Hydra in the Argosaronic gulf, is one of the most romantic destinations in Greece. It is built in the shape of an amphitheatre and has traditional stone mansions and narrow cobble paved streets. With the exception of rubbish trucks, cars are banned on the island and the main mode of transport are the 500 plus donkeys, horses, mules and water taxis. Many Athenians drive to Metochi, leave their car in the secure car park, and take the 20-minute passenger ferry across to Hydra. This is one of the reasons why the island maintains its romantic persona and distinctive atmosphere.
Hydra, is unique and captivating from the get go. Explore the many exclusive shops and galleries, enjoy lunch at one of the local tavernas or sip on a cool sundown cocktail at Hydronetta. As you walk along the waterfront, you will come across monuments, churches, museums and the old gunpowder store. Most of the museums on the island were once lavish stone mansions owned by important Greek families and built by Italian artisans. A revealing insight into the wealth of the era. Take a walk up to the nearby bastions and soak up the mesmerising view over the town and surrounding Aegean. Plus, you can get up close to the 18th century cannons.
Hydra is a yachting paradise, and it is not uncommon to see an overabundance of sailing boats, motorboats and yachts moored at the harbour. In recent times, Hydra became much more recognised the world over thanks to the starring role of the leading actress Sophia Loren in the film “Boy on a Dolphin”. The movie was shot on the island in 1957. Later in the 60’s, Canadian born musician Leonard Cohen became a resident of the island. His life had a great impact on Hydra and the locals hold a special place in their hearts for him. They set up a crowd-fund to have a bench built in his honour for his 80th birthday. Unfortunately, he died before turning 80 and the bench instead became a memorial to him. It is a simple stone bench looking over the ocean with a wooden back support. You could quite honestly miss it, but if you do notice it and take a few moments to sit there, you will be enraptured by the simplistic beauty of your surroundings.
“The Island’s History”
“The Island’s History”
Historically the island experienced exceptional economic growth thanks to its great naval and commercial activity. In the 18th century Hydra’s commercial fleet traded to countries like Spain, France, and America. While the Napoleonic wars were taking place, it was the locals that fed the hungry of France and Spain by breaking through the English blockades.
Hydriots also played a major role in the 1821 War of Independence, contributing a significant number of ships and resources in the fight against the Ottoman Empire; their fleets were powerful and took part in crucial sea battles.
(And rather impressively this tiny island also happens to be the birthplace of five Greek Prime Ministers!)
If you are a historical buff a visit to the Historical Archive Museum is a treat. Rare material related to the history, tradition and culture of the island from 1708-1865 is on display. The Ecclesiastical and Byzantine Museum which is in the old Monastery of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary displays vestments, holy vessels, elaborately decorated gospel and icons, mainly from the 18th century.
Most beaches in Hydra are pebbled and have scenic, green surroundings.
Mandraki is a lovely organised beach with excellent water sport facilities just 2km east of Hydra Town. Bisti on the western side of the island is a pebbly beach. The Hydra Diving Centre organises water sport activities such as diving and kayaking there. It is a small cove and the water is clean. Vlychos is a family friendly pebbly beach west of Hydra Town.
Spilia is ideal for sunbathing. It doesn’t have a beach but rocks that you can dive off. It is within walking distance of Hydra town. Limnioniza is on the south east and is a fairly secluded pebbled bay. To get there you would either have to take a taxi boat or trek across the mainland of the island. It is considered as the most beautiful beach on the island, more than likely because it will take you 2 hrs of hiking in order to enjoy a swim in its turquoise waters!
Ayios Nikolaos on the west side of Hydra is a remote, sandy beach and only accessible by water taxi from Hydra town or on foot.
Places to eat in Hydra vary from upscale restaurants of hotels to family fish tavernas at the beaches. Nice restaurants are located around the port of Hydra Town, in Kaminia and Vlichos. The best bars in Hydra are also found around the port or in walking distance from the port, in the spots of Spilia and Hydronetta. These bars stay open until late and frequently organise parties.
The islands cream cheese koulouri is perfect first thing in the morning as are all the local cookies, pastries and breads. The oven baked eggplant baked with onion and tomato is yummy and the numerous varieties of freshly prepared seafood pastas will leave you with serious dilemmas!
Although a rather odd scene at first, if you see older gentlemen with a sprig of fresh oregano tucked behind one of their ears there is good reason. When it’s time to eat, they simply tear leaves off it to season their food. Don’t be surprised if one of the locals gives you his sprig and gestures that you tear off a leaf or two and mix it through your pasta.Skippers Tip
Book early to get a table at the amazing Omilos restaurant, situated just outside the harbour breakwater. Anchor in Mandraki bay, either taking the small hike into town or making use of the boats fast tender, this way you can enjoy the town but wake up in peaceful and tranquil turquoise water.