Located just 2 hours south-east Athens by Fast Ferry or north of Santorini is the capital of the Cyclades Islands, Syros. Also known as Siros or Syra this island is very different from the others in the group with its colourful neo-classical buildings and many impressive Government buildings, museums, theatres and even a casino! This guide to Syros Island covers everything you need to know to make the most of this magical place. It really is one of Europes best-kept secrets!
If you are island hopping in the Cyclades Syros should definitely be on your itinerary.
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When to visit Syros
Syros is a lesser-visited Greek island, but still an enjoyable place to take a summer vacation. Throughout the year, the weather varies. In the summer months, temperatures can climb to 30°C but generally see averages of 25°C. While in winter, the mercury drops to 12°C.
If you want to avoid any tourist crowds, find cheaper accommodation, but still have nice weather the best time to visit Syros is in spring and autumn. This time of year sees pleasant temperatures in the low 20Cs/70F, with plenty of sunshine, too.
Further reading: When to visit Greece
Where is Syros Island?
Syros is in the Cyclades Islands, a group of islands in the Aegean Sea. To be exact, you’ll find it 78 nautical miles southeast of Athens. It’s a medium size island, with an area of 83 square miles.
Though Syros itself is fairly rural, being the administrative capital of the region it’s home to over 21,000 people and boasts a relatively large port-town capital. Thanks to its location, the island is something of a ferry hub to more northerly islands in the area.
How to get to Syros
There is both an airport and ferry port on Syros making it fairly accessible, and it is a year round destination too.
Flying to Syros
Syros has its own airport with direct flights from Athens taking just 25 minutes. During summer (high season), flights should be booked in advance as there’s only one airline making the trip – though they do fly all year round.
You cannot fly from any other island to Syros island.
Ferry to Syros
With its history as a port of call, Syros is well connected by boat, and reaching it by sea is simple. The ferry to Syros from Piraeus, the main port of Athens, takes between 2.5 and 4 hours depending on which ferry you book.
Syros can also be reached via ferry services from another Athens port, Rafina, which runs from May to October. This daily service takes 1.5 hours.
There are also a number of different boat connections to many of the other Cycladic islands, such as Crete, Thessaloniki, Skiathos, and the Dodecanese islands. These are regular services, and make it easy to island-hop around the area. Expect more frequent ferry services in the high season.
Suggested Cyclades itineraries
Syros is a great destination to combine with Mykonos and Santorini as it is situated close to Mykonos and is very different again from both of those iconic islands.
If you have just 7 days you could do Santorini 2, Mykonos 3, Syros 2 or similar. With 14 days I suggest Santorini 3, Paros or Naxos or Milos 4, Mykonos 3 and Syros 4.
If you are looking for quiter and less expensive islands then combine Syros with the Western Cyclades islands of Kithnos and Serifos or the Eastern Cycladic Islands of Tinos and Andros which are north of Mykonos.
Getting around Syros
There is a bus that services the island and stops at all the main ports and villages. It’s a fun and affordable way to get around the is how many of the locals do it.You can find the timetable HERE.
There are a number of Taxi’s on Syros island and they can usually be found at the airport and port.
If you would like to book ahead or call one up then ring 22810 84222, 22810 86222 or 22810 88222.
Alternatively, book your airport of port transfer here ONLINE.
Car and Scooter rental
Scooters, ATVs and cars can be hired from several places on the islands including both ports.
A small car is a great idea to see some of the more authentic parts of the island including the more remote and interior villages. Book your car HERE.
Further reading : Driving in Greece
Syros Hotels and Houses
Even though it’s one of the lesser-known Greek islands, Syros has a lot to offer. This hidden gem of an island feels like a slice of authentic Greece. The capital of Ermoupolis is a good place to start your adventures.
This attractive port town, with its beautiful 19th-century buildings and cosmopolitan atmosphere, is full of accommodation options.
The new DIIO Suites have amazing views of the port and are very well priced. Also with amazing views, but this time of Verona bay lined with the gorgeous colourful neo-classical buildings, its hard to beat Pafsilipon Suites. The views, amenities and locations are really quite exceptional and so well priced too compared to some other islands. We stayed in the large rooftop room on a recent visit and did not want to leave! To top it all off it is right above the best beach bar/restaurant on the island, Ciel.
Not far from Pafsilipon and also in the Vaporia area ( arguably the most beautiful in Ermopoulis) is a place called Homey, which has very nice rooms including a 2 bedroom apartment that sleeps 4 which is great for families and couples travelling together.
You can also find hotels such as charming Wind Tales situated high on a hilltop in the medieval twin-town of Ano Syros and, for something really unique, you can also stay there in a windmill! Anemomylos Windmill which is a fair way from the centre of town but with incredible, panoramic views and decent parking.
If you are looking for a bit of a splurge the stunning Aristide Hotel is a design dream and, in our opinion, one of the most stylish hotels in the Greek Islands.
Galissas is one of the most popular of Syros’ tourist resorts and has one of the best and biggest beaches on the island. It’s located five kilometres from Ermoupolis and is on the western side of the island so the sunsets are wonderful. Here Dolphin Bay Resort is very popular with families and Hotel Benois and Remvi with couples. For something more independent Caviri Apartments, which is surrounded by nature.
Kinion (Kini) is another nice beach village with a lovely west facing beach. Here you can’t go past Oro Suites which are very chic and modern and only steps from the beach or the lovely Blue Harmony Hotel which is a perennial favourite for good reason.
Pafsilipon Suites, private terrace
Syros restaurants and food
Food to try on Syros
Almost anywhere you eat on Syros you’ll be guaranteed a taste of some authentic Greek cuisine. There’s a rich array of regional specialties to sample, making it the ideal place for foodies to indulge and explore.
You’ll find delicious restaurants not just in Ermoupoli, but scattered across the island in picturesque rural villages and sleepy fishing communities. Restaurants are often high quality but lower in price than on islands such as Mykonos, which comes as a bonus for budget travellers.
Syros is particularly interesting for food, given its former importance as a regional trading hub. Local specialities include sweets such as loukoumi, which you may know better as Turkish Delight & it’s often enjoyed with a cup of strong coffee.
In tavernas, you can find Greek classics such as moussaka and taramosalata, but there are Syros-specific dishes to try, too.
Of particular note are salads such as kaparosalata (caper salad) and maindanosalata (parsley salad served with onions, capers and lemon). For something more hearty, you will often find these paired with pies like aetopita (fish and vegetable pie) and marathopita (wild fennel pie).
There are also numerous cheeses to sample. These include the nutty and slightly spicy San Michali (often called “the parmesan of Syros”), which is native to the village of the same name, the creamy petroto, the smooth kopanisti with its peppery flavour and the tangy (but creamy) xynotyro.
And when dining in Syros, you should also definitely try the wine which are quite unique and helped along the way by the island’s clay soil and many hours of sunlight. They’re made from the white grapes Assyrtiko and Kountoura.
Syros Taverna, Bars and Cafes
Our favourite traditional tavernas in Ermoupoli include To Tsipouradiko tis Mirsinis, Lute and the Agrotourism Womens Co-Operative of Syros while Sol Grano does outstanding Italian and Kiyo and Dr Wine do modern Greek cuisine so well.
Elsewhere on the island Meltemi and To Kyma in Finikas are not to be missed and Baobab is a great bar to visit there too. It’s worth a drive down to Vari just to have lunch on the waters edge at Enlefko and in Kini the restaurants at Anassa Cycladic Village and Benois Hotel are both outstanding.
For coffee, a light meal and/or breakfast then Gregorys is a great spot to watch the ferrys comining and going in Ermoupoli, while The Corner Cafe and Megaron are both lovely.
They take coffee seriously in Syros with several dedicated coffee houses and roasters in the capital. Don’t miss Mikel Coffee Company and Armadillo Coffee Brewery.
For drinks Ciel Beach Bar is one of the most popular beach bars in the Cyclades for good reason, with its amazing views of the colourful architecture lining the waterfront. Cafe Plous also has amazing views in Ermoupouli as does Boheme del Mar is right on the harbour.
Ciel Beach Bar
Tavernas in Azolimnos village
Things to do on Syros
Syros may not be one of the most popular islands in the Aegean Sea, but it’s still got a lot on offer for the tourists who do make the trip here.
It’s a relaxing, family-friendly place, boasting a string of beautiful beaches, pretty towns and historic architecture to admire. The island’s bountiful countryside provides the ideal place for exploration: cycle, hike, or simply kick back on the beach.
Here are some of the best things to do on Syros:
The most popular beaches in Syros Greece are located on the southern side of the island.
Some of them are sandy and others are pebbled, but they all have crystal water. The most organized Syros beaches are Galissas beach, Megas Gialos beach, Kini beach, and Poseidonia beach, some of them lined up with family hotels, seaside taverns and beach bars.
Syros beaches can be accessed by bus from Ermoupolis, the main town of the island.
Being situated in Syros’ most popular tourist resort, Galissas Beach is well organised and packed with amenities. But arguably what makes this beach so popular is its Blue Flag status, which means you can be assured of its sparkling clear waters and clean sand.
The beach is also perfectly set up for families with small children; it’s scattered with trees for shade, the waters are shallow, there are sunbeds and umbrellas, and there are a number of cafes and other eateries nearby for when hunger strikes.
About nine kilometres from Ermoupolis there’s Kini Beach. It’s easily reached by bus from the capital, and is perfect for those who enjoy late afternoons at the beach as there are a number of seafood restaurants and homely tavernas to spend time in. The bonus is that Kini Beach is also a beautiful sunset spot.
Also easy to visit on a day trip by bus is Finikas Beach: the second-largest beach on Syros. You’ll find it on the southwest coast of the island, situated in a small, sheltered bay.
This means that the beach is protected from being buffeted by the northern summer winds. Around the area, there are hotel options and a wide array of seaside eateries to choose from.
Azolimnos Beach is closer to the capital. It’s a quiet spot that’s a popular hangout where locals like to enjoy days off. There are also diving centres here for those who wish to explore further under the surface of the water. Also, there is the quiet Komito Beach.
This southwestern beach is small and secluded and makes for a nice alternative for those looking for a peaceful spot to relax. Then there’s the nudist-friendly Kokkina Beach. It’s secluded and small as well, ideal for those who don’t mind nudity and want to spend a chill time by the sea.
One of our favourite beaches on Syros is Paralia Achladi (Pear) tucked away to the west of Paralia Varis ( also lovely) and home to the wonderful Achladi Taverna, who have some of the best sardines in Greece. Watch out for the the resident beach ducks sunbaking on your towels!
Prefer your beaches a bit more lively? Then try Megas Gialos Beach. Curving around a crescent-shaped bay, it’s the centrepiece of the popular resort of the same name. The beach has all the amenities and facilities you’ll need for a fun day out and makes for a good jumping-off point for exploring other beaches in the south of the island.
One of the best beaches for families on Syros is Fetouri Beach. This beach is well organised, with all the amenities you’d expect, but best of all for those with children are the shallow waters that make it great for splashing around in the sun.
Last, but by no means least, is wonderful Palaria Asteria, right in Ermoupolis in the upmarket Vapporia area. This is a more ‘italian style’ beach with a large concrete platform and ladders that enable you to dive into the crystal clear bay, which has a healthy marine eco-system too, great for snorkelling! It is also home to Ciel beachbar & restaurant – one of the best of its kind in the country in our opinion and very sophisticated. This is where you really will wonder at times if you are in Greece or some other fabulous part of Europe!
Achladi Beach and Taverna sardines
Things to do on Syros
Monuments and museums of Syros
Ermoupolis Town Hall dates back to 1898 and was built in the Neoclassical style.
There’s also an interesting mix of styles punctuating the architecture, with a strong Bavarian and Italian flair influence. This enormous building also makes heavy use of marble. Its cocktail of different architectural styles, and its elegant design, have led many to dub the building the most beautiful town hall in Greece.
Syros Vaporia Quarter
You’ll find the Vaporia Quarter around the port area of Ermoupolis. The town was once an important hub for the area, and this particular district was the centre of the action. It’s an intriguing mix of charming Cycladic architecture and 19th-century styles.
Here you’ll find paved pathways, arches, and beautiful mansions – many of which have been restored to their former glory – as you wander around the area. The mansions were once home to wealthy ship owners, pointing back to the heyday of this port town.
Syros Apollo Theatre
Close to the Town Hall, in Miaouli Square, is Ermoupolis’ Apollo Theatre. Built in 1864 by Italian architect Pietro Sampo, it was constructed out of white marble and limestone, and its interior walls are adorned with numerous oil paintings. The theatre itself boasts elegantly carved wooden tiered seating. It’s an impressive place to visit.
Syros Capuchin Monastery
Situated in Ano Syros, the medieval part of the island, this monastery dates back to 1653 and was founded by King Louis XIII of France. It’s dedicated to Saint John. The monastery has played an important role in the island’s religious landscape through the centuries, though today monks no longer reside at the monastery.
Syros Archaeological site of Halandriani
This archaeological site was discovered in 1885. Dating back to the 3rd millennium BC, it is thought to be the first settlement on Syros Island. There are about 500 graves and numerous artifacts – from weapons to household goods – that were discovered here, telling the stories of the previous inhabitants of the island.
Museums of Syros
Syros Vamvakaris Museum
In the central part of the medieval old town of Ano Syros, the Vamvakaris Museum tells the life of the prestigious musician Makros Vamvakaris. Born in 1905 in Ano Syros, Vamvakaris was a leading proponent of rebetiko – a type of music that developed out of poor, urban areas across Greece. He is known not only in Greece but across the world.
Syros Archaeological Museum
The Syros Archaeological Museum is located inside the impressive town hall at the centre of Ermoupolis (but it has its own entrance).
The museum actually dates back to 1834, making it one of the oldest in the country. It was established to display the array of archaeological objects that had been discovered not only on Syros but across the Cyclades.
Syros Industrial Museum
Harking back to the industrial history of Syros, this museum is actually situated in one of the old factories of the island, close to the former dockyard. It was founded in 2000 and provides a history of the area’s 19th-century industrialization with exhibits on machinery and tools of the time.
Whilst not strictly a museum Syros Hermopoulis Heritage is a labor of love carried out by its passionate owners and is now used as a function and event space and is a non-profit organization.
Once a thriving textile factory the space has been completely and lovingly restored with all equipment, artifacts, and even staff time cards and the manager’s desk is still completely in situ.
You get a deep sense of what working life was like when the factory suddenly closed in 1986 and incredible insight into the history of the factory and indeed the industry on the island in years gone by.
Other buildings of interest in Syros
Being the capital of the Cyclades there are many more buildings of interest on Syros than on any other island in the group. As this has been the administrative centre for thousands of years it is no surprise that much of the data, record keeping and commerce for the area has been kept here and still is to this day.
It’s well worth a visit to The Historical Archive of the Cyclades, Ermoupolis Municipal Cultural Centre, the Municipal Library, and the Kyveli Institute.
Nature and outdoors
One of the best ways to see Syros’ rich countryside is to head out on horseback. The Equestrian Club of the Cyclades is accredited by the Hellenic Greek Federation and is the place to go for all things equine.
At this official riding club, you’ll be able to take riding lessons and be taken out on a trail-riding adventure with experienced riders. So, even if you don’t know how to ride, you can learn here – after all, who can say they learned on Syros?
Syros is a surprising hot spot for divers, with a number of diving centres located across the island.
Because of the island’s rich maritime history, there are a great many shipwrecks to explore – each rich in undersea life. Not only that, but you can find reefs and caves here that are sure to impress even the most experienced divers.
The Syros Dive Centre will look after all your scuba and dive needs.
Syros has some prime locations for hiking, particularly in the north, which is less populated and wilder in its landscapes.
Many of the hikes are well signposted and numbered, so it’s easy to find the route. The beautiful hike from Ermoupoli to Kastri, for example, provides dramatic scenery and an impressive array of nature.
Syros Hermopoulis Heritage
Events on Syros
Syros celebrates a number of religious events across the year.
While Holy Week (before Easter) is important, more lively is The Feast of Virgin Mary on August 15 with particularly vibrant celebrations with boats decorated with flowers bobbing in the bay and dancing till late.
The day before, August 14, sees Kini celebrate Fotarides. Houses are decorated, bonfires are lit, and there’s a definite party atmosphere in the air.
Elsewhere, on June 14, there’s Kleidonas. This is marked by the burning of spring wreaths made at the start of May to celebrate the changing of the seasons. The feast is particularly notable in Chrousgsa.
The Carnival of Syros is one of the biggest events on the island, and one of the most famous carnivals in the whole of the Cyclades. Taking place usually in February, the event sees parades, dancing and singing in the streets.
Later in the year (usually in July), the Guitar Festival of Ermoupolis sees guitarists from all over the world descending on Syros for competitions, concerts, and workshops. At the end of summer, there’s Ermoupoleia, which features a regatta, art exhibitions, and theatre productions.