Syros, tips from a local expert

Syros is part of the complex of Cyclades. Its capital, Ermoupolis is also the capital of the whole municipality of Cyclades. It is a highly cosmopolitan place with huge culture and tradition. There are picturesque corners everywhere and on the contrary of the other neighbor islands, Syros does not have the typical Cycladic architecture. The island has its own unique identity well kept and preserved through the centuries. And what is the best way to feel the mentality of the island? We guess, following tips from a local expert.  We met a local who is in love with her birth place. And who wouldn’t be in love with such a place? We invite you to discover the secrets of Syros and get to know the island through the eyes of a local.

Either you want to relax or you seek to enhance your knowledge about culture and history Syros won’t disappoint you. Maria our local expert has quite a few amazing suggestions that will make your stay memorable.

Which are the best beaches that I should go?

Maria our local guide has spent every summer of her life in Syros. She is the ideal person with a trained eye to recognize and highlight the best beaches a tourist should go.

“The very first location that could come to my mind is Asteria beach. Well, actually it’s not a beach with the classical meaning of the word. It is a dock from where you can dive into the crystal clear waters. The view though is stunning. From the deck you can see one of the best sceneries of the island. The colorful and neoclassical mansions next to the beautiful Saint Nicolas Church are emerging from the cliff right in front of you. Next we have Agathopes beach which is the most popular among the young crowds. It is fully organized and has sandy beach and shallow waters. During summertime lilies blossom everywhere. If you are lucky enough you can also see some seals which come to the coast in spring to give birth.

An island with unique identity well kept and preserved through the centuries.

Third to my list comes Galissas beach. The cosmopolitan resort has a long sandy beach and a little picturesque port. If you have a yacht or want to rent a boat Galissas is the perfect spot to spend your day. Moreover, there is Kini beach. At first, the visitor’s eye would catch the statue in front of the beach. The sculpture is about a mermaid that holds in her hands and saves a castaway. From here you can hop on a boat to visit other beaches of Syros in the north that can’t be reached by car. On the contrary of the sandy beaches Delfini beach is pebbled. Across the coast line there are tones of taverns where you try traditional dishes of the island and any kind of fish. Due to its position the beach is protected by the summer mild winds that are quite frequent in Cyclades. ”

The cosmopolitan character of Syros is profound in every corner. All the beaches above are lively and perfect for someone who wants to feel the pulse of the life here However if you don’t prefer something like this and you seek a beach that is more isolated and less popular, Syros has also the answer for you.

Syros,tips from an expert

“The beaches of Gria Spilia (Amerikanou) and Grammata in the north and Abela and Kokkina in the southern part are considered to be the romantic gateways of Syros.  Gria Spilia and Grammata can be reached by boat or you can try trekking through a quite easy trail. The beauty of the scenery is wild and pristine. The waters are crystal and have all shades of blue. Grammata took its name from the engraving letters and descriptions on the rocks left by the sailors. In the past the cove was used by them as a safe anchorage for their boats. Moving to the southern part we reach Abela and Kokkina beaches. Abela beach has unique turquoise waters and is ideal for relaxation and serenity. Kokkina is one of the lesser known beaches around and quite remote. Sounds like the best place for those who want to sunbathe in peace and appreciate the scenery”.

Where can I capture the best photos?

Do you want to capture the best sceneries? Do you want to make your friends jealous by posting the most exquisite and graphic photos ever? Then buckle up and take notes because you are going to be intrigued with the following places. Take your camera with you and be sure that it is fully charged because you are going to love all the places. Our local expert is definitely picky when it comes to majestic locations. We asked her to share with us her tips and this is what she disclosed.

“I think that anyone that knows a little about summer in Greece has heard about the famous sunset in Santorini. Humbly enough to say that watching the sunset in Kini beach is equally astonishing. Try to stay at the beach until the sun goes down and take a dive during the golden hour. You will not be disappointed. The sky will be full with colors like it is an endless pallet. Your eyes will be magnetized.

Syros is the synonym of beauty and aristocratic vibe

If you have a private boat or if you enjoy walking then you should definitely visit the chapel of Agios Stefanos. It is a tiny building dedicated to Saint Stefanos. The structure is nestled among the rocks in a cave. Under the chapel there is a small dock where the waves are crushing in a windy day. From the cave you can appreciate the endless and imposing Aegean Sea. Asteria was mentioned above as one of the must-visit beaches. Well now it is highlighted again due to the photogenic scenery around. Following the path along the rocks and the coastline you will come across a live cart postal. You are going to feel so small in front of the waves crushing the rocks and right on the top of the hill architectural masterpieces emerging from the ground. The mansions are right on top of the water and the big church of Saint Nicolas completes the scene.

The place that everyone is talking about when they visit the island is Ano Syros. It is a lot of walking among the alleys and because of the heat during the summer is hard to cope with all the steps but it’s worth it. The best is to wander around after 7pm when the sun isn’t that strong. There are hundreds of pebbled alleys leading you uphill. The houses and the mansions around are the elements that make the place have this aristocratic vibe. Reaching the highest point of Syros you will be amazed by the breathtaking panoramic view. The whole island is spread down to your feet. Spare a few minutes to engrave the image on your mind.

Syros,tips from an expert

I hope that after all this walking you are not that tired. There are more to be seen! Wear your most comfortable shoes and let’s go to another great neighborhood. The district is called Alithini.  In Greek Alithini means “real”. The beautiful houses are built on a cliff on the centre of the island. It is part of Ano Syros. When you reach the top of the hill you can see the islands of Tinos, Mykonos, Naxos and Paros. The whole Aegean blue is spread in front of your eyes. Around you there are many traditional taverns and cafes. You should try local delis and get in touch with friendly inhabitants who are always willing to meet the tourists.

My favorite and the most beloved place for the locals and for the tourists is the neighborhood of Vaporia. It is located north of the port at the east part of Ermoupolis. The houses are built right next to the sea. The marvelous mansions seem to be hanging above the cliffs. Here was the aristocratic area of the 19th century. The mansions are high-ceiling with wooden floors. They are decorated with wall-paintings and they have marble balconies and wooden-sculpted doors. Take your time to explore the alleys of the area. Then you can follow the path across the sea and see the general view of Vaporia. The image is worth capturing and looks like the perfect cart-postal you can have!”

Which are the local delis of Syros that I should taste?

“Syros is well known for its Loukoumia. Loukoumi is a soft sweet desert with caster sugar on top. They used to eat it as a complement with traditional Greek coffee. Nowadays it is widely beloved as a desert. You can find them in many tastes. The most popular is with Mastiha, Rose and Bergamot flavor. Sometimes they put inside almonds, pistachios or walnuts to complete the taste. Therefore, we have Chalvadopita. It is a sweet that looks like a round pie. Between the two thin pastry sheets of ostia there is a mixture with elastic texture and it is made of egg, sugar, glucose, aroma of vanilla and whole almonds. Another sweet deli is Pastelaria. It consists of dry fig and honey along with roasted sesame, cinnamon and almonds. You should try it with a zip of Tsipouro.

Syros, tips from an expert

Besides of the sweets we also have some great salty delis as well. If you ever visit Syros and go to a tavern then you should definitely taste the famous sausage of Syros.  They are made of pork meat and they have a peculiar taste due to the fennel. This is why they are called redolent sausages. However, there are also some spicy ones which are an equally tasteful variation which stands out because of the garlic that is put inside. Louza is also a traditional dish of Syros. It is made of shoulder pork and it is marinated with red wine, pepper, allspice, clove, cardamom and cinnamon. Your degustation trip would not be complete if you don’t taste the peculiar cheese of Syros called San-Michalis. The cheese has a protected name of origin since 1996 and it is considered to be one of the most expensive cheeses of the domestic production. It stands out for its unique spicy flavor and has some light aromas of hazelnut and other nuts. You can try it with a glass of wine or with your pasta.

Finally I shouldn’t avoid mentioning that Syros has a quite big production of caper. The rocky soil of the island allows the plant to grow vastly. The caper of Syros has a unique taste and texture thanks to microclimate of the region. And then we have the great thyme honey. It is pure and organic without any additives. Locals use it in many recipes and they are proud of the good quality of the product.”

Are there any events or festivals that I can attend to?

Syros as the centre of the Cyclades is also the centre of the cultural events. Ermoupolis hosts many interesting festivals during the summer months. They attract people from all over Greece and Europe.

“In July, right in the heart of summer we have Syros International Film Festival. It was founded in 2003 and it embeds both Greek and international wide spectrum of cinema. The setting is unique as the screens are set in traditional and re-purposed island sites. (http://www.syrosfilmfestival.org/) .Around the same period there is also the Festival of the Aegean. The first year that the festival welcomed its audience was in 2005. Since then the island of Syros is the host of magnificent melodies and amazing opera performances with artists from all over the globe. This festival has definitely made Syros the favorite summer destination of the art lovers and music enthusiasts.

Syros, tips from an expert

And if you enjoy listening to classical music and concerts from orchestras from all over the world then you should visit the island in August. After almost 15 years the International Classical Music Festival of Cyclades has established his presence in the artistic agenda. The audience can appreciate classical music pieces in a majestic theatre and concert hall in the middle of Ermoupolis. The list of the internationally famous maestros and soloists that have performed in the festival is rather impressive. ( http://www.festivalcyclades.com/) .In September, people in Syros and the tourists have the opportunity to look back to the roots of the island and take an idea about the tradition of the area. Syros is the birthplace of Markos Vamvakaris who is one of the most important Greek musicians of rembetiko music. Thus, the island has a tight connection with this kind of music. Rembetiko is now protected from UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage. This is why in the beginning of fall takes place the Rembetiko Festival, which honors the folk music of Vamvakaris along with concerts, seminars and exhibitions”. (http://www.facebook.com/rembetikofestival)

Syros can easily magnetize anyone who visits the island. Listening to Maria’s narrations there is no question as to why the locals totally love their birth place. The area has a unique beauty and an aristocratic vibe.

 

Special thanks to Maria V.  for her precious tips and information

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