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Visit or Stay, but Don’t Miss the Island of Hydra
November 13th, 2017 by Tom Kerswill

Hydra is one of the most famous of the Greek islands, and it’s been a magnet for celebrities for many years, since becoming a film location in the 1950s. Consequently, some of it is quite chic, and expensive.

Does this mean you shouldn’t visit? Of course not. While Hydra is undoubtedly cosmopolitan in outlook, it still boasts possibly the most beautiful harbour of any of the Greek islands, and it retains its laid-back charm.

It’s a favourite weekend haunt for Athenians, because it’s only just over an hour’s trip away by high-speed ferry from the port of Pireaus. This means it’s accessible as an island-hopping destination or stopover.

When choosing your holiday villa in Greece, whether it’s on Hydra itself or on one of the Argo-Saronic islands, don’t miss out on experiencing a unique place that retains a special charm.

Natural Hydra for Hikers

While Hydra certainly has many boutique hotels, bars and restaurants, and a lively nightlife, it’s also home to some beautiful walking paths and donkey trails, making it a perfect destination for hikers.

Spring and autumn are the best months for hiking. The island is covered in a carpet of wild flowers, some unique to this location. Plus, the weather is far more forgiving for taking extended, rugged walks.

Also, there are no cars on Hydra, which adds to a sense of freedom, and safety, for hikers.

There are three main hiking routes on Hydra. You can take a hilly route from the ferry, up through a tree-lined avenue then a trail through pine trees, to the Profitis Ilias Monastery.

Another scenic hiking route takes you to Zourvas Monastery and the Hydra Lighthouse. The best way to do this is to take a water taxi there then hike back, along an upward slope, along goat paths and a donkey trail.

Finally, there’s a great hike to the Byzantine town of Episkopi, which follows the coastline, past several swimming beaches, so you can always break off for a dip along the route.

Out and About and Waterfront Views

Food in Hydra is variable in price and imagination, however, the views from the waterfront cafés are unmissable. The main entertainment is people-watching and there is no finer spot.

There are plenty of cheaper eating places you’ll discover if you explore Hydra Town’s backstreets, with tavernas serving traditional Greek dishes alongside other restaurants offering pizza and pasta.

Some establishments have been here for years, including Xeri Elia Douskos, the oldest restaurant in Hydra. This is where Leonard Cohen used to go when he stayed on the island in the 1960s. You can still find Local musicians playing bouzouki and accordion of an evening.

Getting around is, well, interesting, as there are no street names. This makes Hydra ideal for exploring though, as you just set off and see what you find around the next corner.

While the island has its cosmopolitan reputation, it feels unspoiled by all the attention it gets. With transport pretty much restricted to donkeys and horses, it never feels overcrowded.

It’s not, however, known for its beaches. This doesn’t mean it’s not ideal for lazing about in when you’re not exploring, but don’t expect the sun-kissed, sandy brilliance of other Greek islands.

The cove at Ágios Nikólaos is beautiful though, coming as a reward at the end of a long hike, lengthways across the island.

Hydra is also a great base for day trips to neighbouring islands, Spétses, or Póros.

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