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Syros Island: worth a stop?

Hi forum friends!

I'm planning my trip to the Greek islands in September and fell in LOVE with photos of the island Syros. I decided to add two days and one night there to my itinerary. It looked very unique and I was looking forward to just relaxing by wandering the town, staring at the beautiful architecture, and enjoying long meals outside. I'll be traveling with my fiance and we enjoy hiking and beaches... but we'll be getting plenty of that on OTHER islands. I had envisioned more of this stop-over as enjoying the old town.

BUT as I've dug into my research a bit more on this site, it seems as though most posters discourage tourists from visiting Syros because it's not very tourist-friendly. I'm an American, but I've traveled all over the world. Non-English speakers don't phase me and I welcome a cultural challenge... but I certainly don't want to feel unwelcome!

Has anyone traveled to Syros recently and what was your experience? If not Syros, can you recommend another island that's between Santorini and Mykonos that may be a bit off the tourist path, but still tourist-friendly? Again, not worried about so much about beaches, but stretching my legs and wandering in and out of shops and restaurants is ideal.

Many thanks!

Posted by
1524 posts

Here are a few options for islands between Santorini and Mykonos. You may consider Ios or going straight to Naxos. In addition, there are Paros and Antiparos. The islands of Ios, Paros, and Antiparos are a bit off the tourist path but still tourist friendly. Check out these islands before finalizing on Syros.

Posted by
5773 posts

I guess I would be suspect of reviews indicating people are not friendly, they see plenty of tourists, so provided you act appropriately, I see no concerns.

It is hard to say if this makes sense not knowing your overall itinerary, but the first thing you need to do is work out a ferry schedule. Even though you can probably see Syros from Mykonos, does not mean there are frequent ferries going between, or from where you will be to Syros, and where you are going after. Timing is another thing, if the ferry does not get you there until late afternoon and the only option to leave is early the next morning, then one night does not make sense. Personally, I prefer at least two nights, so I get one uninterrupted day. If it does dovetail in so that it is a quick stop with little effort, then why not.

Posted by
2812 posts

I can only base my comments on my own experience of 3 days/2 nights in Syros -- and I would not say that Syroites are unwelcoming to non-Greeks, it's just that, in my experience, they pretty much ignore them. If that's OK with you, ,and you have traveling companions to talk with, fine. Also, while the main Square of the port city & capital Ermopouli, is visually stunning (and the reason many people go there, just to see it), the rest of the island, such as landscape & beaches, didn't impress as much. I went there because of that sight, going solo in May after stays with friends on other Cycladic islands, and then moving on to Athens.

Furthermore the port town had very much a "business flavor" rather than an air of style or local arts/crafts/academic interests. While there I realized one could only get a picture of the town square and the background (2 major churches on hilltops) from an aerial perspective, not one's camera. Thus, I looked around for some postcards of same -- the photos seen online and in guidebooks. Guess what? I searched up &down streets of the port for nearly an hour, found NO places with postcards or souvenir photos (also found almost no galleries or shops showing local artistry or handmade objets or fashions) ... only when I got to the port, just opposite a pier for day-excursions, did I find a single rack of cards.

There are historic reasons for this: (1) From 1850s - 1980s Syros was THE place for fuelling All ships plying the Med-Aegean. Thus is was a huge business center, became capital of Cyclades, home office of many banks, realty companies, brokerages, law firms etc. This wealth also produced the mansions on hills, and in areas near port, many of which are converted today into condos or hotels. Syros to this day is VERY business-oriented, not arts-oriented. (2) No postcards or materials for tourists because apparently very few visitors to island are non-Greeks. Vast majority appear to be GReeks who have family there, or who return annually for a holidays; why would they need postcards for a place they know so well?

As I said, I was not mistreated, just ignored, in restaurants, at the beach, in shops etc. 99% of people appeared to be Greeks, and not newcomers -- all busy talking with one another. No other non-greeks around that I encountered, on the beach, on the bus, in restaurants, for a touch of sociability. I've been on more than 20 Greek islands n past 20 years, often on little solo detours like this, and have never had this experience. On those occasions, english-speaking tourists also could be rare, but I always found some friendly locals to chat a bit with. If you have friends along, your experience may well differ.

Posted by
935 posts

You may want to consider Tinos one of Greece's best and less visited of the Greek Islands. In fact it turned out to be a gem of a Greek Island for me. Far better than my research indicated.

It had more beautiful villages than any other island I've been to in Greece. Spectacular mountain scenery in the west of the island, beaches, archeological/historic sites and a more laid back atmosphere than the "Big Name" islands.

I was there in October and it was lovely, not too many tourists and a more "Greek" experience. I would think September would be equally as good.

I stayed in Tinos Town as everything was open while some of the villages closed down tourist areas so Tinos Town worked out as a great base to explore the rest of the island.

Our ferry made a by-pass of Syros and we had beautiful views of the main town as it cascaded down the hillside to the waterfront. I've considered Syros and should have combined it with Tinos rather than Andros.

Tinos would be a wonderful choice if you feel Syros is not for you.

Posted by
7495 posts

Syros was wonderful primarily because it is not a huge destination rather a real place filled with residents living their daily lives. It is the administrative HQ of the Cyclades Islands. Yes, visit Syros and enjoy your time there. It was refreshing to visit a place not over run with tourism.

Posted by
8 posts

We were there a few weeks ago for the day (between Naxos and Rhodes) and had an incredible day. We were there with our 3 kids. Man - I loved it. It is incredibly beautiful and enjoyable for the amount of time you are going. Classy restaurants and shops - zero non-Greek tourists. Made it perfect. One unusual thing (to us) was that everything, including every single car, was home for siesta from 3-5p ish. It was the strangest thing to be the only people walking around without a car moving while everyone rested. I'll never forget experiencing it.

Posted by
1299 posts

We’ve been to Syros several times and really like it. It’s true that as the capital of the Cyclades its a working town and thus less reliant on foreign tourists, but we’ve never found people unfriendly.

If you go be sure to go up to Ano Syros, the old town perched on the hill on the left. An easy way to do this is a taxi up from the main square (5 euros or so), a wander round the maze of alleys, and then walk back down the big central squares.

Markos Vamvakaris, one of the founders of Greek rembetika - urban blues - was born in Ano Syros and one of his most famous songs - Frankosyriani - is about being in love with a Catholic girl. The other, right hand, hill is traditionally Catholic. Perhaps more info than you need but you’ll hear his music in a lot of cafes on the island. Here’s the song, and some pictures of Syros, if you’re interested