Hydra is a true gem, set in the heart of the Argo Saronic Gulf. No cars, no stress, just the picturesque port with the white boats anchored in the marina and cafés and restaurants along the waterfront. And all this beauty and relaxation just two hours by boat from Piraeus port.
Find all the information you need to spend a few days in total relaxation on this tiny, cosmopolitan Greek island. It carries some resemblance to Portofino in Italy and Côte d’Azur in France, just a bit more laid-back. Hydra is a popular destination due to its proximity to Athens, within just two hours from leaving the hustling and bustling of Athens you can set foot on the serene island of Hydra. What a perfect quick getaway!
No cars – only donkeys and watertaxis
Cars are banned on Hydra. Once on the island you can walk, get along the coast by boat or use donkeys to get around the island. The elegant stone mansions along with a charming atmosphere and tranquility make Hydra one of the best destinations on a trip to Athens, especially in the spring or autumn season.
Hydra is one of the most picturesque Greek islands and the charming atmosphere and cosmopolitan attitude has been attracting many international jet setters and famous personalities through the years. The narrow alleys and stairways, the elegant stone mansions, churches, and boutiques, along with the quaint waterfront and absolutely no cars set the scene of another era.
Things to do in Hydra
Hiking in Hydra
The best way to explore the island and discover the sights, the beaches, and the villages in on foot. During spring and autumn, hiking is a popular activity in Hydra which has a many walking paths leading to spots with great sea view and old monasteries. Hydra Town is perfect for strolling with beautiful architecture and museums.
Scuba diving in Hydra
The rocky island is rich in underwater coves and reefs and the water is clean and transparent. You will find a few diving centers in Hydra Town where you can rent the necessary equipment as well as boat and night diving trips around the island. Old shipwrecks have been found around Hydra, one of the most famous shipwrecks in Greece is to be seen at the Dokos island. It was discovered in 1975 and is believed to date from as early as 2200 B.C.
Shopping in Hydra
You will find a wide range of shops around Hydra Town in traditional houses in the narrow streets; fine jewelries with copies of ancient jewelry and filigree jewelry, local embroideries, clothing and shoes, really nice pottery as well as plenty of art galleries. Many international artists live and work on the island of Hydra. You will also find shops selling local delicacies and souvenirs.
10 Best places to see in Hydra
Hydra is blessed with quite a few museums and churches – perfect visiting on foot. Some of the best museums to visit are The Byzantine Museum, the Historical Archive Museum, the Post-Byzantine Art and History Museum and the National Historical Museum.
Bastions – the cannons surrounding the port of Hydra used to protect the islanders during wartime in the past. Hydra needed protection from the attacks of the Turkish fleet during the 18th century. You can still see the cannons today at both the left and the right side of the harbour.
The Museum of Historical Archives is to be found at the port of Hydra Town in a beautiful stone mansion. Here you learn a lot about the revolutionary period of Hydra through manuscripts, ship models and paintings.
Merchant Marine Academy – the is the first to be operating in Greece. You will find it on a hill overlooking the port and the village in Tsamadou Mansion.
Melina Merkouri Auditorium, also known as The Exhibition and Concert Municipal Hall Melina Mercury, is used as a conference center and for art exhibitions. You will find it along a quay at the port.Read more
The Ecclesiastical Museum is in the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin, close to the port of Hydra. Here you will find clothing of priests and other holy ecclesiastical items, dating from the 18th and the 19th century.
Monastery of Agia Efpraxia – located near the Monastery of Prophet Elias, was built in 1865 at a hill 500 metres above sea level. A few nuns live in the convent running a small embroidery workshop. The church is a small building with spartan and simple lines.
The Monastery of Prophet Elias was built in the 19th century, at the site of a small, abandoned chapel, about two hours hike from the harbour. Four monks are living there today. You will find it at the northern slopes of Mount Eros 500 metres above sea level with a magnificent view of the sea and Hydra Town.
The Church of The Assumption of the Virgin is in Hydra port. It has a tall bell tower constructed by pure marble from Tinos Island. Established in 1643, today the church hosts a small ecclesiastical museum.
Dokos is a small island situated between Hydra and Spetses with only few inhabitants. The island attracts nature lovers enjoying free camping. Read more about Dokos Island
Koundouriotis Mansion is an outhouse of the National Historical Museum situated in an elegant stone mansion. Here you can see relics of the Koundouriotis family – traditional clothing, weapons, paintings, wood carvings, as well as jewelry.
Where is Hydra Greece?
Hydra is in the Aegean Sea between the Saronic Gulf and the Argolic Gulf. It is separated from the Peloponnese by narrow strip of water. In ancient times, the island was known as Hydrea (derived from the Greek word for “water”), which was a reference to the springs on the island.
Map of the Saronic Gulf
Villages in Hydra
Besides the lovely Hydra Town and port, you will discover a few picturesque villages around the island. In Vlichos and Kaminia you will see the more traditional side of Hydra. Relax your tired walking feet at one of the traditional taverns and taste the fresh sea food of the day. The best beaches in Hydra are perfect spots to escape to during the hot summer months. They can all be reached by boats leaving daily from Hydra main port.
Top 10 beaches in Hydra
All beaches in Hydra are pebbled and some swimming spots are merely rocks where people dive from. Many beaches can be reached by boat from Hydra Town and other places are in a walking distance from town.
- Vlichos Beach is organized and family friendly, located 2 km west of Hydra Town
- Kaminia Beach is organized and family friendly, located just 1 km west of Hydra Town
- Spilia (rocks) is non-organized in walking distance from Hydra Town. Basically, it is not a beach but rocks that people dive from.
- Molos Beach is a non-organized and secluded, pebbled beach on the western coast of Hydra. It can be reached on foot or by water-taxi from Hydra Town.
- Limnioniza Beach is non-organized and secluded, located 4 km southeast of Hydra Town. Can be reached on foot or by water-taxi from Hydra main port.
- Mandraki Beach is organized, and family friendly located 2 km east of Hydra Town.
- Agios Nikolaos Beach is sandy and organized located on the western coast of Hydra. Can be reached on foot or by water-taxi from Hydra main port.
- Hydroneta – a rocky coast that people dive from – located in walking distance from Hydra Town. It has a cafeteria with a great sea view.
- Bisti Beach is a pebbled, organized beach in a tiny cove on the western coast of Hydra. Perfect for diving and other water sports.
Hydra climate and weather
The climate in Hydra is ideal and healthy. During spring, early summer and autumn the temperatures are ranging from 15 to 25°C, and this is the best period to visit Hydra island, even though you sometimes may get surprised by a sudden rain. The summer weather in Hydra, like in most areas in Greece are hot and sunny with temperatures ranging from 25 to 38°C. During a heat blast they might even rise to 44°C, during the months of July and August.
How to reach Hydra?
Hydra has no airport and the closest one is Athens International Airport “Eleftherios Venizelos”. It receives international as well as domestic flights all year round. Arriving at Athens airport you must reach Piraeus port either by taxi or using the subway (from the airport). In Piraeus port you can embark on the ferry to Hydra.
The ferries between Hydra and Athens depart from Piraeus port several times daily, approx. 5 times per day. The trip is carried out by a high-speed vessel and lasts 2 hours. Hydra also has ferries to Aegina, Poros, Spetses, Nafplion and Monemvasia.
Facts about Hydra
There is one main town, known simply as “Hydra port” (pop. approx. 2,500). It consists of a crescent-shaped harbor, around which is centered a strand of restaurants, shops, markets, and galleries that cater to tourists and locals (Hydriots). Steep stone streets lead up and outwards from the harbor area.Read more
Garbage trucks are the only motor vehicles on the island, as cars or motorcycles are not allowed by law. Donkeys, bicycles, and water taxis provide public transportation. The inhabited area, however, is so compact that most people walk everywhere.
Hydra benefits from numerous bays and natural harbours and has a strong maritime culture. The island remains a popular yachting destination, and is the home of the Kamini Yacht Club, an international yacht club based in the port of Kamini.