Syros is a Greek island located in the centre of Cyclades. Boasting the beautiful Cycladic landscape, minus the crowds, Syros has an elegant and nostalgic vibe that enchants every visitor and is Ideal for families and couples who seek a romantic, yet laid-back holiday destination.
The capital of Syros island, Ermoupoli, is considered one of the most picturesque Cyclades capitals. Venetian mansions, spectacular sunset views, narrow alleys, neoclassical buildings, and impressive catholic and orthodox churches ooze a fairytale charm as Syros was a wealthy significant city and experienced a Renaissance. European architects helped construct the marble streets and buildings of the main town in the late 18 and early 19th century that are distinguished by the Venetian architecture and the large port. Apart from the capital town, a very nice place to stroll around is Ano Syros, a settlement located on the slopes of a hill and offering a fantastic view of the sea.
Town hall: This impressive building houses the Town Hall of Ermoupolis and it is the trademark of the island. It was constructed in the Neoclassical architecture by Ernst Ziller, a famous architect in Greece.
Vaporia quarter: Vaporia is the most picturesque quarter of Ermoupolis, with elegant buildings just above the sea. In this quarter, there is the church of Saint Nicolas, the patron saint of the island.
Apollo theatre: constructed in 1864 by the Italian architect Pietro Sampo, the Apollo Theatre of Syros is located on Miaouli Sq, Ermoupolis. It frequently hosts interesting performances, exhibitions, and lectures. The Apollon Theatre is a mini LaScala and is home to the annual classical musical, jazz and contemporary music festivals. All the arts flourish in Syros, with thriving pan-European Dance, Film and Art collaborations.
Capuchin monastery: located near the wonderful cathedral of Agios Georgios, the Jesuit Monastery of Agios Ioannis (Saint-Jean) was founded in 1535 to help the poor. It obtained its present appearance in 1852. It houses some beautiful icons, ancient inscriptions, various objects of worship and an important library of 6000 old books and manuscripts.
Vamvakaris museum: This museum is dedicated to Markos Vamvakaris, a famous rembetiko musician in Greece, who was born in Ano Syros. Rebetiko is known as the “Greek blues” and each summer musicians from all over Greece gather in Ano Syros in a month long festival of traditional Greek bouzouki playing. Vamvakaris grew up in the 30’s and sang of the poverty and hardship of those years.
The Archaeological Museum of Syros is housed in the Town Hall. It was established in 1835 and includes exhibits from excavations in Halandriani Syros and other Cycladic islands, such as Amorgos and Kythnos, while the Industrial Museum is housed in three old factories in Ermoupolis. It houses old machinery and tools from factories around the island, maps, architectural designs, pictures of local painters and ship models.
Velissaropoulos mansion: a really interesting building with a highly decorative architecture, built by an architect from Syros in the 19th century. The building has been proclaimed as a work of art and encircled by a protection zone extending to the property’s boundaries.
Churches of the island everyone should visit are the church of resurrection, the church of Agios Nikolaos and the church of the Assumption of Virgin Mary. Inside, it has a holy icon of the Virgin Mary, made by the famous painter El Greco.
Archaeological site of Halandriani: the site is unique and quite interesting, as the graves discovered were corbelled and also included a lot of wealthy items, such as vessels looking like frying pans, with representations of ships on them.
Cycladic art museum: the Museum of Cycladic Art in Ermoupolis, exhibits an interesting collection of Cycladic art and findings from the Cycladic period excavated in Syros and in other Cycladic islands.
What to do in Syros
The countryside of Syros island is great for cycling. There are a couple of bicycle rentals on the island, from where you can rent a bicycle and explore the beaches and villages. The northern side of Syros has dirt roads and is ideal for jeep tours, especially the road to the village of San Mihalis. Scuba diving lessons are also offered, while the Equestrian Club of Cyclades is the only riding school in Cyclades prefecture, accredited by the Hellenic Equestrian Federation. It offers riding lessons, hacking, seminars on animal welfare and other educational activities for adults and youngsters. Another activity is the casino of Syros, as well as the numerous religious feasts and festivals being held. Other cultural activities in Syros include the Syros international film festival, the guitar festival, Ermopouleia and augoustiatika feggaria. Finally, the Syros winery is a small-sized winery, located in Lagkada, in Talanta village, on the way to Galissa. Taking advantage of the rare, specific characteristics of the Cycladean vineyards and the microclimate of the island, the strong sunshine, the sandy soil and the cool northern winds, Syros winery releases two wine labels.
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.
The most popular beaches in Syros Greece are located on the southern side of the island. Some of them are sandy and others are pebbled, but they all have crystal water. The beaches of Syros are perhaps not as well known or organised as the beaches of Paros and Naxos for example but nevertheless, there are some very nice and easily reached bays and with a little patience, it’s possible to find your own little calm and secluded haven.
Vari Beach is the most sheltered bay on Syros, attracts many families and package tour groups but modern tourism and tradition manage to coexist without spoiling its natural beauty. Most types of sea oriented entertainment are available at Vari.
Galissas beach is also well protected from the winds. One of Syros’ finest and most popular beaches, extending for about one kilometre, it has golden sand and tamarisk trees for shade when the sun gets too much.
Finikas is a large bay sheltered from the winds and a narrow beach boarded by tamarisk trees it also has a lovely marina, many eating facilities and all kinds of sports, both in the sea and on dry land.
Possidonia beach is one of the most well-organized on Syros. With fine golden sand sand and clear waters it also has good tourist facilities such as restaurants, cafes, a mini market, and a diving center.
Megas Yialos, as the name suggests, is the largest beach on Syros and possibly the prettiest on the south coast. The sandy beach is shaded by tamarisk trees and is especially good for families because it’s gently shelved.
Other beaches on Syros worth mentioning include Agathopes, a little south of Posidonia; Azolimnos, a small picturesque bay; Delfini Bay, a beautiful sandy beach in the north of Syros; Armeos, rocky beach with some nudism reached by footpath from Galissas; Kini, spotlessly clean and refreshing.