Loving the Hydra flowers
Loving the Hydra flowers

Hydra, Once Known As  “Little England”

Nestled in the heart of the Saronic Gulf, Hydra is a gem of the Aegean Sea that offers a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. As you approach the island by ferry, about a 90 minutes journey from Piraeus (Athens), the first sight of Hydra’s charming harbor, framed by traditional stone houses and vibrant bougainvillea, feels like stepping into a picturesque painting.

Hydra is one of the famous Greek islands, only 50 square km in area, with a population of a few thousand souls – not counting tourists. It is rocky land, with pebbly beaches, and many high hills. It was, and still is to a certain extent,  a place that derives its economy from the sea. In the past, Hydra was famous for its shipbuilding, an industry so prosperous the island was once known as “little England”. The comparison ends there! Sunshine and hot temperatures are the order of the day though it can get quite chilly in winter months.

Hydra Island Mules Awaiting Tourists

Hydra Island “Taxis” Awaiting Tourists

Be Prepared 

Ready to explore this beautiful island with its twisting and narrow alleyways, rugged terrain, and breath-taking scenery? Leave your drivers license at home and take a pair of sturdy walking shoes instead. Upon disembarking from the ferry or tender (cruise ship), one of the most striking features of Hydra is the absence of motor vehicles. In their place, donkeys and water taxis are the primary means of transportation, lending the island an old-world charm and a serene atmosphere. In the 1950’s there was a law enacted that banned even bicycles! You will be walking and exploring mostly by foot. And there is a lot to explore…

 

Colorful Hydra Island Alley

Colorful Hydra Island Alley

Things To Do

Love history? Hydra’s rich history is reflected in its well-preserved architecture and numerous museums. The Historical Archives Museum provides an in-depth look at the island’s role in the Greek War of Independence, while the Lazaros Koundouriotis Historical Mansion offers a glimpse into the opulent life of one of Hydra’s most prominent shipbuilding families of the 17-1800’s. The island’s naval heritage is also prominently displayed, celebrating the brave seafarers who contributed to Greece’s fight for independence.

Art enthusiasts will find Hydra a haven of inspiration. The island has long been a retreat for artists, writers, and musicians, including the likes of Leonard Cohen and Henry Miller. Today, Hydra’s vibrant art scene is evident in its many galleries and annual art festivals. A visit to the DESTE Foundation Project Space is a must for contemporary art lovers, showcasing innovative and thought-provoking works in a stunning setting.

Beyond its cultural attractions, Hydra offers a plethora of outdoor activities. Hiking trails crisscross the island, leading to breathtaking viewpoints and secluded beaches. One of the most popular hikes is the trail to Mount Eros, the highest point on the island at 660 m.(2165ft.), where you can enjoy panoramic views of the Aegean Sea. For those who prefer a more relaxed pace, the pebbled beaches of Vlichos, Kamini, and Bisti provide idyllic spots for swimming and sunbathing.

 

Hydra Island Tourist Shady walk

A Walk in the Shade

Hydra Cuisine

Dining in Hydra is a delight for the senses. The island’s culinary scene is a blend of traditional Greek flavors and contemporary twists. Fresh seafood, locally sourced ingredients, and family recipes handed down through generations are the hallmarks of Hydra’s cuisine. Waterfront tavernas offer delicious meals with stunning views of the harbor, creating an unforgettable dining experience. The water is safe to drink so have as many ice cubes as you need to refresh your drink.

Come evening, should you be lucky enough to overnight, Hydra’s nightlife comes alive with a blend of laid-back charm and vibrant energy. At the same cozy bars and chic cafes that line the harbor, you can sip on a cocktail while the sun sets and live music plays. Or head to the Hydronetta Bar, perched on the cliffs overlooking the sea, where the waves provide the soothing soundtrack to your evening.

Hydra Island seaside cafe at sunset

Seaside cafe at sunset

Overall, Hydra’s unique combination of history, culture, and natural beauty makes it a captivating destination for travelers seeking an authentic Greek island experience. Add it to your list of Greek isles to explore along with Santorini, Mykonos, Katakolon, and more. Each one is different, and each one will tug on your heart strings to return for a longer stay, next time…

All images courtesy of AdobeStock. Article first appeared on Real Travel Experts.