Ermoupolis on Syros

Of all the islands of the Cycladic archipelago, Syros is probably the least typical. Whitewashed villages and sandy beaches are not its main attractions, but Ermoupolis, the capital of the island is. A grand central square and impressive neoclassical Town Hall, beautiful 19th century architecture, Roman Catholic churches (as well as Greek Orthodox) and the splendid Apollon theatre (modelled after La Scala of Milan, albeit on a smaller scale), give it something of a southern French or Italian feel. The waterfront is lined with terraces and behind it lies a maze of alleyways and backstreets, some quiet and peaceful, others full of life with street markets, restaurants, bars and cafés, old fashioned little stores and arty boutiques.

The difference between Syros and the other Cyclades is largely due to the strong historical presence of the Roman Catholic community on the island, which enjoyed the protection of France. During the Greek War of Independence from the Turks in the early 19th century, Syros managed to stay neutral and so escaped the devastation that so many other Greek islands suffered. Instead, Syros flourished during this period, when Ermoupolis was built to become the island’s capital. Today it is the administrative and commercial centre of the entire group of Cycladic islands, and also the only town in the archipelago that truly qualifies as one. Here life does not evolve around the summer months and the tourists they bring along. It is a city with an economic and cultural life of its own, where people live and work all year round.


Holidays in Syros

Likewise, Syros is a great island to visit all year round, as life, especially in town, never comes to a winter standstill. You can catch a performance in the splendid Apollon theatre, visit the Archaeological and Industrial Museums; stroll around to discover the impressive architecture in town as well as the more Cycladic-style cuteness of the medieval settlement of Ano Syros and go for walks in the hills which turn green after the first rainfall in the autumn. In the summer, Syros is relatively quiet as it is not a typical beach destination, but there are some good beaches on the west coast. I would not recommend the island for a full two-week beach (only) holiday, but if you like a combination of beach, culture and walking, you will have a wonderful time. It is also certainly worth combining a few days on Syros with stays on one or two other Cycladic islands. (Connections are frequent, especially in the summer.)

Small hotels and other special places to stay in Syros