Hydra Island

HYDRA - 25 minutes by sea from Ermioni                                                   25 minutes by sea from Metochi

Hydra (Idra) is a very beautiful island, a real historical gem and is steeped in a seafaring tradition of a bygone age.  The entire island is a preserved national monument and has retained all its 17th and 18th century charm and authentic quaintness.  Hydra's spectacular attractive harbour remains hidden from sea view, until just before you enter the port.  A beautiful horseshoe of white painted, red tiled houses and huge mansions that cascade down to the harbour, packed with cruise ships, fishing boats, yachts and water-taxis, making Hydra one of the most photographed, filmed and painted harbours in the whole of Greece.  In 1956*, Sophia Loren and Alan Ladd starred in 'Boy on a Dolphin', filmed on the island.  Today, a statue opposite Phaedra's windmill stands to commemorate this historic international cinematic event.  

Hydra is very cosmopolitan, attracting thousands of visitors by its numerous charms.  It gets very busy from Easter to September.   In the past, the island has attracted famous writers, musicians, artists and celebrities.  Poet and singer Leonard Cohen (pictured right) lived here during much of the 1960s, as did Henry Miller, Allen Ginsberg and David Solway.  Members of the Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd, even Joan and Jackie Collins have been spotted on the island, and just recently Nicole Kiddman bought a house on Hydra. The charm of Hydra is increased by the fact that there are no private vehicles or motorbikes on the island.  All transport is by donkey for all activities of life, including the transportation of luggage and sightseeing.  Donkeys are far better suited to the narrow stepped streets of the town.  For places and beaches further along the coast, you can rent a water-taxi from the main harbour.

Art exhibitions and music festivals are organised throughout the year, especially during the high season, where many artists who live on the island exhibit their work.  The towns Maritime Museum is full of interesting historical nautical and seafaring artefacts (including a model of Nelson's Victory) located close to the main passenger boat arrival and departure point.  Admission: 5 Euros.  

Visit and enjoy the wonderful views from the monastery of Profitis Ilias and the convent of Ayai Efpraxia to the South.  There is also a dirt road which takes you to the high plateau of Episkopi, from which footpaths take you to the Western end of the island.  A shorter 20 minute coastal walk, from the harbour, will take you along a paved pathway to the traditional fishing hamlet of Kamini (pictured left).  A small walk-through taverna on the way to Kamini offers wonderful fresh food with picturesque views of the sea and passing boats. A 30 minute coastal walk from the harbour, in the opposite direction (North-East) will bring you to the popular Mandraki beach, offering a clean sandy beach with many sunbeds and shade.  Close by, there's a small authentic taverna by the sea, offering fresh food and cool drinks.

Located in the hills above Mandraki, the Monastery of Aghia Triada (Holy Trinity) is a trekking destination for many people who visit the island.  It can be reached on foot from Mandraki in about 50 minutes.  The monastery dates back to 1704 when it was founded by a Greek Orthodox priest, Antonios Oikonomou.  The panoramic views from the Aghia Triada hillside are really spectacular.

The beaches of Avlaki, Mandraki and Kamini are within walking distance from Hydra's port for those who want to stay near town.  However, if you are seeking solitude and serenity, you can take water-taxis from the port to more secluded beaches like Molos, Aghios Nikolaos and Kaoumithi.  Mandraki, Kamini, Bisti and Aghios Nikolaos are all organised beaches, so there are sunbeds and umbrellas available, as well as beach bars for refreshments.  If you go to the other beaches, then take water and snacks with you.

The town of Hydra has everything the visitor could ask for, many smart boutiques and galleries, gift shops selling art, paintings, souvenirs, hand-made jewellery and textiles, and a variety of restaurants, tavernas, cafes and bars.  The town is very compact that everywhere and everything is within a short walking distance.  Hydra gives visitors the opportunity to experience the island's old way of life in a modern environment.  Hydraean sea-captains' mansions, have been converted into hotels and guest-houses with local style and colour.  Nestled in splendid gardens are fine restaurants for a variety of tastes.  Small traditional tavernas which offer the day's catch accompanied by wine straight from the barrel, and quaint ouzo bars that grill octopus over hot coals along the backstreets behind the harbour.

Hydra is completely free of cars, motorcycles and even bicycles, so visitors have to get around by simply walking, riding the many donkeys on the island, or taking water-taxis to reach far-away beaches.  By wandering through the numerous stepped backstreets and alleyways of Hydra's main town you will encounter picturesque scenes of idyllic life on a unique and distinctive Greek island.

Hydra will for evermore be associated with the Canadian poet-novelist-singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen Arriving in Greece 'to get a suntan', he rented an apartment on the island.  Eventually, in 1960 at the age of 26, he bought a rundown 3-storey house on Hydra for $1500.  Cohen repeatedly said that it was the smartest decision he had ever made.  Hydra gave Cohen the life he craved, and also gave him the love of his life, Marianne Ihlen, a Norwegian beauty who inspired two of his famous songs.  Hydra honoured Cohen on his 80th birthday with a stone bench which overlooks the Aegean.  Following his death in 2016, the Hotels Association proposed that 11th November be marked annually on Hydra in his memory and a street renamed in his honour inscribed Here lived and loved Leonard Cohen. 

Leonard Cohen's legacy lives on not only in his music but also through his son, Adam Cohen.  Following in his father's footsteps, Adam is a talented musician and songwriter in his own right.  He shares his father's love for Hydra and the connection it held for Leonard.  In 2014 Adam returned to Greece to record his album 'We Go Home'.  In making a video for the album, he featured the traditional house in Hydra, sharing its timeless beauty.  The house is now owned by Adam and remains a cherished family retreat.  Adam continues to return to Hydra, particularly during the summer months, to find inspiration and reconnect with the island's soul. 

The island hosted the 'Hydra's Trail Event 2024' on Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th April 2024.  The main trail event is the 38.5km marathon race that includes a 2,000m high altitude summit route leading to remote and beautiful beaches, including Nisiza and Molos. The Trail Event offers five separate routes over the weekend, from 4.7kms to 38.5kms, for athletes of all ages and abilities.  

Try to visit Hydra towards the end of June, to celebrate the islands contribution to the Greek War of Independence, which is referred to as the 'Miaoulia' festival.  Named after Admiral Andreas Vokos, nicknamed 'Miaoulis', he was Greece's Nelson, who scattered the Ottoman navy with the use of fire-ships.  The week-long festival ends on the third Saturday of June and includes a re-enactment naval battle and firework display by the main harbour.  A statue of Admiral 'Miaoulis' (1769-1835) is located within an elevated cannon enplacement at the entrance to the main harbour, where he continues to look out over his beloved Aegean sea.

There is also a festival of traditional Greek 'shadow' puppets, held towards the end of June.

At the centre of the port, behind the clock-tower, there is the Metropolis church of Hydra, dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin.  The original church was built in 1648, and reconstructed in 1774 following a major earthquake.  The smaller of its two bell-towers dates back to 1806, the larger tower has a clock, and a bell weighing about 2 tonne.  The church also served as a monastery, today the restored monastery cells house the Mayor's office and a small Ecclesiastical museum.  Admission to the museum: 2 Euros. 

How to get from Ermioni to Hydra:

From Ermioni, Hellenic Seaways tickets for Hydra can be purchased from Pop's tourist office, Tel: +30 27540 31514, in the Limani monument square, prior to departure.  Contact: hellenicseaways.gr/en for the actual sailing times.  The sea crossing from Ermioni to Hydra by 'AERO Highspeed' or 'Flying Cat' takes approximately 25 minutes. Tickets cost 11.50 Euros per person, one way. 

JULY 2024 - Sailing times with Hellenic Seaways:     

  • 06:45 - 14:20  (Monday-Thursday)                                            06:45  (Friday)
  • 06:45 - 14:20 - 15:30  (Saturday)                                               06:45 - 17:00  (Sunday)       
  • From HYDRA to ERMIONI 
  • 11:50 - 21:40  (Monday-Thursday)                                            21:40  (Friday)
  • 11:50 - 14:55 - 21:40  (Saturday)                                              16:20 - 21:40  (Sunday)

Always check sailing times prior to departure, especially during public holidays, as Hellenic Seaways can change or cancel sailing times without notice.
During the height of summer, the island of Hydra gets very busy and crowded.  Please do ensure you are on the right Hellenic Seaways boat for your return journey back to Ermioni, as some boats arriving at the set time could be sailing directly to Piraeus.

There is also a sea crossing offered by SpeedLine on the Christos and Elena Star motor speed-boats, offering extra sailing times. Tickets can be purchased from Pop's tourist office, in Ermioni, prior to departure. Tel: +30 27540 31514 or +30 697 724 8369 and +30 698 358 8769. Contact: hydratourstravel.gr  or Tel: +30 698 122 2550 for the actual sailing times.  The sea crossing from Ermioni to Hydra takes approximately 30 minutes.  Tickets cost 10.00 Euros per person, one way.

JULY 2024 - Sailing times with SpeedLine:  

  • 10:00 - 12:00 - 16:00 - 18:30  (Monday-Thursday)                   10:00 - 12:00 - 16:00 - 18:30  (Friday)
  • 10:00 - 12:00 - 16:00 - 18:30  (Saturday)                                  10:00 - 12:00 - 16:00 - 18:30  (Sunday)
  • From HYDRA to ERMIONI  
  • 08:30 - 11:00 - 15:00 - 17:30  (Monday-Thursday)                    08:30 - 11:00 - 15:00 - 17:30  (Friday)
  • 08:30 - 11:00 - 15:00 - 17:30  (Saturday)                                   08:30 - 11:00 - 15:00 - 17:30  (Sunday)  

Once on Hydra, SpeedLine offer boat trips to and from the island's popular beaches of Aghios Nikolaos and the Bisti Beach. 

How to get from Ermioni to Hydra via Metochi:  

There are many boat transfers from the small port of Metochi to Hydra, situated approximately 19kms East of Ermioni, opposite Hydra town.  The sailing operators are the original Hydra Lines with the Freedom II and Freedom III motor boats.  The sea crossing from Metochi to Hydra takes approximately 25 minutes, and the ticket price is 7.50 Euros per person, one way.  There are daily sailings from Metochi and Hydra throughout the year, usually every 2 hours, with additional sailings during the high Summer months.  Check actual daily sailing times from the contact link below, especially during national and public holidays.

Hydra Lines contact:  www.hydralines.gr  or +30 6947 325 263 or +30 6944 242 141 for the confirmed sailing times.

JULY 2024 - Sailing times with Hydra Lines:  

  • From METOCHI to HYDRA  (extra sailing times in blue are during Summer months only)
  • 08:00 - 10:00 - 11:00 - 12:00 - 13:00 - 14:00 - 15:00 - 16:00 - 17:00 - 18:00 - 19:00 - 20:00 - 20:30 - 21:30 - 23:30 - 23:59
  • Sunday last sailing 18:00
  • From HYDRA to METOCHI  (extra sailing times in blue are during Summer months only)
  • 07:00 - 09:00 - 10:00 - 11:00 - 12:00 - 13:00 - 14:00 - 15:00 - 16:00 - 17:00 - 18:00 - 19:00 - 19:30 - 21:00 - 23:30
  • Sunday last sailing 17:00

Road journey time from Ermioni to Metochi is approximately 20 minutes.  When driving from Ermioni, look out for the Hydra > road sign on the right hand side, turn right here and drive towards the sea.  You will approach a kiosk where you buy your boat tickets and a car-parking area (which is usually full during Summer) with the Hydra Lines Freedom II & Freedom III boat station at the far end of the jetty.  You can park your vehicle along the roadside leading to the boats, or a shaded car-parking area is available in the official security controlled car-park, where the cost is approximately 5 Euros per day.  

There are also fast 'sea-taxis' available from the waterfront at Hydra, which charge approximately 220 Euros, one way, to Ermioni. Set price includes up to 8 people (cost can then be shared)  Info-Contact: HydraDirect Sea Taxis   Tel: +30 22980 53690

* Boy on a dolphin was filmed in the Autumn of 1956, and put on general release in 1957 by 20th Century Fox.  It was the first Hollywood movie filmed in Greece and was Sophia Loren's first English speaking role when she was only 23 years old. The film featured the song S'Agapo (Ti'ne afto pou to lene agapi) duet with Sophia Loren and Tonis Maroudas.  Filmed on location on Hydra, with scenes from Athens, Rhodes, Delos and Meteora, you'll see how much, or little, Hydra has changed over the last 60+ years. The steamship 'Neraida' used in this film was the passenger ship that linked Piraeus with Hydra/Ermioni from the 1950's to 1974. The totally re-fitted 'Neraida' made her final visit and voyage from Ermioni and Hydra back to Piraeus in September 2013 where she is operating as a floating museum.

The Sophia Loren song S'Agapo in Boy on a Dolphin was actually sung by American 'ghost singer' Marni Nixon, a dubbed-in singer that covered many Hollywood leading ladies in the mid-1950's and 60's.  Marni lived most of her life uncredited and largely unknown by the millions who had loved her voice.  Nixon dubbed many famous 'musical' actresses like Deborah Kerr in The King and I, Natalie Wood in West Side Story and Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady.

In July 2023, the famous Italian actress Sophia Loren was made a honorary citizen of Hydra, as a sign of their gratitude for her great contribution to the promotion of the island and to cinema.  It is a fact that Sophia Loren loved the island, claiming it is one of the most beautiful places in the world.  It was where Sophia Loren made her debut in American cinema, and the beginning of her love affair with her husband, film producer Carlo Ponti, whom she met in Hydra.


Argo-Saronic Island of Hydra
37° 20' 59.4996" N, 23° 27' 57.8412" E
Picture Gallery
Hydra Island - The picturesque town and port Hydra Island - Sailing into the horseshoe shaped harbour Hydra Island - Arriving by Flying Dolphin Hydra Island - Numerous ships and boats come and go every day Hydra Island - The 'Flying Cat' arriving at the harbour Hydra Island - The main bastion at the harbour entrance Hydra Island - The Maritime Museum building Hydra Island - Large cruise ships arrive from Piraeus with day visitors Hydra Island - The donkeys are waiting for you Hydra Island - Numerous tourist shops along the waterfront Hydra Island - Donkeys are the main mode of transport Hydra Island - Time to 'take-a-break' when the ships depart Hydra Island - Souvenir and gift shops line the main waterfront Hydra Island - When do I get my turn?   Hydra Island - Rides for the children are an adventure Hydra Island - The locals like to have a few words with friends Hydra Island - Beautifully preserved homes around the harbour Hydra Island - General view of the main harbour Hydra Island - The clocktower is the focal point of the town Hydra Island - Homes rise like an amphitheatre around the harbour Hydra Island - The smaller inner harbour Hydra Island - Small leisure craft mix with the private yachts Hydra Island - Fishing is still a main form of income for Hydriots Hydra Island - View of the municipal buildings around the harbour Hydra Island - Water taxis are a quick form of transport Hydra Island - Coastal pathway from Hydra town to Kamini Hydra Island - Views along the coastal pathway to Kamini Hydra Island - 'Walk-through' taverna on your way to Kamini Hydra Island - The small fishing port of Kamini Hydra Island - Have a cool drink in the port taverna in Kamini Hydra Island - Phaedra's windmill just outside Hydra town Hydra Island - The 'Boy on a Dolphin' statue by Phaedra's windmill Hydra Island - Sophia Loren as Phaedra in 'Boy on a Dolphin' in 1956 Hydra Island - Sophia Loren in 'Boy on a Dolphin' movie scene Hydra Island - 'Neraida' entering Hydra harbour in the 1950's and 60's Totally re-fitted 'Neraida' in Ermioni and Hydra in Sept. 2013 Hydra Island - Hellenic Seaways new 'AERO Highspeed'   Hydra Island - Hellenic Seaways 'FlyingCat'  SpeedLine 'Christos' motorboat sailing from Hydra to Ermioni Hydra Lines 'Freedom II' boat sailing from Metohi to Hydra Sea Taxi's will take you to nearby Kamini and Mandraki beach Hydra Island - The coastal walk towards Mandraki Hydra Island - First view of Mandraki beach Hydra Island - Small church at Mandraki Bay Hydra Island - Lefteraki's Taverna at Mandraki Bay Hydra Island - Taverna sea view at Mandraki Bay Hydra Island - Mandraki Beach Resort Hydra Island - Mandraki beach