Symi Travel News

Latest Travel News for Visitors to Symi by Andy Ward

Symi Greece Travel Blog

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Ferry rumours part 2

Starting today the Panagia Spiliani, which is Nissyros’ home-based small ferry, will take up the attempt to link Rhodes and Tilos at times that are easier for tourists.

There will also be some sailings between Nissyros and Tilos to get the ferry into position.

Before people wanting two-centre holidays including Tilos and Symi jump for joy, these new services will use the port of Kamiros Skala on Rhodes, which is also used by the daily Halki boats.

Kamiros Skala is 45km from Rhodes Town (31km from the airport) and there are at best just two buses a day, which are designed to connect with the Halki ferries, but don’t connect quite so well with these new Tilos sailings. Taxi fares are €52 to Kamiros Skala from the Airport, and €60 to Kamiros Skala from Rhodes Town.

Sailings will be from Tilos to Kamiros Skala at 06:30 Wednesdays and Sundays, 15:30 Sundays only, and 16:00 Wednesdays and Saturdays. In the other direction ferries leave Kamiros Skala at 09:15 on Wednesdays and Sundays, 17:45 on Sundays, and 18:15 on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Journey time is 2 hours each way (which explains why they don’t go to Rhodes Town, this is a slow boat, and those extra 45km would take a long time).

Island hoppers will also like the Nissyros to Tilos sailings at 14:00 on Saturdays and 17:00 on Tuesdays (though there are already other sailings on these days) and 20:00 Sundays, 20:20 Wednesdays sailings from Tilos to Nissyros.

Why is this listed under Ferry Rumours part 2? Well, it has just taken a sizeable chunk of the market the relaunched (and she’s still out of the water at the moment) Sea Star was aiming for. Sea Star’s owners said she’d be visiting Symi as well, but it now looks less likely she’ll appear at all.

A bit about Rhodes buses and taxis

Increasingly, people who want to holiday on Symi need to spend a night on Rhodes at one or other end of their stay. So a few notes on Rhodes public transport might help.

There are two service bus operators on Rhodes: KTEL-Rodos which provides services along the east coast from Rhodes Town towards Lindos, Pefkos, and points beyond, theirs are the mostly orange and white vehicles; and RODA which provides the town services within Rhodes Town, and the longer distance buses along the west coast from Rhodes Town to the airport, Salakos, Embona, Kamiros Skala and the far west, using mostly blue and white buses. RODA also runs the circular tour of Rhodes Town using the road train – there’s a new red train this year, fare is €7.

Longer distance buses of both operators use Averoff Street, behind the New Markets/Nea Agora building,  as their terminus. KTEL are based at the Old Town end, RODA at the other end.

RODA ticket office at Averoff Street, Rhodes Town

Town services use a waiting shelter on the front of Mandraki Harbour opposite the front of the Nea Agora as their central point, but are basically circular routes.

Timetables for KTEL can be found here.

and for RODA here

Looking towards the KTEL end of Averoff Street, complete with KTEL bus

Towards the KTEL end of Averoff Street, with one of their buses

The timetables are current, and are updated periodically during the year.

Some people believe that the numbers you see on the buses are route numbers – and that’s actually correct for the town services. But if you turn up at Averoff Street and ask the person in KTEL’s ticket office for the next bus to Lindos, they’ll sell you a ticket and give you a bus number – that’s the painted-on fleet number of the individual bus which is going to make the next journey. Confusingly if you ask the ticketseller for RODA at the other end of Averoff Street for the bus to the airport, they’ll again sell you a ticket and tell you a number. But this number is displayed on the destination display of the bus (though they have painted on fleet numbers too) and is the number for the set of services the particular bus is allocated to for the day. There are 12 different numbers involved in trips to or beyond the airport. Luckily they also show a plane symbol on the front display! Lots of people think the airport is on route 36, though as I’ve explained there is no route 36 – it’s simply that bus working 36 consists entirely of lots of trips to and from the airport, so you quite often see it there or on the way there. My last bus journey to the airport was on bus working 27, and the bus was continuing beyond the airport to Salakos.

Bus stop at Airport - as you approach from Arrivals. Same stop for buses to and from Rhodes Town

If you want to travel on KTEL or longer-distance RODA buses, you should buy your ticket before boarding if there is a ticket office that is open. RODA tickets can also be bought from kiosks and minimarkets, and the cafes at the airport.

Drivers do sell tickets, but fares may be 20c or so higher. Ticketholders also benefit from being able to board through the exits as well as the entrances on RODA buses at Averoff Street, where there are extra ticket checkers/people packers at busy times.

One other bus operation is The Captain’s Tour open top doubledecker Rhodes Town sightseeing tour, which is hop-on hop-off, and costs something like €12.

Taxis are regulated by the municipality. Fares for popular destinations are fixed, and published:

If you phone for a taxi, or get a hotel reception or cafe to do it for you, there’s an extra charge of a couple of euros. Prices for non-fixed-fare destinations are on the meter.

Airport-Rhodes Town or return is €25 this year.

Short-term extra ferries

This weekend, and next, the Sea Dreams ferry “Symi” will be making extra trips.

There will be a sailing from Rhodes to Symi at 19:00 on Saturday and at 20:00 on Sunday, with corresponding extra Symi-Rhodes journeys at 07:00 Sunday mornings and 06:30 Monday.

The stop in Panormitis on Saturday afternoons has been extended to 3 hours from the usual 1 hour for today and next Saturday.

Unfortunately there’s no sign that these changes will apply in June or later, the published summer timetable remains unaltered.

Blue Star also have extra calls at Symi on Sunday afternoon (towards Rhodes) and Monday afternoon (from Rhodes, towards Piraeus) by Blue Star Patmos, this weekend only, making up for sailings lost during the Tuesday to Friday seaman’s strike.

Strikebound

The by now traditional early-season strikes aimed at the Greek government are taking a toll.

Not only are today’s calls at Symi by Blue Star off because of strikes, Friday’s calls are now cancelled too for the same reason, making a 4-day strike by ships crews in total.

However, Dodekanisos Seaways ferries are operating normally, and indeed I travelled on the Dodekanisos Express yesterday from Symi to Rhodes, so you can get on and off the island with both Dodekanisos Seaways and Sea Dreams.

Now the Air Traffic Controllers have joined in with a 4 hour strike from 11:00 to 15:00 today. Note that this affects the whole of Greek airspace, not just taking off and landing, and for Northern European flights there’s roughly an hour’s flying time over Greece before arriving in Rhodes, and the same after departing Rhodes. Some flights can reduce the impact by using Turkish airspace which starts only 10 minutes east of Rhodes Airport. This trick enables Finnair to depart Rhodes as late as 10:50 today for Helsinki. But there isn’t the capacity for every Rhodes flight to go this way. Most flights to Turkish airports such as Bodrum, Dalaman and Antalya from Western Europe cross Greek airspace so are also hit by the Greek strike and not surprisingly Turkish ATC prioritises flights to its own airports when alternative routings are requested.

My own 12:15 flight has been rescheduled to 17:15, but at least it is still operating.

Ferry rumours

Here’s a roundup of ferry rumours affecting Symi, with a reality check attached, as far as I am able.

Rumour 1)  The Symi ferry is to move elsewhere as it is seen as too expensive to operate compared to the income available on Rhodes-Symi-Panormitis-Rhodes shuttles. Instead the Symi II will return from the Sporades to run the daytrip service.

Reality check. Symi II is under overhaul at Salamina, outside Piraeus. She operated successfully in the Sporades last summer, and has route licences to do so again this year, from June onwards. The Symi is not operating daily at the moment (though she’s in service today) and on the days she stays in port, the King Saron comes instead, as a daytrip-only boat.

Rumour 2) There will be a daily service from Symi to Datca and return this summer, starting on 1 June and ending on 31 October, operated by Dodecanese Flying Dolphins (formerly Phoenix Marine) using a refurbished catamaran called Panormitis Express.

Reality check. Absolutely no publicity for this on Symi yet, just 2 weeks before it is due to start. This service has been announced in previous years using other boats, but I’ve yet to spot it operating.

Rumour 3) The Sea Star will reappear on Symi this summer providing a Rhodes-Symi-Tilos service.

Reality check. The Sea Star has been bought from the receivers of the bankrupt Tilos 21st Century, her previous operators. She is now under overhaul in the Spanopoulos shipyard at Salamina island, outside Piraeus. There is a government subsidy available for Rhodes-Tilos, Rhodes-Symi-Tilos and Rhodes-Halki-Tilos sailings and this is out to tender at the moment. There’s actual investment and a limited guaranteed income. Watch this space.