Hydra Island

Hydra (ĺdra) is one of very few islands which has managed to avoid the influence of modern times and to hold on to its character unchanged. The city is built like an amphitheater, and is an example of impressive aesthetic architecture. The first image that meets the visitor’s eye as he enters the harbor is one that has become a subject for the canvases of great painters.

The ramparts and cannons that dominate the left and right sides of the harbor entrance bring to mind the glorious past of the island during the Greek War of Liberation (1821-1829). Transporation on the island is limited to donkeys and bicycles, as the use of motor vehicles is prohibited by law. The overriding element of the island is stone. The stone-paved alleyways of Hydra meet seemlessly with the flowers pouring over the courtyards of the houses and the old stone mansions of the island. The aesthetic enjoyment of Hydra is unique. Perhaps this image is one of the reasons that Hydra was for many years Leonard Cohen’s refuge and the source of inspiration for many of his works. Hydra is a magnet for the international jet set, while at the same time one of the favorite destinations of Athenians for romantic getaways and a few breaths of fresh air.

Pros – Close to Athens, ideal for quick getaways, lively all year round, vehicles are prohibited on the island.
Cons – Expensive destination with a lot of vistors on weekends and holidays, difficulty in finding accomodation on those days

Useful Info

Police: 22980-52205

Hospital: 22980-52205

Port Authority of Hydra: 22980-52279

Hotels of Hydra: 22980-52102

Travel Agency: 22980-53469

Hydra’s Official Website: http://www.hydra.com.gr/

On Hydra there are Internet Cafes.

How To Get There

From Peiraias: As you get off the final stop of the Metro, exit the station through the central exit and turn left. Go about 100 meters until you come upon a high building. Cross the street and enter the harbor (Gate E8). All ships, catamarans, and flying dolphins headed for Hydra leave from this point.For Reservations:•Euroseas – Eurofast 1: Daily departures at 09:30

 

History of Hydra

Hydra received its name from the fountains of bountiful water which bubbled up in antiquity. The first inhabitants of the island were Dryopes (a pre-Dorian Greek race established even since the Mycenaean period in the area of the Spercheian Basin – modern Fthiotida). In Hydra and on the island of Doko traces of ancient homes have been preserved, according to the testament of which, the island appears to have been settled by the Early Bronze Age (3rd millenium BC). Furthermore, underwater archaeological excavations have brought to light a very ancient shipwreck in the Aegean Sea which is dated to the later Protohelladic II period (2450/2350-2200/2150 BC). Hydra, toward the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries, was used as a nautical station; as a result Hydra became well situated in maritime trade and communication.

 

With their noteworthy nautical power (130 nautical ships, two thirds of the Greek fleet), they played an important role in the Greek War of Libertion in 1821. The island of Hydra is located in the Argo-Saronic Gulf and is 48 km2 in area. There are 3,000 permanent inhabitants on the island.

 

 

Historical Sites – Attractions – Worth Seeing

Hydra was one of the most important cultural centers in the history of Modern Greece, concentrating over time many artists and men of letters. It has a noteworthy Museum and several attractions, which include the 300 churches and six monasteries on the island. The visitor who wishes to get to know and to “taste” Hydra at length will have to spend more than a day on the island.

 

 

 

Places to Go

The majority of the population is located in the city of Hydra, but there are a number of houses scattered around the island. The beautiful traditional stone houses keep the memory of the island capital’s glorious history alive.

 

Climbing up two rocky hills, boasting tile roofs and shutters and doors in intense azure colors, they regard the port from high up.

There are stone-paved streets leading to the east and to the west from the city, which lead to Mandraki (to the left) and to the Monasteries of the Holy Trinity or, following the western stone-paved pathway, you can go to Kaminia and Blychos, even farther west. The road to Blychos is earthen after a certain point. If you walk to Blychos, its beauty is sure to affect you. Don’t forget to photograph the stone bridge in the area. If you wish to continue your wanderings, you will come upon Palamida, Episkopi, Zogeri, and Nisiza. Hydra is a paradise for the stroller and the nature-lover. It provides dozens of paths, which are easily navigated on one’s own, with wooden signposts which direct the visitor to attractions, churches, and historical monuments. Despite Hydra’s unique character, the Cycladic element is not absent.

There are windmills scattered around the island, and the colors of the Cycladic islands – white, blue, red, and bordeaux – join seemlessly, bringing together colors and scents from all over Greece.

Where to swim

On Hydra, you can either swim at one of the island’s organized beaches or you can choose any deserted spot from amongst hundreds which are available.

Following the stone pathway westwards, you will come upon quite a few points where steps lead down to the sea, to little bays with pebbles, and to rocky areas perfect for diving. For organized beaches, you can take small boats which leave the port with itineraries of about one hour, from 10:00am until 6:30pm. Alternatively, you can visit them with the sea taxis, but these cost more.

Places to Eat

There are many small and large restaurants and tavernes are scattered about all of Hydra. Wander the little alleyways of the island and choose the locale and the type of food that you’re looking for.

Dine at the port with live harp and guitar music with a view to the impressive cutters and yachts. Somewhere in that labyrinth of little streets in the city is the restaurant “Kseri Elia” (‘The Dry Olive’) (tel.: 22980-52886) with Greek food and traditional Greek music

Or perhaps try another restaurant in the alleyways, the “Krypho Limani” (‘The Hidden Harbor’) (tel.: 22980-52585), which is always full of patrons. If you prefer to dine with a view over the sea from above, with relaxing music, visit “Sunset” which is somewhat more expensive than the others.

The average cost for one person is about 25,00 €, although you may find better prices. In general, you will find a great variety of dining choices on Hydra, so enjoy as many as you can!

Where to Stay

All categories of accomodation are available on Hydra, although their prices tend to be higher than the average rate of accomodation on just about any other Greek island.

Mistral Hotel

Mistral is Hydra’s best-kept secret, a luxury guesthouse in the very heart of the island only 3 minutes from the port.

 

The Mistral Hotel is a traditional stone mansion, opened in 1988. After its renovation in 2003, Mistral has established itself as one of the most refined, executive and hospitable hotels of the island of Hydra.

A double room will cost you aproximately 100,00 € per night. In the morning you can enjoy a social breakfast in the courtyard garden, or in the privacy of your own room. Breakfast is included.

Mistral Hotel tel: 0030-22980-52509 contact via email

Piteoussa Guest House

Situated in a quiet and picturesque area of Hydra Town, Piteoussa Guest House is only a few minutes away from the harbour.

It offers an ambience that is both upscale and elegant, yet always warm and inviting. The excellent standard of comfort along with its stylish decoration and distinctive appeal will definitely satisfy all of its guests.

Piteoussa Guest House consists of ten luxuriously rooms, each appointed with a different artistic theme, rich in colors and style. A double room will cost you 65,00 € per night. It is not only value for money, but is an excellent place to stay on the island of Hydra.

Room facilities include en-suite bathrooms, air-conditioning, hairdryer, Satellite TV, CD-player, DVD, room safe, mini-bar/fridge, bathroom cosmetics, robes and slippers. If it is requested, Piteoussa staff can provide its guest with mobile phones while they are on the island.

Piteoussa Guest House tel: 0030-22980-52810

In general the price for a simple double room on Hydra during High Season (July – August) is approximately 60,00 – 100,00 € per night.

Nightlife

During the day Hydra is attractive but the island’s draw on visitors at night can’t help but bewitch them. The monumental presence of the sailboats in the harbor and the romantic lighting of the mansions and the other houses on the island predisposes the visitor for the sort of magical evenings that the island freely provides.

 

For nightlife with a Greek atmosphere, enjoy your drink at the little bars “Nautilus” and “Saronicos” which are located at the port.

Younger visitors might prefer the “Spilia Beach Club.” But no one can resist going for a stroll down the lit-up alleys of the town, or a walk along the length of the sea attended by the waves.

The ideal finale of this evening stroll would be a visit to the classic bar “Peiratis” (‘The Pirate’), on the harbor.

Accessibility for PwD

Despite the fact that Hydra does not allow motor vehicles, accessibility by those with mobility limitations is difficult, especially beyond the port. The city spreads out like an amphitheater up hills, a situation which makes moving about difficult for those with certain disabilities. There are a lot of non-navigable spots and plenty of stone steps. If you travel with limited mobility and would like to visit Hydra, we suggest that you find accommodation in the center of the city next to the port.

What you need to know about the Island

The famous film by Michael Cacoyannis, “The Girl in Black,” was shot here. It opened in 1956 at the Festival at Cannes and won the prize for the best foreign film from a panel of judges from the foreign press in Hollywood at the Golden Globe Awards, as well as a silver medal at the Festival of Moscow. In Hydra, visit Eleni Botsi’s boutique where the medals for the Olympic Games (Athens 2004) were designed, as well as many pieces for Gucci. Furthermore, keep in mind that in the summer, during Orthodox Easter, on Kathara Deftera (Clean Monday), and all weekends after March on which the following Monday is a holiday, you will surely have a hard time finding accommodation. For this reason, we suggest that you reserve not only your tickets but also your room in advance.

Off Season Holidays

Hydra is located close to Athens and this means that there is generally quite a bit of tourism, even during the winter. Many establishments are open during winter months, not only for the 3,000 permanent residents of the island, but also for the visitors who come here, especially on weekends.

Island Hopping

The other islands in the same group as Hydra are Spetses, Poros, Methana and Aigina. Ferries, flying dolphins, and catamarans (during summer) connect Hydra to these islands daily.

Beaches

Mantraki (Eastern Area)

A small organized beach on the eastern coast of the island (about 15 meters long). The beach is characterized by large pebbles and by its small size. There is a restaurant/taverna at the beach.

Useful Info: Cost of a chaise longue: 3,00.

How To Get There: Either on foot from the city (about 1.2 km) – a half-hour walk; or with the small boat that leaves starting at 10:00am with frequent departures until 6:30pm. Cost of ticket: 10,00.

Mira Mare (Eastern Area)

Located two minutes beyond Mantraki, on the property of the hotel of the same name. There is no charge for entrance. The beach is organized and has small pebbles and sand. There is a bar and a restaurant, and they play music on the beach. You can do sea-biking, wind-surfing, water-skiing, and many other watersports at Mira Mare beach.

How To Get There: Either on foot from the city (about 1.2 km) – a half-hour walk; or with the small boat that leaves starting at 10:00am with frequent departures until 6:30pm. Cost of ticket: 10,00.

Blychos (Western Area)

An organized beach with perfectly clear water, characterized by small pebbles on the beach as well as in the water. There is a bar on the beach, and there are tavernas with traditional and local dishes quite close to the beach. In the area of the beach there is a beach volleyball court. The cost of a chaise longue is 3,00 €.

How To Get There: Either on foot from the city (about 20 minutes walking) or with the small boat that leaves starting at 10:00am with frequent departures until 6:30pm. Cost of a ticket: 10,00 €.

Bisti (Western Area)

Perhaps the most beautiful beach on the island, next to a full pine forest. It is located on the southernmost bay of the island and is perfect for deep diving and harpoon fishing. At Bisti, you can enjoy the shade of the pines instead of a chaise. This is an organized beach, relatively small in size, which is characterized by large pebbles and green water. There is a bar and you can do sea canoeing.

Useful Info: Cost of a chaise longue: 3,00.

How To Get There: With the small boat that leaves from the port. Cost of a ticket: 10,00.

Agios Nikolaos (Western Area)

The most sought-after beach on the island where the largest majority of bathers congregate. It is located at the bottom of a small sheltered bay, with slopes green with pines, while the beach is characterized by small and large pebbles. There are small pebbles and sand in the sea. It is organized, with a bar, and you can hear music all along the beach. Many sailboats weigh anchor at this beach.

Useful Info: Cost of a chaise longue: 3,00.

How To Get There: With the small boat that leaves from the port. Cost of a ticket: 10,00.

 

 

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