A day trip from Athens to Hydra
Part of the majestic Saronic Islands, the picturesque island of Hydra is regarded as one of the most beautiful islands in the whole of Greece; this little haven feels a world away from the hustle and bustle of modern cities, as there are no cars or motor vehicles allowed on the island, and the primary modes of transport are mules, donkeys, and water taxis.
With its history dating back to the 18th century, whereby it was a prosperous hub of commercial trade, the island today thrives on the tourist industry, where curious travelers visit here to uncover its inspirational and unforgettable charm.
It is possible to take a day trip to Hydra from Athens, and this guide will provide you with a lowdown on how to do this, the top things to do in Hydra, as well as the best places to eat:
How to get to Hydra from Athens
There are essentially two different ways to take a day trip to Hydra from Athens, by ferry, or by car. Here is a breakdown of everything that you need to know for each method of transport:
One way in which you can get from Athens to Hydra on a day trip is via the Flying Dolphins ferry, which departs from the Port of Piraeus. This journey typically takes around 2 hours and departs from Athens at several different hours throughout the day.
Though cars are forbidden on the island of Hydra, you are able to get nearby by car; from Athens, you can drive to Methohi in Peloponnese, which takes approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes. After parking your car, you will be able to get across to Hydra, either by a ferry or a water taxi, in around 25 minutes.
Things to do in Hydra
Though Hydra is very small, there is no shortage of amazing things to do and see during your Athens to Hydra day trip; here are some of the highlights:
See the Donkeys of Hydra
Though it is not recommended to ride these donkeys, they are nonetheless an essential part of the local culture; there are over 1000 donkeys on the island, and they have historically been the go-to mode of transport in Hydra.
Ride a horse with Harriet’s Hydra Horses
An alternative riding the donkeys in Hydra is riding a horse with Harriet’s Hydra Horses; run the Harriet Jarman who has lived on the island since childhood, as run a company of horseback excursions.
These excursions range from 45 minutes to the entire day, and it welcomes all ages, from toddlers and children to adults. The horses that can be ridden have been rescued from abusive owners and environments, and the company emphasizes animal wellbeing. This is a truly unique and romantic way to see the island.
See the local architecture
Hydra has some truly impressive architecture to discover; because of its location on a hill, there is an array of gorgeous cobbled streets and stone mansions, as well as a string of classic monasteries that showcase the local heritage and culture. One of the top things to do in Hydra is to simply allow yourself to get lost in the series of winding alleyways, and bright, colorful bougainvilleas.
Visit the Monastery of the Assumption of Virgin Mary
Though Hydra is a relatively small island, there is definitely no shortage of churches and monasteries; there are over 300 churches and six monasteries! The Monastery of the Assumption of Virgin Mary is the main cathedral in Hydra, and it is situated in the heart of the harbor, nestled peacefully beneath the clock tower.
It is believed to have been built in 1643 by a nun, and it has many gorgeous Byzantine features, such as 18th-century frescoes, and stunning Orthodox decorations. It is important to note that this is a place of worship, so you must wear appropriate dress.
Discover the Museums of Hydra
There are also a series of fantastic museums in Hydra, such as the Historical Archives Museum, which was originally founded in 1918 with the purpose of displaying artifacts and rare documents that relate to the history and culture of the island.
Another great museum to visit is Kountouriotis, which was historically a mansion before being converted into a museum; this one is dedicated to Lazaros Koundouriotis, who was fundamental to the War of Independence; this building as constructed in 1780, and houses some gorgeous interiors, paintings, and historical furniture.
Finally, a top museum to visit is the Ecclesiastical Museum; here, you can find an array of religious items, such as musical manuscripts, relics, holy vessels, and religious jewelry.
Walk from Kamini to Hydra Town
Another great thing to do in Hydra is to walk to the nearby fishing village of Kamini, which is a fantastic, picturesque spot. It is situated to the west of Hydra Harbour, and it is completely off the beaten path, and there are very few tourists.
There are some great things to do here, such as the Parish Church of John the Baptist, as well as some impressive mansion ruins. This is a lovely place to visit, and a wonderful place to eat here the Sunset Restaurant, which serves delicious dishes, and offers views of the sea and mainland Greece.
Climb the Bastions
For a taste of local history, you can climb the impressive bastions, which offer some astonishing views of the Aegean Sea. These bastions originally held cannons and served the purpose of protecting the harbor from Turkish fleets in the 18th century.
Explore the Beaches of Hydra
Because Hydra is an island, there is no shortage of beaches; one of the best to visit is the Vlychos Beach, which is a gorgeous pebbled beach which can be reached by water taxi or foot; the waters are crystal clear and there are several taverns nearby.
Another great beach is Kaminia Beach, which is perfect for families and children; there are lots of restaurants and cafes nearby and the waters are shallow.
Spilia is also a fantastic, rockier beach, that lies within walking distance of Hydra Town, and offers lots of amenities. Agios Nikolaos is also a wonderful beach in Hydra; it is very remote and is one of the quietest and most peaceful beaches on the island.
Finally, situated in front of the Four Seasons Hotel, is Plakes Vlychos, which is a splendid beach that offers panoramic views of mainland Greece, as well as the surrounding islands.
Visit Rafalia’s Pharmacy
Originally founded in the 1890s by Evangelos Rafalias, Rafalia’s Pharmacy is considered to be one of the most beautiful historic pharmacies in the world. Here, you can allow yourself to get lost in the huge range of products, from colognes that are made using old traditional Greek recipes, to soaps, and lotions.
These products are incredibly well-packaged, are of fantastic quality; whilst this is the oldest pharmacy in Greece, it is still run by the same family.
Places to eat in Hydra
Ranging from traditional seaside tavernas to high-end luxury dining, the stunning island of Hydra has a fantastic food scene for all tastes and budgets, and here are some of the best places to eat:
Where to eat in Hydra Harbour/Town
Situated next to the clock tower lies the traditional Greek restaurant that serves local cuisine, right on the waterfront. This is a prime spot, and inside the restaurant, there is a huge collection of plates that have been decorated by the clients. This is a fantastic restaurant for fresh, delicious food, for reasonable prices.
Nestled in the winding alleyways of Hydra town, such 150m from the port, is the fantastic Italian trattoria, Caprice. This restaurant has a really cozy atmosphere, as it is decorated with old photos, tools, and equipment used by sponge divers. This is a great place to eat Italian recipes made with fresh Greek ingredients.
Another fantastic Italian restaurant to discover in Hydra is Il Casta, which is hidden away in the alleyways of Hydra town. Here, you can sample some gorgeous Italian seafood dishes, whilst being surrounded by a beautiful courtyard setting.
Situated in the gorgeous harbor of Hydra, just across the ship’s embarkation point, lies the fantastic all-day café-restaurant, Prima. Here, you can find a whole host of different options, from coffee and drinks to salads and other tasty dishes.
Where to eat in Kamini Town
Nestled upon the seafront of Kamini town, which is just a stone’s throw away from Hydra’s town, lies Kodylenia’s, which is a gorgeous traditional Greek restaurant; here, you can sample some beautiful local dishes, many of which contain fresh fish that has been caught straight from the boats below the tavern.
Another great option in Kamini is Christina; here, you can sample some gorgeous Greek dishes, that use fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. This tavern is family-run, and it has a lovely, authentic feel to it.
Hydra is truly one of the best islands in Greece, and there is so much to see and explore; with its crystal-clear waters, sandy beaches and peaceful towns and villages, this is a must-visit destination for anyone visiting Athens.