8 Highlights to light up your holiday on Syros
One of the most popular Cycladic islands, Syros is unique blend of contrasts. Cycladic minimalism, medieval charm, neoclassical nobility, Orthodox and Catholic heritage, rugged hillsides and little fishing villages… the diversity is astounding. It’s also a firm family favourite in the Aegean, with great variety of food and local products to enjoy.
1 First impressions in the capital of the Cyclades
Your first taste of Syros can be no other than Ermoupoli, the lively main town unlike any other in the region. Colourful mansion houses and a cosmopolitan aura are testament to the island’s stature as a mid-19th-century commercial, political and cultural hub.
You feel it everywhere… in Miaouli Square (with its grand Town Hall, palm trees and cafes and shops), the Apollo Theatre (modelled on the Scala di Milano) and the prestigious Vaporia district (with its captain’s houses). Next door is Asteria, a rocky platform you can sunbathe on or dive off. Or just pull up a chair and order a cocktail.
2 Losing yourself in wonderfully preserved Ano Syros
It is famous for having both an Orthodox and Catholic heritage, centring on the Cathedral of San Giorgio dominating its highest point. Savour the view of the Aegean from here as well as flower-filled courtyards and the shops and cafes of the Piatsa as you stroll back down to Ermoupoli.
3 The mouth-watering local delicacies
Syros’ local produce is part of the culture every bit as much as the architecture and history. The icing sugar-dusted loukoumia (Turkish delight) and halvadopita (soft nougat with fillings like nuts or cranberries) are a legacy of 19th-century migrants from Asia Minor. Look for the sausages (flavoured with fennel and garlic), louza (an air-dried beef meze marinated in red wine and spices) and a selection of local cheeses (San Michali, sweet gruyere and spicy Kopanisti) in delicatessens in Ermoupoli. And if you’re on the ferry, look out for the man selling Syros delights before leaving port. He’s a cult figure.
4 The quaint fishing village of Kini
5 Galissas beach and the western coast
6 Vari and the beaches to the south
7 Green Syros and an intoxicating sunset
Over to the top end of the island now and yet another contrast. Apano Meria refers to the northern part of Syros… a mixture of greenery, hillside and plenty more rugged coastline. As you explore the countryside, you’ll be drawn on by the aromas of wild fennel and thyme and the shimmering of olive trees.
There are a few settlements, such as Mytakas, Papouri, Rihopos, Marmari and Plati Vouni. Quiet little San Michali stands out, with its taverna offering fantastic local dishes and an unforgettable sunset view.
8 Hiking to the beaches in the north
Experience Syros island
From the highlights on which it has built its reputation to lesser-known experiences, Syros is an island of intriguing blends. It’s a great choice for a summer holiday in the Aegean but is also alive at others times of year, with Easter being very special, especially as part of a spring island-break.