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.
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.
…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.
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:
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.
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. We also have a Balkan currency guide which explains how money works in Greece and local tipping customs.
If this will be one of your first trip to the Greek islands, check out our massive Greek Island hopping guide as well as our recommendations for where to go in Greece and when is the best time to visit.
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 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!
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.