Symi Travel News

Latest Travel News for Visitors to Symi by Andy Ward

Symi Visitor Travel blog

Ferries, ferries

When Dodekanisos Seaways published their summer timetable at the beginning of the month, they said it was a draft version, and that bookings would open on 20 February.
Well, it is now 22 February, and bookings aren’t open, suggesting that changes are being considered. Certainly many visitors, to and residents of Symi would dearly like the evening Rhodes-Symi sailings to be reinstated. I’ve no inside information, but there has certainly been lobbying from Symi. The other constraint is gaining approval from the Ministry and the local Port Police/Coastguard. Part of the objective here is to avoid two ferries trying to use the same berth at the same time – for example on a summer Wednesday afternoon the Panagia Skiadeni has to leave Symi at 16:00 instead of 16:30 which is the time on the other six days of the week. This is because the Blue Star ship to Piraeus needs to use the same space from 16:15 to 16:30. Maybe for 2018 the new quay area will be utilised and the timetable can be standardised.

On the subject of Blue Star, although we still don’t have a timetable from the end of June to the beginning of September, it looks like there will be a ship – rearrangements on other routes have freed up the Blue Star Paros for this period. She’s no stranger to Symi of course, having run the service very successfully last summer, known for the jaunty little tune played over her PA system as she entered Yialos. So look for the 2017 Blue Star peak season timetable to be identical to the 2016 one.

Still more flights

The very helpful people at Rhodes Airport Aviation News have discovered another flight from the UK to Rhodes that i have missed. Norwegian will operate from Gatwick on Saturday nights, returning in the early hours of Sunday morning. I’ve updated the flight schedules to include it.
It is a good prompt to recommend the Rhodes Airport Aviation News website and Facebook pages. They are going through the same process of identifying flights to Rhodes that I do, and every so often they find one I haven’t, or that there has been a time change since I last checked.
Once the summer season starts, they regularly update with information about the airport’s infrastructure, and this is going to be an interesting year for infrastructure, with the takeover by Fraport less than a month away. There probably isn’t time to make any major changes before summer, but we might look forward to some of the many things that are broken being fixed!

Getting to Symi 2017 – more updates

On the flights front, Small Planet will now be operating scheduled flights from Katowice and Warsaw to Rhodes, adding Poland to the list of countries with scheduled flights.

Thomas Cook UK have firmed up their flight times, adding an extra flight to Rhodes from Manchester, and gone public on which flights will be operated by subcontracted airlines, so the flight schedules table is now at Version 6.
Thomson have yet to do the same. Olympic Holidays will be chartering their own flights from London Gatwick and Manchester again in 2017, using aircraft from Enter Air and ASL France. However I have not added these to the tables because more often than not the times and operating airlines change more than once before the season even starts.

Regarding ferries, I’ve already had people asking when they will be able to book the summer services between Rhodes and Symi just announced by Dodekanisos Seaways. The answer is February 20th. BUT why on earth would you want to book until you’ve seen the offerings of the other two ferry operators on the route? Their timings might suit you better, their fares might be cheaper!
My advice is always:

    There is no need to book ferries between Rhodes and Symi or Symi and Rhodes months in advance, unless you like making interest free loans to ferry companies.
    If your journey involves the Dodekanisos Express or Dodekanisos Pride, it might be worth booking a few days in advance, as they can sometimes fill up with people making day trips from Rhodes, who book on the spur of the moment. The same applies to the Panagia Skiadeni and Symi in high season. The Blue Star ships hold 1400 people, and rarely if ever have more than 400 on between Rhodes and Symi, so they just won’t sell out.

Locals think tourists are mad for booking so early. It’s only within the last 20 years that it even became possible to book more than a week in advance, because that’s how far in advance the timetables were issued. Greeks fully understand booking planes in advance because the fares may be cheaper, but as this is never the case for ferries, they don’t see the point!

Here are the flight schedules:
2017 Flights to Rhodes and Kos from Israel and Russia – version 1
2017 Flights to Rhodes and Kos from Athens and Thessaloniki – version 1
2017 Flights to Rhodes from France – version 1
2017 Flights to Rhodes and Kos from Italy – version 1
2017 Flights to Rhodes and Kos from Czech Republic, Cyprus, Hungary, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia – version 2
2017 Flights to Rhodes and Kos from Scandanavia and Finland – version 1
2017 Flights to Rhodes and Kos from Austria – version 2

2017 Flights to Rhodes and Kos from Switzerland – version 2
2017 Flights to Rhodes and Kos from Germany – version 3
2017 Flights to Rhodes and Kos from the Netherlands – version 2
2017 Flights to Rhodes and Kos from Belgium and Luxembourg – version 2
2017 Flights to Rhodes and Kos from the UK – version 7

Summer ferries – now it begins

This morning Dodekanisos Seaways released their summer schedules right up to the end of October. They’re not available to book past the 2nd of April yet, though.
The service is much the same as last year, with some minor changes, and one major difference:
So far at least, there are no evening sailings from Rhodes to Symi and no early morning sailings from Symi to Rhodes at all.
Timetables here
We already have Blue Star’s timetables up to 23rd June (and again from 6th September to the end of October), and these have an afternoon sailing from Rhodes to Symi at 15:00 (back to the traditional time) on Wednesdays and an evening one at 19:00 on Fridays, along with a morning sailing from Symi to Rhodes on Wednesdays (08:15) and Fridays (07:45). After June, they appear to have no ship available to work the route until the start of September, as all their fleet is deployed elsewhere. I’d expect them to charter in capacity either for the service via Symi or to free up a ship from elsewhere. It could be they’re waiting to see if the new ferry quay will be completed in time for summer, as if it is, there’s no longer a size restriction on which ferries can serve Symi.
Finally, there’s Sea Dreams. The ‘Symi’ is expected to re-enter service for the summer just before Easter. Whether there will be more than the usual Rhodes-Symi-Panormitis-Rhodes daily run, I really don’t know.

Getting to Symi 2017 – Israel, Russia and connecting at Athens or Thessaloniki

And now here’s the rest of the flight schedules (until of course something changes or extra flights are announced).
The non-EU/EFTA/EEA flights this year seem to be confined to just Russia and Israel (so far there are no scheduled flights from Ukraine or Turkey) but there’s quite a bit of interest all the same. Russian scheduled airline S7 has started flights from Moscow to Rhodes, and S7 is definitely one of the most reputable and financially sound Russian airlines, and they also participate fully in international airline alliances. Greek airline TUS has started flights from Haifa to Rhodes and Kos, and this is the first time in many years there have been flights from anywhere in Israel other than Tel Aviv.

Then there are the domestic flights that could be used to connect from international arrivals at Athens or Thessaloniki. This year Aegean Airlines is using their Olympic Air brand for all domestic flights, and the Aegean brand for international flights, but the actual plane that turns up could be painted in either colour scheme. It is entirely possible to book through tickets from very many places indeed using Olympic flights to complete the journey, and have baggage transferred for you at Athens or Thessaloniki, along with a protected connection – that is if the inbound flight arrives too late to make the connection, the airlines will put you on the next flight with available seats and provide refreshments and even overnight accommodation if this can’t be done the same day.
However if you book two separate tickets you will need to reclaim baggage at Athens or Thessaloniki and check in again for the second flight, and if the first flight is too late to make the connection, you’re entirely on your own, and will probably need to pay for a new ticket at the full fare. This is absolutely inevitable if either or both your flights are with Ryanair, as they simply don’t do connections. So allow masses of time – like several hours, or preferably overnight, unless you can afford to take a significant risk.

So here are the flight schedules, and now keep an eye out for updates!

2017 Flights to Rhodes and Kos from Israel and Russia – version 1
2017 Flights to Rhodes and Kos from Athens and Thessaloniki – version 1
2017 Flights to Rhodes from France – version 1
2017 Flights to Rhodes and Kos from Italy – version 1
2017 Flights to Rhodes and Kos from Czech Republic, Cyprus, Hungary, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia – version 2
2017 Flights to Rhodes and Kos from Scandanavia and Finland – version 1
2017 Flights to Rhodes and Kos from Austria – version 2

2017 Flights to Rhodes and Kos from Switzerland – version 2
2017 Flights to Rhodes and Kos from Germany – version 3
2017 Flights to Rhodes and Kos from the Netherlands – version 2
2017 Flights to Rhodes and Kos from Belgium and Luxembourg – version 2
2017 Flights to Rhodes and Kos from the UK – version 7