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Die griechische Insel Hydra, Bild: Aerial-motion / shutterstock

The island of Hydra – cultural treasure in the southwest of Athens

Greece’s island worlds are diverse and full of tourist features. Many of them are well-known and extremely popular destinations. Hydra is more of a summer hotspot for the locals, but still one of those seemingly hidden places that make up a very special charm that is waiting to be discovered. There is no airport, no car traffic on Hydra and the classic party holidaymaker will not get his money’s worth on the island. On the other hand, Hydra has its very own charm, offers a wonderful impression of art and culture in addition to a lot of relaxation.

From Piraeus to Saronic Island

Hydra (Greek Iydra) owes its name to the former abundance of water, which made early settlement possible and provided fertile soil. Over the centuries, the precious springs dried up and today the indispensable drinking water is obtained by a modern desalination plant. The island, which is about 50 square kilometers in size, belongs to the group of Saronic Islands and is part of the Attica region with the neighboring island of Dokos, which is directly adjacent to the northwest.

Most of the inhabitants live in the capital town of the same name, where the larger ferries from Piraeus also dock. In the summer months, there is sometimes quite a lot of hustle and bustle, because then Hydra becomes a resort for city dwellers from the metropolitan region of Athens who are looking for relaxation. About 65 kilometers separate the island from the port of Piraeus. The small mountainous island is most heavily built up on the northern land side facing the Peloponnese , while the parts in the south and east are almost uninhabited.

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Between glamorous flair, exciting art scene and traditional idyll

Hydra, Saronic Islands
Leisurely stroll on Hydra, Image: Theastock / shutterstock

The main town or some sections of the beach already radiate a little jet-set flair. The numerous shops and small boutiques offer fashion, jewellery and souvenirs. The arts and crafts in particular have a high status on the island and so more independent creations, accessories, designer pieces and art objects from different areas were created. Hydra’s cultural scene is vibrant and has been enlivening the island with extensive creativity since the early 1930s. At the same time, all branches of artistic creativity already paused on Hydra and not only allowed the age of modernity to flow into Greek culture. Intellectuals, scholars and artists used the inspirational power of Hydra, such as the Greek poet and Nobel Prize winner Giorgos Seferis.

The numerous exhibitions are extremely popular with visitors, for example in the “Lazaros Koundouriotis National Museum“, the “Historical Archive Museum of Hydra” or the “Melina Merkouri” art hall on the eastern harbour side of the main town. Along the coastal road towards Vlychos is the Hydrama Theatre, a charming venue for acting and dancing. The power of music also plays an essential role on the island. In many local beach bars, guests can experience this up close and live.

Gigs and small festivals are particularly popular on summer evenings. In addition to several local musicians, international stars such as Leonard Cohen and David Gilmour have already been inspired by the magic of Hydra. The former historic carpet factory from the 18th century is now home to a recording studio, which offers a great view over the island as well as an informative insight into the music scene.

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Hydra – sightseeing, relaxation and beach holidays

Image: photo stella / shutterstock

The majority of visitors to Hydra are day visitors, but it is worth staying longer on the island. Travellers can get all the important information at the tourist office not far from the ferry pier. The accommodation options on site include as wide a range as the many restaurants and bars that offer fresh local specialties, traditional Mediterranean cuisine with a touch of internationality or a refreshing cocktail with a direct sea view. There is a lot of variety on an exploration tour of the island. Since there is no car traffic, there is plenty of room for relaxation. Extensive hikes or guided routes on horseback are typical leisure activities on Hydra.

The numerous, sometimes very remote churches and monasteries, the elegant mansions, the windmills, fortress ruins and the lighthouse are part of the sightseeing program. While some holidaymakers find their inner peace in yoga or Pilates, others enjoy the excellent conditions for water sports. Whether it’s a sailing trip or a speedy ride on a licence-free speedboat, the leisure activities on offer are very diverse. On a romantic sunset cruise, the breathtaking beauty of the region will enchant. The sea taxi takes guests to remote beach sections or small bays. In addition to the numerous beaches, which consist of rock platforms or pebbles typical of the landscape, there are even areas with sand. Crystal clear water, sunbathing and fantastic scenery are included anyway.