Syros

Cyclades

Syros is the administrative centre of the Cyclades, despite being rather a barren and rocky place. It owes its position to a good natural harbour at Ermoupoli, which was once the main port for the whole of Greece. As recently as the 19th century it was still the most powerful port in the eastern Aegean, and as a result there are many fine mansions remaining. Ermoupoli is said to be the finest-preserved neo-classical town in the country, and with a population of  just over 13,000 is the largest town in the Cyclades.

Ermoupoli, Capital of Syros and of the CycladesErmoupoli, Capital of Syros and of the Cyclades

Despite its importance, it is not overwhelmed by tourism. The fact that it is the administrative and cultural centre for the Cyclades means that it prospers without needing to cultivate tourists, which some of the smaller islands must do. Nevertheless, visitors do come in increasing numbers, drawn by its small resorts, little fishing villages and enough good beaches to keep everyone happy. Some of these, such as the ones at Armeos and Delfini, are quiet enough to have become nudist beaches.

Syros in Greece

Getting to Syros

Flights to Syros

Syros has a domestic airport with daily flights to and from Athens.

Ferries to Syros

As the administrative centre for the Cyclades, Syros obviously has good ferry connections with other islands in the group. The nearest neighbours are Tinos (30 minutes), Mykonos (45 minutes) and Santorini (1 hour).

Some of the Dodecanese are also within reach, although with long journey times. Rhodes takes 9-11 hours, for example. You can even get to some of the North East Aegean Islands, although somewhere like Chios will take 12 hours. Athens is closer, at a mere 4 hours.

Blue Star Ferries also call in at Syros on their Thessaloniki-Piraeus route, enabling you to island-hop to some of the North-East Aegean and Cyclades islands on the same route.

Ferries in Greece

Ferries in Greece has an excellent and very thorough website where, in addition to checking ferry schedules and times, you can also book tickets and get lots of useful information about travelling by ferry in Greece.

Syros in the Cyclades islands of Greece

Syros History

Syros was probably first inhabited by the Phoenicians, and is known to have been an important centre for the Cycladic civilisation by the year 2800 BC. Later the island was part of the Roman Empire, like the rest of Greece, but when the Romans left the island was abandoned until the 13th century when it was taken by the Venetians who founded the town of Ano Syros. This is one of the two hilltops that now join up as Ermoupoli, the other being called Vrondado. Because Ano Syros was settled by the Venetians, it was unusual in Greece in being a Catholic town, long before Vrondado was settled as a Greek orthodox community. 

Below and between Ano Syros and Vrondado is the lower town, whose grand marble-floored main square, Plateia Miaouli, has become the whole city’s central focus. The whole area around here has been designated a National Historical Landmark, the square being lined with fine mansions and shaded cafes, with a marble bandstand in the centre and, at one end, the grand 1876 town hall, which was designed by the German architect Ernst Ziller, the man responsible for several of Athens’ fine Neo-Classical buildings including the Presidential Palace.

Syros in the Cyclades islands of Greece

What to Do on Syros

Alongside the town hall is Syros’s small Archaeological Museum, which was founded way back in 1835 and is one of the oldest museums in Greece. Nearby is the Apollo Theatre, built in 1864 as the first opera house in Greece and a copy of La Scala in Milan. It has been restored to something of its former glory. Close by is the 19th-century church of Agios Nikolaos, with a stunningly grand marble iconostasis inside, and outside is the world’s first ever monument to an unknown soldier. There are many other churches worth seeking out in Ermoupoli, notably the Byzantine church of the Anastasi at the top of the Vrondado hill, and the Baroque Cathedral of St George crowning Ano Syros.

Syros Villages

The bulk of the island’s population is in the south of Syros, the villages easily reached by car or on the local bus. Here too, on the west coast, are the island’s two most popular resorts, Kini and Galissas. Kini is still very much a fishing village alongside its development as a resort, and is set on a lovely horseshoe bay. Its main advantage for the relaxing holidaymaker is that it is just a short walk from here to the best and biggest beach on Syros, Delfini.

A few kilometers south, Galissas is at the head of a long bay and also has a good beach nearby, at Armeos. However, it also has the only two campsites on the island which in summer attract crowds of young people that can turn Galissas into the noisiest spot on Syros. In the north of the island the roads peter out into tracks which lead to villages where few visitors are seen, which should result in a warm welcome for the more adventurous travelers who explore this area.

Where to Stay on Syros

See our other Cyclades pages...

  • Antiparos

    Travel information about Antiparos near Paros in the Cyclades Islands of Greece from the Greece Travel Secrets website.

  • Andros in the Cyclades Islands of Greece

    The island of Andros in the Cyclades has fast ferries from Rafina. There are some good beaches and the main town has two interesting museums.

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    Travel advice and information on Anafi in the Greek Cyclades islands with good beaches, walking, accommodation, tavernas.

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    Mykonos in the Cyclades islands in Greece has cheap and luxury hotel accommodation, car rental, ferries from Athens, Santorini, Crete and other Greek islands.

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  • How to Get from Mykonos to Santorini

    You can get from Mykonos to Santorini, and of course from Santorini to Mykonos, by ferry, by plane (sort-of) or even by helicopter.

  • Schinoussa and Iraklia Travel Guide

    This is the first travel guide to Schinoussa and Iraklia, two tiny islands in the Cyclades, published by Real Greek Experiences.

  • Tinos in the Cyclades Islands of Greece

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  • Sikinos

    Surrounded by bigger and better-known Cyclades islands such as Ios, Naxos and Santorini, Sikinos is a delightfully untouristy island.

  • Sifnos

    Sifnos is one of the smaller islands in the Cyclades group in the Aegean Sea.

  • Serifos

    Serifos is one of the Cyclades islands in the Aegean Sea, a rugged and mountainous island with a small population.

  • Paros in the Cyclades Islands in Greece

    The island of Paros in the Cyclades is famous for its marble, and on this page you can also see information about flights and ferries to Paros.

  • Naxos in the Cyclades Islands of Greece

    The island of Naxos is the largest of the Cyclades and on this page you can see information about flights and ferries to Naxos.

  • Milos in the Cyclades Islands of Greece

    The island of Milos in the Cyclades in Greece is noted for its museums and beaches, and read about flights and ferries to Milos.

  • Kythnos

    Kythnos is a small island in the Cyclades in the Aegean Sea, with easy access from Athens and popular with Athenians on summer weekends.

  • Kimolos

    Kimolos is in the Cyclades islands of Greece, close to Milos.

  • Kea

    Kea is in the Cyclades group of Greek islands and this page from Greece Travel Secrets shows how to get there by ferry and what to do when you've arrived.

  • Ios in the Cyclades Islands of Greece

    The island of Ios in the Cyclades group of islands in Greece is noted for its nightlife in summer, as well as its beaches, churches and the grave of Homer.

  • Folegandros

    Travel information from Greece Travel Secrets about Folegandros in the southern Cyclades, close to Sikinos, with flight and ferry information.

  • Delos in the Cyclades Islands of Greece

    The island of Delos in the Cyclades islands is a unique archaeological site, taking up the whole island, and a popular day trip from nearby Mykonos.

  • Cyclades

    Travel information about the Cyclades group of Greek islands including Mykonos, Santorini (Thira), Naxos, Paros, Delos, Tinos, Siros, Milos, Amorgos.

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