SÝROS is a living, working island with only a fleeting history of tourism, rendering it the most Greek of the Cyclades. There’s a thriving, permanent community, the beaches are busy but not overflowing and the villages don’t sprawl widely with new developments. As well as being home to a number of excellent restaurants, the island is known for its numerous shops selling loukoúmia (Turkish delight), mandoláta (nougat) and halvadhópita (soft nougat between disc-shaped wafers). In addition Sýros still honours its contribution to the development of rebétika music: Markos Vamvakaris, one of its prime proponents, hailed from Áno Sýros where a square has been named after him.
The island’s sights – including the best beaches – are concentrated in the south and west; the north is unpopulated and barren, offering little interest. Most people tend to stay in Ermoúpolis, which offers better connections to a variety of beaches, none further than 15km away.