hydra harbor & town
Hydra Harbor and Town are collectively the island’s commercial and social center. Here you will find the bulk of hotels and guesthouses, bars, restaurants. and tavernas, cafes, shops and municipal services, banks, and so forth.
Hydra Harbor, or Port—technically that area directly on the waterfront, where the yachts and water taxis moor and all boats to and from Piraeus, the mainland, and other points on the island embark and debark—is really the heart of Hydra. In addition to cafes, boutiques, and tourist shops, you will find the island’s three banks. The morning bustle of business and daytripping typically gives way in the early afternoon, after shops close until evening, to a leisurely cafe culture of socializing, boat gazing, and people watching, although in high summer, the afternoons can remain a bit crowded in the harbor. Yet even in the off season, when most nonessential businesses and services have shuttered for the winter, you will find locals congregating in the harbor cafes to share a coffee and catch up on island news.
You have entered Hydra Town as soon as you leave the port and start wending your way to points overlooking the harbor or toward the back of town into Hydra’s various neighborhoods. At any time of year, the cobblestoned streets and alleyways offer a relaxing venue for wandering and exploring, meandering up to Four Corners and Kiafa, down to Kala Pigadia and Bougia, and mazing in a labyrinth of lane and pathways in between, taking in the bright whitewashed walls, the colorful bursts of bougainvillea and plumbago, the stunning views of the Saronic and the Peleponnese, and the otherwise spectacular scenery, to the clopping and braying of mules and in summer the buzzing of cicadas.
Hydra Town comprises six main areas: East Harbor, West Harbor, Hydra Town (center), Bougia, Kala Pigadia, and Kiafa. Each has its own characteristics.
Hydra Harbor East & West
Residences, some modest some grander, climb the hills embracing either side of Hydra’s horseshoe-shaped port. These homes typically have gorgeous sea views and may entail a fairly steep climb of between 5 and 20 minutes, depending on location and individual pace. Houses on the east side of the harbor typically have glorious views of the sunset over the water but get the brunt of the afternoon summer sun. Houses on the west side of the harbor typically have glorious views of the sunrise over the sea and are generally more shaded in the afternoons and early evenings. Both districts host mansions built by some of Hydra’s prominent families. This is Hydra’s busiest section and bustles yearround from the early morning to mid-afternoon and during the warmer months from later afternoon to late evening.
Central Hydra Town
The roads leading back from the central portion of the port take you into Central Hydra Town. The streets in this section of the island are level, and here you will find the vast majority of nontourist-oriented shops and businesses, hotels and pensions, numerous restaurants and tavernas, municipal and private-sector services, and so forth. This area bustles in the early morning to mid-afternoon yearround and in the evenings into the night during the period between Easter and Oxi Day.