I love Hydra. I visited this cosmopolitan island for the first time about 10 years ago, before I had my children. I love it’s beautiful unique harbor, it’s jet-set style, it’s nightlife, it’s nature. I recently went again but decided not to bring my children because I wasn’t sure if Hydra was suitable for a weekend trip with a toddler and a 6-year old by myself. I was not sure how I would carry my luggage, their luggage, the stroller, the beach toys (and everything else a family needs on a vacation or weekend away!) on an island that doesn’t allow cars. And I wasn’t sure if there was enough to do or to see for my young kids.
So I went and I found out. With the help of a lovely family with a baby (and a big stroller) that I met in the port on my way to Hydra. I met more families whilst I was there. I was constantly thinking of my kids and how it would have been if they were with me. My next visit is already scheduled and the girls will definitely come along.
Let me give you 10 reasons why you should visit Hydra with your family!
1.It is very near to Athens
Hydra is part of the Saronic Islands group located in the Aegean Sea between the Saronic Gulf and the Argolic Gulf. It is separated from the Peloponnese by a narrow strip of water. There are 2 ways to get to Hydra: by sea taxi from the mainland (Peloponnese) or from the Piraeus port with either the small hydrofoil Flying Dolphin boats or the larger, and more comfortable, catamaran highspeed boats. It takes little over an hour to get there from Pireaus port with the ‘Dophins’ and 2 hours with the catamaran. I travelled on both. I noticed that the staff on both my trips (with Hellenic Seaways) was extremely helpful with luggage and the children and that it is easy to manoeuvre the ramp to the boat with a stroller.
2. The island is car free
Can you imagine a place where your kids can run around freely without being afraid of the traffic?! One of the best things about Hydra is that there are no cars allowed on the island. And don’t worry about carrying your stuff around. See number 3!
3. The Donkeys
All transportation on the island is done by donkeys or handcarts: the donkeys are waiting for you in the harbour to transfer your luggage and/or your kids to your hotel.
4. Everything in Hydra is nearby.
Hotels, restaurants, shops, the water-taxis connecting the beaches, everything in Hydra is centralized in its scenic harbor. Almost all accommodations are located in Hydra Town. Whatever you do on hydra, transport times are short.
5. Things to see and to learn
Walking along the waterfront in the port is a step back in time and a history lesson by itself. The town has been restored and preserved exactly as it appeared in the 1800. Besides strolling in the port you can visit the clocktower, the Independence museum, the Byzantine Museum and the Naval Academy. There are also many churches and monasteries to visit. One is the monastery of the Panagia that is located in the port. Older children may enjoy hiking on the many paths in the hills of Hydra. The walk to the Monastery of ‘Profiti Illias’ will take an hour but the view is worth it.
Can’t get enough of donkeys? There is also the possibility of a donkey ride with your family through the countryside with Harriet’s Hydra Horses (link https://www.facebook.com/HarrietsHydraHorses) . An English girl who set up the company a year ago and it is a big hit with kids and adults. Book in advance because she is popular and the tours are fully booked in the summer. The tours can be short (30 minutes) and long (up to 7 hours !) Small children can ride on the same horse with their parents.
6. Ship Ahoy
It’s wonderful to just sit or walk in the port and watch yachts, ships, ferry boats and even large cruise ships with people from all over the world come and go.
7. Children love collecting pebbles
There are no sandy beaches on Hydra, but the pebble beach of Plakes at the tavern and hotel ‘Four Seasons’ is perfect for young children. This hotel offers much comfort in a beautifully renovated country house right on the beach. Children can play safely on the beach and in the gardens, the food in the taverna is excellent.
Other family friendly beaches are Vlychos beach and the beach at Castello. (open from June to end of September, is more like a club, again with good food).
With a toddler – not with a baby- it is also very good in Bisti Beach and the Saint Nicolas Bay. This beach is a bit further away and can only be reached by boat or water-taxi that is great fun for the children. The average price for the water taxi is 3 Euro per person. Bisti is organized with umbrellas and sunbeds and is surrounded by pine trees. There is only a small sandwich bar but it has the best Greek salad on the island!
The sea in Hydra is shallow and very clean. The beaches are quiet, no noisy beach bars on Hydra and not too many people.
8. There are playgrounds and plenty of children to play with.
Hydra has about 2000 permanent inhabitants. There is a primary school and even in September when I visited (schools had already started) I saw many children playing everywhere in the evenings. There are many walking paths that are suitable for even the youngest ones.
9. The food is excellent
Hydra has some very good restaurants and taverna’s with large choices of fresh fish, meat and other fresh products. No fast-foods restaurants on Hydra. Your children will eat real food here. The more expensive places are located in the harbor but in the backstreets you can also find reasonably priced taverna’s and ‘souvlaki’ shops.
10. Hydra’s speciality is ‘Amygdalota’
These are delicious hunks of scented almond paste formed into the shape of small pears, rolled in powdered sugar and there is a whole clove used for the stem. Kids will love them.
I found out that Hydra is definitely suitable for families and I am looking forward to visiting again this summer with my children. I will tell you more about Hydra and accomodations on Hydra in my next article.
Life is good in Hydra!
**As always, all thoughts and opinions expressed in this article remain my own**