Syros is one of the few ‘green’ islands of Cyclades and is located in the center of the archipelago, known as the “Lady of the Cyclades” because of its cultural character, its position and its administrative importance. The largest towns are Ermoupoli, Ano Syros, and Vari.
Ermoupoli is the capital of the island and of the Cyclades. It has always been a significant port town, and during the 19th century it was even more significant than Piraeus.
The northern part of the island is called “Apano Meria” and is mountainous, while the southern part, which is lowland, contains most of the villages and beaches of Syros.
Apano Meria, with its scenery and tranquility, is ideal for exploration as the roads and paths are few, but they lead through a breathtaking landscape of rocks, caves, and bridges. In contrast, the southern part of Syros is road-topped with paved roads that connect all villages with each other but also with Ermoupolis. The settlements here are tourist-developed, with modern hotel facilities and organized beaches.
The best thing about Syros is that because it is the capital of the Cyclades it has a lot of life outside of the tourist season and is ideal for vacations all year round.
Syros Island Sightseeing
It has a population of about 20,000 inhabitants, Orthodox and Catholic, and is the capital of the island. “The Lady of the Cyclades” is built amphitheatrically on the hills surrounding the port. The creation of Ermoupoli begins in 1822. It is made of refugees who gradually come to the island from Asia Minor, Chios, Kasos, Psara and Crete, when the great massacres by the Turks took place. Ermoupoli (“Hermoupolis” or “City of Hermes”) gets its name in 1826 on the proposal of the first settlers of the city, in honor of the ancient god of commerce, Hermes.
The whole city is an attraction for its Aegean architecture, with its narrow streets, low-rise houses and countless stairs. An architecture that bears witness to the history of Syros that dates back to ancient times and ends today. A masterful combination of the old with the new, the classical with the modern.
Quarantine of Lazaretta
The Quarantine Hospital (Pesthouse) is an abandoned stone building complex at the port’s southern part, in the area of Lazaretta. It has played a significant role in the island’s history as a place of quarantine, a foundation and a prison.
Built in 1839, under the supervision of Weiler, it was initially used as a quarantine space for the visitors of the island, who were forced to remain within its walls for at least 7 days in order to avoid any possible spread of infection or infectious disease (cholera and other diseases).
During the Cretan Revolution of 1866, it served as a shelter for Cretan refugees.
In 1908 it turned into a lunatic asylum, while after the civil war it was used for the detention of political prisoners.
Grammata are letters scratched onto the rocks. Generations of desperate sailors, washed up on this inhospitable coast, inscribed their wishes, prayers and names on them. Most of them date from Roman and Byzantine times.
Syros Museums & Churches
Industrial Museum of Ermoupoli
At the Industrial Museum of Ermoupoli, everyone can admire a collection of old machinery and tools, and today there are more than 300 objects. It is a unique collection of tannery, machineries, textiles, typography, shipbuilding, food packaging, etc.All the equipment items that come from Ermoupolis factories.
Hermoupolis Archaeological Museum
The Archaeological Museum of Syros was founded in 1834 and is one of the oldest museums in Greece. Since 1899 it is housed in 4 halls of the Ermoupolis City Hall and offers independent entrance from the historic Miaouli Square. The museum’s collections include exhibits, such as the Amfikypellon, a tubular cup 15 cm in height from the end of the 3rd millennium and other artifacts, sculptures and inscriptions from the early Cycladic and Byzantine period. An exhibition of the archaeologist Christos Tsountas is also hosted at the museum.
The ecclesiastical Museum of Ermoupoli was created from the initiative taken by the Metropolitan of Syros Dorotheos A’ in 1984 who managed to create an exceptional collection of ecclesiastical exhibits by sending the Archimandrite at the time being and current Bishop of Syros Dorotheo B΄ to collect various icons, sacred relics, utensils and pontificals from the churches and temples of the remaining islands of the metropolis.
The Museum is housed in a building owned by the Sacred Metropolis and has been enriched over time with more pontificals, sacred relics and jewelry. Cycladic folklore items were also added to the exhibits and are now available for the public while the visit is free.
One of the most unique characteristics of Syros is the typical coexistence of the Orthodox and Catholic religion, a truly unique coexistence reflecting the island’s cosmopolitan and liberal character.
If anyone visit Syros on Easter ,will see a rare sight in the churches of Syros: the whole island celebrates both Catholic and Orthodox Easter, with special permission from the Pope.
The Church of the Resurrection – Orthodox
The Church of the Resurrection in Syros is the majestic Orthodox Church dedicated to the “Resurrection of the Nation” that dominates the hill of Hermoupolis.
It was built in 1874 by the architect Dimitris Eleftheriadis, but started operating systematically from 1908 onwards. It is a three-aisled Byzantine temple with many neoclassical elements, with a dome, impressive bell towers and very special icons. The church is celebrated on Sunday of St.Thomas and organizes various events for children and adults.
Assumption of the Virgin – Orthodox
The Church of the Assumption is one of the main attractions of Syros ,is the second oldest church on the island and was built behind the harbor in 1828. It is a three-aisled basilical church with impressive architecture and decoration. Its interior is adorned with wood and marble elements, while the domes create a wooden frame that looks like an overturned ship. There, is situated the authentic image of the Assumption of Domenikos Theotokopoulos (El Greco), which collects naturally the interest of the visitors.
Agios Nikolaos “Of the Poor” – Orthodox
Agios Nikolaos “of the poor” is located in Ano Syros and during recent renovations, bones and tombs dating from the 16th century have been found. It is the oldest temple on the island and was named after the money raised to help the poor of Ermoupolis in the last century. It is a small, single-aisled church with a double roof and an impressive belfry.
Transfiguration (Metamorfosis) – Orthodox
The Metropolis of Syros is the temple of the Transfiguration in Ermoupoli, the oldest church in the city. It was built in 1824 by refugees who arrived in Syros after the destruction of their islands, during the Revolution of 1821. In the courtyard of the church the name of the new city was decided at the open meeting of 1824. In the western part of the courtyard area is the burial place of Anthimos Gazis and right by the Church it is worth visiting the ecclesiastical Museum which hosts sacred vessels, books and manuscripts.
San George – Catholic
Saint George is the Catholic metropolis of Syros. It was built in 1200 at the highest point on the hill of Ano Syros and has received numerous renovations and reconstructions over the years. It is a large complex comprising the church, the the Bell Tower, the baptistery, the sacristy, the hospitality room, the historical archive building, the Episcopal palace and a ruined house. The metropolis is a three-aisled basilica with marble columns. At the entrance are dominated by statues of 18th-century Italian sculptors, while the wood-carving and marble flooring inspired by a Tinian sculptor are striking on the inside.
Saint Pakou – Catholic
The catholic chapel of Agia Pakou stands on top of the Hill of Galissas. It is a very picturesque chapel in the colors of the sky and sea, white and blue offering a magnificent view of the Aegean Sea and the sunset.
Saint Thekla – Catholic
Agia Thekla is a beautiful Catholic church in the area of Megas Gialos that stands out for its curved walls, its exterior bell tower and courtyard.
Syros Traditional Products
The island’s specialties were quite different from the usual island delicacies, because of the influence from the arrival of refugees. Some of these , that you should taste are:
Syros famous San Michali cheese. It is a hard, slightly yellow cheese made of cow milk and produced exclusively in Syros. Since 1996 it has been officially registered as product with designation of origin.
Don’t forget to taste the “Kopanisti” made of fresh milk (mainly cow milk or a mixture with goat or ovine milk), “skordoloukanika” (sausages with garlic), sweets such as chalvadopita (sweets made of semolina and syrop), loukoumia (Turkish delight) and amigdalota (sweets made of almonds).
Syros Folklore Festivals and Cultural Events
Religious Feasts & Festivals
Like every Greek island, Syros organizes plenty of Christian and Catholic feasts. These two traditions have an enormous influence and they are celebrated in a unique way including food, drink, and dance.
Easter in Syros is honorarily celebrated and attracts many visitors. As Syros has a large community of Catholics, Easter time is celebrated on the same period for the Orthodox and the Catholic churches on the island.
On the 15th of August, the largest religious festival in Greece and the Greek islands, many festivities take place in Syros as a lot of churches are dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
The festival of Agios Petros on June 29th at the village of Kini.
The festival of Agios Ioannis on August the 29th at the village of Poseidonia.
The Ermoupoleia Festival includes many cultural events, such as music concerts, theatrical performances and art exhibitions. It is usually held at the end of the summer, in early September.
Avgoustiatika Feggaria (meaning The moons of August) is a beautiful festival taking place in Ano Syros. Local musicians of Syros are gathered in the area for a night dedicated to rebetiko music, which is very popular in Syros. In fact, this island is the homeplace of Markos Vamvakaris, the most important Greek musician of rebetiko.
Sports competition in memory of Dimitrios Vikelas, president of the first modern Olympics.
Syros beaches are among the most beautiful beaches of the Cyclades. In Syros you can choose to swim in one of the popular organized beaches or relax in one of the most exotic and isolated beaches (some of which are a favorite spot for nudists).
In the southern part of the island, there are beaches that attract the most people and most of the tourism. The most of them are organised Some of them are :
One of the most popular beaches of Syros is that of Vari beach, located in the south of the island and only one kilometer from the homonymous settlement with about 1,200 residents.
The small enclosed bay and shallow waters of Vari beach are ideal for young children and due to the morphology, the beach is ideal for walking. It is well-organized, with umbrellas, sun beds and give you the chance to practice water sports.
Azolimnos Beach is an ideal choice for those looking for a short refreshing getaway near Eromoupoli. Just 5 km from the capital, it allows swimmers to swim in the clear blue waters, relax on the sun loungers, dive into the sea from the three piers on the coast, and enjoy refreshing cocktails and local delicacies at cafés and taverns that are located along the road.
Galissas beach is one of the largest and most popular beaches on the island. It is a fully organized beach. The seashore is golden sandy and short trees along the coast provide some sort of shade. The beach has been awarded the EU Blue Flag award, which assures the cleanness of its waters .Organized hotels, rooms and apartments, campsites, taverns and bars promise unforgettable moments for every visitor.
On the west side of Syros – just 9 kilometers from Ermoupoli – is located Kini, a picturesque seaside fishing village, with a sandy beach on which the Blue Flag has even been awarded. There are many accommodation options close to the beach as well as fish taverns. Kini is famous for its fresh sea food, which is caught by the local fishermen. However, the beach is mostly known for its sunset views. Right in front of the beach you see the terrific statue of the mermaid.
On the contrary, mainly in the northern part of the island, Apano Meria as it is called, you will find the beaches of Syros which are more isolated and almost deserted.
Grammata is one of the three northernmost beaches of Syros along with Mega Lakko and the Gria Spilia beach. The beach took its name from the inscriptions outlined by the sailors on the rocks because the bay, in the past, was considered one of the safest coves of Syros. These inscriptions, according to archaeologists, dating from classical antiquity to the Middle Age.
Gria Spilia Beach
Gria Spilia is a beautiful beach at Apano Meria which is surrounded by a lush landscape, a landscape inspired and created by the American economist John Pearson in his attempt to beautify this barren side of the island. The beach is accessible either by boat from Kini or through a hiking path from the region of Kampos.
Lia beach is located in Aetos Bay in the northwestern part of the island and it is accessible by boat from Kini or through a trail that begins from the Kampos region in Apano Meria. It is situated about 50 minutes away from the beach. Lia is available for travelers who wish to enjoy the tranquility of the island, dive in the clear blue waters and relax under the trees overlooking the azure and the rock of Grammata.
Varvarousa beach is located in Ormos Aetos, north of Delfini beach and only 12 km from Ermoupoli. It is a beautiful deserted beach ideal for select travelers seeking the utmost serenity for their sea excursions. The beach is accessible by boat from Kini, by private boat or for the more adventurous and lovers of hiking through a trail that starts from Delfini Beach.