Spend a Day in this Must-See Spot Just South of Athens
Not far from the port of Piraeus in Athens is the island of Hydra, a feasible destination for those with limited time in Greece who want to do a bit of island-hopping. Sometimes spelled Idra or Ydra, this island is perfect for visitors staying in Athens who want to get away from the city for a while, and is just a short ferry ride away.
No Cars? No Problem
One unusual aspect of life on Hydra that visitors may notice right away is the lack of cars. This, of course, contributes to the idyllic atmosphere of the island. Hydra natives and visitors weave through the narrow cobblestone streets on donkeys, bicycles, or by foot. Small boats cram the harbor, and pristine, sparkling white houses with bright blue shutters and doors characteristic of Greece line the mostly quiet streets and snake up the hill. It’s even possible to take a donkey ride around parts of the island (just be ready to pay for it…or haggle).
An Island for Curious Tourists
The most tourist-centric area of the island is right on the water near the ferry dock; here shops and restaurants create a busy, bustling area. But to experience more of what this island has to offer, head just a little way down one of the side streets, where some of Hydra’s real gems hide. Find a small church, a beautiful view of the hills, and stone walls decorated with flowers. Lucky explorers may even find a restaurant tucked away in a courtyard under a canopy of trees, the perfect place to go for lunch as the sun blazes overhead.
Hydra’s Fortress High Above the Sea
For breathtaking views of the island and out to sea, head up steep flights of stairs to the old stone fortress. This is especially wonderful on a sunny day, as the stone buildings and the water seem to sparkle in the light. Plaques commemorate battles during which the Greeks fought off offenders, and cannons still point out to sea, their presence serving as a reminder of the events that took place there years ago. The views and the history should be enough to convince any skeptical tourists to make the hike to the top.
Proximity to the Mainland and Other Islands
Hydra is not far from the islands of Aegina and Poros; in fact, some ferries even stop at Poros before reaching Aegina. All ferries to Hydra from Athens depart from the port of Piraeus. The easiest way to get to the docks is via the green line of Athens’ subway system, revamped prior to the 2004 Summer Olympics.
While there are dozens of Greek islands to choose from, Hydra, with its spectacular views, beautiful old architecture, and pure charm, merits a visit and is ideal for a day trip.