Are you looking for things to do in Hydra Greece? This beautiful island is one of the most popular and cosmopolitan in the Saronic Islands just about 2 hours south of Athens. Hydra, a completely car-free island, is a combination of a stunning natural environment with historic naval architecture that will charm you as soon as you set foot on the island.
The moment the ferry turns into the gorgeous port of Hydra, you will get amazed by the beautiful scenery: the expensive yachts, the donkeys on the platform patiently waiting, the canyon stations in the port, the imposing stone mansions, the cafes, the small clothing stores and the domes of the Greek churches synthesize a unique spectacle.
The beautiful town of Hydra Greece is built amphitheatrically around the port with red-roofed buildings covering the hills almost to the top. At the port fishing boats, yachts, and ferries flood the pier, especially during the summer months.
The stone mansions of Hydra stand like fortresses in the rocky landscape, emphasizing the long naval history of the island.
Hydra Greece is one of the first discovered islands: in 1956, Sophia Loren, playing a Hydriot sponge diver in the film Boy on a Dolphin, made Hydra known to the world. There is a statue dedicated to the film in the port.
The late Canadian songwriter Leonard Cohen lived on Hydra and bought a house as well. The authorities of the island named a street in front of his house after him to honor him. In May 2023, started the shooting of the new series titled «So Long, Marianne», on Cohen’s relationship with Marianne Ihlen on the island, which I am looking forward to watching!
Find in this post what is best to do in Hydra Greece, where to stay, the best beaches, what sites to visit, and the most romantic spots for dinner.
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Best Things to Do in Hydra Greece
When you visit Hydra Greece – which is probably the best Argo Saronic island – I recommend spending at least two days to really experience all the top Hydra attractions. Although Hydra has only one town, there are still quite a few things to do on the island.
1. Explore Hydra Town
One of the best things to do in Hydra is to walk around the stunning port, have a Freddo cappuccino coffee sitting by the front of the yachts, and watch the sun dip down the Aegean Sea.
Stroll the cobblestone back streets of Hydra, full of neoclassical mansions of the 18th and early 19th century, wonderful little taverns, and picturesque squares.
A new all-day restaurant, Mikra Agglia (Little England), is housed in a beautiful stone building on Tombazi Street, near the port. Try the salad with grilled zucchini slices and tsalafouti cheese, spinach risotto with feta cheese, and for dessert baklava with biscuits made from Aegina peanuts (45-50€/person without drinks).
Should you need any medication or a face lotion, go to Rafalias pharmacy, an old-fashioned store that hasn’t changed decoration since 1890 and still sells products made to traditional recipes.
2. Stroll to Kaminia Small Port
If you are looking for romantic things to do in Hydra Greece, take a 15-minute stroll with your loved one to the pocket port and pebbled beach of Kaminia. Along the way look out for the old windmill, and the statue dedicated to the film Boy on a Dolphin.
When you get there look for the traditional Kondylenia tavern. Find a table, with the best sea view possible, order some ouzo with meze, and watch as the sun dips gently into the Saronic Gulf. Book a table at +30 2298 053520.
3. Swim on the Beaches in Hydra Greece
Hydra may not impress you with its beaches however, there are quite a few great places to dive. Some of the best beaches in Hydra Greece are Avlaki and Spilia, both a very short walk from the port but they do get very busy during the high season (July-August).
Vlychos beach is about 2km from Hydra town. It is pebbled and probably the most beautiful beach on the island and possibly a much quieter choice.
Mandraki is a sandy and organized beach with excellent water sports facilities if you are a sea sports person.
Bisti is another beautiful beach, also great for sports activities such as diving and kayaking. Limnioza beach is a bit far and it will take you about 2 hours to hike there. So as you can imagine, this is a very quiet beach.
Finally, Agios Nikolaos, one of the best beaches in Hydra, is only accessible by water taxi that you can easily rent from Hydra’s port.
4. Visit the Impressive Museums in Hydra
Hydra Island played a significant military part in Greece’s 1821 War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire. Hydra was very rich at the time, mainly as a result of its successful involvement in the wheat trade during the Napoleonic Wars. It contributed to the Revolution with 186 ships – twice as much as Spetses did.
In the significant museums of Hydra, you will get to see the important history of the island.
- Historical Archive-Museum of Hydra that showcases historical material of the island from 1708-1865
- Ecclesiastical and Byzantine Museum: Housed in the old Monastery of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, it displays vestments, holy vessels, and icons mainly from the 18th century.
- Annex to the National Historical Museum: The House of Lazaros Kountouriotis operates as an annex of the National Historical Museum. Lazaros Kountouriotis (1769-1852) was the largest financier of the Greek War of Independence in 1821
5. Take a Private Guided Tour of Hydra
Do you love to have everything organized for you? Then you should book a guided informative tour with a professional guide and learn all the things you want to know about Hydra.
6. Dine at the Finest Restaurants in Hydra Greece
One of the top things to do in Hydra Greece is to dine in its cosmopolitan restaurants. Omilos Restaurant Bar – formerly known as Lagoudera – is located in a stunning spot and is the most notorious restaurant in Hydra. Everyone famous has dined here: The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bridget Bardot, and Onasis are just a few of them.
Omilos restaurant provides outstanding service and excellent cuisine to its guests. If you are visiting during peak season you better book your table (+30 2298053800 or email@example.com).
The Sunset restaurant is the perfect place to watch the sun go down on Hydra Island! Its yard is surrounded by canons(!), and it offers fine cuisine with an amazing sea view. If you are visiting during peak season you better book your table (+30 22980-52067 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
Kryfo Limani Tavern is more on the traditional part of Hydra, and one of my favorites! It is a family-run business, they cook authentic Greek food, in a friendly environment with Greek music in a lush garden. Find it on Tompazi Street a few minutes walk from the port.
7. Sail to the Uninhabited island of Dokos
Four kilometers north of the western tip of Hydra is the uninhabited island of Dokos, one of the most popular yachting islands in the Argosaronic. Dokos has a great ancient history and has been characterized as an exceptionally archaeological island (many compare it to Delos in Mykonos).
You can get to Dokos Island only by private boat or yacht. Besides swimming in its crystal clear waters you can also visit:
- the few remains of a 7th c AD Venetian castle
- a 9-meter lighthouse constructed in 1923
- the remains of Dokos shipwreck, the oldest underwater shipwreck discovery known to archeologists in the Aegean Sea, dated between 2700-2200 BC
8. Discover the Orthodox Monasteries
Visit any of the numerous churches and six Orthodox monasteries on the island. Two of the monasteries are particularly noteworthy. The Profitis Ilias, founded in the 10th century, and the nearby Agia Efpraxia Monasteries, are on the slopes of Mount Eros, the island’s highest peak. You would need about 1.5 hours of hiking from Hydra port (please try to dress modestly if you are visiting a church or monastery).
You may also enjoy: Best Day Trips from Athens
9. Go Island Hopping from Hydra Greece
You can do a lot of island hopping as Hydra is right in the center of the Argosaronic islands.
- Take the ferry to classy Spetses Island and you will be there in 35′ to 1 hour, depending on the ferry you will get.
- The Ferry trip to Poros Island is only 35′.
- Take the ferry to Porto Heli and you will be there in 1 hour and 20′.
- Find here the Ermioni Hydra Ferry Timetable (25-minute trip!)
10. Participate in Hydra’s Trail Event
Hydra is organizing a mountain run race, the ‘Hydra’s Trail Event’, usually every April.
There are usually five scheduled routes with the most difficult being the “Hydras Trail Marathon”, a 38.5 km Mountain Marathon route. This is Hydra’s Trail Event page on Facebook which you can visit for more info on the 2023 trail event.
Where to Stay in Hydra Greece
It will be hard to beat the superior location of Estia Hydra, overlooking the port and nearby access to island highlights. Immaculately clean and brightly decorated apartment, you will have to book fast as it normally gets fully – booked during summer.
If you prefer to stay in the picturesque tiny alleys in Hydra town then you will love the Hydra Luxury Getaway – Maria’s Cozy Home!
How to Get to Hydra Greece
The most usual way to get to Hydra is by taking the high-speed hydrofoils (Flying Dolphins or FlyingCat) from Piraeus port. You can check time schedules and rates to Hydra with no extra fees on the FerryScanner or FerryHopper.
Alternatively, you can drive to Hydra. Take the National Road from Athens to Metochi port in Peloponnese. You can leave your car in the secure car park in Metochi, and take the 20-minute passenger ferry across to Hydra.
This is a fantastic way to tour one of the most beautiful and full of imposing sites area of Greece, the Argolida of Peloponnese:
- Corinth Canal
- Ancient Isthmia
- Ancient Corinth and Acrocorinth
- Ermioni and Porto Heli
- Volcanic Methana
How to Get Around Hydra Greece
The lack of cars on the island leaves you with certain choices: walk but do keep in mind though that the island is quite hilly – as is the vast majority of Greek landscapes – so avoid too heavy luggage.
As a second option, you can take water taxis to go around the island and dive into the more remote beaches. There is a water taxi right outside the Corner Café – with a phone next to it.
FAQ on Hydra Island
What is not Allowed on Hydra Island?
By law, cars and motorcycles are not allowed.
The only vehicles that you may see are garbage trucks and ambulances. So, for any other transportation and for carrying heavy stuff they use mules, donkeys, and horses. The owners sometimes overload the mules, they make them go up and down endless times and I am quite unhappy if and when this happens. Of course, if they use them in a reasonable way, without exhausting them, it is understandably a necessity.
Donkeys suffer if they carry more than 50 kg and that can be done only for a very short time. If you wish to ride and you are an adult, always choose a horse that can carry a man’s weight.
Tip: To avoid using the donkeys, book somewhere centrally or carry your own stuff.
Hydra in Winter
Are you wondering what is like in Hydra in winter? It does get much colder than in the summer but almost never below 0 C. The port is always lively with many cafes and hotels open as the 3-island guided tour (Hydra, Poros, Aegina) never stops running – except on the days when it is really windy.
Hydra for Families
Hydra is great for families with small children because restaurants, cafes, and beaches are more or less within easy walking distance. Children will also love getting on the water taxis and sailing to the beaches. Finally, my friends with young children told me that a large number of equines and free-roaming cats are a great source of entertainment for the little ones!
There are also ATMs and supermarkets in the town if you prefer to cook for the family in the apartment.
An ideal house for a family is beautiful Hydra Kamini Beach Thea located right in front of the sea, ideal for a family of 5.
How Much Time Do I Need in Hydra?
Ideally, you should stay for 2-3 full days to enjoy the best of what Hydra offers such as hiking its 9 signposted hiking trails. If staying overnight is not possible, then explore the port, or sail around Hydra with a water taxi. Stroll the town to peruse its magnificent architecture, lively walking streets, and beautiful lookouts.
How Many People Live in Hydra Greece?
There are about 2,500 permanent residents on the island of Hydra, and that means that Hydra is quite lively throughout the year.
Why is Hydra famous for its Cats?
There is a large number of healthy cats on the island due to the restless animal charity HydraArk.
Hydra Ark’s committed volunteers not only take care of/feed/ and vaccinate the stray cats on Hydra but also in cooperation with the local authorities run neutering programs to keep the numbers under control.
Is Hydra Expensive?
Generally speaking, it is a little bit expensive but nothing like Santorini and Mykonos.
Can I Hike in Hydra?
Hydra Island is a great place for hiking. The trails are marked out with yellow and black signs that detail where you will go if you take the hike. There are both easy and demanding trails to choose from, depending on how experienced you are. As Hydra is a rugged island with few trees and little to no shade, I would avoid hiking in the summer months or if I did, I would start very early in the morning.
Essential things to have with you if you will be hiking on Hydra are:
- comfortable walking shoes as Greece is mountainous and archaeological sites with their marble floors can be slippery
- organic sunscreen to apply as often as possible
- UPF sun hat for all day out
- white linen shirt to cover up if you get very easily sunburnt
When is Best to Go to Hydra Greece?
In the summer, like most Greek islands close to Athens, and especially Hydra which is a super cosmopolitan island, it can get busy.
Spring, fall, or even winter is the best time for me to visit Hydra because it is so much more relaxed, peaceful, and full of flowers and the colder weather makes the island much more romantic.
And there you have it, everything you need to know to add to your Hydra Greece bucket list. Have you been to Hydra already? Let me know what you think of the island and if you recommend it! Till next time, Evgenia 😀
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