Island hopping in the Dodecanese, Symi, and other Greek Isles

Wanderlust is in almost every way a completely incurable affliction. There is no remedy, there is no outlet and very rarely is it completely satisfied. We are seldom given the opportunity to explore as much as instinct demands…as animals we are not meant to live inside. When evolution happened they just didn’t realise we’d all have to sit in a metal tube for a few hours to get around – and we’d have to pay for the privilege.

I sat there, a one way Ryanair flight having been bought for a mere £18.00 to Rhodes – one of the Greek islands which not only provided a chance of escape for me, but sunshine and Mediterranean living in abundance. What reasons have I got not to go? I had the money, the lack of obligations and the opportunity of a few weeks in the sun.

Flying to Rhodes was an simple affair – the airport typical of all Greek points of arrival in that there’s a lot of concrete and not much else. I hadn’t booked any accommodation for the first night – it shouldn’t be an issue – it was still October – the ferries were still running to the islands I wanted to visit and by that I assumed there were still tourists around and hotels and hostels would be open.

The bus into Rhodes Town itself was easy and hassle free. I’d predicted a sense of dismay upon reaching the town, but as is often the case with these scenarios, I was actually fairly impressed. Hoards of tourists and kebabs aside, it was a fairly attractive and likeable place. Indeed; the downmarket can often be forgotten but the beautiful and impressive cannot. And nothing could prepare me for how much my next journey would impress me….

The Dodecanese islands are an amazing site! I wandered down to the harbour to catch the Dodekanisos Ferries – a rather impressive mini fast-cat to Symi; a place I’d heard an awful lot about and dreamt about through the realm of Lonely Planet. As you can see, as we set off from Rhodes harbour and the sun started to set, getting there was going to be half the fun. The beautiful sunset lit up the entire boat….everyone cramming along the side to sample the orange glow. It’s so cliched that people try their very best not to mention sunsets in travel articles…but the very best of them can be life affirming at the very least.

Turning the corner and arriving on the island of Symi was a pretty special experience. It loomed out of nowhere….the great Venitian fascias bearing down on the tiny harbour. Excessive yachts and other vessels filled what little space there was…arriving on a small ferry I almost felt like an intruder. Make no mistake; in the high season, this is a rich man’s playground.

I thought a hotel wouldn’t be too difficult to find – and predictably, even in October, it wasn’t. I didn’t have to scout too hard…although be prepared to pay slightly more than some other Greek islands for the beauty and luxury of Symi. The hotel was a family run affair – and a very friendly one at that. Because it was October and quiet, I had a family room for the price of a double. It was huge, and provided access to a fantastic balcony looking down to the tiny fishing harbour of Pedi.

Symi town and harbour are in themselves quite small on the outside. They don’t seem to hide much – the town doesn’t go back a long way but appearances are in many ways misleading. Although it’s small, the action happens in the midst of the steps and alleyways you can’t see…there are fascinating shops, boutiques, cafes and restaurants to be discovered almost everywhere. There is also no sense that the place has been ‘tarted up’ – the beauty of derelict buildings and crumbling walls are left on show as a monument of pride to the island’s history.

Although the town has its own charm, the heat in October was still intense, and I was beginning to think I’d go in search of a beach. Luckily, the little fishing harbour of Pedi, a small walk downhill from Symi Town, had some perfect swimming opportunities. Walk round the bay even further, and you’d be welcomed by virtual seclusion and turquiouse water…if you can put up with the scramble across the rocks to get here, this is pretty much beach Nirvana…

Getting accustomed to the speed of living wasn’t exactly difficult. A mixture of sun and sea during the day followed by red wine and seafood in the evening. All fresh; nothing messing with your mind or taking up the space enjoyment fills..people talk about escaping on holiday and I’ve never really managed to understand what a true escape is. I think in Symi, I found escape and a hell of a lot more. Never underestimate how important giving yourself time to think and allowing yourself the opportunity to take it all in is when you’re on holiday.

Moving on to the next island is always part adventure, part sadness. The experiences, memories and feelings you’ve had from the previous place never leave…and of course in many ways you do whatever you can to replicate them somewhere different. Symi is the one place which stuck in my mind – the mixture of beautiful architecture, interesting people, perfect weather and glorious food means it’s definitely somewhere I’ll be heading to again. Considering it’s a relatively easy and stress-free place to get to completely independently, it’s worth thinking about if you’re going to be in Europe and Greece is on your list.

About the Author

Jacob Little is a travel writer, content marketer and photography fan who is currently based in South West England. Visit his portfolio website at

All photos courtesy of Jacob Little