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Hydra in Greece

Hydra in Swedish.

Hydra belongs to the Saronic islands and is located between Athens and eastern Peloponnese. The closest neighbouring islands are Spetses and Poros. Hydra has approximately 1,960 inhabitants and the island's surface is 52 km2. Almost every one live in Hydra Town, in addition there are three small communities: Kamini, Vlychos, and Mandraki. Highest mountain is Mount Eros, measuring 500 meters above sea level.

 

Hydra town is one of the Greek island's most beautiful villages.

Hydra town is one of the Greek island's most beautiful villages.

 

Hydra, or Ydra or Idra, is different from all other islands in the Greek archipelago. What makes Hydra unique is that there are no real roads on the island and that all motor traffic is prohibited. In other words, Hydra is a paradise for those searching for silence. The only vehicles that exist are two refuse lorries. Believe it or not, but once they collided with each other.

 

One of two cars on the Hydra, which once collided with each other!

One of two cars on the Hydra, which once collided with each other!

 

Before I came to Hydra for the first time I had read a lot about the island, and for a long time I had wanted to go there. I read about how wonderful it was to be at a place without cars and mopeds. I was prepared for it; nevertheless, I was surprised that Hydra actually was free of cars and mopeds. I thought that it at least must be a few cars or mopeds but it was not. It's almost always exceptions to all rules in Greece. For example, if a waterfront promenade is closed to traffic in the evenings there are always some who ignore the rule and drive there anyway. But not on Hydra.

 

Donkeys are the only means of transport on the car-free island of Hydra in the Saronic archipelago.

Donkey is the only means of transport in Hydra town.

 

Instead of using cars and mopeds, the passenger and goods transportation are effected by donkey, water taxi or pull cart. One would think that the whole village is full of donkey poo. But it's not. When a donkey do a poo-poo the donkey rider stops, take out a donkey poo bag and a shovel, and sweep up the poo.




Hydra is not only famous for being a quiet island, Hydra is also famous for the beautiful architecture in Hydra town, and also known for the great number of celebrities that have stayed on the island. The most celebrated of these celebrities are Leonard Cohen (born 1934 - dead 2016), who moved to Hydra at the beginning of the 1960s. Here Cohen wrote some of his best songs. For example, some parts of the famous Bird on a wire.

 

The architecture on Hydra is unique in the Greek archipelago.

The beautiful architecture characterizes the whole island of Hydra.

 

When Cohen arrived at Hydra, there was no electricity and no telephones. Eventually, both electricity and telephone come to the island, and with that electricity and telephone poles. It is said that Cohen was inspired to write Bird on a wire when he for the first time saw a bird sitting on one of the new telephone pole wires.

 

Leonard Cohen (born 1934 - died 2016) moved to Hydra in the early 1960s. Here he wrote some of his best songs.

Leonard Cohen and his street in Hydra.

 

The refrain goes like this:

Like a bird on the wire,
like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free.
Like a worm on a hook,
like a knight from some old fashioned book
I have saved all my ribbons for thee.
If I, if I have been unkind,
I hope that you can just let it go by.
If I, if I have been untrue
I hope you know it was never to you.

 

Leonard Cohen's house and street on the island of Hydra in Greece.

Up here is Leonard Cohen's house.


It was on Hydra that Leonard Cohen met the Norwegian Marianne Ihlen (born 1935 - dead 2016) who later appears in the song So Long Marianne, and she also is on the cover of Songs from a Room which came in 1969. Cohen also comes to know the Swedish author Göran Tunström and the Norwegian author Axel Jensen on Hydra. At the time both lived on Hydra.

 

One of many very beautiful and pedestrian streets in Hydra.

One of many very beautiful and pedestrian streets on Hydra.

 

I often listen to Leonard Cohen. Every time I listen to his music, I long back to Hydra. Unfortunately Leonard died November 7, 2016, but his music lives on.

TRAVEL TO HYDRA

Go by air to Athens, and continue by ferry from Athens´ port at Piraeus. Many daily departures. Hydra also has good boat connections with Poros and Spetses, and with Ermioni and Porto Helio on Peloponnese.

Ferry timetable for Hydra »

Book ferry tickets online here »

 

GETTING AROUND IN HYDRA

On Hydra there is never far from home, so most make their way on foot. Donkey can be rented for those who are not capable of walking, or too tired to walk. For the beaches, there are taxi boats from the port of Hydra.

 

Hike to the beaches of Hydra in the Saronic Islands.

The beautiful stone bridge that leads to Vlychos beach.

 

VILLAGES ON HYDRA

Just as on the neighbouring islands of Poros and Spetses, there is only one village on Hydra. Most things revolve around the enchanting harbour front and the alleyways that lead from the port. Along the quay everything from colourful fishing boats to smart yachts are moored. In one corner is a parking lot for donkeys. Pretty sweet.

 

Taverns, restaurants and bars in the port of Hydra.

The pedestrian port promenade in Hydra Town.


The U-shaped harbour front is to the brim full of tavernas, cafes, bars and souvenir shops. To sit here in the evening and eat a nice meal, or just for a drink, and watch the sunset is so magical that it almost feels unreal. Even more tavernas are in the cosy alleys where I can recommend Taverna Lulu and Taverna Xeri Elia Douskos. On the latter Leonard Cohen used to go to. Just such a thing.

 

There are many good restaurants on Hydra, from luxurious tavernas to simple tavernas.

The evenings on Hydra are magical.

 

Taverna Xeri Elia Douskos was Leonard Cohen's favorite when he lived on Hydra.

Taverna Xeri Elia Douskos was Leonard Cohen's favorite when he lived on Hydra.

 

Taverna Lulus in one of the alleys of Hydra town was founded in 1935.

Taverna Lulus in one of the alleys of Hydra town.

 

Taverna Lulus is really a tavern in our taste. As old as the street, according to the owners, it was founded in 1935. Judging by the interior, that can certainly be true. Very good food at low prices.


The port on the island of Hydra in Greece.

View of Hydra Town. Left or right? See below.

 

If you feel like swimming, go to the left in the harbor to the Spilia rock pool, as well as to the beaches of Kaminia, Avlaki, Vlychos and Plakes. Kaminia is also a small village with a cute fishing port. If you go to the right of the port, you will eventually reach the beach in Mandraki.

 

The small fishing village of Kaminia is to the left of the port on Hydra.

The small fishing village of Kaminia is to the left of the harbor if you have your nose towards the water.

 

The beaches on Hydra are most easily reached on foot or by taxi boat.

If you go to the right of the port you will come to this beautiful place.

 

Mandraki beach on Hydra.

The path to the right ends here at the beach in Mandraki.


BEACHES ON HYDRA

Beaches are not Hydra's strong suit. So, if long and appealing sandy beaches are important to you, you may choose another island. The water is, however, wonderful and the beaches that exist are more than enough. At least I think so.

 

In Hydra you can swim from the rocks. The water is pleasant., like here at Spilia beach.

In Hydra you can swim from the rocks at Spilia. The water is pleasant.

 

To the left of the port (your nose towards the sea) is a beautiful bathing place called Spilia where you can enjoy a bathe from the rocks in crystal clear water. At this bathing place, I had some of my most memorable bathes; almost in the same class as the ones at Agia Anna in Amorgos.

 

Vlychos beach is one of the few beaches on Hydra with sunbeds and umbrellas.

Vlychos beach.

 

If you continue along the beautiful coast west from Spilia, you soon reach the small community of Kaminia where there is a beach. A little further away is the small village of Vlychos where there is also a beach called Plakes, which is actually quite good. Near the village there is an old, beautiful stone bridge (see picture further up the page). If you follow the beautiful coastal road east of Hydra city, you will reach Mandraki beach.

 

Plakes beach is one of the best beaches on Hydra.

Plakes beach is as far away as you can get on western Hydra.

 

Read about the 6 best beaches on Hydra here »


SIGHTS ON HYDRA

If you could say that silence is an attraction, then silence would be the chief attraction on Hydra. The town itself, with all the charming buildings, is also an attraction. There are also some interesting monasteries in the mountains above Hydra town. Their locations are inaccessible and require a hike for several hours. The sunset isn't too bad either.

 

The beautiful sunset seen from the port of Hydra town.

The beautiful sunset seen from the port of Hydra town.

 

ACCOMMODATION ON HYDRA

There is everything from super deluxe hotels to simple family pensions. Do not expect to be met with room owners in the port, however, count on higher prices than on other islands. Best is to book ahead. Below we have hand-picked some very good hotels on Hydra.

Achilleas Pension »

Hotel Sophia »

Douskos Guesthouse »

Nereids Guesthouse »

Mistral Hotel »

Book other hotels on Hydra here »

 

Photos from Hydra »





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