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Stepping back in time in Hydra, Greece

visit hydra greece

While so many islands in Greece are being slowly conquered by foreigners (cough, cough Santorini and Mykonos, I’m looking at you two), it’s great to know that there are plenty beautiful islands held firmly in the hands of Greeks.

As soon as I read about Hydra last summer, I knew I had to make it a stop on my itinerary through Greece, and I wasn’t disappointed!

When there are so many islands to chose from to visit in Greece, for me at least, it was hard to pinpoint down which ones to visit. Two important things about Hydra struck me, and as fate would have it, they were the two things I loved most about the island.

Prepare to be shocked.

visit hydra greece

There are no cars or motorcycles on Hydra – they are not permitted. You can only get around by boat, donkey or your own two feet. Personally, I loved the sound of that!

Secondly, Hydra is still a predominantly Greek holiday island, which means that it feels more “local and authentic” than some other places, and in fact you’ll hear Greek spoken more often than anything else!

What a novelty, hearing the national language of a place spoken in a major vacation destination!

visit hydra greece

visit hydra greece

The reason Hydra is still a popular Greek getaway is because it’s pretty close to Athens. By hydrofoil (superfast boat) it takes around an hour and will set you back 50 euros roundtrip, so it’s not exactly a cheap place to get to, but it’s worth forking over that price for what you get.

I’ve heard rumors that there are slower, cheaper boats but hell if I could find them out. Understanding public transportation in Greece is a nightmare at the best of times and I really wish I could offer better information here. In summer, there are tons of ferries to Hydra from Athens Piraeus (the main ferry port of the city) and I *think* I traveled with Hellenic Seaways.

I suppose it makes sense that Greece’s beauty comes at a price.


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Maybe Hydra has remained so local because there’s not a lot to do there. The main part of the island next to the harbor is itty bitty, and because you have to walk everywhere, it’s quite small.

But for me, that was perfect. I wanted to be able to relax in Greece, hang out under the sun at a cafe for hours, watching the boats bobbing in the harbor, the stinky donkeys trodding past all while eating infinite amounts of Greek yogurt piled high with fresh fruit and honey. And cocktails.

I was on vacation right?

visit hydra greece

visit hydra greece

I don’t know about you guys, but as much as I am a fan of active and adventurous vacations, sometimes I need to just relax and chill the hell out, which after three weeks of running around southern Italy and Greece, I was all for it.

I didn’t want to have a schedule; I didn’t want to have to worry about getting to places before they closed. I just wanted to relax.

Give me a beach, a bikini a good book and an ice cold beer, and call me a happy camper.

Life’s about the simple things, right?

Don’t you ever just want a relaxing vacation too?

visit hydra greece

Stepping off the overpriced ferry in the little harbor under the hot noon sun, I was quickly drenched in sweat. Greece in July is not exactly a moderate climate. Luckily there’s a nice sea breeze and infinite number of swimming spots to keep you cool.

Keen to get to the beach and enjoy the nice weather, I booked it to the Angelica Hotel where I was staying. Opening the doors I was greeted with this beautiful room.

Ok, maybe I had time for a siesta. I mean, the bed has a canopy on it for heavens sake – I need to take advantage, right?!

visit hydra greece

visit hydra greece

Forcing myself to leave my dream room, I managed to go back out and explore all Hydra had to offer.

You guys, I can’t even begin to write about how good it felt to not feel rushed or have to be anywhere. Armed with only a book and my wallet, with a couple of cats trailing behind me, I felt like I really got to absorb the simple charm of Hydra.

Because Greece would be incomplete without a gaggle or two of street cats to keep you company.

It’s a feeling I’m not likely soon to forget and one I need to remember more often when planning trips.

visit hydra greece

visit hydra greece

visit hydra greece

My first night in Hydra was picture perfect.

After hanging out by the harbor and picking up some tips from locals and other Greek tourists nearby who were curious about what a little foreign blond thing was doing sitting by herself, I went for a stroll along the waterfront as the sun slowly dipped down until I came to a restaurant – the Sunset Restaurant.

Right to the point, that’s what I like to see.

visit hydra greece

Ah that’s where I parked my yacht!

visit hydra greece

visit hydra greece

“Table for one, please,” I said, excited at the possibility of a nice seafood dinner – I had even put on make-up AND a dress, I was ready to splurge.

“Just one? Only you? Are you sure?” was the reply I got.

God damn it, can a solo female traveler just eat her dinner in peace without commentary? Sheesh!

Surrounding by smooching couples but with a great view of the sunset and water, and with a mangy cat for company, I enjoyed a nice dinner.

And I think I scared the waitstaff or they just felt bad for me because I scored wine AND desert on the house. Pity food, I’ll take what I can get.

visit hydra greece

The next day I decided to be more productive and take a boat to one of the beaches around the island. After some pushing and prodding of various locals, I set my eyes on Agios St. Nikolaos, one of the furthest, least developed beaches on Hydra.

As happy chance would have it, I was 1 of 3 people who got off the boat there, including the teenager manning the “bar.”

Wahoo!

Nothing like have a secluded beach to yourself in Greece!

And it is possible, even in peak season!

visit hydra greece

visit hydra greece

After a tough morning of snorkeling, tanning, napping and repeat, I was ready to get down to business and take some photos and videos in the clear water.

After a few moments of playing around with my absurd camera equipment, I heard, “what are doing over there?” from a girl about my age swimming nearby.

It only took a second, but after that I made some new friends, a couple of girls from Athens who were taking a little vacation.

We spent the rest of the day together talking travel, Greece, American culture and the usual. After heading back to the main port, we grabbed dinner and chatted til the sun went down.

These are the kinds of moments I live for when traveling, and honestly are why I love traveling alone.

visit hydra greece

visit hydra greece

visit hydra greece

Hydra was exactly the kind of recovery and vacation I needed, and looking back on my time there, I realized it was pretty much perfect. The only thing that would have made it better was if I could have stayed for longer.

I felt like I got to see a more “Greek” side of Greece, as well as have the time to take it all in, something I can be guilty of doing on the road.

Beautiful beaches, beautiful people, beautiful food, what more could you ask for from a summer vacation?

Have you ever been to Greece? Is it on your bucketlist? Where would you go given the chance? Would you like to visit Hydra?

visit hydra greece

Many thanks to the Angelica Hotel for hosting me in Hydra, like always I’m keeping it real – all opinions are my own!

49 Responses to Stepping back in time in Hydra, Greece

  1. Megan December 14, 2013 at 3:52 pm #

    Holy beautiful! I only had one week in Greece in July, and 3 days for an island before I had to get to Turkey, so I chose Kos for the sake of “convenience.” It was nice and all (I mean, it’s a Greek island, it couldn’t be that awful) but Hydra looks amazeballs! I really need to return to Greece with a less insane schedule- I was too stressed to fully enjoy it.

    • Liz December 14, 2013 at 8:38 pm #

      The great thing about Hydra is how close it is to Athens. It’s a real gem, and I wouldn’t hesitate to go back!

    • Maria January 28, 2014 at 9:43 pm #

      kos???? nooooo…..there are so many beautiful islands in Greece, you should go elsewhere!!! :-) next time ;-)

  2. Chelsea Alventosa December 15, 2013 at 7:49 pm #

    Ironically, one of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants movies was on yesterday, the one where the pants get lost in the end (damn Effie) and the four of them end up romping around Greece. I was like, damn I NEED to go to Greece ASAP- and this just solidifies that thought in my mind. Beautiful!!

    • Liz December 17, 2013 at 12:32 am #

      hahaha that movie is the only reason I still want to go to Santorini haha

  3. Kelly December 15, 2013 at 9:14 pm #

    I LOVE Greece. I went right after high school and we did mostly the really touristy spots (Athens, Mykonos, Santorini, Ios and Paros) but we also did a one day, three island cruise out of Athens and Hydros was one of the stops. Honestly though I was so in love with all of the islands I think I could have been happy anywhere :)

    • Liz December 17, 2013 at 12:21 am #

      hahaha I know that feeling!

    • Maria January 28, 2014 at 10:06 pm #

      you went to Hydra, Spetses and Poros islands by this cruise. They are all beautiful!!

  4. Agness December 15, 2013 at 10:09 pm #

    So many great photos Liz and such a great experience. I can so relate to it as I visited Crete in August and I totally loved it!! The landscape was awesome, the food was so healthy and delicious and these stunning sunsets and beaches… ach!!!! You look amazingly happy and glowing!

    • Liz December 17, 2013 at 12:21 am #

      Thank you! I was really really happy in Greece!

  5. Sally December 16, 2013 at 12:51 am #

    Oh boy, this put my wanderlust into full gear ahead. Must. Go.

    • Liz December 17, 2013 at 12:21 am #

      it’s really awesome!!!

  6. Rashad Pharaon December 16, 2013 at 6:24 am #

    Devastated to hear that my bucket list destination (Santorini) is tourist-laden. Bah humbug. How expensive was Hydra? There seem to be such conflicting ideas about the affordability of Greece these days…super expensive! Super cheap! Which is it?

    • Liz December 17, 2013 at 12:20 am #

      It’s really conflicting. In the “non turistic” places it’s dirt cheap, and I still was able to afford going everywhere. It’s definitely not super expensive anywhere I went.

    • Maria January 28, 2014 at 10:13 pm #

      The islands near Athens are pretty expensive, meaning Hydra & Spetses. Santorini & Myconos are expensive too, but you have more options to eat or drink cheaper, than in the other islands. You definitely must go to Santorini, just choose a better month, like June or late September, not so crowed as july-Aug. Crete is a cheaper option, if you have a budget, as Lefkada and other big islands. It depends on what you wanna see there

  7. Melissa December 16, 2013 at 10:40 am #

    I visited Hydra a few years back on a day cruise from Athens. The cruise stopped in three nearby islands, so I was only there for a very short time, but it made a huge impression on me. In fact, I don’t remember the other two islands’ names, but I never forgot Hydra. I definitely mean to go back some day and spend real time there. By the way, I just discovered your blog. Loving it.

    • Liz December 17, 2013 at 12:20 am #

      woah that’s great! It is really memorable, I had such a good time!

  8. rachel @ Hippie in Heels December 16, 2013 at 11:11 am #

    looks amazing! spent 2 weeks in the greek islands but corfu was the least touristy i went- hydra looks great!

    • Liz December 17, 2013 at 12:19 am #

      I loved Corfu! Can’t wait to write about it! Hydra is awesome too!

  9. Amanda McGough December 16, 2013 at 1:37 pm #

    Holy moley Batman, those pictures are gorgeous! Greece was already on my “sunshine and cold beer” beach list but those photos just bumped it up a little higher.

    • Liz December 17, 2013 at 12:19 am #

      Yay! That makes me happy to hear!

  10. Amber-Rose December 16, 2013 at 7:52 pm #

    Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous.

    Definitely on my travel to do list now!

    • Liz December 17, 2013 at 12:15 am #

      have fun and don’t miss out on Hydra :D

  11. Sarah Palin December 16, 2013 at 9:27 pm #

    Beautiful, inspiring pictures, I am going to Greece. Right now.

    Bye.

    • Liz December 17, 2013 at 12:33 am #

      hahaha thanks Mrs. Palin :D

  12. Steve | Live Smart Not Hard December 17, 2013 at 12:58 pm #

    Liz if I can grab the Mic from Mrs. Palin for a second, I just came across your site and am really inspired by your years of conquering the world, (and Spain of Course).

    • Liz December 18, 2013 at 6:59 pm #

      wohooo thanks :)

  13. Sarah December 18, 2013 at 1:46 am #

    Guilty of going to touristy islands in Greece – Mykonos and Santorini = ME. Hydra seems to interesting stop and would like to go next chance I get.

    • Liz December 18, 2013 at 7:08 pm #

      I hope you get there soon! Hydra rocks!

  14. kami December 19, 2013 at 5:49 am #

    I’m going to Greece in late March and I have only a few days there but still I was hoping to visit at least one island. This one might be the perfect option as it’s so close from mainland Greece! Thanks for the idea!

    • Liz December 20, 2013 at 2:01 am #

      yeah Hydra is great because it’s so close to Athens, I hope you get to visit!

    • Maria January 28, 2014 at 10:03 pm #

      Pay attention to the boat schedules. You may not have the chance to visit any place you want then, depends on the weather, too. If you can’t made it, go to Peloponissos peninsula by bus or train and visit places there, such as Epidauros ancient theater, Kalavrita village, Nafplio town or even better, if you have time go to Mani and Monemvasia traditional villages ;-)

  15. Andrea December 20, 2013 at 11:00 am #

    Looks pretty perfect. So glad to know not all the Greek islands are completely overrun by tourists!

    • Liz January 4, 2014 at 4:09 am #

      Yep, this one is a local one!

  16. Matti Jaffe December 22, 2013 at 11:12 pm #

    enjoyed reading and looking at the pics. many yrs ago, on my 1st trip to greece i tooks a ferry ride to hydra. a policeman guided me to a host family that rented rooms. little did i know that my room was right next to the church’s bell tower. 2 nights i woke up on the hr…. but i had lots of fun. great place. i enjoy reading ur blog. lots of fun memories…

    • Liz January 3, 2014 at 8:11 pm #

      thanks! Glad someone has been to Hydra and love it too!

  17. Michelle December 28, 2013 at 1:07 pm #

    Wow, this sounds so perfect. I’ve been dying to go to Greece and this will definitely have to be where I spend a chunk of the time! I may just have to do it this summer :) Glad you had such a great time!

    • Liz January 3, 2014 at 8:44 pm #

      You are going to love Greece!

  18. Cloee December 29, 2013 at 8:23 am #

    Hi Liz, may i know which model of camera are you using ? You took all the nice pictures !! Great job !! Enjoy your life, enjoy your trip in New Zealand now :)

    • Liz January 3, 2014 at 8:47 pm #

      Canon 60D and my iphone, love them!

  19. Steph January 4, 2014 at 11:36 am #

    Aw, cute cat compilation. I adore the sleepy little villages of Greece. They’re so charming with their cobblestones and white washed walls and donkeys. Not to mention the food. Yum!

    • Liz January 4, 2014 at 7:38 pm #

      took the words right out of my mouth!

  20. fb January 26, 2014 at 9:26 pm #

    Your pics of Hydra are fantastic. Makes me wish I’d gone to that beach when I visited for a week in late September (also as a solo traveller, also got the “are you really travelling alone … you must be brave/crazy” disbelief from the welcoming locals). Awesome place. If only there were a nicer way to get to the island than on those fast boats… Welcome to NZ, by the way. Hope you enjoy it heaps here!

    • Liz January 27, 2014 at 10:25 pm #

      Love New Zealand, loved Hydra, totally different worlds lol

  21. Maria January 28, 2014 at 9:51 pm #

    heheee!!! I really enjoy your posts about Greece!!! i’ m so happy you liked it :-) Next time you’ll go to ever more beautiful places!!! Just for your info, we, Greeks, are not used to travel all by ourselves, that’s true, and it’s strange for us to see someone sitting alone to have lunch, BUT nobody felt bad about you or you didn’t scared any waiter..It is common to have some wine and dessert on the house in Greece :-) love your photos, keep going ;-)

  22. Stefani April 14, 2014 at 11:17 am #

    I have seen the main Greek Islands but this just makes me eager to go back and explore even more! Thanks for sharing! xx

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    […] only modes of transportation are boat, donkey or foot, as all motorized vehicles are banned. “Athenians have been known to escape to Hydra“, giving it a more authentic feel than the more popular […]

  3. The Greek Islands Are Calling You. Here’s Where To Go. | BUSINESS TRAVEL - May 29, 2014

    […] only modes of transportation are boat, donkey or foot, as all motorized vehicles are banned. “Athenians have been known to escape to Hydra“, giving it a more authentic feel than the more popular […]

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