One of the most romantic destinations and often named the St Tropez of Greece, Hydra is home to a fabulously charismatic port. The arc-shaped harbour is lined with bustling boutiques, cool galleries and vibrant restaurants. The diverse mix of traditional waterfront mansions alongside the naval academy, backed by rows of stone houses displaying red rooftops alongside blue windows and doors is a vibrant blend. At each side of the harbour, cannons from days gone by face to sea and statues of the heroes of independence give a nod to history lessons. Hydra is the only town on the island; motorbikes and cars, even bicycles, are forbidden, and instead, transport is by donkey. Restored and preserved exactly as it appeared in the 1800’s; this is a listed architectural reserve, any new construction is (theoretically) banned, leaving this island adorably time-warped.
Dutifully eco-friendly and an atmospheric gem, Hydra is scattered with narrow cobbled streets rising steeply against lush foliage and craggy hills. Wander the elaborate backstreets for genuine Greek charm, radiating from tucked-away cafes, where resident felines wait for a titbit. Old-style tavernas are abundant, serving traditional dishes such as mouth-watering kydonato (veal and quinces) and delightful achladakia (almond pastries). Expect warm hospitality from the residents who gather along the harbour in the early evening, casually sipping espresso freddos and cold Mythos beers, they calmly indulge in the fascinating pastime of people-watching.
If you head away from the main town, the rest of the island is mountainous, barely inhabited and little visited, barring hilltop monasteries, goat farms and pine forests. However hikers enthuse that Hydra is paradise for adventure; so, if your walking boots need some action, this is the place. Despite not having sandy beaches, Hydra is not short of decent swimming spots. Recommended is pebbly Plakes beach with sparkling clear water and lunch at the Four Seasons taverna is delicious. The isolated beaches of Bisti Bay and Agios Nikolaos on the south western tip of Hydra are achingly gorgeous and often unoccupied. Best approached by yacht, drop anchor in this haven and spend dreamy hours lulled by the green waves lapping the pebbly shoreline, while local butterflies land helter skelter. Bariami Cave, near to the main town, is essentially a sea cave that is treated by locals like a swimming pool.