We’d never heard of Syros before Christian’s boss suggested it to him while we were living in Greece. Christian surprised me with a trip to Syros, and it was the first time we’d traveled together where our hotel and car were booked for us (by his boss). As a textbook micromanager, this was one time it was easy for me to say, “That’s awesome, so when do we go?!”
No expectations – that’s the secret to traveling, in our opinion. It’s always better to have little to no expectations of your destination, so everything is a surprise, and not a let-down. However, we were not just pleasantly surprised by Syros and excited to explore this (to us) unknown island – we were blown away. We had been told that it was a hidden paradise – a getaway from the locals in Athens who wanted to avoid the more touristy Santorini, Mykonos, and Crete. And boy, were they right. We fell in love with Syros from the moment we landed on its quiet port (which is under constant construction, just FYI – but nothing that would disrupt your travel plans!)
The thing that struck us the most is how quiet the island was. While the streets of Hermoupolis/Ermoupolis (different spelling, same town!), where were stayed, are lined with beautiful shops with clothes, souvenirs, and trinkets (on the more expensive side) they’re not filled with hordes of tourists or locals. We visited in June, which is part of the peak tourist season, but were told that the island doesn’t really get crowded even through September.
The second most striking aspect of Syros is its architecture. We’re no students of architecture but we were still able to marvel at the beautiful medieval and neo-classical style of the buildings ornamenting the gently undulating hills of Ermoupolis. These hills afford some spectacular views of the Aegean, as we enjoyed during our scrumptious breakfast.
Do: Explore around Ermoupolis
You’ll find little restaurants going down a flight of stairs offering spectacular views of the ocean, and beautiful Venetian style mansions that are cheap to free to visit.
Fair warning: there’s not much to do other than sunning and swimming in the beautiful Aegean, lazing around the beautiful cafes (with incredibly friendly owners!), and exploring the medieval style mansions and cobble-stone streets of Ermoupolis. This was right up our alley for our weekend getaway!
Don’t: Expect low prices for food and drinks
Food tends to be on the higher end in Syros due to more select crowds (locals) arriving on the island. The beach cafes in Ermoupolis especially tend to overcharge when it comes to water and cocktails, so try to pack your snacks and drinks ahead if you’re on a budget!
Renting a car is up to your discretion; while we had a car and drove around, we found that unlike Kefalonia or Santorini, there are not many other towns or significantly beautiful hillsides and mountains to explore outside of the main town, capital, and port of Syros, Hermoupolis. You can easily stick to Hermoupolis to enjoy the more authentic Greek island experience, eating, drinking, and sunny your way through your holiday.
Kini and other little towns outside of Hermoupolis do offer quiet, cheap, beaches, but if you’re traveling on a budget and looking to cut costs, you won’t be missing out if you skip on renting a car. This may be a particular concern of yours as unless you are camping your way through the Greek islands, standard hotels in Syros do tend to be on the higher end (and offer lower variety in comparison to say Santorini and Mykonos).
Nevertheless, it is definitely an island to visit if you are looking for a more authentic Greek island vacation. Syros is a frequent stop along many of the Greek island cruise lines, and there are daily cruises between Piraeus, Athens to Syros. The journey between Athens and Syros takes about 3 hours. It is advisable to book ahead online, especially during the peak summer months of June through September. If you’re looking for a break from (or to avoid altogether) the constant party vibes of Mykonos or the crowds of Santorini, Syros is the Cycladic Island for you.
Been to Syros? Planning a trip there? We’d love to hear about your experiences! Share your stories with us below!