Hydra in Greek Mythology was a nine-headed monster, sister of Medusa.
Hydra in the Saronic Gulf is one of the closest islands to Athens and is perhaps the most beautiful harbor in the Greek Islands.
Just 35 miles from the port of Pireaus in Athens , Hydra is a popular island for sailors, but the island is also easily accessible by water taxi or high speed hydrofoil from Pireaus making it a possible day trip from Athens or one of the other nearby Saronic Gulf Islands (Poros,Spetses).
The Greek island of Hydra has many claims to fame. Although covering just 56 square kilometres it has supplied Greece with five prime ministers.
Its waterfront cafes have hosted celebrities from all over the world including Henry Miller who sang its praises in The Collossus of Marousi. Hydra used to be the destination of fashionable artists during the sixties and has kept a highly cosmopolitan character (It’s where Leonard Cohen, the Canadian poet-turned-singer, has a house.Cohen was a near-permanent resident on the island in the 1960s and still visits occasionally ).
Famous for its nightlife, fine restaurants, B&B style hotels, villas, shops and traditional architecture, Hydra is a favorite weekend destination for Athenians because it takes little over an hour to get there from Pireaus.
It has one of the most gorgeously picturesque harbours in the Aegean. And, astonishingly for a place only 64 kilometres from Athens, its primary mode of transportation remains the donkey! (no cars or motorbikes are allowed on the island!)
Hydra is an artist colony and you’ll see why when you arrive in the picturesque port of Hydra Town.There are so many charming reasons to write about the island of Hydra. It is an island with cobblestone paths winding through traditional white washed houses with red tiled rooftops, colorful trim and aromatic flowers. It is a small island with lots of picturesque tavernas to choose from.
Perhaps, one of our favorite spots in Hydra is the Hydroneta waterside bar/cafe which is a short walk from the port. The cafe sits below the cannons and wall of Hydra Town and is perched into the cliffside with several terraces to sit upon with a cocktail or Nescafe. You can seat on the rocks below, diving into the warm, blue waters over and over again.
Some might be turned off by the lively music which is almost always playing, but sunset brings on a relaxed atmosphere with classical music playing in the background.
If it is not too crowded, we highly recommend a stop for a drink and a swim at Hydroneta.
HOW TO REACH HYDRA :
From Athens the distance to Poros, by car, is approximately 150 klm.
Through the National Road Athens-Korinthos, we go left, after the isthmus of Corinth, to Epidavros. From Epidavros, we follow the newly opened road and in 10 min. we reach the place Kalloni.From Kalloni, in 15 min. we reach Galata, that is across Poros Island.
The road is an extension of the National Road and for your trip you will need 1 hour and 45 min.
From there you follow the coastal road and in a half an hour and less you find yourselves at Metoxi.Metoxi is a place opposite the island of Hydra, where there is a parking space for you to leave your car and cross to the other side in Hydra, by
a) calling a sea taxi to the phone : 22980-53690
b)You can pass from Metochi to Hydra island and from Hydra island to Metochi, with daily schedules with the boats “FREEDOM Ι” & “FREEDOM ΙΙ”, in 12 minutes.
Schedules from Hydra to Metoxi
Monday to Saturday: 7.30 – 11.00 – 15.00 – 17.00
Sunday: 11.00 – 15.00 – 17.00
Schedules from Metoxi to Hydra
Monday to Saturday: 8.00 – 12.00 – 16.00 – 18.00
Sunday: 12.00 – 16.00 – 18.00
The ticket price is 6,5 € per person.
HYDRA LINES – 6947325263
ZOGOS GEORGE 6944242141
ZOGOS LEYTHERIS 6948118213
ZOGOS CHRIS 6947905855
TEL./FAX: 22980 – 52961
By hydrofoils of Hellenic Seaways that depart from the port of Piraeus (port gate 7), several different hours during the day. Visit http://www.hellenicseaways.gr for timetable and online booking.
Trip duration : 1.30 hour.
Price : 25 € per person / one way
…The beautiful beaches with the grey color of the rocks
and the blue of the sea, give to Hydra a natural wild beauty
and make it the ideal place for inspiration and creation…
Hydra has got a lot of beaches with rocks or sand and pebbles.
You have got access to them on foot, with donkeys or sea transportation means.
Common characteristic of these beaches are the crystal clear blue waters.
Close to the harbour is a beautiful rocky area with deep blue water, called “Spilia”.
It attracts many tourists every year and it is an ideal place to enjoy the panoramic harbor view. It is also a place where you can have snacks and drinks, day and night.
Near Spilia is another beautiful beach for swimming in blue waters and nice music from the bar 20 hours a day, called “Hydronetta”. (our favorite spot in Hydra!)
Just next to Hydronetta is a small pebble beach, “Avlaki” beach with lights when the night come down and disco.
Following the road next to the port we reach the place “Kamini”, a small, natural, picturesque harbour full of fishing boats.
Next to it, it is “Mikro (small) Kamini”, a beautiful, small, pebbled beach, ideal for water sports and small children. In Kamini there are tavernas with local food and hospitality.
From there by walking, we reach to the place “Vliho”, which it has a beautiful beach with clean waters and white houses up to the rocks, besides the small beautiful shrine of Saint Haralampos. You can also find local tavernas.
After 20 minutes walking and after passing a 17th century bridge, we reach the place “Palamidas”, with a sand beach.
There is located the Manor of Boulgaris and the ex house of Pashas.
Near the beach of Palamidas there is a place to repair boats.
After Palamidas is “Molos”, a nice rocky beach. Next is “Kaoumithi”, a beach with thick sand.
“Bisti” is a unique pebble organized beach 10 minutes by taxi boat and 30 minutes by regular boat, ideal for underwater fishing.
Next beach is the one of “Saint George”, located between two hills with pine trees.
To the rocks up from the beach you find the Church of Saint George.
Towards the south east side of the island one can find the organized pebble beach of “Saint Nikolaos”, with crystal clear waters, surrounded by pine trees, ideal for underwater diving.
To the east there is “Nisiza”, another pebbled beach and following is “Klimaki”, a large beach with cottages.
After cape Rigas, we reach “Limnioniza”, the most beautiful pebbled beach of the south shore of the island, ideal for underwater diving.
After 25 minutes walking distance from the main port, 7 minutes by boat, or 3 minutes by sea taxi, there is an organized beach called “Mandraki”.
Here you will also find water sports like windsurfing,skiing and beach volley in the facilities of the hotel Mira-Mare.
If you don’t want to walk, you can reach all these beaches by sea taxi ( TELEPHONE CENTER : 22980-53690 ). Sea taxis will quickly get you there, but we have to tell you that sea taxis are not the ideal solution for you if you are on a low budget holiday trip!
Alternatively, you can get to most of these beaches by a kaiki (boat-taxi). It will take you much longer but is cheaper (and more…. greek in our opinion! )
WHAT TO SEE IN HYDRA
1) Historical Archives Museum
The Museum was founded in 1918 and moved, in 1952, to its present day location which is a traditional Hydriot mansion donated by the ship owner Gikas Koulouras.
The building was demolished and completely rebuilt according to the Hydriot traditional architecture in 1972.
It is located nearby the ferry docks, on the eastern side of the harbour and houses a collection of portraits, an important collection of the town’s archives (18 000 documents) relating the history and the culture of Hydra, small objects of the 18th and 19th century, various exhibits from the Balkan wars and from the First and Second World War, and beautiful local traditional costumes including the karamani, dark coloured trousers which used to be the typical masculine attire.
A Library with 4800 books (from the 18th century since today) can also be visited on the first floor.
The three sections composing the Historical Archives Museum of Hydra are:
The Archive Section
The Museum Section
2) The Koundouriotis Mansion
The beautiful Koundouriotis mansion is one of the finest examples of the traditional 18th and 19th century architecture of Hydra.
It was built in 1780 by the Koundouriotis family, one of the most illustrious families of Hydra,and wonderfully restored in the 1990s.
Lazaros Koundouriotis was a ship owner who devoted himself entirely to the Greek Revolution against the Turkish yoke, using its ship and its fortune to finance and help the independence war.His young brother, George, helped him in his donation and battle and his grandson, Pavlos, became the first president of the modern Greek State in 1924.
The beautiful mansion was donated by Lazaros great-grandson, Pantelis Koundouriotis, to the Historical and Ethnological Society of Greece in 1979.
The built was restored and the three levels were transformed into exhibition areas where relics from the Koundouriotis family are exposed as well as various items from the historical and folklore collections of the National Historical Museum of Athens, such as traditional costumes, jewellery, fine embroideries, pottery and wood-carvings; the Koundouriotis Mansion operates as an annexe of the Historical Museum of Athens exhibits a rich collection of old photographs, maps, dolls, traditional costumes, hand-woven items, house utensils and a traditional olive press.
In the basement house, three rooms exhibit a superb collectionof paintings made by Periklis Vyzantinos and his son.
3) The Byzantine Museum
The Byzantine Museum of Hydra is housed in a renovated, decorated monk’s cell, in the old Monastery of the Assumption of the Virgin (Kimissis tis Theotokou), located on Hydra Town and recognisable from its beautiful high marble bell tower.
It is a small museum exhibiting a collection of ecclesiastical relics and items dating from the 18th and 19th century, such as fine icons and frescoes, embroideries, holy vessels and vestments, ecclesiastical utensils and magnificent ornate Gospel covers.
4)The Cathedral museum
One of the interesting places that to visit in Hydra, is the Cathedral Museum or the Ecclesiastic Museum.
This museum is located in the center of the port. This cathedral was originally built in 1648 and was rebuilt in 1774. It also operated as a monastery at one point. Now, the Town Hall as well the museum is located in the temple part of this cathedral.
This museum has been in existence since 1933. Here, you will find jewels and documents of historical value. Occasionally there are exhibits held that reflects Hydra’s nautical history.
5)School of Art in Hydra
To the east side of the town of Hydra is located the School of Arts. It is housed to the Manor of Tompazi, since 1936.
The painter Periklis Vizantios (1893 – 1971), with the ex-manager of the School of Art, in 1936, created the today’s School of Art that is housed to the Manor of Admiral Tompazi.
There had been stayed most importand personalities of the Art and Literature, like Chagall and the writer Daninos.
6)The National Merchant Marine Academy
The National Merchant Marine Academy is the first Marine Academy in Greece and proud successor of the Greece marine tradition.
The Academy started to operate in 1749. At first it was a school with the name “Saint Nikolaos” and from the 1800 it operated as Merchant Marine Academy of Hydra with initiative from the eldership of the island.
In the years before the revolution, foreign teachers from Portugal and Italy mostly, were teaching naval theory and foreign lanquages in to the Academy.
In 1927 was established in Hydra private Naval College under the protection of the naval Society of Hydra.
In 1930 was established from the state the National Merchant Marine Academy as we know it today.
From 1930 the Academy is situated to the Manor where Anastasios Tsamados and Athanasios Koulouras used to live. It is bestowed to the State exclusively for the operation of the Academy.
During the second world war and until 1948 the Acxademy had outliers to Athens and Peiraeus.
The first educational boat of the Academy was called “Saint George” of the fisherman Tsigaris, the second was called “Electra” and the third one “Eugene Eugenidis”.
Since 1989 the institute of interchangeable education has been applied.
According to this, the naval cadets are traveling with containers ships and they get paid for that. The apprenticeship in the Academy is four years. From the Academy have already gratuated 2.800 captains.
7) The Bastions with Cannons
On the Greek island of Hydra the bastions with cannons that were used for the protection of the harbor in due time war, can still be seen. During the 18th century, Hydra was in need of these cannons to protect the Island from the attacks of the Turkish fleet. The Greek ships were equipped with eight to twenty guns when on the Turkish frigate had up to eighty guns and a Turkish corvette ship up to thirty.
The Turkish fleet was superior quantitatively to the Greek so Hydra needed its cannons, in case they managed to get past the Greek ships. In the 19th century there was a probability for Hydra to use its cannons again, as the Greeks were at war with the Turks.
Fortunately, the Greek fleet had always managed to protect Hydra, and as a result, the cannons have not been often in use. The bastions with cannons seemed to be a necessary precaution in case Hydra actually got attacked. You can still see them today on the left and right side of the Harbor.
WHEN TO VISIT HYDRA?
Most of its visitors just come for the day because there are simply not enough places for them to stay. If you do want to stay overnight, or over many nights, (which we recommend), then you should book a hotel in advance during the summer because if you wait you won’t find one. Because of its proximity to Athens it is the perfect island to visit in the way-off season. There are usually people there, especially during weekends, including the odd writer or poet wintering on the island in search of inspiration. Not far enough away to feel like you are cut off from society, the beat goes on into the winter. And if you get stir-crazy or if the weather gets nasty you can hightail it back to the nightlife of Athens.
MIAOULIA FESTIVAL (end of June)
Even though the island is overcrowded at that time, a MUST SEE of Hydra is a big festival, called Miaoulia. It takes place in Hydra the weekend closest to the 21st June, to honor Admiral Miaoulis, a most important man of the Greek Revolution in 1821.
The festival lasts for three days and it is a part of the “Navy Week”.
Miaoulia come to its closure with fireworks and the representation of the burning of the turkish flagship the last day of the festival. (superb experience)
It’s extremely difficult to find a room in a hotel that particular weekend, so if you don’t want to miss the Miaoulia Festival, you would have to book at least 3 months in advance!