Hydra is a small island on the Saronic Gulf, less than an hour away from the capital of Greece, Athens. Boarding a ferryboat in the Port of Piraeus and spending a couple of days on this island can be a great city break idea.
This super useful itinerary of Hydra includes great suggestions and ideas to enjoy the best that the Saronic island has to offer if you’re planning to visit in a day… or two!.
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Where to Stay on Hydra Island
Although the island is really small, there are several hotels near the port as well as some super trendy apartments and villas to rent in Hydra. They’re generally on the expensive side, but it’s always a good idea to book ahead to get more convenient fees.
When it comes to accommodation prices on Hydra, budget fees are usually guest houses for about $50. Mid-range budget places to stay are small hotels and homes for under $80 per night. Luxury accommodation means nice hotels with stunning views of the island for $100 and over a night. These are the ones we prefer…
Luxury: The island has earned its fame as an up-scale destination, so there’s no shortage of luxurious places to stay, some of the best places on Hydra with a higher budget are Angelica Traditional Boutique Hotel and Nesea Boutique Apartments.
How to Get to Hydra
There are several daily boats to Hydra departing from the port of Piraeus, about half an hour from the center of Athens. The smartest thing to do is to book your Hydra ticket in advance and get to the port on time to check the right gate for departure.
The Piraeus is huge, it’s one of the most important ports in Europe, therefore it’s super busy. The area devoted to passengers can be confusing. Don’t hesitate to ask where exactly you need to go. Police officers and port agents are always available to guide you to the right gate.
Taking a Boat to Hydra
Your boat will most probably be a fast ferry, which means you won’t be able to get out and enjoy the Aegean breeze on the deck. You can always check the wonderful landscape from your porthole.
Just in case, pack a good book or some music, you might be stuck in a middle seat and see virtually nothing until you get to your final destination.
Once the boat slows down, it’s sometimes possible to reach the upper deck. If you’re allowed to do so, don’t miss the unique welcoming view of the port.
Great Things to Do in Hydra in Two Days
The first day on Hydra
I bet that when you start your first on the island, the sun will be shining on the houses up the hill right above an endless row of yachts and sailing boats. There are so many things to do that you won’t even know where you start from.
Upon disembarking from your ferry, walk along the port to reach the main seaside promenade and stop for a coffee, as you walk, you will probably notice a few small taxi boats with their phone number written on a sign. Do yourself a favor and take a photo of at least a couple. If you get really tired later during your trip, you could call one of them to pick you up at any given coastal point. Thank me later!
Check the Port of Hydra
Right opposite the sea, the first thing that will catch your attention is a line of mules standing in line and waiting for passengers. It’s a well-known fact that no vehicles are allowed on the island, not even bicycles. Mules have done this job for ages on Hydra.
Yet, if this is a practice that you don’t really support, remember to pack light, Hydra’s small settlements usually stand on very hilly terrain and you might need to walk very steep roads to reach your accommodation.
Check-In and Go Out!
Once you’ve left your bags at the hotel, get your daypack ready for a day of exploration. Pack just the essentials: sunscreen lotion and a hat, your swimming suit and beach towel, your photo camera, and some money for lunch.
Credit cards are accepted almost all over the island but do throw some cash in your purse in case you want to eat far from the center. And the most important of all: wear really comfortable walking shoes. You’ll be walking a lot on Hydra.
If you want to save some money and avoid restaurants at lunchtime, reach the port and buy some sandwiches to go or a bag of snacks in any of the local bakeries, remember to get some cold water too, the island can be really hot in summer!
Discover Some of the Beaches in Hydra
Let’s take it easy on the first day! It’s a good idea to start your stay by checking some of the beaches close to the port of Hydra.
Most of them are not really organized, but they all share the fantastic background landscape of the island. A unique vibe you won’t want to miss.
Once you’ve walked past the port, keep going on the coastal road. You will find three beaches that you can check in the area: Hydronetta, Avlaki, and Kamini.
Out of these three beaches, my top pick has always been Avlaki. Hydronetta is too close to the port, so it tends to be quite noisy and often crowded, while Kamini is too small and not really the best beach in Hydra.
But don’t worry, we will be able to check the area of Kamini later on in the day!
Avlaki is a very small pebbled beach located down a path surrounded by very high trees that provide some shade. The pebbles are quite big and irregular, so packing a pair of swimming shoes can prove a good idea for those who can barely stand walking on pebbles (me, for instance).
The coast of Avlaki is a palette of stunningly bright colors, ranging from emerald green to turquoise and deep navy blue.
The shore is safe, quite shallow, and super safe to swim. Intrepid beachgoers love to jump to the sea from the rocks on one of the sides of the beach… it’s up to you, but it might be dangerous.
If you’re a tranquil traveler, you could easily spend all day in Avlaki, but if you’re the curious type, let’s see what else you could do in the afternoon.
Explore and Eat at Kamini Beach
After spending a few hours by the sea, it might be time to explore a bit more of the coast of the island. Head west following the (only) coastal path on Hydra. If you’re willing to experience some top local food and authentic Greek hospitality, choose a table at To Pefkaki.
This family-run taverna has amazing sea views and great fresh fish dishes (their octopus salad is to die for!) at very convenient prices.
if you’re not really in the mood for lunch, just sit for a glass of juice or enjoy their bowls with creamy, thick, Greek yogurt topped with homemade spoon sweets, such as orange, quince, or carrot. They are delicious!
Take a Break at Vlychos Beach
Nothing like taking the rest of the afternoon to enjoy some more beach time. Walk a bit further along the coast until you pass the small port of Kamini. You will find a bigger beach where you can spend the rest of your afternoon. Vlychos Beach is another fantastic shore you can visit in Hydra.
Vlychos is a sandy beach and it’s quite well-organized, therefore, here you can rent an umbrella and a sunbed or buy a few refreshing drinks. The sea is crystal clear and the seabed quite spectacular. Vlychos is one of the best spots on the island to practice snorkeling or scuba diving.
Sunset in Town, Dinner, and Drinks
If you really liked Vlychos, you might want to lazily lounge on the beach until late, but if you want to go for spectacular views, leave a bit before sunset and head back to the main port of Hydra.
Whether you’re already tired from all the swimming and walking or not, it’s good to know that you don’t really need to walk to head back to the port! Small taxi boats depart from the port of Kamini and can take you directly to the center of Hydra. I told you that you’d been thankful!
The sunset at the port of Hydra is a magical moment when the whole landscape turns bright red. Now it’s time to choose one of the several bars at the waterfront order a cold coffee (go for an authentic Greek frappe or a more trendy Freddo espresso) and order a piece of homemade cake.
There’s no better place for dinner than Il Casta, located on Tombazi street, just a few steps up the port of Hydra. Although it’s an Italian restaurant, they have some of the best dishes you can taste on the island: a mix of Mediterranean flavors, fresh Greek ingredients, and incredible creativity.
For great drinks and music, instead, check The Pirate, one of the most traditional meeting places on the island, and a long-time favorite of the music legend Leonard Cohen, who loved the island.
Day 2 on Hydra
Explore more: Hike to Prophet Elias
Take advantage of an early wake-up call to avoid the hottest hours of the day! We will start by climbing up the hill to visit the Prophet Elias Monastery (locally known as Profiti Illias).
Once you depart from the port of Hydra, walk along the cobbled path passing in front of Saint Constantine Church and walk past the nunnery of Agia Efpraxia to get to the monastery. The building stands about 500 m from the sea level, only 100 m below Mount Eros, Hydra’s highest peak.
Prophet Elias is the only male monastery on the island and it was established back in 1813 by some monks who came from the holy area of Mount Athos. The place is famous for being involved in the Greek Revolution of 1821.
Hydra Historical Archives Museum
Another interesting place to check on Hydra is the Historical Archives, right by the main port. Take some time to explore the collections housed in this fantastic building… but don’t overlook the building!
Founded in 1918, the museum is inside an aristocratic stone mansion that was once owned by a rich local shipowner. After a recent renovation, it became the most remarkable building at the port of Hydra. Today, the museum exhibits manuscripts from the Greek Revolution, ancient navigation maps, and old books.
Moreover, inside the museum, it’s also possible to check relics from the Balkans Wars, paintings, carvings, and a myriad of interesting naval instruments.
Once you’ve exited the museum, walk to the bastions of Hydra to see the cannons that guard the entrance to the island, a fantastic memory of Hydra’s naval past and importance.
Go Shopping for Greek Souvenirs
Unfortunately, all good things reach an end. And so do your two days in Hydra! it’s time now for the last walk on the seaside promenade to check the beautiful boutique shops, the local crafts, and the jewelry.
Price tags might look a bit high, but keep your eyes open for the odd occasion. Check the beautiful cotton beach towels, handmade leather sandals, and the traditional miniatures of mules typical of the island.
End your Itinerary with Great Snacks
End the rest of the afternoon sitting right by the sea. Try the fantastic homemade ice cream in The Cool Mule or enjoy some orange juice at Skipper Cafe while you wait to board your ferry back to Athens.
Skipper is a bar conveniently located a few meters from the docking point, so there will be no chance that you miss your boat and remain stuck in paradise…
…or you can always choose to sit on the opposite side of the port and purposely miss the ride. We would definitely understand!
5 Things to Bring with You to Hydra Island
If you’re planning a trip to Naxos, you’ll want to pack all the normal essentials, but here are a few things we strongly recommend bringing that may not have crossed your mind. For more packing tips, check out our complete Greece packing list.
– A physical guidebook, in paper or on Kindle. We love Lonely Planet Greece for this region and strongly recommend it to supplement blogs. Blogs are great, but a combination of a blog and a guidebook is key to having the best access to information easily at your fingertips.
– A water bottle with a filter. While generally, the tap water in Santorini is drinkable, we generally recommend using a water bottle with a purifying filter to reduce your plastic consumption and ensure you won’t drink any funny-tasting water on your stomach that could make your trip unpleasant! There are places on the island where the water tastes like minerals.
We recommend the GRAYL water bottle – it filters water perfectly in an instant so that you can even drink from lakes, bad taps, etc.
– Motion sickness pills. Santorini roads are winding, especially around the coast. If you have a weak stomach as we do, save yourself and bring some non-drowsy motion sickness pills.
– Wet wipes, hand sanitizer, TP & other Balkan transit needs. Bathrooms in the Balkans tend to be… how can we say it?… not so well-stocked. Save yourself the disappointment and bring a mini-rescue pack of wet wipes & hand sanitizer.
– Travel safety items. We think Santorini is very safe to travel to, but at the same time, it never hurts to be prepared! Some people like to carry money belts, but neither Stephanie nor I use these. Instead, we both carry the same PacSafe anti-theft backpack.
It has locking zippers, slash-proof construction with metal mesh hidden in the fabric, and tons of other smart security features — all while being cute and stylish enough to be our everyday bag. We recommend it highly for both male and female travelers, as it’s neutral enough to be unisex. We also strongly recommend travel insurance! Our recommendation is at the bottom of the post.
More Greece Travel Resources
Headed to Greece? We have some great travel resources to help you with your trip.
First read our guide to planning a trip to Greece, which covers visas, budgets, vaccines, and much more.
Next, you’ll want to read our all-season Greece packing list.
If you’ll be spending time in Athens, check out our Athens Instagram guide, the best Athens day trips, and our complete Athens hotel guide. We also have Athens safety tips so your trip can be hassle-free. We are currently working on our mega-post of things to do in Athens as well as our itineraries, so stay tuned!
We publish new content about the Balkans almost every day! For more information about traveling to Greece and the Balkans, bookmark our Greece and Balkan travel pages so you can find out what’s new before your trip.
Finally, Make Sure You Come to Hydra with Travel Insurance!
I’m sure you’re aware that it’s a good idea to have travel insurance for traveling in Santorini, the Balkans, or anywhere in the world!
Stephanie and I have both been paying customers of World Nomads for the last three years. We love the peace of mind it gives us in case of emergencies, accidents, illnesses, theft, or trip cancellation or disruption. While Santorini is safe, there’s always a risk inherent in everyday travel like theft or injury, so it’s better to play it safe.
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Gabi Ancarola is a translator and travel journalist living in Crete. She regularly writes about the island for several magazines about travel, gastronomy, and hospitality. She has published several travel guides about Greece and runs a local gastronomy tour in Chania. She loves cooking local dishes, taking photos, and driving on the mountain roads of Crete.