The great thing about Syros is that it has everything a Greek island should have: nice beaches, taverns and bars, but it has not been too adjusted to tourism. The reason is that it is the administrative centre of the Cyclades, so the economy is doing well enough for people not to be too desperate for tourism.
It also has the for Greece very unusual characteristic that half the populations is Catholic. Despite the fact that the island is very harsh, people grow vegetables, make wine and breed animals. They also build ships and make cloth, the shipyards of Syros is one of the most important factors that help the economy of the island. Syros is also famous for its loukoumia (the Greek version of the Turkish delight sweets) that are exported to Greece and many countries. Syros is the main administrative island of the Cyclades prefecture and the island is a very popular holiday destination for Greeks and foreign tourists.
Syros has been inhabited since the stone age. We do not know which was the first people to settle here, but it could have been Phoenicians. Homer mentioned the island and called it Siriin.
Legend has it that the first inhabitant, Keraunus ("Lightning"), came to the island riding on the back of a dolphin after his ship had sunk.
On Syros the oldest acropolis in the Cyclades have been found.
The most striking feature of the island is the Venetian influence. Just like most of the Cycladic islands, the Venetians came here in the beginning in the 13th century, and were to stay until the Turks took over in the 16 the century.
What to See
The capital Ermoupolis, or Queen of the Cyclades, is pretty which many neoclassic buildings situated in an amphitheatrical way. On the square is a statue of the freedom hero admiral Andreas Miaouli.
The Apollo Theatre in Ermoupoli is a mini copy of La Scala in Milan. The town also has very interesting churches, for example Agios Demetrius, Treis Hierarches and Ag Nikolas. There is also an archaeological museum as well as an interesting library.
You should also try to get to Ano Syros, a small village in medieval style. Here you can visit the Catholic Cathedral of St George and the monasteries of the Jesuits and Capucins from the 18th and 17th century respectively a little further away. Here is also a museum dedicated to Markos Vamvakaris, a composer of traditional Rebetika music. There are music festivals every summer in this village.
At Halandriani and Kastri there are archaeological excavations where Neolithic settlements have been found.The stalactite cave Agios Stefanos is also worth a visit.
The most striking feature of the island is the Venetian influence. Just as in most of the Cycladic islands, the Venetians came here in the early 13th century, and stayed until the Turkish invasion of the 16th century. As a result many people of Syros are Catholics.
What to Do :
There are water sports in many beaches on the island. You must not miss the sunsets from Syros. In Ermoupolis you go for walks, admire the buildings as the Town Hall building, the Miaouli Square, the theatre and the public library. In Ermoupolis there is also a summer cinema.
Syros Beaches The coasts on the South and West side are generally considered to have the best beaches. Galissas beach is a very beautiful sand beach, Vari, Finikas Bay and Gialos are also popular beaches without being overcrowded. It is worth trying a few of them. For families with children Ag Nikolaos, Ermoupolis and Ambela are recommended.
Most of the nightlife is situated in Ermoupolis. There are lots of bars and clubs there, but the partying is more relaxed than on the "wilder" islands.
Most taverns are in Ermoupolis, and you can enjoy both Greek and Italian food here. There are also places to eat at Galissas, Poseidonia and Kini for example. The St Michali cheese is a local specialty, and there is also Syrian wine. Give the local sweets like loukoumia, mastihi, halvadopites, a try as well.
There are many shops in Ermoupolis, and you'll be able to find everything from modern clothes to souvenirs, ceramics and rugs.
There are good connections to many of the villages and beaches through the local buses. There are also taxis, and places to rent a vehicle.
The closest airport for charter flight is on Mykonos, and from there you can get the ferry boat which takes about 1 hour. It is a good idea to stay on Mykonos the last night, in case of bad weather. Usualy the best way is to get to Syros is by ferry from Piraeus, almost all ferries to Cyclades and some for the Dodecanese stop in Syros.