Just a couple of hours by ferry from Athens, the beautiful Greek island of Hydra is one of the most glorious spots for a day trip from the Greek capital!
This much-loved destination features a stunning town, rocky landscape, great eateries, and crystal-clear waters. And if you only have 12 hours in Hydra, here is the perfect itinerary, that will give you a real feel for the island; while undoubtedly leaving you wanting to explore more of this charming place next time around!
Arrive at the port, one of the most enticing harbours in all of Greece.
Start your day with a coffee at Isalos, the most well-known café on the island. Ask for the Caffe del Doge (their specialty) and if you haven’t had breakfast yet, you can order from their delightful brunch menu.
Visit the Monastery of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, Hydra’s main Cathedral, located in the center of the harbor, underneath the clock tower.
Head to Kaminia, a pebbled beach, only 1km west of Hydra Town, and have a wonderful swim at this authentic small fishing village.
After your lovely dip, head back to town and make your way over to Omilos; make sure to grab a table next to the water. From here you can admire the views as you enjoy a fabulous seafood lunch.
Cool down with another dip- this time at the famous Splilia, (Cave), where you are able to dive into the deep blue sea, before kicking back at Hydronetta Bar.
Dry off and go grab yourself a Freddo Espresso and an Amygdaloto (traditional Greek almond biscuit; a specialty of the island) from Tsagarakis.
Stroll around the town and soak up the amazing atmosphere, with the stunning stone mansions, historic monasteries, and cobblestoned streets.
Finish off a perfect day with a memorable dinner at Téchnē, a restaurant set in an 1870s former boat factory. Make sure you sit on the terrace and catch the views out to sea; from here you can also enjoy the sunset with a Spritz in hand.
How to get there
You can arrive in Hydra from Athens by ferry, which departs from the port of Piraeus (a 2-hour journey), otherwise, there are many private cruises that will take you to Hydra from the Greek capital.
After two years of lockdown, Easter 2022 is the perfect occasion for reconnecting with Greece’s traditional spirit. Lamb on the spit, folk music, free-flowing wine and plenty of good “parea” and “kefi” should do the trick. Add to that a beautiful location with interesting Easter traditions and you have yourself a wonderful trip to look forward to!
Here we take a look at some of the best Easter holiday destinations around the country that you really shouldn’t miss!
Greece’s holiest island, where St John the Evangelist wrote The Apocalypse, is especially ideal at Easter for fans of Greek Orthodoxy. In the picturesque Chora you can see the local re-enactments of the Last Supper and Washing of the Disciples’ Feet; during the liturgy, a priest from the monastery of St John the Theologian, who re-enacts the role of Jesus, disperses water droplets on the legs of two monks, representing Christ’s disciples, after which there is a procession through the town. On Easter Sunday on the Dodecanese Island, it’s well worth attending the atmospherically rich Second Resurrection church service, during which the gospel is read in seven languages.
Leonidio, a seaside town in the eastern Peloponnese, carries out the unusual tradition of releasing hundreds of balloons into the sky at midnight on Holy Saturday, as soon as the priest chants ‘Christ has risen’ (Christos Anesti). The tradition, which began in the late 19th century, is vibrant and colourful, offering a unique experience that even schoolchildren are involved in preparing from the start of the year. The town’s Epitaphios (the funeral bier of Christ, containing a large icon depicting the burial of Christ and heavily decorated with flowers) processions are also very scenic, as locals decorate streets with thousands of bitter oranges (between 2-3,000) that have been hollowed out and lit from the inside with candles. On Easter Sunday Leonidio holds the Feast of Love ceremony in its main square with Tsakonian dances and more balloons released into the sky.
Also in the Peloponnese is the magical seafront fortified town of Monemvasia, where on Good Friday the epitaphios procession passes through the medieval cobblestone roads past candle-lit chapels and houses, including the once governor’s mansion (during the Venetian era) Ardamis Guesthouse. Throughout the Easter period, in Monemvasia, you’ll hear the echoes of church liturgies echoing through the streets. On the afternoon of Easter Sunday, the town carries out a tradition of re-enacting the burning of Judas, usually in a captivating ambience.
The island of the Knights has an Easter tradition that involves tree stumps being gathered and stacked into a huge pile of wood that is set alight on Holy Saturday, a few hours ahead of the Insurrection ceremony. Called ‘Kalafunos’, this ritual represents the burning of Judas.
Not for the faint-hearted, Kalamata’s ‘Saitopolemos’, a ‘war’ of lit cardboard tubes filled with gunpowder- is famous Greece-wide for how loud it gets, how long it goes on, and how many people choose to participate despite annual accidents and even deaths. Thought to date back to the end of the Ottoman occupation and honouring Greeks who fought in the War of Independence, the event is certainly polemical. In Kalamata the burning of Judas tradition is actually a blowing up of Judas and takes place in the areas of Avramogiani and Rachi.
Famous for their clay pot-breaking tradition, Corfu’s locals annually enjoy (often joined by Greek and foreign tourists) throwing their water-filled vessels, decorated with red ribbons, off balconies onto the street, where they smash into smithereens. The custom, thought to have begun during the Venetian occupation, is followed by a musical procession by the Ionian island’s brass bands, with a performance of a musical piece titled ‘Fear Not, Greeks’.
One of the jewels of the Saronic Gulf, Hydra makes a great Easter getaway. The island enjoys a unique tradition of having the epitaph enter the sea on Good Friday in the fishing village of Kaminia, which is 10 minutes from the main port. This tradition is a way of blessing the waters and the seafarers. After the procession, people gather around to eat seafood in nearby tavernas and houses.
Onos Residence is a stunning three-level holiday villa located on the beautiful island of Hydra.
Once home and art studio to renowned Greek postwar and contemporary painter Christos Karas, this captivating property recently received an extensive makeover and has now opened its doors as a holiday house – welcoming guests to a touch of luxury overlooking the Aegean Sea.
Ideal for large groups as it can comfortably host twelve people (or up to seventeen with sofa beds); the holiday villa can also be rented out as three separate suites, with each floor featuring its own set of bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchenette and other facilities.
Blending the charm of Hydra’s traditional stone houses with the island’s artsy character (Hydra is famous for capturing the heart of writers, musicians, painters and more) the carefully thought-out renovation has given the property a fine, modern touch.
Each level opens up to a breathtaking terrace with casual lounges and alfresco dining areas- the perfect spot for a morning coffee, or dinner under the stars while overlooking the coast of the Peloponnese and the enchanting port of Kamini.
Inside you will find original artworks that are displayed throughout the bedrooms and living spaces; while impressive sculptures are carefully placed outdoors on the terraces- inspiring a genuine connection with the roots of the residence.
The villa also boasts a charming garden where guests can read their book under a blossoming lemon tree, enjoy their full continental breakfast, or from here take a two-minute stroll and arrive at the scenic beach and beach club of Castello.
Whether it’s a special getaway with family and friends or a much-needed holiday for two, Ornos is the perfect base to explore the entire island.
The residence is situated in Kamini, guaranteeing easy transportation to and from the residence via Kamini port (cars are not allowed on the island.) The town of Hydra is a 15-minute walk while Mandraki beach is a short and scenic boat taxi ride from Kamini. Other points of interest nearby include the Profitis Ilias Monastery, which is 1.5 km away, as well as George Kountouriotis Manor and Leonard Cohen’s House. For dining out, guests can head to Taverna Christina, which is a 5-minute walk away.
With so many breathtaking Greek islands boasting beauty, allure, and romance, it’s easy to see why Greece is a top choice for honeymooners and twosomes alike.
Whether you’re seeking an authentic and tranquil island, offering privacy and quiet moments- or you prefer wining, dining and dancing the night away- we’ve put together the most romantic and dreamy Greek islands that are perfect for couples.
A small island in the Saronic Gulf (just 2 hours away from Athens), Hydra is a stunning and aristocratic destination that is one of the only islands in Greece without vehicles, making it a tranquil and laid-back spot to sit back, relax and unwind. Perched among thousands of steps and little alleyways, Hydra island offers an easy-going atmosphere, romantic sunsets, and some breathtaking places where you can enjoy fabulous food and drinks; with magical views.
Best hotels in Hydra for couples:Rafalias a magnificent Mansion, near George Kountouriotis Manor and the Hydra Museum Historical Archives. Mastoris Mansion is another great hotel, located just 90m away from Hydra’s port, with five rooms beautifully decorated and a wonderful terrace. And Hydrea Boutique Hotel in the heart of Hydra Town has stunning views. Orloff Boutique Hotel is a historic house, built in 1796 it has lovingly been restored and has only 9 rooms and suites- making it a relaxing and unique place to stay.
The charmingly mysterious Folegandros, situated in the corner of the southern part of the Cyclades, entices with its deep blue waters that are in complete harmony with its steep mountains, picturesque Chora, and jaw-dropping sunsets. This Greek island exudes natural beauty; it’s a dreamy destination where you can completely relax and unwind in style.
Best hotels in Hydra for couples:Blue Sand Hotel and Suites is a romantic boutique hotel, overlooking Agali beach. Anemomilos Boutique Hotel is perched along the highest point of Chora, on the vertical cliff that overlooks the vastness of the Aegean Sea. Folegandros apartments are located in the picturesque Chora, which seems like a Cycladic village, with a pool at the centre. Makarias Villa is located in Ano Meria, this is a great place if you seek privacy and breathtaking views.
It’s a nostalgic destination, offering wild beauty, a striking coastline with light blue waters, a medieval Chora, a maze of alleyways filled with cascading bougainvillea, and beautiful doors; the imposing stone monastery of Saint John the Theologian, great food, and friendly locals. Patmos is an unspoiled island that you should explore at your own pace. Filled with quiet beaches, a soulful aura, and the majestic medieval capital of Chora – it is filled with romantic spots.
Best hotels in Patmos for couples:Onar Patmos is a resort hotel just a few metres away from the shore, close to the fishing village of Grikos. Ideal for families, couples, or a group of friends who are looking for a luxurious and tranquil feel. Langada traditional farmhouse, which was developed during the centuries, around a small chapel and a central patio, overlooking Kambos beach. Patmos360° is a portfolio of three houses in Chora of Patmos, run and operated by a local team who provides tailor-made services that guarantee a great stay.
The dreamy landscape of this almost untouched Cycladic island is composed of rugged hills, historic mining sites, breathtaking coves, picturesque settlements, classic Greek island architecture, and endless beaches. Simple, authentic, and majestic- the wild beauty of Serifos will fill your soul, relax your mind, and steal your heart.
Best hotels in Serifos for couples:Captains House Serifos, an old house of a former Greek Captain, that dates back to the 19th century, situated in Kato Chora, next to the Primary School and the Folklore Museum. Rizes, located on a hill above the beach at Psili Amos and just two kilometres from Livadi. It features 14 apartments and two luxury suites. Coco-Mat Eco Residences, on Vagia beach, is a complex of 13 miners’ houses built in the early 1900’s- now an upscale, contemporary eco-friendly place to stay.
Surrounded by deep green seas and covered in cypress trees, this beautiful island is home to one of the prettiest ports in Greece, neo-classical mansions, and dreamy fishing villages. Many visitors arrive on a private yacht and spend days here enjoying the magical views. Symi boasts natural beauty- with its secluded coves (scattered throughout the island) enchanting beaches (accessible by boat); and in contrast to its rocky coastline, the interior of the island is forested with cypresses and conifers- making it a stunning and romantic destination.
Best hotels in Symi for couples: Boutique hotel “1900 Hotel” is a new boutique hotel with four elegant suites (1901, 1902, 1903, and 1904), steeped in history. Limani Life is right on the promenade of the port, an old mansion has been transformed into six comfortable, minimalist aesthetic rooms in pastel colours and nautical touches. The Old Markets are housed in a restored building in the old market of Symi, just 400m from the port. At a tranquil village on the island of Symi, you will find a gorgeous little villa “On the Rocks” designed for couples to connect, de-stress or just relax along the stunning waterfront.
Volcanic rocks, vast blue magic, stunning sunsets, jaw-dropping beaches, geological formations (that awaken our imagination) and picturesque settlements by the sea, all together narrate exquisite stories about this Cycladic island. It’s Milos’ simplicity that reminds us of the greatness of nature. The so-called “island of lovers” will make you fall in love with this magical land and will fill you with memories and unforgettable images that will follow you for many years to come.
Best hotels in Milos for couples: Milos Hotel at Adamantas is a key location in every direction. Skinopi Lodge is a unique boutique hotel at Schinopi, a fairytale tiny village, between Adamantas and Tripiti. Milos Breeze Boutique Hotel in Pollonia features an infinity pool, overlooking the ocean. And Asterias Boutique Hotel is located between Sarakiniko and Papafragas beach. White Pebble Suites is set on a pretty fishing village and features earthy and serene rooms and suites and tranquil outdoor living spaces designed for guests to enjoy a peaceful getaway.
It wouldn’t be a list of romantic destinations without Santorini- one of the world’s most popular islands – known for its crisp white cliffside homes, romantic walkways, mesmerizing sunsets and the world’s only inhabited Caldera. This isle is synonymous with couples and honeymooners and the best time to visit is April, May, the end of September, and October- this is to escape the mass crowds and to be able to easily head to the wineries, restaurants, and Oia.
Best hotels in Santorini for couples:Perivolas for its minimalist suites carved from the cliffs and the infinity pool that’s made for honeymooners. Katikies is one of the best places to experience sunsets, sea views and the swimming pool- the hotel’s whitewashed rooms are along Oia’s cliffside, all with magical views of the caldera. Santo Maris for breathtaking sea views, this boho-chic, adults-only, all-suite resort is away yet close enough to Oia. Istoria is an immaculate hotel featuring elements of the original estate, such as old wooden ceilings and preserved stone columns, creating a romantic and tranquil vibe.
Mykonos is definitely the island of glamour and partying- it’s also filled with an array of romantic places for eating and drinking under the stars. So, if fine dining, beach bars, shopping, and adults-only hotels sound like an ideal holiday for you and your other half- Mykonos is your place. Also boasting a range of world-class hotels that feature award-winning architecture, breathtaking views, and exceptional service- most locals are here to cater to every couple’s needs.
Best hotels in Hydra for couples: Located just outside Mykonos Town, Bill & Coo’s spaces are centred around the stunning view of the Aegean Sea; with the pool, lounge, and restaurant allowing guests to capture the breathtaking vistas day and night. Cavo Tagoo is Mykonos’ most famous and sought-after hotel with a 38-metre-long infinity seawater pool with an aquarium bar and wood decking, looking towards the sunset. Kalesma’s location provides 360 vistas, providing guests with the opportunity to enjoy both sunrise and sunsets from the same spot. Nomad is a new bohemian property offering 14 suites. It’s a private sanctuary designed for discerning travellers looking for a rustic yet stylish space to stay. The luxury suites come with private pools and jacuzzis and offer an earthy yet luxurious feel with a private courtyard- the perfect place for honeymooners to enjoy endless moments of romance.
Given there are over 6000 beautiful Greek islands, of which roughly 227 are inhabited, deciding which one to visit is always a hard decision to make.
If you’re planning a Greek summer holiday for 2022, the editors at IN+SIGHTS GREECE rounded up their favourite Greek islands (based on recent visits) and recommend adding them to your Greek island getaway list for this year!
P.S. This list is in no particular order- they are all just as spectacular as each other!
The charmingly mysterious Folegandros, situated in the corner of the southern part of the Cyclades, entices with its deep blue waters that are in complete harmony with its steep mountains, picturesque Chora, and jaw-dropping sunsets. This Greek island exudes natural beauty and it’s a dreamy destination where you can completely relax and unwind in style.
Part of the Small Cyclades, Donousa is perfect to explore by boat so you can get up close to the magnificent caves like “Spilia Tichou” with its beautiful stalactite formations- or discover “Fokospilia” a habitat of seals. Also, head over to the southeast of the island where you’ll find a mountainous village with breathtaking views of the Aegean Sea. And for the most beautiful beaches on the island, make your way to Livadi and Fikio.
Located a little over two hours away from Athens, the luscious island of Spetses is a perfect weekend escape from the Greek capital. This idyllic, car-free island of the Argosaronic Gulf is a favourite spot for affluent Athenians and international jet-setters.
Located in the Sporades islands, Skyros is only three and a half hours away from Athens; a destination untouched by tourism, it retains its tradition and authenticity. Whether you are an adventure seeker or looking to relax, Skyros offers a unique experience that entices you to unveil all its mysteries.
The dreamy landscape of this almost untouched Cycladic island is composed of rugged hills, historic mining sites, breathtaking coves, picturesque settlements, classic Greek island architecture, and endless beaches. The wild beauty of Serifos will fill your soul, relax your mind, and steal your heart.
Whitewashed houses, delicious food, unbeatable beaches. This is Naxos island in one sentence- one of our favourite Greek islands that never ceases to amaze. Beautiful beaches, ancient sites and museums; plus great food, atmospheric mountainous villages, and a cosmopolitan atmosphere for those who want to stay out all night. Naxos has something for every type of traveller and fulfills even the most demanding one!
Home to the beautiful town of Ermoupolis, Syros features stunning neoclassical architecture, old mansions, marble-paved streets, charming town squares, imposing churches, and historical monuments. Syros is not only rich in both history and culture, but it also boasts beautiful beaches including Galissas, Delphini, Kini, Finikas and De La Gratsia.
A small island in the Saronic Gulf (just 2 hours away from Athens), Hydra island has a charming atmosphere and romantic allure. It’s aristocratic, yet authentic and features a rocky landscape with elegant, imposing stone mansions, narrow cobblestone alleys with colourful bougainvillea; plus impeccable sunsets.
Volcanic rocks, vast blue magic waters, stunning sunsets, jaw-dropping beaches, geological formations and picturesque settlements by the sea, all together narrate exquisite stories about this Cycladic island that blows your mind away every time you step foot here. Fast becoming one of Greece’s most popular destinations, there is still an authentic and untouched beauty about Milos island.
Boasting spectacular azure waters and charming architecture, Paxos is one of Greece’s most beautiful islands. Located on the Ionian, it boasts some of the most stunning and exotic beaches in the world; as well as a wonderful natural landscape with lush vegetation. Combining a cosmopolitan feel with natural beauty, Paxoi is a Greek island that has been described as a “paradise on earth”.
The largest of the Ionian Isles, Kefalonia remains pure and protected from mass tourism. What makes this place so special is the pride locals take in keeping their island clean, fresh, modern, yet warm and inviting, all while encouraging its natural charm and authentic beauty to shine through. From the main town of Argostoli where you’ll find a range of eateries, bars, and boutiques through to gorgeous fishing villages and quaint towns, there’s so much to see and do on this lush island.
Wild landscapes, diverse beaches, thermal springs, lively summer festivals in beautiful village squares, rugged mountains, and tavernas serving foods made from organic produce and local goods like goat’s cheese, honey, and meat are all part of the Ikaria experience.
The simplicity of this authentic island, which shares aesthetic elements of the Cyclades and the Dodecanese, is what makes this destination extra special! Astypalea’s magnificent Chora, the old port, picturesque windmills, an imposing Venetian castle built of dark stones, and stunning beaches with crystal clear waters are the main reasons to fall in love with this beautiful Greek island.
Greece’s largest island is always a good idea! Renowned for its breathtaking beaches, rustic natural beauty, delightful cuisine and its remarkable hospitality, there is so much to see and do here. The main places to visit are Chania,Heraklion,Rethymno, and Agios Nikolaos; it doesn’t really matter where you go, as it’s a magnificent island filled with rich culture, history and traditions.
An ideal Greek island year-round as it’s located just two hours from Athens, Andros is filled with lush vegetation, abundant water, and stunning beaches. The beautiful Cycladic isle owes its lush greenery to its rich underground and surface water resources. Here you can experience the island’s rich culture and culinary flair. Also make sure you visit one of the many historic monasteries and churches, the amazing museums and enjoy the endless nature and its hiking trails.
The third-largest Cycladic island, Tinos is gifted with impeccable beauty. Crystal-clear waters, rare sorts of stone, architectural masterpieces, several charming villages with alleyways and bougainvillea, dovecotes, and the perfect environment to stimulate any artistic inclination- the island of Aeolus has it all!
The Aegean island of the Apocalypse is known as the place where Saint John the Theologian wrote the Book of Revelation. Patmos is a nostalgic destination, offering wild beauty, a striking coastline, medieval Chora, a maze of alleyways filled with cascading bougainvillea, and beautiful doors. Patmos is an unspoiled island that you should explore at your own pace.
Also located in the Dodecanese, Karpathos is an island of untouched beauty that’s loved for its authentic customs and centuries-old traditions. Visit the ancient acropolis, caves, churches and see locals in their traditional dress. Offering beautiful views from authentic mountainside villages- here you’ll get to understand what Greek island life is truly about.
The largest island of the Dodecanese, Rhodes is home to one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the medieval Old Town of the City of Rhodes, which has been declared a World Heritage Site. Make sure you visit Lindos, which has one of the best microclimates in the Mediterranean is a must, as well as the beaches of Anthony Quinn and Kallithea.
This Ionian isle boasts remarkable natural landscapes, world-famous beaches, verdant mountains, delightful local cuisine, a noteworthy winemaking tradition, and an exciting range of things to see and do. Otherwise known as Lefkas, it’s the perfect spot for a summer holiday.
An absolute gem in the heart of the Dodecanese, Symi is a small but mesmerising Greek island, which lies in the north of Rhodes. Surrounded by deep green seas and covered in cypress trees, this beautiful destination is home to one of the prettiest ports in Greece, neo-classical mansions, and dreamy fishing villages. Many visitors arrive here on their private yacht and spend days (or weeks) enjoying the magical views surrounding them.
This undiscovered island close to Athens is filled with history, captivating scenery, imposing castles, secret caves, medieval villages and beautiful beaches. Located off the south coast of the Peloponnese, Kythira also features delightful villages and lovely local delicacies that you’re sure to enjoy.
A small island in the Saronic Gulf (just 2 hours away from Athens), Hydra is a stunning and aristocratic destination that is one of the only islands in Greece without vehicles, making it a tranquil and laid-back spot to sit back, relax and unwind.
Perched among thousands of steps and little alleyways, Hydra island offers an easy-going atmosphere, romantic sunsets, and some breathtaking places where you can enjoy fabulous food and drinks.
When it comes to where to eat and drink in Hydra, our list has it all: from early evening cocktails with light pre-dinner bites to the finest and freshest seafood dishes on offer – you won’t waste a meal, and you certainly won’t leave hungry.
So, if you’re heading to Hydra…here’s where you should eat and drink!
Techne Restaurant & Social
This seaside eatery is set in a renovated historic building, which, in fact, was an 1870s former boat factory. Located above Avlaki beach, a 10-minute walk from Hydra harbour, they serve great Mediterranean dishes on a stunning terrace that has great views out to the Aegean Sea (perfect place to enjoy a cocktail as you watch the sunset).
Boasting an old-world charm, it’s also set right by the water, making it an ideal place for a late lunch or dinner. This chic, all-white waterside restaurant serves modern dishes and local cuisine using fresh ingredients and seasonal produce.
This is a traditional restaurant with a big collection of plates, decorated by guests who eat here. Located in a prime spot, you can see the port while enjoying fabulous dishes. It’s actually located under the shade of the Clocktower of Hydra, right next to the Byzantine Museum and is famous for its great Greek food, relaxing vibe, and warm service.
Is an Italian trattoria, only 150m from the port and is decorated with old photos, tools, and equipment used by sponge divers. Serving traditional Italian recipes made using fresh Greek ingredients, it’s located at a hidden spot behind Hydra’s port.
Another authentic Italian restaurant found in the alleyways of Hydra’s town, here they serve food from Napoli and the South of Italy. Located just off the port, it features a nice indoor dining space as well as a charming private courtyard. We recommend you try the handmade pasta with fresh seafood and top Italian wines.
This is the place to go to for locally caught calamari and other fresh shellfish. Located on the corner of the port, next to the side entrance of Hydra’s Cathedral Temple, it’s the perfect spot for a casual meal.
Hydra’s most famous café-bar is carved into the rustic coastline near Hydra’s harbour. Embraced by rocks and enwrapped by the sea, it offers a picturesque spot for swimming, diving, as well as a good place to spend the afternoon alternating between a drink and a dip. With a great cocktail menu- make sure you are here in time for the sunset.
Cocktail lovers should head to Amalour and Isalos Café- they are by far the best spots for an aperitivo, wine or any drink of choice! Tip: Isalos is famous for its Caffe del Doge, a specialty coffee from Venice.
Another spot for pre-dinner drinks. Located on the corner of the harbour, it’s open all day and is a great place for people-watching or for those wanting to mingle with locals.
As the weather heats up in Athens, locals and visitors look to escape the Greek capital with some ever-so-tempting island hopping!
Whether you’re after a 1-day cruise from Athens or you’re looking forward to the ultimate island experience, we’ve rounded up 5 of our favourite Greek islands that are just a short ferry trip from the port of Piraeus.
Located a little over two hours away from Athens, the luscious island of Spetses is a perfect weekend escape from the Greek capital. This idyllic, car-free island of the Argosaronic Gulf is a favourite spot for affluent Athenians and international jet-setters. The island stands out for its majestic architecture, impressive buildings, crystal-clear waters and off-the-beaten-path activities.
A small island in the Saronic Gulf (just 2 hours away from Athens), with its classic beauty, has seduced many international personalities including Sophia Loren, Maria Callas, Aristotle Onassis, and Leonard Cohen, who purchased a house on the island in 1960. Hydra has a charming atmosphere and romantic allure, it’s aristocratic, yet authentic and features a rocky landscape with elegant, imposing stone mansions, narrow cobblestone alleys (with colourful bougainvillaea), plus impeccable sunsets.
Most ferries connecting Athens with Poros are high-speed, making this trip in less than 1 hour. Boasting lovely landscapes, in Poros, you’ll find small tavernas, yacht marinas, neoclassical buildings, a clock tower, pine forests reaching the sea, serenity and relaxation. Poros is a wonderful island in the Saronic Gulf and a local favourite destination for Athenians looking for weekend getaways, as A perfect spot if you’re looking for an island with strong traditional character and modern amenities.
So close to Athens (just one hour from the port of Lavrio, east of Athens) is the Greek island of Kea (also known as Tzia), which offers a chic ambience, wonderful beaches and an authentic vibe. Many have visited Kea as a day trip from the Greek capital as Kea is the closest Cycladic island to Athens. It’s an ideal destination for those seeking a relaxing holiday away from the crowds. Here you can enjoy local delicacies and dishes, as well as charming villages and great swimming spots.
This amazing tiny island is about an hour from Piraeus by boat and offers lush green landscapes, gorgeous bays and secret coves. It’s a perfect place for those wishing to combine a beach holiday with nature, as you can explore the gorgeous landscapes while trekking, cycling, diving, hiking and kayaking. Agistri is also known for its amazing local dishes and traditional taverns- foodies add this one to your list too!
Given there’s over 6000 stunning Greek islands, of which roughly 227 are inhabited, deciding which one to visit (or revisit) is always a hard decision to make.
The obvious choice for many is Santorini and Mykonos (there’s no denying their beauty) but for us, there are many others we can’t wait to get to again this summer and they are all just as breathtaking as each other!
A small island in the Saronic Gulf (just 2 hours away from Athens), Hydra island with its classic beauty has seduced many international personalities such as Sophia Loren, Maria Callas, Aristotle Onassis, and Leonard Cohen, who purchased a house on the island in 1960. Moreover, the Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd used to regularly vacation here. Hydra has a charming atmosphere and romantic allure, it is aristocratic, yet authentic and features a rocky landscape with elegant, imposing stone mansions, narrow cobblestone alleys with colourful bougainvillea; plus impeccable sunsets.
With a history going back to the Neolithic era, Samos island is rich with a varied and impressive archaeological beauty that can raise the pulse of even the most bored, tag-along visitor. From hiking in beautiful nature to visiting charming little villages, tasting some of the best wine Greece has to offer, and swimming at beautiful beaches that offer clear waters and a chilled vibe- Samos has something for everyone.
Volcanic rocks, vast blue magic waters, stunning sunsets, jaw-dropping beaches, geological formations (that awaken your imagination), and picturesque settlements by the sea, all together narrate exquisite stories about this Cycladic island that blows your mind away, every time you step foot here. Fast becoming one of Greece’s most popular destinations, there is still an authentic and untouched beauty about Milos island.
Whitewashed houses, delicious food, unbeatable beaches. This is Naxos island in one sentence, one of our favourite Greek islands that never ceases to amaze. Naxos is the largest Cycladic island and it has it all. Beautiful beaches, ancient sites and museums, great food, atmospheric mountainous villages, and a cosmopolitan atmosphere for those who want to stay out all night. It has something for every type of traveller and fulfills even the most demanding one!
There’s something magical about Kefalonia island, the largest of the Ionian isles, which still remains pure and protected from mass tourism. What makes this place so special is the pride locals take in keeping their island clean, fresh, modern, yet warm and inviting, all while encouraging its natural charm and authentic beauty to shine through. From the main town of Argostoli where you will find a range of eateries, bars, and boutiques through to gorgeous fishing villages and quaint towns, there’s so much to see and do on this lush island; home to Myrtos, one of Greece’s most breathtaking beaches.
From the moment you arrive, Astypalea island will take your breath away. The simplicity of this authentic island, which shares aesthetic elements of the Cyclades and the Dodecanese, is what makes this destination extra special! Its magnificent Chora, the old port, eight picturesque windmills, an imposing Venetian castle built of dark stones; and stunning beaches with crystal clear waters are the main reasons to fall in love with this beautiful Greek island.
Another gem in the heart of the Dodecanese, Symi is a small but mesmerising Greek island, which lies in the Southern Dodecanese, north of Rhodes. Surrounded by deep green seas and covered in cypress trees, this beautiful destination is home to one of the prettiest ports in Greece, neo-classical mansions, and dreamy fishing villages. Many visitors arrive here on their private yacht and spend days (or weeks) enjoying the magical views surrounding them.
Many stunning islands and coastlines around Greece have more to offer than just beaches and sunsets. Many are dotted with amazing sea caves that have been worn away over the years, leaving behind natural wonders.
These caves sit on the edge of the sea and are absolutely breathtaking. If you get a chance to visit any of the islands mentioned below we suggest you do yourself a favour and get up close to one of these magical sea caves.
Lake Cave of Melissani, Kefalonia
Located near Sami, Melissani has an amazing lake inside the cave featuring trees and forests. The cave itself is B-shaped and when the roof of one of the halls caved in centuries ago, it allowed sunlight to filter through, making it an incredible experience when you visit in the afternoon. The sunlight hitting the turquoise-blue waters creates a magical illusion and it’s one of the most spectacular images of Kefalonia island.
Blue Caves, Zakynthos
Located near Volimes, the waters here have the colour of deep blue and the bottom of the sea features purple and orange coral. You can only reach the blue caves by boat and you can either hire a boat to take part in one of the tours. It’s best to visit the caves in the morning to enjoy the colours of the water and keep in mind only small boats can get through the caves.
Blue Caves, Alonissos
Located on the northeastern side of Alonissos, between the remote beaches of Strovili and Lalarias. Excursion boats depart daily from Patitiri village for surrounding beautiful islets and the remote caves. The striking water around the Blue Cave is so clear and most visitors dive off the rocks to enjoy an unforgettable swim.
Papanikolis Cave, Lefkada
Lefkada is known for its magical beaches (Egremni, Porto Katsiki, Kathisma) thanks to its turquoise waters and its white sandy beaches, which get their rich colour thanks to the island’s limestone. If you are looking for a unique swim on the island that’s truly spectacular, make sure to visit Papnikolis Cave. This is one of the largest and most beautiful caves in Greece, that can only be reached by boat.
Blue Grotto, Katelorizo
The Blue Cave of Kastelorizo is famous worldwide and one of the biggest attractions to the island. This cave is said to be among the most impressive natural treasures found in the Mediterranean, as it’s larger than the Grotta Azzurra on Capri in Italy. The best time of the day to visit here is during the early morning when the sun is still low.
Caves of Papafragas, Milos
Papafragas on Milos island features a gorgeous rectangular-shaped cove surrounded by tall cliffs and natural caves, which were the base of operations for pirates during the Byzantium and were named after the last priest (papa – Frangos). The rocks around the beach are huge and visitors can only reach them by car.
You will find this spectacular sea cave on the way to Pori. Featuring an amazing shape, it’s named milk as the water is white due to the dust of calcium that falls from the rock. You can only get here by boat but it’s definitely worth the effort.
The Cave, Hydra
On the island of Hydra, you can experience a breathtaking swim in a cave that is set on the most famous beach on the island. The water is spectacular and you can spend endless hours swimming through the cave and feeling a sense of serenity.
Diatripti Cave, Skyros
Boasting beautiful turquoise waters, you can reach Datripti by boat and there are quite a few tours to the cave throughout summer. In the caves, the colours of the water are magical, thanks to the reflection of the sun. The stalactites and the green bottom of the sea will amaze you.
Nausica Cave in Palaiokastritsa, Corfu
Palaiokastritsa is where you can find the cave of Nausica. Referred to as the “Capri of the Ionian Sea” Palaiokastritsa village is located on the west side of Corfu. Boasting crystal clear, turquoise waters, steep rocks and lush greenery that almost reaches the sea, this is a magnificent spot not to be missed when visiting Corfu.
Created by Alexandra Heard and Heleena Trahanas, ALEX AND TRAHANAS is a stunning Australian lifestyle brand, which is the result of Heleena and Alexandra’s love for “the staggering beauty of summer on the Mediterranean.”
The classic label features garments, accessories and entertaining pieces inspired by their travels to Europe and beyond- where they visit frequently to source the finest of fabrics, materials and production methods.
IN+SIGHTS GREECE recently spoke with both creators about their successful brand, their latest collection, as well as their love for the Greek islands.
Tell us about your lifestyle brand. When was it launched and what was the concept behind it?
ALEX AND TRAHANAS was launched in 2017- aiming to bring the Mediterranean to Australian waters. It is curious about how we undertake life’s every day and special ceremonies, and is driven to create pieces that elevate these moments through quality timeless design. Our passion for travel and culture inspired us to create a platform in 2017, which allowed us to share collectable pieces and experiences.
What inspires your creations and how would you describe your designs?
The Mediterranean inspires the brand throughout. We really wanted to bring a taste of the Mediterranean to Australia and create our own little Europe through the curated world of ALEX AND TRAHANAS which includes; linen garments -designed and made in Australia, ceramics from the south of Italy to elevate life’s delicious ceremonies of effortless long rolling lunches, along with collaborations with artists and designers we admire. ALEX AND TRAHANAS is a way of life, a way of being, which echoes life lived in the Mediterranean.
What do you love most about what you do?
We love that work and play are intrinsically connected, it’s a way of life, we love what we do.
What are a few of your favourite pieces from your latest fashion collections?
We love it all! We’re excited about some new pieces we’ve added to our tablescape, such as our Roman Banquet candle, 100% beeswax, handmade in Bondi. This is a collaboration with one of Australia’s most talented creatives, Tony Assness. We’re also excited to continue our jewellery collaboration with Louise Olsen- together we’ve designed some new earrings inspired by Chifferi pasta. We’ll also be whisking through summer wearing our new Ischia dress and Fruittivendelo unisex shirt and shorts.
Some of your beautiful creations are inspired by Greece. Tell us more about those?
We’re definitely drawn to the calming palette of blue and white, which is so prevalent in Greece, it brings back memories of all the beautiful seaside spots.
Where are your pieces made?
Our ceramics are handmade by artisans in Puglia, in the south of Italy. They are all hand painted, making each one of a kind. We also work locally with artists such as Louise Olsen whom we collaborate with to make jewellery, and also Tony Assness who makes our 100% beeswax candles in Bondi, Sydney.
Heleena, tell us about your family connection to Greece?
My grandparents migrated from Greece. My family are from the Peloponnese, from Tripoli, Selianitika and Akrata.
How often do you travel to Europe and what are some of your favourite summer destinations in Greece?
We travelled twice a year to Europe to source new treasures, we are always seeking out to find pieces to build the Mediterranean lifestyle in Australia. We love Milos and Hydra, the more untouched islands.
Over the last few years you’ve visited Sifnos and Hydra, where would you recommend to eat, drink & swim?
Swim: Poulati, Vathi, Platos Yialos.
Eat: For lunch we recommend Cheronissos Fish Tavern and Manolis in Vathi. For dinner head to Taverna Chrisopigi in Perivoli and To Xryso in Artemonas.
Swim: You can find little beaches all along the small island of Hydra, boats are frequent or you can walk. Mandraki, Spilia, Castello, Vlychos Beach.
What are a few key pieces from your collections that you always pack with you when visiting the Mediterranean?
Our white aloe-vera infused Italian linen Summer Shirt Dress, the navy Aperitivo Dress, the striped Giorgia dress from our collaboration with Masseria Moroseta, as well as our aloe-vera infused Italian Linen Shirt and Summer tailored shorts (the perfect set). We always work to an effortless, throw-on, beach-to-apertivo uniform on our European summer travels.
You also love entertaining. What are a few of your favourite dishes/desserts you enjoy making for family and friends?
We do! We actually live for it. Each time we entertain we select a cuisine or particular region, and explore recipes which originate from there. For the most case, everything we make is for the first time a part from a few cuisine-specific classics such as prawn saganaki and Spanakopita (for Greek menus) and fresh pasta (for Italian menus). Dreaming up the menu is our favourite part – there is always lots of back and forth sharing of recipes, images and ideas. We think a lot about the balance of dishes to make up a truly delicious occasion and about the mouth-watering flavour and texture combinations. Recently we enjoyed making a grilled squid, cavolo nero, chili, garlic and parsley dish from our good friend David Lovett, as well as an almond granita which was so elegant and refreshing after a sprawling dinner party feast.
What are some of your tips for simple and elegant table styling when entertaining?
Table styling should be fun and relaxed, never stuffy. Think about textures, linen, abundance, statements and lighting. When the table is set in a gorgeous mix of colours, heights, shapes and textures it really sets the tone for the occasion. Enjoy the ceremony of styling the pieces you’ve collected over time. For us, it’s Apulian hand-painted ceramics, Italian wine tumblers and colourful water glasses by Bitossi and a linen table cloth, sometimes layered with a table runner from Puglia.
Where would you like to explore next for work and play?
Labelled the “Greek Riviera,” Porto Heli is a luxurious destination in the Peloponnese and home to 5-star hotels, fine dining restaurants, lovely beaches, secluded coves, private bays, and breathtaking landscapes that attract affluent visitors throughout the warmer months.
A 2.5-hour drive from Athens, or 25 minutes by helicopter, this opulent destination is set across from Spetses and Hydra, making it the perfect base for day trips to nearby islands. Porto Heli’s harbour is well protected from the wind and with a gorgeous marina that offers easy access to the Saronic Gulf, it has become extremely popular amongst those who love to sail the Aegean Sea.
Nikki Beach Resort & Spa is an elegant hotel with impressive spaces and stunning sea views. Offering guests a glamorous and upmarket experience, here you can enjoy one of its 66 state-of-the-art rooms and suites, two fine dining restaurants, and the world-renowned Beach Club, where you can relax poolside with a drink, and taste local seafood, all while listening to a resident DJ playing cool summer tracks. Otherwise check into Amanzoe, which is one of the most expensive hotels in Greece. This ultra-exclusive and carefully designed resort has an emphasis on health and wellbeing and features an exclusive private beach club and a decadent spa. If you prefer to stay in a villa, there are plenty of options via Porto Heli Villas, where you can rent an exclusive property with panoramic sea views and a private beach, and also check out PortoHeli Exclusive, as they offer a vast portfolio of luxury villa rentals that are ideal for families and anyone with a larger group.
Eat & Drink
Porto Heli provides various options when it comes to wining and dining and is most known for its delicious fresh fish, which can be found at any of the local eateries. Our recommendations are Veranda del Vino, Big Blue, Salt & Pepper, and Rozos Restaurant. For a gastronomical Japanese experience head to Nama, or if you are after something more casual try The Drunken Clam. When craving something sweet, Solo Gelato serves freshly made gelato and desserts, and Café Da Luz is the place to go for a leisurely coffee. As for a place to sip on a cocktail while watching the sunset check out Ostria Café Cocktail Bar.
Tip:don’t miss going to the fishing village of Kilida, about 10 km northwest of Porto Heli, here you will be treated to the freshest and most mouthwatering prawns.
Sailing and yachting are very popular here with a renowned water ski school and the annual Spetses classic yacht regatta. Sea lovers can enjoy plenty of watersport activities such as scuba diving, marathons, kids sailing, paddle boating, and windsurfing.
There are so many beautiful beaches, bays, and coves including Hinitsa, Kounoupi, and Blue Beach, which has a nice tavern and also check out Ververonta Beach for its calm water and fancy beach bars. Paralia is the main beach with lots of water activities, while Triantafyllou, Petrothalassa, and Paralia Kosta are secluded and ideal for a picnic.
In 10 minutes you can arrive by taxi boat to the picturesque island of Spetses, as well as the nearby islands of Poros and Hydra, where you can discover pretty towns, shops, cafes, bars, and seaside restaurants. Porto Heli is also great for road trips to historic sites such as the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus, Mycenae, and Nafplio.
A small island in the Saronic Gulf (just 2 hours away from Athens), with its classic beauty, has seduced many international personalities such as Sophia Loren, Maria Callas, Aristotle Onassis, and Leonard Cohen, who purchased a house on the island in 1960. Moreover, the Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd used to regularly vacation here.
Hydra has a charming atmosphere and romantic allure, it is aristocratic, yet authentic and features a rocky landscape with elegant, imposing stone mansions, narrow cobblestone alleys (with colourful bougainvillea), plus impeccable sunsets.
What you need to know before you arrive
Cars or motorcycles are not allowed on the island, aside from garbage trucks and ambulances.
Getting There & Getting Around
You can get here by ferry that departs from the port of Piraeus in Athens (a 2-hour journey). You can drive up to Metohi in the Peloponnese (2.5 hours) and park your car and cross to Hydra by a ferry or water taxi (25 minutes). You can also do a day cruise from Athens, where you will visit three islands- Hydra, Poros, and Aegina. Bear in mind that you will only have two hours to explore Hydra. Once there, the main method of transport is the delightful mules and donkeys, as well as water taxis.
Where to stay
Near the harbour is nice, this is where all the buzz is. Other great places for accommodation are Vlychos, Mandraki, and Vlychos Plakes.
Where to sleep
Rafalias a magnificent Mansion, near George Kountouriotis Manor and the Hydra Museum Historical Archives. Mastoris Mansion is another great hotel, located just 90m away from Hydra’s port, with five rooms beautifully decorated and a wonderful terrace. And Hydrea Boutique Hotel in the heart of Hydra Town has stunning views.
Where to eat
Techne Restaurant & Social, situated by the sea, it’s set in a renovated historic building with a picturesque courtyard and serves great Mediterranean dishes. Omilos Restaurant is a must as it evokes memories from Hydra’s history.
To Piato, a traditional restaurant with a big collection of plates, decorated by the clients. From its prime spot, you can see the port while you enjoy fabulous dishes. Caprice, an Italian trattoria, only 150m from the port. The restaurant is decorated with old photos, tools, and equipment used by sponge divers. It serves traditional Italian recipes made with fresh Greek ingredients. Il Casta, another authentic Italian restaurant in the alleyways of Hydra’s town serves food from Napoli and the South of Italy.
What to eat
The traditional Hydriot halva for dessert and Tsagkaris’ amygdalota.
Where to drink
Hydronetta, a café-bar carved into the craggy coastline near Hydra’s harbor.
Where to swim
Vlychos, a pebbled beach, just 2km west of Hydra Town, it’s for those who are fond of undisturbed beaches. Kaminia, a pebbled beach, is located within a small fishing village, only 1km west of Hydra Town, and near the village of Vlyhos. Spilia, a rocky “beach” with translucent blue waters is the perfect diving spot. At Agios Nikolaos, a sandy blissful beach on the western end of Hydra. In front of the Four Seasons Hotel and located in Plakes town, the long, sandy beach of Plakes offers panoramic views of mainland Greece and the surrounding islands. To get there, the hotel offers a boat that runs every hour between the village and Hydra Harbour for 3€, or you can hire a water taxi (20€).
Visit the Monastery of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, Hydra’s main Cathedral, located in the center of the harbor, underneath the clock tower. It was said to have been built by a nun on her arrival in 1643 and consists of magnificent Byzantine-style architecture, frescoes from the 18th century, and exquisite Orthodox icons. Historical Archives Museum, founded in 1918, displays artifacts and rare documents related to the historical, traditional, and cultural aspects of the island from 1708 –1865. There is also a library there. Kountouriotis Museum, a mansion dedicated to Lazaros Kountouriotis, who played a vital role in the War of Independence. It was built in 1780 and features beautiful interiors, paintings by Greek artists, historical jewellery, and furniture owned by the Kountouriotis family. The Ecclesiastical Museum, located on the west side of the Monastery and housed in a former monk cell, has been open since 1999 and showcases elaborate holy vessels, jewellery, musical manuscripts, and other historical relics of the Monastery.
Special Events in Hydra
Miaoulia is celebrated during the last weekend of June, in remembrance of Admiral Andreas Miaoulis, who played a vital part in the War of Independence. The festivities include folk dancing, concerts, and boat races. At the very end, a sensational fireworks display takes place.
Koundouriotika Festival takes place in late August and commemorates the death of Hydriot and the first Greek Republic President Pavlos Kondouriotis. The festival includes sporting events, exhibitions, and lectures while ends with thanksgiving and memorial service.
Hydra Regatta is a famous sailing race from Faliro to Hydra and back. It is organised twice a year, in Spring, on the weekend before the 25th of March (Independence Day), and in Autumn, on the last weekend of October.
Do as locals do
Visit little-known beaches on the back of the island, such as Limnioniza and Nisiza. You can reach them using a boat ride.For a beautiful walk, begin from the picturesque fishing village of Kamini to Hydra Town. It is off the beaten path as there are no tourist shops. You will meet the parish church of John the Baptist and several stunning mansion ruins.
There is a Yacht Club, offering swimming, water polo, sailing, and canoeing. The island is also rich in aquatic life, reefs, and sea caves at the bottom of the sea, so it’s perfect for snorkeling. Hydra is also top for hikers because the landscapes from the highest points are magnificent.
Where to shop
Speak Out is a chic boutique with various jewelry, accessories, and clothing. Keramidas Lykourgos, since the late 1960s, creates jewellery inspired by Greek tradition (especially the Byzantine one). Turquoise, unique clothing, and textile shop, with handmade pieces. For a variety of beauty products including soaps, lotions, and cologne that are made using old traditional recipes from Greek pharmacopeia, in stylish packaging, visit Rafalia’s Pharmacy.
What to see
Rafalia’s Pharmacy is considered one of the most beautiful pharmacies in the world. It was founded in 1890 by Evangelos Rafalias, located within a gorgeous century-old mansion, it’s the oldest in Greece and has remained in the same family. The Tsamados Mansion houses the oldest Merchant Marine Training School in the world, still in operation today. The Tombazis Mansion hosts students from the Athens School of Fine Arts in the summer. The Bastions to the left and the right of the harbor, with a breathtaking view of the Aegean Sea.
Take a day trip to…
Poros and Spetses islands. Alternatively, to Ermioni, Porto Heli, or Aegina.
Can’t leave until
Stopping along the way to admire the dusk at Sunset Restaurant, which has a spectacular and romantic view of the sea. And a walk to the Profitis Ilias Monastery.