The Greek Islands: Syros

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When I think back to the Greek Island of Syros — my introduction to the Cyclades — one thing stands out in my mind: marble. The streets of Ermoupoli are paved in marble. Not asphalt or concrete, but slippery-smooth white marble. There are great marble mansions and fancy marble buildings that date back to the mid-1800s, when the city was rebuilt in a Neoclassical style.

Today, the marble streets are well-worn. Empty, even — especially by the time September rolls around.

Syros street

Syros was described in my Intrepid Travel tour notes as “an opportunity to see the islands as the Greeks do.” I of course was a bit skeptical about this actually being the case. But you know what? I think it might actually be pretty accurate. Ermoupoli is not only the capital of Syros, but also of the Cyclades island group — meaning Syros' main function is not tourism.

Syros from the ferry

Syros is laid-back. Syros is pretty, but clearly has not yet been over-commercialized like some of the other islands in the Aegean; you won't find huge cruise ships docking here or crowds taking over the beaches. Syros is, simply, the perfect island on which to get acclimated to the “slow-slow” pace of life that Greece is known for.

Syros

Ermoupoli, Syros

Places to go

Syros isn't the biggest or most popular island in Greece. Even though it's only a 4- or 5-hour ferry ride from Athens' Piraeus port, people don't make the journey here as often as they do to, say, Mykonos or Santorini. This means that there aren't a ton of touristy or “must-see” areas of the island. But if you need something to do…

Ano Syros

Head to the hills above Ermoupoli — the hill of San Giorgio, to be exact. On top of this hill, the Venetians built the town of Ano Syros in the 13th century. This little town will be close to what you picture when you think of Greece: narrow streets, painted doors, and tons of marble steps. From Ermoupoli, you can reach the top of Ano Syros on foot in about an hour going at a leisurely pace.

Ano Syros

Ano Syros

Syros

Ano Syros

Plateia Miaouli

This huge, stately town square in Ermoupoli is always a great place to hang out, or grab a bite to eat. With the town hall building at one end of the square, the other sides are lined with palm trees and cafes. Go at night to see it come alive in a different way.

Syros square

Beaches

Syros isn't known for its beaches, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have any — it is an island, after all. Here are a couple to check out:

The “Concrete Beach”

Located near the harbor in Ermoupoli, you won't find any sand at this beach. What you will find, though, is incredibly clear water, and a relaxing beach bar. Grab a drink and sit at the bar, or spread out a towel on the concrete to soak up the sun and the views.

Syros concrete beach

Concrete Beach, Syros

Galissas

Catch a bus from Ermoupoli and head to the beaches on the other side of the island. The two most popular are Kini and Galissas. Galissas can be reached either by direct bus (about 20 minutes) or by a bus that traverses all along the southern coast of Syros (taking 45-60 minutes). This beach is large and sandy, with sunbeds/umbrellas for rent (roughly 5 Euro for 2 beds and an umbrella, though you can always try to haggle) and restaurants and tavernas nearby.

Galissas Beach, Syros

Galissas Beach, Syros

What makes Syros special

If I had to boil Syros down, I would say the island is laid-back, traditional, and somewhat off the tourist trail as far as the Greek Islands go.

Syros

The practical stuff…

WHERE TO STAY — I stayed at Hotel Archontissa, located on Platia Iroon. The hotel was in a good location — about 10 minutes' walk from the ferry terminal, and with bus stops right outside to take you to the beaches. The rooms were clean, air conditioned and came with free wi-fi, and manager Yiannis was super friendly and helpful.

WHERE TO EAT — Head to any taverna, as most are family-owned on this island. There are a ton near Plateia Miaouli. Try a traditional Greek moussaka, some fresh seafood, or saganaki (fried San Michali cheese).

GETTING AROUND — You can easily explore Ermoupoli and Ano Syros by foot, or perhaps by bike. To get to the beaches on the other side of the island, you'll need to catch a bus (with bus rides usually being less than 2 Euro).

What do you think of Syros? Is it an island you'd like to visit?

 

 

*Note: I received a complimentary Greek Islands tour from Intrepid Travel through my partnership with them. All opinions, though, as always are entirely my own.

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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18 Comments on “The Greek Islands: Syros

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  1. Amanda summarized brilliantly this gem of an island. Loved it :o)

      Thanks, Angelique! It was the perfect way to start out our time in Greece!

    Pretty much anywhere cruise ships DON’T stop is a ‘yes’ destination for me. This island looks so lovely – and that concrete beach is ingenious 🙂

      No cruise ship crowds here! And yes, the concrete beach was really cool! Bonus that there was a bar right on the water. 😉

    just getting lost between those streets for a day would make me happy! Heck, just the mere ‘action’ of looking at your photos relaxed me (although the open wine bottle on my bed stand may be helping too, hehe).

    Anyway! Love me some Syros. Added to my travel bucket list!

    -Maria Alexandra

      Haha, add that bottle of wine to relaxing in a square or on a beach in Syros, and it would be perfect!

    Looks like it was a great “opportunity” to be able to take in a Greek Island and not have it saturated with a bunch of tourists! You got some great photos of the beautiful architecture and the stunning blue waters without the photos being peppered with people!

      Definitely! It was the perfect introduction to the islands.

    some of your best photos yet! this is a great article and one for the bucketlist!

      Thank you! Tough to take bad photos on any of these islands, though.

    Wow, those shots look amazing! I suppose going off-the-beaten really pay off sometimes. Rather than having to squeeze with a thousand other tourists to snap a photo and go, spending a good quality time on a tranquil, serene Greek island is the way to go. =)

      Yup, I found that it was definitely nice to swap between really touristy islands (like Santorini and Mykonos) and some of the lesser-visited ones (like Syros and Naxos). Great variety!

    We went to Tinos last summer and tried to get to Syros (as you can see it is so close)
    but were unable to get there by ferry. We will be traveling to Tinos again this summer. When and how do you get to Syros without going to Athens or Rafina as we will be on Mykonos and Tinos and possibly Sifnos.

      You would need to check the current ferry connections. We went from Athens to Syros, but then went from Syros to another island (I think it was Mykonos?), so I know there are ferry connections to other islands. But I also did this trip a few years ago, so I’m not sure what the current ferry connections look like.

    I really enjoyed your description of Syros! It sounds just like what we’re looking for. Do you know what it would be like in March? Are things open then? Thanks!

      I think the weather should be starting to get nice in March, but I’m afraid I have no idea what it’s like then in terms to tourist services that are open. I went in September, just at the tail end of the season, and it was pretty quiet!

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