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Not even bikes are allowed on Hydra. This little island is traffic free apart from donkeys and boats. Time here moves slowly and, in many ways, that’s Hydra’s appeal. Yet, the island’s enduring popularity has also given it a chic, sophisticated air.

Hydra has proved a fashionable destination since the 1950s and 60s, when the likes of Sophia Loren and Leonard Cohen were regular visitors. Today, its single town and port are a national monument and popular yachting destination.

One of the Saronic Islands and served by a high-speed ferry from the mainland, Hydra has been inhabited since the 3rd millennium BC. A maritime base for successive kingdoms, its fortunes rose and fell as history unfolded — its settlers uprooted and forced to flee piracy on several occasions.

Modern-day Hydra has only one town, simply called Hydra Port, which runs along a crescent-shaped bay on the north of the island. Development is restricted and so the island remains one of the most authentic of all the Greek isles.

Narrow stone streets climb the steep hill from the Aegean Sea, lined with simple whitewashed cottages and the grand mansions that once belonged to the sea captains who made their fortunes here in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Bougainvillea cascades down the façades, chic shops, bars and restaurants lie hidden on tiny backstreets and everyone gets around on foot, giving the town a leisurely air.

Along with writers, musicians and actors, Hydra has attracted its fair share of artists. You’ll find a number of small galleries along its winding streets.

Beyond the main town, the island is roadless. Its rugged wilderness is largely uninhabited save for a handful of tiny villages. The mountainous interior is little visited, and even a short walk along the well-marked trails into the pine forests and terraced fields of the hills will reward you with utter tranquility.

Six Orthodox monasteries are scattered across the island, as well as several beaches (which you can reach by water taxi). A series of rock platforms just beyond the port offer a swimming place within walking distance of town.

To explore further on foot, continue past the platforms along the coast and you’ll come to a cluster of tiny villages and little windmills.

Best time to visit Hydra

Hydra is at its best between May and October. July and August are the busiest months, particularly on weekends, when domestic visitors arrive in droves from Athens. Easter is a great time to visit with celebrations from Holy Thursday and fireworks at midnight on Easter Saturday.

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Map of Hydra

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