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Hydra has always been the favoured port of call for day cruisers from Athens. It was Greece’s first picture-postcard island, as well as the most convenient. It has retained its physical attractions – a tiny harbour carpeted with sleek yachts and their occupants, with an amphi-theatrical stage-set of pastel-shaded houses providing the steeply rising back-drop. The only motor vehicle is the dust cart, so the narrow, cobbled streets remain as quiet as the pressure of visitors allows.
But the village and harbour are not the sum of Hydra’s parts: there is a good beach with a taverna or two a short walk along the coast east of the harbour, though those who are happy with swimming from impressive rocks may prefer the other side of the harbour where they can watch every boat come and go as they dive into the clear sea. There is wonderfully remote walking on the hills behind the village and down the length of the island to the odd beach near the gentle western tip – indeed the odd beach can also be reached in summer by the odd taxi-boat for the activity-challenged.
Inevitably Hydra is not first choice for those seeking economy and the laid-back friendliness of Greeks with little to do but pass the time of day. But for convenience of access and a stunningly picturesque presence it can’t be beaten.
A stay on Hydra can obviously be combined with any other island in the Gulf, or with Athens or the mainland of the Peloponnese.