The small island of Hydra, 20 km long and 6 wide is a world unto itself. Its tourist fame is due to the aristocrats and wealthy bourgeois Athenians who, taking advantage of its proximity to the capital, built their summer residence here.
This chic atmosphere has continued over the years to attract rich people and celebrities, such as Onassis, Sofia Loren, Mike Jagger and Leonard Cohen, and the island has been chosen as a set for several films. But despite this fatal attraction for VIPs Hydra is definitely less fashionable than Mykonos and less snobby than Santorini.
Close to the mainland (only a couple of hours by hydrofoil from Athens) yet remote, Hydra is a haven of tranquility where cars are not allowed to circulate. You move at a slow pace, as in the past: on foot, by bicycle or donkey. It is the ideal place to forget the problems of the city, the noise, the traffic and enjoy simple things like a sunset, the waves of the sea, a good glass of white wine.
Like all Greek islands, Hydra enjoys a pleasant Mediterranean climate, with mild winters and warm, sunny summers.
The month of August is usually quite crowded, especially in the central weeks: the absence of cars makes Hydra less chaotic than other very touristy islands, but the prices of accommodation increase so if possible it is better to avoid going in this period.
The best months for a vacation in Hydra are May, June and September, when temperatures are still high but prices and crowds fall.
A particular period to visit the island is Easter, recommended for those interested in learning about local traditions.
Although less expensive than Mykonos and Santorini, Hydra is not a cheap destination. Partly because of its chic reputation, partly because of the limited number of accommodations on the island, due to its small size, the prices of hotels in Hydra are higher than those of other islands.
Don’t be discouraged though: there are plenty of cheap options in Hydra. If you book well in advance, you’ll be able to find guesthouses and apartments for 20.00 euros per person per night.
More than 90% of hotels and vacation homes are concentrated in the city of Hydra and its immediate vicinity, in other areas the possibilities of accommodation are very small or none.
The area of the port of Hydra is a bustle of cab boats, yachts and fishing boats: perfect for a relaxing stroll along the waterfront, but for the bathroom is better to move a bit ‘.
The beaches of Hydra are small, almost all pebbles or coarse sand. Some can be reached on foot, but many of the most beautiful beaches can only be reached by boat.
An easily accessible beach is that of Kamini, which you will find just outside the town of Hydra along the path to Palamidas: it is a beautiful beach set in a small bay, suitable for those traveling with children.
Continuing along the same path you will find Vilchos, the most beautiful bay of the island, well sheltered from the wind. Perfect for a relaxing swim in a calm sea of beautiful blue color and for a lunch of fish and white wine in one of the two restaurants of the bay.
Other beaches not to be missed in Hydra are Spilla, a rocky beach bathed by a deep blue sea, and Hydronetta, where there is the most famous disco-bar of the island: do not expect the transgressive crowds of the beach bars of Myknos, but it is still a pleasant place to sip cocktails with a musical background, preferably at sunset!
Reachable only by sea are the beautiful Bisti and Agios Nikolaos, two beaches of white stones. The first is a narrow strip of land, surrounded by a rich vegetation, the second is larger, protected by a semi-enclosed bay.
If you think that a small island is suitable only for lazy vacations you are wrong: crossed by paths and mule tracks that cross from one end to the other Hydra is a true paradise for lovers of trekking. The most popular path is the one between Hydra and Palamidas, an easy walk along a scenic route.
The more athletic can pick up the pace and give themselves to trail instead of hiking. The paths of Hydra are perfect for this discipline, so much so that every year theHydra Trail Event is held, an event that attracts a good number of international athletes.
For non-sportsmen, however, Hydra offers many opportunities to relax, perhaps with a stroll along the seafront, a swim in the crystal clear sea, a tasty dinner in a typical tavern, an aperitif at sunset …
The only inhabited center of the island is the town of Hydra or Hydra, which develops around a horseshoe-shaped bay at the ends of which stand two bastions. Behind the port rises a mountain, with the typical cascade of white houses.
Arranged as an amphitheater around the bay are some particular buildings: they are the archontika or Maisons de Hydra, the noble residences built in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by wealthy shipowners and now boutique hotels or museums. These historical buildings are considered as national monuments: for this reason they are constantly monitored and any modification must be approved by the local administration.
There are also a couple of museums, interesting for those who are passionate about culture and local history: the Historical Archives Museum (dedicated to the naval history of the island), the Historical Museum (partly housed inside the Lazaros Koundouriotis Historical Mansion), the Byzantine and Ecclesiastical Museum.
During your exploration of the island take a look at the pretty monasteries and churches inland including Zouvras, Profitis Ilias, Aghios Triadas and Aghios Nikolaos; in Hydra, however, the most beautiful church is the Cathedral of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary.
There are no direct flights to Hydra, but it is still easy to reach the island: fly to Athens, which is easily accessible with many low-cost flights, and from there take one of the frequent fast hydrofoils departing from the port of Piraeus to Hydra. The sailing time is less than two hours, and there are six daily runs in high season.
No ferries operate, since cars are not allowed on the island.