Hydra is just over an hour by fast ferry from Athens which only makes its sense of complete escapism all the more captivating. The otherworldly atmosphere might have something to do with the fact that the island is totally car free, but truthfully it’s hard to pin down what’s most magical of all here. Beaches more than earn the overused description, pristine. Shallow waters and lifeguards make them safe for younger kids and give older ones a bit of freedom. Quaint harbour towns and traditional villages help magnify the time-stood-still charm. And donkeys are the preferred mode of transport almost everywhere, which really is as sweet as it sounds.
Designed like an architectural amphitheatre around a natural harbour, prepare to be swept away by Hydra town’s almost too perfect traditional prettiness.
It’s best to get about by donkey on Hydra and the island has over 500 in residence, so take advantage of the no-wheels rule and discover the fun of exploring on four legs instead.
Hydra has petit proportions but plenty of museums, including an annex to the National Historical Museum and a superb Byzantine Museum.
Head to the beach at Bisti for diving, swimming and kayaking. Catch a water taxi to the perfect sands of Ayios Nikolaos. Or take a hike with older kids to Limnióniza, it’s the loveliest beach on the island and worth the effort.
There are 300 churches on Hydra. Favourite with kids is Profitis Ilias Monastery: it’s high above Hydra town, involves a fairy-tale walk through the cobbled streets and rewards little legs with phenomenal ocean views at the top.
Check out Hydra’s 18th century, seafront cannons. Older kids will enjoy the pirate tales and, if you time it right, you can enjoy a remarkable sunset.
Regular Flying Dolphin ferries hop to Hydra from Athens in one hour and 30 minutes.