Art, donkeys, delicious food and shops galore ~ here’s what not to miss on Hydra
Hydra is well-known internationally for not allowing ANY motorized vehicles whatsoever and for having once Leonard Cohen’s home. In recent years, the island has become something of an outpost for the international art scene, and thanks to its proximity to Athens, it’s a longtime destination for wealthy weekenders and yachters alike.
While I don’t quite fall into any of these categories, I still found my own way to see and love the island. Admittedly, it’s expensive, but well-worth a short visit.
And so, DR made a guide on how to do a short stay on the island, which is really all you need anyway. Read on below to learn where to eat, how to prepare, and how to have a fairy-tale horseback riding experience.
BRING YOUR WALKING SHOES
As mentioned, Hydra has no cars. While you’ll see many donkeys upon your arrival to port, you won’t want to rely solely on these creatures for transit. Part of the charm of the island is its many well-worn walking paths. While I’ve only been in the summer, I’d love to come here in cooler months just to hike. Bougainvillea abounds, and the lack of industry or cars on the island means the air is intoxicatingly aromatic.
It’s worth wearing comfy shoes so you can find yourself in a meditative walking state (or, perhaps very sweaty) on stone paths that hug the coast.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE ART
Back in the day, Hydra was known for its artistic, bohemian community. As mentioned, Leonard Cohen lived here, and writers such as Laurence Durrell and Henry Miller also spent time on the island.
Now, it’s more of a collector’s outpost, a trend The New York Times noted a few years back, and many new projects have popped up.
A few things to check out:
Deste Foundation has an outpost on Hydra, housed in the old slaughterhouse. The summer 2017 exhibition features Kara Walker. To be specific, it’s a hand from “The Sugar Sphinx,” which originally appeared in the former Domino Sugar factory on the water in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I had seen the original, so while this sole appendage was much less… arresting, it’s fascinating to see just the hand parceled out on its own. The gesture itself is one used in a derogatory fashion in many parts of the world, though it has its origins in describing a woman’s parts. Aside: worth remembering how many cultural symbols originally ascribed to women have been misappropriated as something “bad” by the patriarchy.
Anyways, we were talking about art on Hydra, no?
You should also check out the Hydra Workshop Exhibition Art Space founded a prominent art collector and benefactress, Mrs. Pauline Karpidas. The water-front space is stunning and accessible.
You can also see a show in Vlychos (about 45 minutes walking distance from the port) at Hydrama. Check their website for a full performance schedule. Vlychos has some other exhibitions happening, which we saw pasted all over town but couldn’t find a link for on the interwebs. Please contact us if you have information on this!
I was lucky to receive recommendations both from friends who’ve visited, as well as locals and people who’d lived on Hydra before. (S/o to my awesome uncle for falling into the latter category)
While there are, of course, conflicting opinions, everywhere I ate was delicious.
Below are a few places to try, either from my personal experience or based off of the recommendation of trusted sources.
For fish: Psaropoula
For Greek taverna fare: Paradosiako, Kodylenia’s Taverna, Kryfo Limani, Christina at Kamini, Marina at Vlychos
For general deliciousness: Oraia Hydra (RIGHT at the port, I appreciated their spin on traditional fare), Caprice
For a drink with a view: Papagalos (right at the port), Hydronetta (go here for sunset)
Ride the fastest form of transit on the island… a horse
One of the ways many experience Hydra is, of course, by taking a donkey ride. But if you want to step up your experience, there are actual horses to be ridden and the experience is incredible.
When was the last time you rode a horse in the ocean… other than in your dreams? Check out Harriet’s Hydra Horses to make it happen.
Visiting Greece this summer? Click here to read about how you can Athens with an alternative twist.
PREPARE YOURSELF: This is not an island for vegging on the beach
While there are many water taxis (usually costing you about 12 euros) to get to the island’s best beaches, one simply doesn’t come to Hydra for the beaches when there are thousands of Greek
While there are many water taxis (usually costing you about 12 euros) to get to the island’s best beaches, one simply doesn’t come to Hydra for the beaches when there are thousands of Greek islands with mesmerizing, perfect beaches. Come to Hydra for the views, the culture, the art and hiking, but not to be impressed by beaches.
Within walking distance of the port/Hydra town, there are many lovely places to take a dip, but these can get incredibly crowded on summer weekends. If you walk towards Hydronetta (more on that below) you’ll pass several places to take a dip (Spilia, Avlaki). They aren’t “real” beaches, but the water is clear and cool and refreshing.
Hydra has its fair share of luxury hotels. If you’re looking for something convenient that won’t break the bank, here are a couple suggestions. And no, I don’t get money from these people. Rather, have stayed at one and heard great things about the others. Plus they’re on the affordable side, for Hydra, at least.
Any other Hydra tips? We’d love to hear from you. Drop a note in the comments.
For more Greek island insider tips, read our piece on Serifos