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Do you like sweets? I do. I'm kind of a chocolate addict, really. My mom and dad love sweets as well. So, when I told them I'd visit Syros about three years ago, the first thing they told me was: "don't forget to bring us loukoumia!" What's loukoumia? Loukoumia, also known as Turkish delight (both us and Turks claim to have invented it, but no o ne really knows), are sweet gummy squares flavored with roses, quinces and pistachios and smothered in icing sugar. Loukoumia, along with halvadopita (which resembles nougat a bit), is an island specialty.

"Our rock": that's how the inhabitants call Syros (or Syra, locally known). It's a sign of affection for their lovely, sophisticated island that is a pole of attraction for both tourists and Greeks, like myself. "Greece was reborn in Ermoupolis", Venizelos once said. Well, I don't really know that much, but I can tell you this: visit Syros and you won't regret it. I know I didn't - and since that doesn't mean much cause I was on a mission to visit all Greek islands, my friends who came with me, Evelena and Leela, didn't either.

syros greece - syros island map

Syros Hotels

If you search for accommodation in Syros I recommend you to visit Syros Hotel Online Bookings. There, you can make your reservations directly to the hotels and find rooms in low prices and useful guest reviews.

What does Syros look like?

syros island - citrus fruit

Dry and barren - that's how most books describe Syros. I can't say I totally agree. Yes, it's semi-mountainous and rocky, but it has olives, pistachios and citrus fruit. Once you sail into the commercial port of the island in Ermoupolis, you'll notice a sight that surprises most of the visitors: a crescent meringue rising in two peaks, one for each religion; older Catholic Ano Syros to your left (or north) and Vrondado, the Orthodox quarter, on the right.

At this point, let me tell you what two great personalities once said about Ermoupolis and Ano Syros. "Who could ever imagine finding such a city on a rocky island of the Aegean sea?" Those were Gautier's exact words when he visited Ermoupolis back when it was new. As for Ano Syros, what Melville wrote after a visit in 1856 is this: "the houses seemed clinging around its top as if desperate for security, like shipwrecked men about a rock beaten by billows". Now, if all these don't convince you to visit this island with the elegant buildings and the streets softly illuminated by old lamps, I truly don't know what will.

Are there any places I should not miss in Syros?

syros greece - archaeological museum

Plateia Miaouli is the hub of Ermoupolis, the central square of the town. Flanked by palm trees and lined along its south side by cafs and bars, it's probably the most elegant square in Greece.

It's there you will also find the island's Archaeological museum. Housed in the Town Hall, it has its own independent entrance on the west side. The core of the exhibitions is an archaeological collection of inscriptions put together in 1834 by John Kokkonis, but it also contains important prehistoric findings from Halandriani and proto-Cycladic to Roman era finds from Syros and other islands.

Finally, don't forget to visit the Historical Archives, by the Town Hall, which host the Ermoupolis Seminars in summer, when the archives are on show.

What about the archaeological and historical sites?

I think I've already mentioned the Town Hall twice, haven't I? Well, it's time for me to explain what it is. The Town Hall is a work of the German architect Ernest Tchiller. Established in 1876 and finished in 1889, it's one of the biggest town halls in Greece, an impressive building that actually, now that I think about it, looks more like a palace than a. "hall". It's situated at the northern end of Miaouli Square.

syros greece - miaoulis square syros greece - apollon theatre

Have you heard of La Scala, in Milan? That's how the locals call the Apollon Theatre. Well, more like "Our La Scala" or "the copy of", but you get the point. The Apollon Theatre was the first ever opera house in Greece. Until 1914 it supported a regular Italian opera season. Now it has been restored after a quite botched repair that wrecked more than it fixed in 1970. Simple, with a low marble base and a plastered faade, it consists of two floors which are separated from each other by a "zone" of limestone.

Velissaropoulos Mansion that now houses the Labour Union is one of the few places you can get in to see the elaborate ceiling and wall murals, characteristic of old Ermoupolis.

Finally, an advice: don't miss the Church of the Annunciation. Built by refugees from Psara, this church is a must even if you're not a Chrisitian, due to the rare icon of the Assumption you will find there that was painted and signed by Domenikos Theotokopoulos (aka El Greco) after he left for Venice.

syros greece - domenikos theotokopoulos syros greece - domenikos theotokopoulos

Are there any beaches in Syros?

Granted, Syros doesn't have many beaches or at least as many as some other Greek islands do. But that doesn't mean the beaches it does have are not good. Far from it, most of them are quite nice spots, some even excellent.

syros island greece - galissas beach syros island greece - vari beach

Galissas is a bright example. Right in front of the settlement of the same name and protected from the winds, Galissas is one of Syros' best beaches. It extends for about 1km and it's full of tamarisk trees.

Vari Beach is located in the south-east of Syros island and it's the most sheltered bay on the island, always protected from the meltemia. It attracts many families and package tour groups.

Megas Yalos, on the south coast of Syros, has two sandy beaches shadowed by trees and offering a beautiful view over the blue sea. You can also hire pedal boats there.

If you're a nudist, you can visit Armeos, a secluded little beach that also has fresh spring waters.

Finally, Finikas near the village of the same name has a large bay sheltered from the winds and a narrow beach boarded by tamarisk trees that offers the possibility to do various sports.

Where should I eat in Syros?

syros island greece - syros food

There are several places that offer not only a decent setting for you but also some delicious dishes. Kokolias, in the Kaminia district is a great example. It has a stunning view to the harbor and it's quite popular with the locals, due to its tasty dishes and mezedes.

Ambyx at the harbor is an excellent Italian restaurant occupying a former distillery. Its dishes include thin-crust pizzas with various toppings (besides the classics, also seafood and vegetables etc.) and it's quite reasonably priced.

Kamara in Ano Syros is the trendiest restaurant of the island. It has a magnificent view to the harbor and authentic French cuisine. It is a little overpriced, though.

Finally, Mavros in Plateia Miaouli is a rather comfortable restaurant serving pizza, omelettes and delicious loukoumades.

What about Syros' nightlife?

syros - traditional dancer

Thankfully, I can say that Syros' nightlife is quite satisfying. There's a huge range of bars that differ, offering everyone the kind of entertainment they like.

For example, there's Rodo Club, a trendy club housed in a half-ruined, half-beautifully restored building. There's Traffic, a bar for expats; Enigma is a metal hang-out; Lilli's and Xanthomalis play rembetika; Argo Caf has live Greek music.

Some of the most popular places are Kimbara, Archaeo and Neos Oikos, the biggest bar in the island. They're all worth a visit.

So, how will I get to Syros?

Thankfully, Syros has an airport that makes get-ting there quite easier. There are at least 3 daily flights from Athens (duration: 35 minutes). By sea now, there are daily fast boats from Piraeus (2 and a half hours), Rafina (1 hour and 45 minutes), Naxos (1 hour and a half) and Tinos (2 hours). There are also at least four ferries daily from Syros to Piraeus (4 hours), Tinos, except Tuesday (50 minutes), and Mykonos (1 hour and 45 minutes). It's also connected with Paros, Andros, Amorgos, Milos, Samos, Patmos, Sikinos, Folegandros, Leros, Rhodes, Thessaloniki, Santorini and Crete.

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