a hill, you can find the Church of Panagia Faneromeni that was built around 1890, as well as an old chapel that dates back to the 14th century.
The best beaches in Syros
Megas Gialos Beach
Megas Gialos beach - credits: travelpassionate.com
Megas Gialos is one of the largest beaches of Syros. It is located south of Ermoupolis, in front of the homonymous settlement. In essence, Megas Gialos consists of two sandy beaches and scattered coves. It is an organized beach with umbrellas and sunbeds. However, there is still enough free space for visitors to lay their towels, sheltered from the sun by the natural shade created by the tamarisk trees that reach almost to the edge of the sea.
Azolimnos credits: greece.com
Crystal clear waters and soft golden sand compose the image of Azolimnos beach. The beach offers umbrellas and sunbeds for free, but the dozens of tamarisk trees along the beach also provide visitors with natural shade. The three piers, two on the beach and the third at the edge are ideal for diving, while cafes and taverns are located on the road just behind the beach.
Vari beach - credits: kalispera.se
One of the most popular beaches of Syros is located in the south of the island and just one kilometer from the homonymous settlement that boasts about 1,200 inhabitants. The small closed bay and the shallow waters of Vari beach are ideal for young children while due to its morphology, the beach is also suitable for long scenic walks. Vari beach is fully organized and offers a variety of water sports.
Galissas beach - credits: angelfire.com
Galissas Beach has a sandy shore, deep blue waters, and tamarisk trees that offer protection from the sun. It is fully organized and suitable for those who wish to engage in water sports. Food and accommodation are provided to visitors by the homonymous settlement, just above the beach.
At the top of the hill above the beach of Galissas, there is the white catholic chapel of Agia Pakous, which has been built on the ruins of an ancient temple. It is worth climbing the -many- stairs; the stunning view and magical sunset you can admire from there are more than rewarding!
Kini beach - credits: greece-terrabook.com
The beach of Kini is located on the west coast of the island. It is fully organized, with umbrellas and sunbeds, and it is located within walking distance from the taverns of the settlement of the same name. In the center of the beach, a fountain catches the eye of the visitor, as it depicts a mermaid holding it in her hands and rescuing a shipwrecked man. Boats depart from Kini to the northern beaches of Syros, for which there is no road access.
Finikas beach - credits: angelfire.com
Finikas is one of the most popular beaches on the island that stretches along an endless sandy coast, in a bay that is protected from the north winds. There, you will find umbrellas and sun lounges that almost reach the shore, while watersports keep the adventure-seekers on their toes. The beach of Finikas is an excellent fishing spot, while on it you will find several taverns serving local delicacies.
Komito beach - credits: feelgreece.com
Komito is a beautiful beach in the southwest of Syros on the road to Poseidonia that travelers choose for its golden sand, amazing waters, and trendy beach bar. Just 1 km from Poseidonia -or Delagracia- and 15 km from Ermoupolis, Komito beach is a favorite destination for those looking for an oasis of relaxation and tranquility. The privileged location of the beach gives visitors the opportunity to swim in the turquoise waters, or to enjoy their coffee overlooking the rocky islet of Stroggilos.
Agathopes beach - credits: syrosisland.gr
The beach of Agathopes is one of the busiest beaches of Syros, just 14 km from Ermoupolis. Its shallow waters, offered comforts, and easy accessibility, make it an incredible family destination. Guests can swim in the clear blue waters and enjoy their coffee or food in the cafes and taverns along the beach. Just 1 km from the beaches of Poseidonia and Finikas, Agathopes is a reference point for travelers. The rocky islet of Strongylo, Schinonisi, and the impressive lighthouse at Cape Viglostasi, add to the already enchanting scenery.
Agios Nikolaos Beach
Agios Nikolaos beach - wondergreece.com
Agios Nikolaos is one of the three most beautiful beaches of Ermoupolis, ideal for those who don’t want to trouble themselves with transportation in order to enjoy a refreshing dive. It may not be a cosmopolitan beach, but the picturesque landscape and clear blue waters are enough to attract travelers for a swim. The cafe located nearby offers visitors snacks, drinks, and relaxation, along with some sun loungers.
Varvarousa beach - credits: syrosisland.gr
Varvarousa beach is located in Ormos Aetou, north of Delfini beach and just 12 km from Ermoupolis. It is a beautiful, yet rather deserted, beach ideal for eclectic travelers seeking absolute tranquility for their sea excursions. The beach is accessible by boat from Kini, or through a path that starts from Delfini beach, ideal for hiking enthusiasts.
Achladi beach - credits: syrosisland.gr
Achladi beach is located 8 km from Ermoupolis and is an ideal choice for families with young children, and those who want to relax on a beach that offers comfort, convenience, and watersports. Between Vari and Mega Gialos, there is the picturesque settlement of Achladi, which took its name from the shape created by the houses of the settlement, as ‘achladi’ means ‘pear’ in Greek. Swimmers can relax under the umbrellas, enjoy delicious dishes in the seaside tavern and visit the cape of Ai Giorgis.
Fabrica beach - credits: syrosisland.gr
Fabrica is one of the most beautiful beaches in southern Syros. The old ceramics factory operated there during the industrial prosperity of Syros and gave its name to the whole region.
In Fabrica, you will find only a few umbrellas, as the beach is considered one of the quietest of Syros, with golden sand and pebbles. If you are up for an adventure, try swimming to the small island of Ampelos which is directly opposite.
Kokkina beach - credits: syrosisland.gr
If you are in Finikas and you want to avoid the loud central beach, then a little further north, at a distance of about 1.5 km, is the secluded beach of Kokkina. It is an unorganized, narrow beach with both sand and pebbles. In order to enjoy it to the fullest, don’t forget to take the essentials with you, but do not worry about shade, as the tamarisk trees that reach up to the shore offer it abundantly. Opposite the beach, you can see Psathonisi, one of the uninhabited islands of Syros.
Lotos beach - credits: greecevacationsearch.com
Lotos is a quiet beach in western Syros with clear blue waters and tamarisk trees. The small tavern on the area provides snacks and refreshments to swimmers. However, if you want more than a snack, you’ll be glad to know that the village of Kini is located nearby.
Getting around the island
Syros' mini bus - credits: agenda.gr
You can get around the island either by renting a vehicle or by public transport. In order to decide which of the options is best for you, you have two take into consideration two main factors: whether you’re traveling with children, and how many days you will stay on the island.
If you don’t have children with you and don’t plan on staying for too long, you can get away with using KTEL buses and taxis for your transportation. Especially, if you choose your accommodation to be in Ermoupolis, then you’ll make your life a lot easier. Fortunately, the island has very good and consistent public transport. The bus station is located on the far left as you descend to the port and see Ermoupolis, the network is very frequent to all the famous beaches of the island, the buses are modern and air-conditioned and at each stop there is a detailed schedule. Not to mention that the tickets are dirt cheap at around 1.80 euros for a full, one-way ticket.
At the same time, for travel in the neighborhoods of Ermoupolis, there is a very dense network of Mini Buses and a train that operates until late at night, to guide you to the settlements and the sights of the city.
If however you are traveling with children and are happy to spend the extra money, bringing your car, or renting a vehicle is the way to go. It goes without saying that on the island there is a wide network of rental vehicles of all kinds, in most cases, your hotelier can help you rent them.
In that case, you can choose accommodation on one of Syros’ seaside villages and not Ermoupoli, without having to worry about the distances.
Things to do in Syros
The Vamvakaris Museum - credits: greekerthanthegreeks.com
1. Visit the neoclassical villas in Delagratsia -or Poseidonia- with tower mansions and large lush gardens and the Poseidonia Town Hall.
2. Go for an afternoon walk in Pigi. It is a place behind upper Syros where a stream runs (a rare thing for the Cyclades) and has a small church in Agios Athanasios. It is a very beautiful walk.
4. Visit the museum of Vamvakaris, one of the most famous rebetiko musicians in Greece. It is located in the alleys of Ano Syros and is open in the afternoon, so you can combine it with a relaxed drink and a mesmerizing view of the island.
5. Attend a festival. Two very nice festivals are organized in Syros. The Cinema festival every July, and the Animation Festival in September. It would be nice to arrange your vacation on those days because both are full of excellent activities. Of course, the events in Syros never stop. You are always sure to catch some kind of event at the Apollo Theater.
6. If you are in Syros, you should definitely eat the Syrian cheese "San Michalis", one of the most expensive cheeses in the country, which is made with pasteurized cow's milk. "Kopanisti" and "skordoloukanika" are also a must and of course for dessert, the Turkish delights in dozens of varieties and the halva pies of Syros, which are enough to wrap the delicious tradition of years in a single bite.
What to eat & drink
Halva pies - credits: greece-is.com
The trademark of the island are the halva pies and the Turkish delights. But if you take a closer look, you will find that cheese and aromatic honey are equally important local products, along with the wild herbs and the dry crops of the summer orchards.
The cuisine of Syros includes several local dishes. The most popular include ‘aetopita’, a dish made with fish, garlic, fennel and tomato, cabbage leaves stuffed with rice and raisins, and sausage. ‘Karavoli’, which is snail stew. ‘Loutza’ sausage, which is a meze common in all the Cyclades. In Syros, it is made from the pork fillet, which is marinated in red wine with pepper, cloves, allspice, and cinnamon. It is placed in a natural intestine and hung in the air, to dry and mature, for 40 days. Fennel pie, ‘Meletinia’, which are the classic small cheese pies of the Cyclades, and ‘Pastellaria, which are sun-dried salted figs with sesame and cinnamon, are also excellent.
The best restaurants and taverns to taste the local flavors are ‘Aeriko’ and ‘To Oneiro’ in Ermoupolis, ‘Vaporia’ located in the homonymous district, and the taverns at the central square of Ano Syros. It is rather impossible to find anything less than delicious food no matter where you choose to eat, so don’t worry too much about it. Ask the locals and go with your gut!
Our trips to Syros
Syros' streets - credits: greece-is.com
The incredible island of Syros has a world of beauty that is waiting to be discovered. If you want to do it properly and thoroughly, your best bet is to leave your trip to the hands of experts. Especially if you want to explore the Cyclades as a whole and consider Syros as one of your stops in your Greek island-hopping adventure, our 14-Day trip to the Cyclades: Athens, Syros, Tinos & Naxos is the ideal trip for you.
Syros manages to catch the eyes of those who want to put an atmospheric twist to their vacation, combining qualities of a city, an island, and an exciting Greek summer. From the walks in the beautiful capital of the island, Ermoupolis, to the imposing neoclassical and Cycladic alleys, but also the wonderful beaches, Syros is an island you will fall in love with at first sight.