Where the Old World Meets the New

To the south-east of Athens, about 140km by sea, lies the island of Syros. It’s in the Cyclades group at the southern end of the Aegean. The more famous landmasses in this part of Greece are Mykonos and Santorini. However, despite being lesser-known by the holidaying masses, Syros is on par with what its more popular neighbours offer. It may not have the same exciting nightlife you get in Mykonos, or the whitewashed, cliff top homes of Santorini, but there’s other charms that more than make up for them.

The capital, Ermoupoli, has been an important port for hundreds of years. In the 19th century it was even more significant than Pireaus in Athens, because it was the doorway that linked Western Europe, the Mediterranean and the East. For this reason, not only is it a cosmopolitan centre, but there has long been wealth on the island. With that come pretty architecture, elaborate churches, mansions, fantastic restaurants and the necessary infrastructure to support not only industry, but a thriving population. It’s best described as a living museum, with some of the finest examples of neo-classical architecture in Greece.

Apart from the charm of the beautiful buildings, the port area offers a vast array of bars and taverns, where you can while away the day with a drink in hand, watching the world pass by. The blue domed Cathedral of Saint Nicholas is a feature of the skyline, standing proudly amidst the low-rise buildings that run from the seashore up the hillside. Towering above the town is The Church of the Resurrection of Christ. It commands attention and makes a great place to get a view over Ermoupoli below. There’s also great shopping, museums, art galleries and the only casino in the Cyclades. Add to this the nearby beaches and you’ve got a fantastic place for a holiday.

If you’d rather be away from the crowds, then just a short drive from the main port is the coastal village of Kini. This picturesque beachside town has a handful of taverns and even fewer places to stay, but a day trip will give you a slice of Greek paradise where you can easily find some space on the sand. Another great spot that’s away from the crowds is Galissas. Located on the western side of Syros, it’s a resort town that has a safe anchorage for yachts, plenty of accommodation and secluded beaches. It’s the kind of place you go to escape your stresses and experience the Greece of old. For foodies, the cuisine Syros is dominated by seafood, however no trip to the island is complete without trying some loukoumia, or Turkish delight. This sugar dusted, sticky sweet goes perfectly with not only a glass of ouzo, but a morning coffee.