Each one of the Dodecanese Islands offers a distinctly different experience – and Symi is one of the most culturally rich of them all. You'll discover its laidback charm and visit sights such as Panormitis Monastery and a sponge maker. Fotini, one of our local guides, says, ‘Symi is one of the smallest and most picturesque Greek islands. The sight of the colourful houses as soon as you enter the harbour never fails to impress.'
The fun starts with a glide across the Aegean to Symi. The first stop is in the southwest of the island, at the vast, Venetian-style Panormitis Monastery. It is famed for its Byzantine frescoes and icon of St Michael, but most of all for its location right on the water's edge in a remote and sheltered bay. You'll also have free time to explore the site.
Next, you'll sail for Symi town itself. The arrival into the harbour is a joy to behold – tiers of pastel-coloured houses cascade down the surrounding hillsides. There's a guided tour of Symi town, too. And during the sponge maker visit, you'll learn about the island's sponge-diving heritage and its importance to the eco system surrounding the Symi. Your visit also helps support this traditional industry, vital to the local community. You'll get a small gift to take home, too. It's Fotini's favourite part of the experience. She says, ‘The old tradition of sponge diving has strongly affected the history and the customs of the Dodecanese Islands.'