no alt text

Best things to do & places to stay:

Last updated: 25 December, 2022
Expert travel writer: Rachel Howard

Quietly glamorous and blissfully tranquil, Hydra is the only Greek island where cars and motorbikes are banned. So the only way to access the cobbled lanes, rugged hills and rocky coves is by foot, truculent donkey or boat.

Swanky yachts and colourful fishing boats sway in the harbour, surrounded by stone mansions built by wealthy mariners centuries ago. Well-heeled Athenians sip iced coffee at the harbour cafés, while aspiring artists spend their summers at the Fine Art School.

Art is everywhere in this bohemian sanctuary – even the local naval academy and slaughterhouse are converted into galleries during the summer.

Orientation

Hydra’s main town extends up the steep hills surrounding the harbour. This is where most hotels, shops, museums, and travel agencies are located.

To the east is the small bay of Mandraki, with a sandy beach, hotel, and watersports.

To the west is Kamini, a fishing port with a few tavernas. Beyond are the remote beaches of Vlichos, Bisti and Ayios Nikolaos.

The rugged interior is scarcely populated apart from a handful of shepherds and monasteries.

Food & Drink

Hydra is a very barren and waterless island that does not produce anything and there is no local meat or fishing – food is delicious, but ingredients come from the Peloponnese or Athens.

What to try

Amygdalota (almond cookies flavoured with rose water and dusted with icing sugar) are a local speciality. Buy them from the Tsangaris bakery, opposite the food market near the port.

Also see our round-up of traditional Greek foods to try in Greece for some culinary delights you will no doubt come across while you’re there.

Other worthwhile experiences in this destination if you have the time or the interest

Anemone Patisserie
Experience

Anemone Patisserie

Hydra, Greek Islands, Greece

Tucked away behind the harbour, it serves divine home-made pistachio and strawberry ice cream. Flora grows her own fruit and nuts on the nearby islet of Dokos.

Best for ages: 4+ | Free

Website >
Overview >
Hydra School Projects
Experience

Hydra School Projects

Hydra, Greek Islands, Greece

Housed in the historic naval academy, this annual contemporary art exhibition features an intriguing mix of emerging Greek and established international artists, including the likes of Tracey Emin, Vic Muniz, Juergen Teller and Brice Marden. Runs June-September

Best for ages: 18+ | Free | 4 months

Website >
Overview >
Miaoulia
Experience

Miaoulia

Hydra, Greek Islands, Greece

A 3-day festival on the last weekend of June, commemorating local heroics during Greece’s 1821 revolution – cue boat races, music, and fireworks galore. In the grand finale, a replica of a Turkish frigate is set alight in the harbour.

Best for ages: 8+ | Free | 1 weekend

Website >
Overview >

Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay in this destination

Miranda Hotel

Hydra, Greek Islands, Greece

A handsome sea captain’s mansion built in 1810, Miranda is a peaceful guesthouse that epitomises the old-fashioned charm of Hydra’s cultural heritage.

Official star rating:

Bratsera Hotel

Hydra, Greek Islands, Greece

Romantic hideaway with a hidden pool and excellent restaurant, just moments from all the fashionable portside action.

Official star rating:

Four Seasons Hydra

Hydra, Greek Islands, Greece

A rare (and remote) seafront hotel on the rocky island of Hydra, with seven calm and elegant suites in a converted stone mansion.

Official star rating:

Mandraki Resort

Hydra, Greek Islands, Greece

The only five-star resort on Hydra, with beautifully breezy (and pricey) suites and a lively beach bar, enjoys a covetable location on sandy Mandraki bay. The hotel is adults-only.

Official star rating:

When to go

Springtime is perfect for exploring Hydra’s glorious, craggy walking trails. June and September are blissfully calm and warm.

August is the busiest month, and the island heaves with high-class Athenians every weekend throughout the summer.

It’s cold and bleak between November and March, when most hotels and restaurants are closed.

Getting there and away

There’s no airport on Hydra. High-speed catamarans and ‘flying dolphins’ (2hrs) depart from Piraeus, the main port for Athens. To book tickets, contact Hellenic Seaways.

Getting around

Cars and motorbikes are banned on Hydra. The only way to get around is on foot, by boat or on a donkey (useful for carrying heavy luggage).

Water taxis, which ferry passengers to and from the island’s beaches, are lined up along the eastern side of the harbour.

Where to eat or drink

From old-time tavernas hidden in the back alleys to upscale Italian and modern Greek eateries, Hydra caters for its well-heeled and well-travelled devotees. There is only one town in Hydra, and the eating places are all concentrated on and behind the waterfront.

For a classic beach taverna though, try the taverna at Vlychos beach (see experience recommendations).

Where to shop

The waterfront is awash with chic boutiques selling chic sandals, baskets, and beachwear. But do venture into the backstreets for more recherche souvenirs.

If you can’t afford the pieces on show at the annual Hydra School Projects exhibition, pick up statement jewellery by local designer Elena Votsi, who has a shop on the harbourfront.

Other guides relevant to this destination

Athens destination guide

Central Greece, Greece

Antiquities galore, contemporary culture, scintillating nightlife and fantastic food: there’s something for everyone in Greece’s cosmopolitan capital that’s continuously reinventing itself.

Website >
Overview >