Just in case the last post made you want to vacation on a Greek island or you are hunting all over the internet for information on Hydra, here is a ‘how to’ plan your Hydra (or Greek island) vacation with some extra tips & hints.
- Go to your local library and pick up the Lonely Planet for Greece or Greek Island or Rick Steves’ for Greece (or order from Amazon with these links). Read about all of the different islands, hunting for one that suits your vacation desires. We landed on Hydra because it sounded a bit different & we liked the idea of no cars for a week. Each island has its own draw.
- Start looking for places to stay. We really wanted a house or flat so that we could have our own space, cook, and just generally relax for the week. Here are some sites that we used for our research as well as where we stayed:
- Book your flights & ferry. The larger islands have several ferry options. Hydra has only one, Hellenic Seaways. You can book tickets about a month in advance and need to have reservations as they are often full (Euro 25.50 one way to Hydra). If you are flying in, be warned that you need to pick up your ferry ticket at least 1 hour before the ferry leaves. For airport to port, you can take the bus (Euro 5, direct bus that takes about 1 hr 20 min), the metro (Euro 8, requires a metro change, not sure on timing) or a taxi (clearly more expensive…). Just look for the signs at the airport.
- Hydra specific tips:
- Early September is a great time to go: past the worst heat, past peak tourist season, but still warm and wonderful with lots of fruits and vegetables in season.
- There is no fresh water source on the island. All fresh water is boated in, and all water out of the taps is slightly brackish, so is not for drinking. For drinking water, buy bottled water at any store, which is inexpensive.
- There is one grocery that will carry groceries to your place with a donkey for free, but you have to put in the order the day ahead. (Please note, you can at any time pay to have a donkey carry your groceries, luggage, or other earthly treasures.) Plan your water and beverages as much as possible, plus other essentials to make use of that trip! We made arrangements the first evening, got things the next day, and then picked other stuff up along the way.
- There are no sand beaches on Hydra – just pebble beaches and swimming rocks. The swimming rocks are great, the water crystal clear. Just don’t go dreaming of sand beaches.
- There is a house museum, Koundouriotus Museum, on the island, and it is worth the time and money (Euro 4). It was fun to see a house from when Hydra was at its high point as well as the clothes. The Naval museum was ok, but not something I would highly recommend.
- There is great hiking to be done around the island. The best map available is a topo map. While helpful, it is still a bad map so go out with an adventurous spirit and plenty of water as you will not just stumble across fresh water sources on this island (see bullet point one). Also, although you will pass many churches, most will not be open – but worth knocking on all of them. At one place a nun opened the compound to us, then shared some grapes literally cut from the vine above her door with us.
- One restaurant worth checking out is the “Sunset Restaurant”. It is located on the west side of the harbor, around the bend a ways. Clearly a stunning view (rated by ABC as the 2nd best restaurant with a view). Yummy.
- If you love Baklava, look at the window cases of the restaurants lining the port. One displays various desserts, including baklava. Do you see those almonds? Yeah. 2 pieces shared amongst the 5 of us gave us each such a divine sugar high we were back the next night.
If you go – have a great time and let me know about your trip!