You can see why Syros is known as the Queen of the Aegean as the ferry sails into Hermoupolis harbour. The capital of this Cycladic island is a jewel fit for royalty – and provides an enchanting welcome for visitors.
White houses cascade down hillsides, one that is topped with an ancient cathedral the other with a huge, blue-domed church. It’s a busy town bursting with atmosphere created by narrow lanes, stylish neoclassical buildings, shops and tavernas tucked away in winding cobblestone alleys and steep stairways.
The shining heart of this charming town is a grand square paved in marble, fringed with palm trees and cafes and with a central staircase to an imposing town hall and archaeological museum. Nearby are marble paved streets and courtyards crammed with restaurants, bars and boutiques that really burst with life in the evenings.
Syros is an island of many parts. Popular resorts spread around the sand and shingle beaches and coves on the south and west coast. One of the best is Galissas, a family-friendly crescent of tree-lined sand with enough tavernas, bars and shops to keep everyone happy. It’s only five miles from the capital and half an hour on the bus.
Galissas beach is one of half-a-dozen Blue Flag beaches, a euro-rating based on cleanliness and good facilities. At least another 20 beaches are scattered around the coast. The north is dominated by rocky mountains where it is said there are more goats than people. It can be explored by car, mountain bike or on foot.
But tourism is not this affluent island’s only interest. Shipbuilding, horticulture and the manufacture of delicious loukoumi, a Greek version of Turkish delight, are among other businesses.