Hydra is one of the most famous islands of the Argo-Saronic gulf and was also one of the first islands in Greece to have international tourists. During the 1950's and 1960's Hydra was the place to be, much like Mykonos is today, with movie stars such as Sophia Loren owning villas on the island. Nowadays Hydra is more of a weekend getaway for Athenians who want to leave the big city and yet not travel far much like most of the islands of the Saronic gulf.
What makes Hydra so special is the architecture of the main town but most of all is the fact that there are no motor vehicles aloud on the island except for certain public transport buses keeping the island almost stuck in the past and very traditionally Greek.
The main town and port of Hydra is Hydra town which forms a tiered amphitheatre around the harbour and is full of stone built mansions ( archontika) built by the islands rich and famous ship captains during the 18th and 19th century. The shipping fleets of Hydra were very famous during the 18th and 19th centuries their ships transported goods all around the world including America and played a major part in the Greek war of independence. These stone built mansions and the fact there are no motor vehicles in Hydra town have made the town one of the most unique and beautiful towns in Greece and why the island is still popular even after its hey days of the 1960's.
The towns mansions still stand with many being used as shops, some as museums, these white or grey stone buildings with their stunning red tiled roofs dominate the view as you arrive in the harbour. Also as you arrive in the port you can't miss the clocktower of the famous church of Kimissis tis Theotokou which is in a courtyard next to the harbour.
Beaches of Hydra
Hydra is almost the perfect Greek island, beautiful architecture, no motor vehicles, a quintessential greek harbour, chic fashionable shops, fancy restaurants and clubs and yet it is let down by its beaches. It's not that the beaches are bad, but with the high expectations with the islands other attractions, they don't live up to the high expectations, and probably not to many other Greek islands.
The main beach near the town of Hydra, and its only sandy beach is Mandhraki which is about 1.5km East of the towns harbour. Other popular beaches are Kamini which is roughly about a 20 minute walk west of the harbour, further on past Kamini is the cove of Kastello, which is popular for swimming. Next to Kamini is Vlyhos which has a shingle beach.
Around the island of Hydra
Hydra is very mountainous and covered in Pine forests with many untouched traditional villages, which is thankfully due to the lack of roads and transport on the island, but for this very same reason most tourists don't venture past the main town. For any visitor who is willing to venture out of the town along the winding paths up into the mountains will find the experience worthwhile and unique. The island has many monasteries in the mountainous interior and villages that are stuck in time, because of the ban of motor vehicles very few tourists will see these unique sights. Hydra also has the highest summit on the Saronic islands, Mount Eros at 590 metres.
Hydra - Information
Hydra is one of the islands of the Saronic gulf, although it is closer to the Peloponnese it is still only a short trip from Athens
Tips:There are no motor vehicles aloud on Hydra so if you want to do some sight seeing be prepared to do some walking.