Syros lies in the middle of the Cycladic island group and is the administrative and cultural centre of the Cyclades. It is a true Greek island, utterly unspoilt by mass tourism, with a wonderful capital - Ermoupolis.
There's plenty here for those who wish to have an authentic Greek experience: a beautiful landscape, villages, coves for swimming, traditional Greek food and its imposing capital, Ermoupolis.
Ermoupolis is built in amphitheatrical site around its large natural port and up onto the hills. Here you'll find old mansions, grandiose squares and delightful churches. The covered market with fish, fruit and vegetable stalls is close to the harbour, in fact the harbour used to be the main one in Greece. Ferries still come and go regularly creating a hive of activity on the waterfront. Although there is accommodation along the sea front we would suggest that you venture up into the town as it is quieter and the views are tremendous.
If you want to do justice to the city and explore many of the little streets then you do have to do a fair amount of walking uphill - many streets have steps so this city would be unsuitable for those with walking difficulties.
You may wish to venture up to Ano Syra, a mediaeval town built in the 13th century. Its houses are tucked down narrow alleyways, too small for vehicles, so peace reigns!
Located on the west of the island about 8 kilometres from the capital, Galissas has a sandy beach as well as a good choice of tavernas, cafes, shops and bars.
The smaller beach of Armeos in Agia Pakou is popular with nudists and is about a 10 minute walk away. The village is at the foot of a hill, overlooking the fields and the beach. On top of the hill you can see the ruins of a tower observation point dating back to the 4th century BC, which provided a lookout in case of invasion.
The little church of Agia Pakou is located towards the end of the headland. The area around the church was the most important classical centre on the island. In 6th century BC there was a town here and a short distance away, a sanctuary devoted to the goddess ‘Epicoos’ who became Saint Hepacoe during early Christian times, which is the origin of the village name.
Another intriguing little church is Agios Stephanos, which was stone-chiselled inside a cave by the water's edge. It is around a 16 minute journey by boat from Galissas and a few steps take you from the water’s edge up to the chapel. Legend has it that this little church was built by a fisherman who was saved after struggling with a giant octopus. It was an offering to the saint for his salvation.
Megas Gialos' beach is partly shaded by tamarisk trees and here you can swim in crystal clear waters. The village offers a good number of hotels and rented rooms that are literally a step away from the sea shore. This location also provides good access to most of the south beaches of the island including the quiet beach of Ampela, one of the smallest on Syros. Local buses run frequently to and from Megas Gialos.
Where to stay
"A quick note to say thank you for the arrangements for our trip to Syros - all very efficient as usual. Even the 'plane at Gatwick pulled back on the dot of the second of its scheduled time. The one part of the journey you weren't responsible for, getting us from Gatwick to Brighton on the return, took us four hours from landing to getting home, longer than it took from Mykonos to Gatwick! We enjoyed the Hotel Alkyon - very friendly and helpful, including driving us to the local taverna when we wanted to eat out."
B Sheppard, UK, September 2013
"Syros and the Hotel Ploes were magnificent, and the Petasos Beach was splendid. Mykonos was much more sophisticated that I had feared, and was a good way to round off the lovely trip to Syros. Thanks once again to you and Dawn, who as ever was tremendously helpful."
D Marchese, UK, September 2014