As if Greek culture wasn’t rich enough, the island of Hydra was ruled up by several empires who wanted to call this enchanting Mediterranean gem their own - Ottomans, Venetians, and many others have left their traces in the cultural heritage of this laid back oasis. The result is a cosmopolitan atmosphere that impresses every visitor, and a laid back, unpretentious vibe with an eclectic mix that connects the best all these cultures have to offer. The name of this Saronic island translates to “water”, which comes as no surprise as Hydra is bejeweled with glittery bays and crystal-clear coves to visit on your next luxurious charter cruise.
The horseshoe port is juxtaposed with a scenic amphitheater dotted with Venetian villas painted in amber hues - coming here puts the visitor in a poetic mood. It’s no wonder the famous musician & poet Leonard Cohen lived here in the 60s. He owned a house here and adored the musicality of street vendors, which inspired him to create some of his best work here. Hydra is a place for the well-traveled individual, who after growing tired of the snobby St. Tropez beaches and Mykonos parties, wants an equally stylish, yet more serene place to drop his anchor and enjoy the summer. Reserved for those in the know, this Saronic island is where the Greeks from the mainland buy their property - proudly non touristic and unapologetically authentic, Hydra has its own culture and guards its charm against annoying crowds.
Just a stone’s throw away from Athens, Hydra is located in the heart of the Argo Saronic Gulf and offers a cosmopolitan ambiance, chill beaches and lush nature. Like the old song says, heaven is a place where nothing ever happens - Hydra is blissfully calm and offers days of uninterrupted relaxation and sightseeing. The car ban on the island allows you to truly soak in the age-old beauty. Locals move around on foot, ride donkeys or sail on boats, adding to the feeling of a time capsule that this often overlooked Mediterranean jewel evokes.
Best beaches on Hydra
Although you won’t find long stretches of soft white sand, the beaches of Hydra have a unique charm that surpasses that Caribbean vibe some spots in Zakynthos or Crete have to offer. With authentic tavernas serving ouzo to the connoisseurs who come to splash around in the crystal clear waters of the pebbly coves, Hydra has stunning beaches where you can enjoy a day of bronzing and relaxing.
Just two kilometers away from the main city, Vlichos Beach resembles an old painting with colorful hues of blue and yellow, and several traditional tavernas where you can seek refreshments in between dips. The water is so pure you’ll be able to marvel at the rich aquatic life without even getting wet, while the lush surrounding greenery provides shade during hours of intense heat.
Tucked away between Vlihos and Hydra Town, Kaminia beach has aquamarine seas stunningly juxtaposed by houses crammed up on a green hill - this is the ideal place to enjoy a beach day with little ones, as the water is quite calm and incredibly clean.
Minutes away from the capital, Spilia beach is the perfect spot to visit when the rest of your entourage feels like chilling in the marina, but you feel like you still have some swimming to do. With impressive rocks that will launch you to the turquoise depths for a refreshing dive, Spilia has some of the most limpid waters you’ll ever encounter and a calm ambiance atypical of such gorgeous coves.
The electric blue seas are backdropped by limestone cliffs at this beautiful rocky coast that can be reached in minutes from the island’s capital. A perfect choice for those who wish to spend a beach day unbothered by crowds and tourists, Hydrineta has luminous seas perfect for a day of swimming - the taverna above the beach makes a great spot to enjoy sundowner cocktails and indulge in delicious bites.
Located on the eastern coast of Hydra, Avlaki beach has a tranquil vibe, transparent seas, dramatic cliffs, and viridescent nature. This secluded oasis is ideal for those who want to enjoy some privacy, as there are no masses to spoil your pleasure or interrupt the soothing sound of seawaves.
If you’re one of those people who can only relax whilst being active, Bisti beach is the place for you. With numerous water sports practiced in this sapphire-colored cove, Bisti will wow any diving aficionado looking to marvel at the lush aquatic life. The verdant hills and pebbly bay create a lovely, scenic environment, where you can snap your next Insta-worthy post or simply surrender to nature’s allure.
Reached by boat or a strenuous hike, Limnioniza is a deserted, pebbly cove with crystal clear seas, wonderful for a day of swimming with kids or a romantic beach day.
Tiny pebbles, translucent water, and the lush nature of Molos will have you thinking that this bay might get overcrowded - but somehow, it never does. Pine trees and saltwater create a scent you’ll wish to bottle up and wear as perfume - Molos is an Eden-like paradise to enjoy and have all to yourself.
Best towns to visit
The only things that discourage people from visiting Greece are the sometimes overcrowded beaches and mass tourism. If you’re one of those people who dislike cookie-cutter resorts that all look alike, Hydra will exceed your expectations with authentic villages and an unhurried Mediterranean atmosphere.
The main town of this Saronic island attracts visitors with its artistic character, stunning architecture, and close proximity to dreamy beaches. Sometimes referred to as Idra, Hydra Town is a protected harbor adorned by lavish 19th-century villas, built by wealthy merchants and shipowners who were spell-bound by the gorgeous nature. Declared to be a traditional and protected settlement, the town is adorned with traditional tile-roof houses with colorful windows, spreading on two rugged hills, separated by narrow cobbled streets with old-school restaurants and tavernas. One of the few places left where you can enjoy an authentic Mediterranean vibe, unspoiled by any chain hotels and shops, Hydra town is the hub for hedonists looking for a true Greek adventure. Swim on the Saint Nicholas beach, catch a glimpse of the rich cultural heritage at the Archeological or National Museum, or visit the Lazaros Coundouriotis Mansion (with lovely views, stellar artistic exhibitions, and costumes from all over Greece) - although serene, Hydra offers plenty of activity to enjoy with family and friends.
Situated on top of Miaoulia Valley, Kala Pigadia was named after a Good Wells landmark that provided drinking water to the region until 2019. Because of the water well, the town enjoyed great importance through the centuries and is now a tranquil residential town that boasts a legere tempo perfect for a romantic getaway.
The original settlements of Hydra town were built high above on the verdant hills above the modern town. The main town’s predecessor is today a maze of old streets, old ruins, high-walled houses, and panoramic views of the harbor and the capital. On a clear, sunny day, you’ll be able to spot the Saronic Bay and the Peloponnese gleaming in the distance. Kiafa welcomed refugees from different regions since the middle ages and the mix of different cultures resulted in a unique multicultural heritage that fascinates visitors year after year.
Minutes away from the capital, Avlaki is characterized by an enchanting sheltered cove and colorful houses rising steeply from the main hill. Spared from mass tourism, Avlaki is dotted with authentic tavernas and bars, with a few shops where you can pick up colorful souvenirs to take home.
Best Restaurants in Hydra
Located in an old castle that overlooks the sapphire-colored Kamini beach, Castello is a romantic restaurant with beautifully arranged dishes, chill music, and a wine list that will wow any aspiring sommelier. The fortress shines to its full potential at sunset, and the menu changes every year to surprise the cult following of hedonists who come every year from all corners of Earth to enjoy the unique ambiance and gourmet culinary spectacles.
Tucked away in a whitewashed house of Avlaki village, Téchnē Restaurant offers mouthwatering dishes and local wines in a charming garden with sweeping blue views. Whether you’re following a vegan or a gluten-free diet, you’ll find plenty of options on the menu. The breathtaking environment, Greek recipes with a modern twist, and friendly staff make this spot one of the highly regarded restaurants on the island.
Located in a charming garden of the island’s capital, Plakostroto is a family-friendly joint that serves delicious food and colorful cocktails to enjoy after an afternoon stroll through this scenic town. The grilled octopus is to die for, while the apple crumbles with ice cream will seduce anyone with a sweet tooth.
An upscale restaurant located in Hydra harbor, Omilos offers a wide range of gastronorm dishes, perfect for your first meal during your luxury charter cruise. Try the grilled zucchini burrata salad and the tempura shrimps, served in a lovely setting overlooking the port.
Xeri Elia Douskos
A gorgeous restaurant in the main town, Xeri Elia Douskos boasts a stellar menu of authentic Greek dishes served in a shadowy garden with lilac blossoms, where you’ll enjoy wonderful service and a chill setting. Make sure to try the heavenly lobster pasta, and pair it with a light local wine to enjoy a true hedonist experience.