Syros, the capital of the Cyclades, blends traditional Greek charm with a splash of sophistication. The island’s capital, Ermoupolis, is a marvel of neoclassical architecture, with grand mansions and a majestic town square that reflect its rich maritime history and European ancestors. Unlike its more tourist-heavy neighbors, Syros is a cosmopolitan destination with fascinating history, lovely beaches, charming villages, and a unique cultural tapestry. Due to the many things to do on Syros and the town hall, university, and hospital, it is also a year round destination with a very ‘local’ feel.



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old greek town

Top Things to do in Syros

History & Culture

The name Syros has its roots in the words “sour” or “osoura” which mean “rocky” in ancient Phoenician. The island has a rich and fascinating history, making it one of the more interesting islands in Greece.

Excavations on the island date early settlements back to the 3rd century BC.

In the 5th and 4th centuries B.C. Syros was a member of the Athenian League. Following a series of revolts in the 3rd and 2nd centuries B.C., the island flourished as an important trading hub in the Mediterranean.

It then sadly saw a period of relentless raids by pirates which saw its population dwindle over the following centuries.

In Byzantine times (330 to 1450 A.D.)  the establishment of Ano Syros occurred – a fortified citadel further back from the sea and difficult to be breached by bandits.

In 1207, it was occupied by the Venetians and Latin rule led to a large number of residents converting to Catholicism. Today visitors arriving by sea are struck by the site of two impressive cathedrals towing over the city on the two hills. One is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Ano Syros and the other is Greek Orthodox. This reflects the diversity of the island’s religious beliefs to this day.

Syros fell to the Turks in 1566, yet remained under the protection of the Pope and French king throughout Turkish rule. In 1617, the island was again conquered by the Ottomans.

1822 was when Ermoupolis’s population swelled as refugees from Asia Minor, Chios, Psara, and Crete sought protection. In 1826 the main city was called Ermoupolis, “Hermes City”,  after the God of Commerce, travellers, speed, cunning and language.

Ermoupolis emerged as the main commercial port in the eastern Mediterranean and in 1833 Ermoupolis was made the capital of the Cyclades. Shipbuilding became a major industry on the island and the shipyards delivered roughly 80 ships a year. Many factories opened in industries such as textiles, tanning and metalworking.

The second world war had a heavy impact on Syros and the island struggled for decades, Many factories closed down and it wasn’t until the 1980’s that the shipyards reopened and tourism started to flourish.

Syros Archaeological site of Halandriani

This archaeological site was discovered in 1885. Dating back to 2800 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, discovered here, telling the stories of the ancestors of Syros.

These artifacts are now found in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, the Goulandris Museum of Cycladic Art, and the Archaeological Museum of Syros.

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. 

Sryos Town Hall

Ermoupolis Town Hall dates back to 1898 and was built in the Neoclassical style.

There’s an interesting mix of styles dominating 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 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 is notable for its religious diversity, reflected in the presence of two main cathedrals: the Orthodox Church of the Dormition of the Virgin and the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Saint George.

These cathedrals are not only places of worship but also hold cultural and historical significance, representing the coexistence of different religious communities on the island.

Orthodox Cathedral of the Resurrection (Anastasis)

The Cathedral of the Resurrection, commonly referred to as Anastasis, is a prominent Orthodox cathedral in Ermoupoli, Syros. Known for its magnificent architecture, the cathedral dominates the town’s skyline with its impressive structure. It is particularly noted for its beautiful interior decoration and its location, providing panoramic views over the port and the Aegean Sea.

Roman Catholic Cathedral of Saint George (Agios Georgios):

Also situated in Ermoupoli, this cathedral stands as a symbol of the historic Roman Catholic community in Syros, which is one of the largest in the Cyclades. The cathedral sits on a hill and is notable for its distinct architectural style, which blends local and Western elements. Its position provides panoramic views of the city and the Aegean Sea.

things to do on Syros
things to do on Syros

Agios Stefanos Chapel

things to do on Syros

Orthodox Cathedral of the Resurrection (Anastasis)

Roman Catholic Cathedral of Saint George (Agios Georgios)

Museums of Syros

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.

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 Hermopoulis Heritage

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. 

things to do in Syros

Things to do on Syros with kids

Syros is a very family-friendly island and offers activities for all ages and interests. As there is a university on the island it is full of young people and has a lot of nightlight and outdoor pastimes.

The beaches of course are where most families head in summer (see below) and there is also an Aquarium in Kini.

Local families gather every night at Miaouli Square in Ermoupoli, where kids can enjoy the open space and run around to their heart’s content. There are numerous cafes nearby where you can grab a bite or a drink while the children play.

The museums (see above) are often of interest to older children, especially the industrial museum that includes an electric car from the 1950’s. 

Boat tours are always a good idea on any island and the ones one Syros include:

  • Nearby Island Visits: Boat tours and public ferries to nearby Cycladic islands such as Mykonos, Tinos, or the historically rich Delos.
  • Sightseeing and Snorkeling: Some tours focus on the natural beauty around Syros, taking you along the coastlines where you can enjoy snorkeling in clear waters, exploring sea caves, and observing marine life.
  • Customizable Private Tours: Many operators offer the option to customize your tour, which can include specific destinations, activities like fishing or picnicking, and even gourmet meals aboard.

things to do on Syros

Galissas Trojan Horse

Syros Beaches

The most popular beaches in Syros Greece are located in the south and west of the island.

Like many Greek Islands, some are sandy beaches while others are pebble, but they all have crystal water.

Syros beaches can be accessed by bus from Ermoupolis, the main town.

Galissas Beach is well-organised and packed with amenities. It also has 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 with scattered with trees for shade, shallow water, sunbeds and umbrellas, as well as cafes and other eateries nearby. 

About nine kilometres from Ermoupolis is 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. 

Finikas Beach is the second-largest beach on Syros. You’ll find it on the southwest coast of the island, situated in a small, sheltered bay, which means the beach is protected from the northern summer winds – the Meltemi. Around the area, there are hotel options and a wide array of seaside eateries to choose from. 

Azolimnos Beach is close to the capital and is a quiet spot that’s a popular hangout with locals. 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.

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. 

Megas Gialos Beach is in a crescent-shaped bay and has all the amenities and facilities you’ll need for a fun day out. It’s a good jumping-off point for exploring other beaches in the south of the island too.

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.

One of the closest beaches to Ermoupolis is Vari. This is a very calm, sheltered beach with an excellent taverna and a couple of cafes which also has inexpensive sunbeds in summer.

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!

thigns to do in Syros

Galissas Beach

things to do in Syros

Achladi Beach

Varis Beach

Food, Tavernas and Cooking


Syriani food

The food scene on Syros is amazing and one of the best in Greek Islands. Given it’s rich and complex history it is not surprise that the food is also diverse and delicious, with the locals taking great pride in their produce and recipes.

There is almost nothing you can’t get on Syros. Pizza, Crepes, Gyros, Gelato, Donuts, Nougat, Pasta, Sushi, French food – a reflection of it’s history and the diverse nature of its visitors and residents alike. 

You’ll find delicious restaurants not just in Ermoupoli, but scattered across the island in rural villages and sleepy fishing communities. Restaurants range from authentic family run tavernas to classy cosmopolitan bars and they are all at a much lower price point that many of the neighbouring islands.

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. This orginates in Asia-Minor and was bought to Syros by the refugees from the island of Chios.

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. 


Our favourite traditional tavernas in Ermoupoli include To Tsipouradiko tis MirsinisLute and the Agrotourism Womens Co-Operative of Syros while Sol Grano does outstanding Italian. In the hills above the town you must try O Mitsos, one of the best on the island especially for steak and it has breathtaking views.

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.

One of our all time favourite places anywhere on the islands is Arismari, where they sell fresh traditional dishes each day to take away, and at really cheap prices. Think huge serves of Moussaka and Pastitsio for 6-7 euro. You can order online too!

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 iconic and popular with locals. Other great spots for coffee include 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.

There are also a number of small bars and taverns up on Ano Syros too which deserve at least a night or two. Read all about them in my Ano Syros Guide.

things to do on Syros

The weekly specials at Arismari

things to do in Syros

Ti Mikraki


Enlefko, Vari

things to do on Syros

To Tsipouradiko tis Mirsinis

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