The island of Symi is in the Southern Dodecanese chain of islands running north to south off the Aegean coast of Turkey. It lies of few miles north of Rhodes and close to the southwest Aegean port of Bodrum, Turkey. The island’s main harbor, Yialos, is a gem of white, blue, red and yellow neo-classical block houses piled one atop the other.
Symi has a long history; it was mentioned by Homer as contributing ships to help in the Trojan war. It’s strategic position guaranteed a series of invaders beginning with the Dorians (6th-7th century) then the Romans, Turks (1522 – 1912) and Italians (1912 – WW II). Symi was invaded by both the Axis and the Allies. Yialos, Symi harbor, is where the Germans signed the surrender of the Dodecanese at the end of WW II.
Yachts from nearby Turkey and other Dodecanese Islands visit this lively port. By dusk, the long, U-shaped harbor is lined with many sailing yachts, Turkish gulets and mega power yachts making a colorful mix of masts and gleaming hulls. These different tribes all seem to get along at the many watering holes along the harbor front.
There are a variety of cafes, tavernas and restaurants to choose. Small plazas each have a collection of tavernas, music from a variety of waterfront pubs mixes with the background of many people enjoying the waterfront dining. A few steps back from the water, you can find a quiet al fresco tavern with a selection of Greek specialties for every appetite.
One can easily spend an extra day at this pretty harbor to visit the nearby villages, the Castle that was rebuilt by the Knights of St. John in the early 15th century, the monastery ay Panaramitos, and the many beaches dotting the island. We had stopped at Panoramitos the day before for an overnight anchorage and Nasuo Bay for swimming so we’re out early heading west towards Tilos for a long, excellent day of sailing.