TOP THINGS TO DO IN SYROS, GREECE – A HIDDEN GEM IN THE CYCLADES ISLANDS

View of ano syros greece

Everyone’s heard of Mykonos and Santorini, and even Milos and Naxos – all part of the Cyclades Islands in Greece. But not that many people have heard of Syros, the capital of this group of islands. Syros? Tell me more, I hear you say! Last September I spent a few days with the #DyscoverSyros team, well… discovering Syros. And what a treat that was! Known as ‘Lady of the Cyclades’ and ‘Nymph of the Aegean Sea’, this little-known island is the epitome of Greek island life. So here are a few things to do in Syros that will make you add this hidden gem to your bucket list.

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Get lost in the alleys of picturesque Ano Syros

Ano Syros, which means Upper Syros, is a beautiful Venetian settlement that was built in the 13th century like a fortress, and is now the Roman Catholic quarter of the island. Its alleyways are so narrow and steep that it feels like you are in a maze, and that’s part of its charm. Getting lost here is the best way to discover little delightful corners – a beautifully decorated door, a colourful balcony, a hidden corner with a typical Greek chair, where you can imagine a yaya sitting watching the world go by.

You can visit Agios Giorgios, a Catholic church built right on the top of the hill, from which you can enjoy some spectacular views. And the interior is pretty impressive too!

View of Ermoupoli syros greece
View of Ermoupoli from Ano Syros

If you are interested in traditional Greek music, Ano Syros has a small museum dedicated to Markos Vamvakaris, a famous rembetiko (urban Greek music) musician who was born in the village.


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Be captivated by the neoclassical beauty of Ermoupoli

Syros was once an important commercial and manufacturing centre and one of the most visited islands of the Aegean. The effects of the financial boom of the time are visible in the beautiful neoclassical architecture. Buildings such as the Town Hall, one of the largest in Greece, the Apollon Municipal Theatre, and Agios Nikolaos are testament to the importance of Ermoupoli, the administrative capital of the Cyclades.

Named after the ancient Greek god Hermes, Ermoupoli is one of the most beautiful Greek towns. It was built on a hill overlooking the port – the pastel colours of the buildings as you approach it on the ferry are just dreamy, and the narrow streets of the town are just what you imagine when you think of idyllic Greece. Don’t miss the Vaporia district in the eastern part of the town and its impressive neoclassical mansions. Formerly owned by wealthy ship owners, some of them are now boutique hotels.

Ermoupoli Syros Greece
Street in Ermoupouli
Vaporia district syros greece
Vaporia district in Ermoupoli

And like every good Greek town, there are plenty of cats roaming the street. In fact, I think cats rule the streets here! But best of all, cats here are really well looked after by the locals. So much so, that there is even a Syros Cat Garden!

Syros Cat Garden greece
Syros cat garden

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Admire the splendour of the Apollon Theatre

Built in the 19th century, it is a replica of the famous La Scala di Milano but on a smaller scale. Its architectural grandeur didn’t save the theatre from major catastrophes over the years. The Apollon Theatre was forced to close and to spend a long period of renovations until 2000, when it opened its doors again. Today the theatre is one of Syros’ most important cultural centres and hosts various artistic and cultural events such as Animasyros and the Festival of the Aegean, famous plays and world-class performances.

apollon theatre syros greece
Apollon Theatre

Soak up the atmosphere at Asteria Beach Bar in Ermoupoli

Asteria Bar is located in the Vaporia district of Ermoupoli, on the waterfront right next to Asteria Beach. With wooden tables and director’s chairs lined up along the water’s edge, it offers magnificent views of the neoclassical villas. It has a ladder to get into the water, but be careful with the sea urchins!

It was recently voted one of the top 10 beach bars in Greece by The Guardian and I can clearly see why. The unique location is perfect to end a day of sightseeing or relaxing on the beach.

View from Asteria Bar, Syros greece
The view from Asteria Bar

Swim in Syros’ excellent beaches

There are so many great beaches in Syros, I don’t even know where to start! And best of all, they never get as crowded as in neighbouring islands here.

Galissas is the one that perhaps caught my eye the most. In a secluded cove in the west of the island, it’s surrounded by hills and a cliff, so it feels very sheltered. The beautiful crystalline waters are so inviting that you won’t be able to resist dipping your toes in. And when you’re done, there’s an excellent beach restaurant there called aVentoura that makes delicious traditional Greek food. Try the parsley salad, a Syros specialty!

Galissas Beach Syros Greece
Galissas beach

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Asteria Beach in Ermoupoli is another of my favourites, although it is not strictly a beach as we know it. It’s actually a concrete deck over the sea where you can soak up the sun and have a refreshing swim. The views from here are some of the best in the city, with the blue-domed Agios Nikolaos and the beautiful villas in the background. Asteria is frequented by friendly locals, some of who own ‘caves’ on the deck. You will notice the little doors on the cliff wall – they lead into little rooms that local people have turned into their own version of beach huts. If you get lucky, you may be invited in for a cup of coffee!

Astoria Beach syros greece
Astoria Beach in Ermoupoli

There are also a few beaches that can only be reached by boat, but unfortunately I run out of time to go and visit them. I will just have to go back another time and check them out!

Enjoy the best Aegean cuisine in Kini

Kini is one of the most picturesque villages in the island, and it’s well known for its fish restaurants. It can get pretty busy in July and August with predominantly Greek tourism. Located on the west side of the island, it has a beautiful sandy beach with a lovely promenade and a melancholic statue that honours those who have lost their lives at sea.

Statue in Kini Syros Greece
Statue in Kini

The best meal I had in Syros was at a seafood restaurant called Allou Yialou. At the northern end of Kini beach, the restaurant has an open canopy built over the water, with impressive views of the bay on both sides, and the turquoise sea right in front of you. Combine this stunning setting with mouth-watering seafood and you have a winner. Some of the dishes I tried included a vegetable salad with Anthotiro cheese, royal herring eggs with bread, olive oil and lemon, and fresh calamari with feta sauce and ouzo. Absolutely delicious!

If visiting Allou Yialou for lunch, after your meal, you can take a boat from Kini to those beaches that can’t be reached from land and enjoy the peacefulness of an unspoilt Aegean paradise. If you visit for dinner, just relax and enjoy the sunset!


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Devour gyros and souvlaki to your heart’s content

And as we are talking about food, I couldn’t write about Syros and not mention gyros and souvlaki, the Greek version of ‘fast food’ but nothing to do with the idea that most of us have in our head when we think of fast food.

Everyone knows gyros, meat (pork, chicken or lamb) with onion, tomato and tzatziki sauce served with pita bread. It is sometimes also served with chips inside the pita. Souvlaki is similar to gyros, but the meat and vegetables is cooked on a skewer, and is sometimes served with pita bread too or on a plate.

They are both delicious, and whichever you go for I can guarantee you it will just hit the spot!

Indulge in the best loukoumi ever!

If you have a sweet tooth, then you’re in luck. Syros loukoumi is worldwide famous and it still gets made the traditional way here.

Loukoumi comes originally from Constantinople (today’s Turkey) but it was brought over to Syros in the 19th century.

There are only three ingredients in loukoumi – water, sugar and starch. These are boiled in copper cauldrons while the loukoumi maker stirs them constantly until they can see that the mixture is ready. The only way to know if it’s ready is through the expertise passed on by generations. The mixture is then emptied into wooden crates and left to set until the next day, when it gets cut into cubes and coated with icing sugar.

It can be said that loukoumi has put the island on the map, and even though this little treat is made in a lot of Greek towns, Syros loukoumi is particularly distinctive because the brackish water in the island gives it a special quality.

Don’t leave the island without trying it and if you can, visit one of the traditional factory-shops and watch it being made.

Get high to get the best views of the island

This will not come as a surprise, as wherever you are, if there is a hill, chances are you will get great views from the top. But Syros doesn’t just have a couple of hills. Hills are everywhere here, and no matter where you are, there is always an opportunity to appreciate the beautiful coastline all around the island. These are some of my favourite spots…

At the back of Anos Syros there is a windmill with a little church next to it, where you can enjoy the view of Anos Syros itself, perched on the hill and crowned by the local church, Agios Giorgios.

Ano Syros windmill greece
Beautiful views everywhere you look

From here you can make your way to Agios Giorgios church. From the front porch, you will see the southern side of Ermoupoli hugging the coastline. This is a great spot to enjoy sunset.

sunset in syros greece
Sunset over Syros

For sunrise, drive up to the village of Episkopeiou, more precisely to Profitis Ilias church. Chris from Trip and Trail and I went up one morning before dawn and had the most spectacular sunrise!

sunrise in syros greece
Beautiful Syros sunrise

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Where to Stay

Syros has a wide range of accommodation across the island.


Getting there

There are ferries to Syros from Piraeus, the main port of Athens, every day. As Syros is located centrally in the Aegean Sea, it serves has ferry connections with many other islands of the Aegean Sea, such as Mykonos, Andros, Tinos, Ikaria, Lesvos and more. The port of Syros is at Ermoupolis.

The ferry from Athens is extremely comfortable and it even has a cinema. I loved being on the deck as we approached Syros and seeing Ermoupoli built up on to the hill above the port.


Getting around

The best way to explore the island is by hire car, which gives you the freedom of discovering out of the way villages and hidden viewpoints. For the best hire car deals, click here.

Have you ever been to the Greek Islands? Which one was your favourite?
Let me know in the comments!

For more must see destinations in Greece click here!

 

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Top Things to Do in Syros, Greece

Top Things to Do in Syros, Greece

Disclosure: A big thank you to Discover Syros, who hosted me on this trip. As always, all views are my own.

 

 

40 thoughts on “TOP THINGS TO DO IN SYROS, GREECE – A HIDDEN GEM IN THE CYCLADES ISLANDS

    • Teresa says:

      Thanks David! Greece is one of those countries that I don’t mind going back to over and over again. There’s so much to explore! 🙂

  1. Krupa says:

    I love exploring offbeat places and hidden gems. I am so glad that you shared this post . Definately adding in my itinerary to the greece trip. thanks for sharing.

  2. Bee says:

    Wow, great list and you photos are really cool. ill def be swimming in those beaches and exploring those beautiful alleys. it looks like a great spot to spend the summer in!

    • Teresa says:

      Thanks Bee. I’m so happy that you enjoyed it. I hope you get to visit Syros. It’s a beautiful island with true Greek island life 🙂

  3. Bhusha says:

    Oh my Goodness! Syros is just gorgeous. I’m planning to head to Greece next year, and Santorini & Athens are in my list. Guess I should add Syros too!

    • Teresa says:

      Isn’t it just? Syros and Santorini are in the same group of islands so you could probably include an itinerary that includes both. Enjoy! ?

  4. Michelle says:

    I could absolutely spend hours photographing the beautiful alleys in Greece. I feel like everywhere you look it’s like a postcard. I will be saving your post for when I can finally get there 🙂

  5. knycx.journeying says:

    Wow So many hidden gems in Greece and I can’t wait to visit there!
    I wonder how long it would take to visit all the islands one by one, and from your pictures I think I put Cyclades on the list and thanks a lot for introducing this secret place! @ knycx.journeying

  6. Kristine says:

    Never heard of this place before but it definitely looks worth checking out the next time I visit Greece! The sunset photos, especially the pastel-colored one, is too lovely!

    • Teresa says:

      I’d never heard of it until recently either and I’m so glad I visited! If you like pastel colours, you’ll love this island! 🙂

  7. Mei and Kerstin says:

    Syros looks so beautiful! We lived in Athens for 6 months and visited many Greek islands back then. Last summer we road tripped through Crete for 3 weeks, but still haven’t gotten to Syros yet! Hopefully soon! Thank you for this very inspiring post!

    • Teresa says:

      Thanks Mei and Kerstin! I’m glad you enjoyed it. It’s very easy to get to Syros from Athens so do visit if you have the chance. You won’t regret it! 🙂

  8. Tracey says:

    You are so right! I have never heard of it before but have all the others (and been to all them). Thanks for sharing this beautiful place. The photos are stunning!

  9. chloe says:

    Wow this place is really gorgeous. It has everything a traveler is asking for. The architecture is super amazing and the view is breath-taking too!

  10. Oursweetadventures says:

    What a beautiful area with a ton to see and do. I would enjoy the alleyways as you never know what you will find. I love the Greek colors of blue and white. I would definitely enjoy seeing all the cats as well. What a nice city.

  11. Somnath says:

    I was completely unaware of this place when I visited Athens.The sea food looks mouth watering and delicious..Hope you had a nice time with the food and the beaut prevailing there

  12. Carmen Baguio says:

    Syros is so beautiful, and I appreciate the introduction! It appears to have more touches of traditional European architecture that the more popular Greek Islands. I love Greece, so I’ll be adding Syros to my list for my next trip!

    • Teresa says:

      Thanks Carmen! I has a lot of Italian influences in its architecture so it’s a really interesting island from that point of view, but it’s also preserve its traditional Greek character. I hope you make it to Syros. You’ll love it! 🙂

    • Teresa says:

      Thank you Sherrie! It is a truly beautiful island. I’m just so surprised that it’s so little known! I think that’s about to change though ?

    • Teresa says:

      It is a fantastic summer destination. There are lots of hotels in the island so I’d say it’s very easy to find accommodation. I hope you get to cross it off your bucket list 🙂

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