Thinking about staying a few nights in Hydra as part of time in Athens. How many nights are suggested? Location? Recommended lodging, restaurants, things to do?
When is your trip planned?
How many days do you have in total?
Do you have a particular reason to go to Hydra rather than elsewhere?
Looking at late March before a cruise to the Holy Land & Egypt. 5 nights total pre-cruise, a couple of nights possible after the cruise and before flying to Rome/Capri/Sorrento. Think we may just head to Rome after the cruise and either do a couple of day trips from there or spend the time in Orvieto.
Looking at Hyde based on the things Rick Steves says about the island and easy access from Athens. I think 5 nights in Athens may be too much for us. We want to see the highlights but we are not huge history buffs and tend to enjoy smaller towns more than big cities. We typically do a mix of both.
We are in the preliminary stages of coordinating the time in Greece with the 2 week trip to Italy. Going to Athens motivated by the cruise being RT from there but it sounds like a great addition. We need to work around availability of biz award flights and the dates of the cruise.
We stayed two nights in Hydra and could have stayed a third easily.
For lodging, we stayed at Pension Alkionides, which was very nice but not right on the harbour (https://www.alkionidespension.com/). Hotel Sophia, right on the harbour, looked really nice (https://www.hotelsophia-hydra.eu/en).
Definitely eat at Xeri Elia Douskos. Best meal we've had in Europe for EUR 35 (https://www.greekgastronomyguide.gr/en/item/taverna-xeri-elia-douskos-ydra/).
Know that there is not much to "do" in Hydra. Its all about going for walks, sitting under umbrellas drinking ouzo and eating olives.
We are fine with a laid back location.
We are thinking 2 nights in Athens and then 3 nights on one of the islands. If someone has suggestions other than Hydra, please share. We just want simple and relaxing in a nice location without a lot of complicated transportation both getting to and from Athens and on the island—especially since we only have a few days.
Really appreciate the recommendations for lodging and food on Hydra!
Another island that is part of the Saronic Group is Aegina.
It's larger than Hydra, more villages, more to do, nice selection of archeological/historic sites and lots of other options to keep you occupied or kick back and hang out.
It's much closer to Piraeus so it will be a quick and inexpensive ferry ride.
Lots of choices of where to stay, either Aegina Town, Perdika or some of the smaller villages.
Good choice of accommodations in a budget for everyone.
Nothing wrong with Hydra as it has one of Greece's prettiest waterfront with the village cascading down to the harbor.
More of a people watching and hang out island and very popular with well to do folks and jet setters which means accommodation costs tend to be on the high side.
Would we need to rent a car if we went to Aegina?
Mary from Michigan one of my fave states (My mother was from Manistee, yes Swedish)! I tend to agree w previous that Hydra is not your best choice (over-promoted by Rick Steves because it fits in with his tours), and Aegina is really best in warmer weather.
INStead, I want to steer you toward a few memorable days/nights in a place you will absolutely Looove... easy to reach from Athens, car rental unnecessary, easy strolls and sunset views to DIE for! Many discoveries to make, delicious food, the best place in Greece to cafe-sit and enjoy...
It's called NAFPLIO -- considered THE most beautiful Old Town in all of Greece & that's saying a lot. I hear Greeks also call it The Proposal Capital because its so romantic men take sweethearts there for the Big Ask (a US friend of mine Classics Major, said Yes to her boyfriend there). It was ruled by Venetians for centuries so it has stunning Italian architecture (protected by local laws) and its narrow lanes are festooned with bouganvillea. Tho its on the mainland, it's a tthe tip of a peninsula, surrounded by the sea, feels like an island .. its seafront promenade has cafes with awnings and cushy loveseats to watch those sunsets. Here's a foto-album by RS forum contributor AND camera-ace "Stanbr" for a taste: - https://www.flickr.com/photos/visitnafplio/sets/72157626483407223/
This superb Website http://www.visitnafplio.com/ (NONcommercial, created by a Scandinavian expat who knows the whole area) will tell you ALL you need to know ... Please click every link!! Especially the one about local walks, dinng, what to do where to stay. Nafplio has a large "New town" area and nearby colleges, so has lots of local amenities, but the Old Town area is serene .. only a few streets allow cars, for the needful, most lanes are for relaxed walking. NAfplio is a fave weekend getaway for savvy Athenians so there are many chic shops too. Small taverrnas w delicious authentic cookery. I agree w web-creator that BEST located hotel in Nafplio Old Town (and also surprisingly moderate rates) is AGAMEMMNON... the only hotel Directly on seafront, since you're an early planner (good for you!) you may be ab le to book a room w front balcony... I've stayed all over town before but this is top choice now. IF it's booked, a lovely nearby boutique pension is Omorfo Poli. Both have websites; they may not yet be taking 2024 bookings, but I encourage u to email them direct with tentative dates & ask re availability.
How to get to Nafplio? Simplicity itself; that website gives full directions. Only 2.5 hours via intercity KTEL bus (nice modern vehicles, a/c or heating, upholstered reserved seats, a great ride!). Goes every 2 hrs; your hotel can call.. you can taxi to KTEl terminal for about €14-15, bus fare about the same. Ask for LH side seats & you have seaview much of the way, on modern highway, then on quiet roads thru citrus orchards & olive groves to Nafplio... will feel like a world away. If you felt like visiting one of the super-famous ancient sites nearby (I recommend Ancient Epidaurus Theatre) u could either do local bus or rent a car for a day. I DO hope you'll investigate this option -- 2-3 days (3 nights) in Nafplio can be revitalizing and an adventure. Save big Athens sightseeing until after your cruise, you'll be a more seasoned tourist then.
As you see you get all kinds of opinions. Nafplio is way more the trendy go-to place nowadays than Hydra is (which is not a plus IMO). Hydra was the go-to spot in the 60's, now very quiet (at least when I was there in June). Plus of course Nafplio is not an island, it is a town of about 15,000 with cars and all that comes with that.
Aegina seems really nice, but I've never been there. But of course it has cars too.
For me the magic of Hydra is the lack of cars.
Just to add more to think about is the island of Poros which is easily accessible via ferry.
A little further to go than Aegina but still quick and inexpensive.
Lovely main town with many options for shops, markets and tavernas.
A car isn't really necessary and in fact it's not recommended as there is good bus service to most of the island.
Here's a nice website that will tell you more.
A good website for the Saronic Islands is:
One of the hardest decisions about going to Greece is where to go as there as numerous options but if you want some place close to Athens, inexpensive to get to and offers a little bit of everything one goes to Greece for then one of the Saronic Islands and Nafplio would be ideal places.
Good luck and happy travels!
A key aspect to consider about Hydra is, any physical limitations (arthritis, lower stamina) that would interfere with walking a lot, particularly up & down slopes. Without wheels, and only sporadic donkey-availability, hiking is only option. Thus, some people may be confined to the harbor area. If that's OK with you, so be it.
We didn't go to Poros, but the ferry to Hydra sails right past the town as it passes slowly in the narrow channel between Poros and the mainland. It looks absolutely gorgeous.