Hydra in Greece

Hydra in Swedish.
Hydra in Greece.

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, or Ydra, 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.

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.

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.

Donkey is the only means of transport on Hydra.

Donkey is the only means of transport on Hydra.




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.

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.

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 live on Hydra.

Leonard Cohen. (Photo from my iPod in 2009.)


Flowers in Hydra.

One of many very beautiful and pedestrian streets in Hydra.


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.

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.

GETTING HERE
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.

Book ferry tickets online here »

GETTING AROUND
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.

Spilia rocks in Hydra. Swim.

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


VILLAGES
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.

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 Douskos. On the latter Leonard Cohen used to go to. Just such a thing.

See more photos from Hydra Town at the top and bottom of the page.

BEACHES
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.

One of the two cars on Hydra.

One of the two cars on Hydra.




To the left of the harbour (your nose towards the sea) is a beautiful bathing place 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 on Amorgos.

Continuing west of Hydra town along the beautiful coastal path one soon reach the hamlet of Kaminia where there is a beach. Even a short distance away is the small hamlet of Vlychos which also has a beach, which is actually pretty good. Near the hamlet there is a beautiful old stone bridge.

If you follow the equally beautiful coastal path east of Hydra town you will arrive to Mandraki beach.

SIGHTS
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.

Vlychos beach. Hydra.

Vlychos beach.


ACCOMMODATION
There is everything from super deluxe hotels to simple family pensions. Do not expect to be met with letter of rooms in the port, however, count on higher prices than on other islands. Best is to book ahead. If you arrive on a weekend, or in August, you must book ahead. Below we have hand-picked some very good hotels in Hydra.

Achilleas Pension »

Angelica Traditional Boutique Hotel »

Glaros Guesthouse »

Hydra Icons »

Pension Erofili »

Book other hotels in Hydra here »

Restaurants in Hydra.

The pedestrian port promenade in Hydra Town.


The port in Hydra.

View of Hydra Town.

Do you want to swim, go to the left in port to the rocks at Spilia, as well as the beaches of Kaminia and Vlychos. Do you go to the right of the port; you'll get to Mandraki beach.


Ferry timetable »

Book ferry tickets »

Photos from Hydra »

Accommodation on Hydra »



© 2007-2017 | Janni Eklund | Kalispera and Kalimera