The commercial and cultural capital of the Cyclades, Syros defies expectations. The grand port city, Ermoupolis, transports you to its 19th century heyday as a shipping centre — all palazzos, piazzas, and pavement cafes. With dozens of annual arts festivals, Syros is a wonderful year-round destination that’s both tranquil and vibrant, unspoiled and aristocratic.
DID YOU KNOW?
Syros owes its Italianate architecture and Catholic population to centuries of Venetian rule. The Catholic community is based in Ano Syros, a walled medieval settlement that’s a steep climb up from Ermoupolis. The views from the top are worth every step.
The Apollo Theatre, a miniature replica of La Scala in Milan, stagesconcerts, recitals, and music festivals throughout the year. The building itself is worth visiting, if you’re passing by during the day.
Syros is more about culture, architecture and food than beaches. But the water is crystal clear — even when you dive off the jetty at Vaporia, an elegant suburb of Ermoupolis. Kini and Galissas are the island’s low-key beach resorts. Shallow Agathopes, MegasGialos and blissfully calm Delfini beach are sheltered from the wind.
EAT & DRINK
From modern Greek cuisine to cocktail lounges and espresso bars, Syros is heaven for epicureans. Ermoupolis’ seaside boulevard and jasmine-scented lanes are full of authentic ouzeri, where you can nibble local mezze. Try fennel-studded sausages and crumbly San Michali cheese, Greece’s version of parmesan. Traditional loukoumia (Turkish delight flavoured with rose or bergamot) and halvadopites(wafers filled with sticky nougat) make delicious souvenirs.
Rembetiko music, the Greek blues, owes its popularity on Syros to the late, great bouzouki virtuoso, Markos Vamvakaris. A native of Ano Syros, Vamvakaris sang in the local tavernas, where nothing much has changed since the 1950s.You can still hear live music most nights.