If you’ll be based in Athens for your trip to Greece, and you’re trying to decide whether to visit Aegina or Hydra, here are twelve points you need to consider to help decide which island. If you want to do a day trip by yourself, it would be best to choose just one island to visit. Another option, if you can’t decide, is to book an island cruise that will stop at both.
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Where to Stay in Greece
If you’re visiting Greece any time soon, you’ll probably spend some time in Athens before moving to discover other amazing places in the country. In that case, it’s a good idea to check this accommodation guide to Athens to find the best places to stay in Greece’s capital. Check this article as well, if you’d like to book a room with unforgettable Acropolis views.
Remember that booking early is always the best way to get better prices and nicer rooms! We recommend checking out Booking.com as early as possible since this is a popular time to visit. These are some of the places we suggest you check.
Budget: If you’re looking for a budget hotel in lively Monastiraki, book a stay at Fivos Hotel. Located right by Monastiraki Station, the hotel has free wifi and ensuite bathrooms. Check out prices and availability at Fivos Hotel here.
Mid-range: If you want more traditional accommodation, stay at the Kimons Athens Hotel in Plaka. The rooms are cozy and there’s a roof terrace that guests can enjoy. Check out guest reviews, prices, and availability at Kimons Athens Hotel here.
Luxury: To enjoy a bit of luxury in Monastiraki, check into the four-star Emporikon Athens Hotel on Agia Irini Square. The rooms are sophisticated and swanky, with a traditional take on comfort. Check out guest reviews, prices, and availability at Emporikon Athens Hotel here.
Read: The 3 Best Greek Islands Near Athens & How to See Them in One Day
Choose Aegina if…
Here are four reasons you should choose Aegina over Hydra.
…You Want to Explore Ancient Greek Temples
The Temple of Aphaia is an important ancient Greek site, forming a mystic triangle with the Parthenon in Athens and the Temple of Poseidon on Cape Sounion. If you want to see a beautiful Greek temple (but without the crowds that you get at the other two sites), then come to Aegina.
…You Love Orthodox Cathedrals
The Cathedral Of Saint Nectarios is a beautiful Orthodox Cathedral and one of the most important things to do in Aegina. Check this day trip from Athens to Aegina to see the top landmarks in town without wasting any time!
…You Want to Relax on an Island Beach
Both islands have beautiful beaches, but Aegina is a larger island and has more sandy spots to escape the crowds. If you want to lay on a beach without another tourist in sight (yet still within walking distance of a taverna or two), find a remote part of Aegina to settle in to.
…You Want an Escape from Other Tourists
There are just so many more places to get off the beaten path in Aegina. While cruise ships poor into Aegina each day, fewer tourists (especially international tourists) stay and enjoy the town for a few days.
You can escape the typical Greek travel crowds by coming out and staying for a few days. You’ll see what most miss when they head back on their cruise ships.
>> Read Next: 17 Spectacular Day Trips from Athens, Greece <<
Choose Hydra if…
If you still can’t pick between Aegina versus Hydra, here are four reasons you should pick Hydra.
…You Want to See Hydra’s Famous Donkeys in Action
Because the island doesn’t allow cars, there are many donkeys that are the main transportation for the city (other than going by foot). If you don’t want to ride them, you can still appreciate them down on the harbor.
…You Want to Eat overlooking the Scenic Harbor
The old harbor in Hydra Town is a beautiful place to stroll, but you can also spend time enjoying the view while eating at one of the restaurants and tavernas on the water.
…You Love Traditional Greek Island Houses
Hydra Town is full of beautiful white-washed island houses, and they go all the way up the hill. You can stroll through the island’s winding streets or admire them from below.
…You Want to Soak Up Island Architecture
It’s not just the houses on Hydra that have wonderful traditional island architecture. You can see it on display all over the island, even when you head to the local beaches!
Choose Both for…
Still can’t decide which island wins out, Aegina versus Hyrda? Here’s what they both have in common!
Both islands are famous producers of pistachios, so if you’re partial to this nut (especially in your ice cream or pastries), then you can eat local pistachios on either island!
…to Enjoy Your Scenic Ferry Trip
Whichever island you choose, traveling the Sardonic Gulf by ferry or cruise ship is a beautiful way to spend a day. There’s nothing quite like seeing a new island approach on the horizon and wondering what it will be like to be on shore.
It’s excitement and anticipation – some of the best emotions you can hope to feel as you travel anywhere in the world.
…to Experience a Bit of the Greek Isles
If you’re deciding between Hydra or Aegina because you only have one day to leave Athens, then you can’t go wrong with either if your main goal is to experience the Greek islands. Yes, you can’t see everything, but you’ll get a taste for what can inspire your next Greek vacation (perhaps a Greek island hopping tour)!
…for the Delicious Greek Cuisine
Does anywhere in Greece have bad food? I’m obsessed with Greek cuisine, but you’ll easily find great traditional Greek dishes on both islands!
Still Can’t Decide Between Hydra or Aegina? Here’s how to do both!
I visited both islands (along with Poros) as a one-day trip from Athens. I wrote up a review of my trip here:
The 3 Best Greek Islands Near Athens & How to See Them in One Day
If you’re interested in seeing these three islands as a day trip, you can book an island cruise. I really enjoyed the day I spent touring these three islands since I didn’t have to plan the logistics out myself I got to just relax and enjoy the day.
More Greece Travel Resources
First read our guide to planning a trip to Greece, which covers visas, budgets, vaccines, and much more. We also have a separate guide to tipping in Greece so you know what to give to different servers and staff while you’re here.
Next, you’ll want to read our all-season Greece packing list.
If you are still trying to figure out your Greece itinerary, check out our guides on where to go in Greece, the best places for island hopping in Greece, and when is the best time to visit.
If you know 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 a guide to the best things to do in Athens in winter.
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.
5 Things to Bring with You to Greece
If you’re planning a trip to Greece, 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, on paper or 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 most of Greece 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 in Greece, especially 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 Greece is safe to travel to, but at the same time, it never hurts to be prepared! Some people like to carry money belts, but neither Allison 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.
Finally, Make Sure You Come to Greece with Travel Insurance
I’m sure you’re aware that travel insurance is essential for traveling in Greece, the Balkans, or anywhere in the world! Allison 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 Greece is perfectly safe to travel around, there’s always a risk inherent in everyday travel, so it’s better to play it safe. The saying goes “if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel” is true!
Pin This Guide to Better Decide Whether you Want to Visit Aegina or Hydra… or Both!
Stephanie has been living in and traveling around the Balkans for the past three years. She’s written for National Geographic Online, appeared on CNN Arabic and in the New York Times, and ridden more Balkan buses than is good for a person.
Your website is fantastic! I made films for the Greek National Tourist Organization and a couple of now-defunct Greek cruise lines for many years, and I wish I could have been able to convey the information you have done in such an efficient way.
I now live in Hungary and am looking to re-trace my steps with my new Hungarian partner. This information is so useful and elegantly presented. Thank you.
Thank you so much John! We really appreciate your kind feedback and hope that we have been useful in helping you plan your trip to show your partner how beautiful Greece is!
Thanks for this, it is very straightforward! Unfortunately my Greece trip was cancelled because of 2020 but in planning future trips, I might opt for just one island instead of the three. However I didn’t know Hydra has its own pistachios as well – that’s a game-changer! They are absolutely the best kind of nut.
I hope you get to make up your trip!