We sailed into the small Saronic island of Hydra at sun rise and it was love at first sight. This amphitheater shaped little town was constructed on the slopes of a hill surrounding a port. 18th-Century stone mansions, narrow cobblestone alleys, secluded squares, a lively port and above all the banning of cars gives Hydra its distinctive atmosphere.
Hydra is widely considered as one of the most beautiful and romantic islands in Greece. Its rustic beauty and simple way of life has attracted poets, artists and celebrities over the years. Perhaps the most unique aspect of this small paradise is that cars and other motor vehicles are entirely prohibited. There are no roads. Everyone gets around on foot and donkeys are everywhere…so beware of where you step! The people of the town are good at cleaning up after the donkeys but I still had near misses! They help carry items like luggage and heavy shopping up the steep narrow alleyways. There are also donkey men who specialize in transporting tourists. You will find it easy to hire their services if needed.
Along the hills are lavish 18th-century stone mansions built by Italian artisans. They reveal the island’s wealthy past. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Hydra was incredibly prosperous because of its commercial fleet which traded to countries like Spain, France, and America. Today most of these mansions house the island’s museums. There are also three-hundred churches, six monasteries, statues of war heroes and cannons along the island to explore and you will want to!
The heart of the town is the port. Along the waterfront is the busy harbour with colorful fishing boats, glamorous yachts and beautiful sailing boats. There are also shops and boutiques, lively outdoor cafes, museums, monuments and picturesque alleyways leading to neighborhoods up in the hills. I loved exploring and getting lost in this place. Everywhere I turned was a feast to my eyes!
To celebrate the beginning of our fabulous family vacation our amazing Captain arranged an unforgettable dinner for us at Sunset Restaurant (www.sunsethydra.com) I could not imagine a more perfect setting to watch as the sun set on Hydra. The breathtaking views, chill ambiance, amazing service and the mouthwatering fresh seafood made it an experience we will treasure forever.
Once the sun goes down, Hydra only gets more beautiful and lively. It’s as if all of the island makes its way down to the port side. There’s joy and laughter everywhere you look. The shops and cafes seemed to be opened all night. As I sat on our ship overlooking the town I could not help but wonder if this was real. Hydra is a slice of heaven on earth and had me at Hello.