Immerse Yourself In Greek Culture At This Popular Island Destination

Greece is a vacation destination that leisure travelers find alluring year-round. According to Statista, the travel and tourism sector alone contributed 38 billion euros to the country's economy in 2022. Rich in history, brimming over with ancient architecture, and loved for its local fare, there's a long list of reasons that might have you purchasing a ticket and boarding a plane to visit Greece sooner rather than later.

When you want to enjoy a stay that's focused on immersing yourself in Greek culture at its best, the popular island destination of Hydra should top your list. Located within the scenic Argosaronic Gulf, Hydra is about 2 hours from Athens by ferry departing from the port of Piraeus. Taking a ferry is the only way to reach the island which has long been frequented by celebrities and doesn't have an airport to its name.

Hydra is also a completely car-free vacation destination which is something that fits seamlessly into Greek cultural values. Ancient Greek philosophers known as the Sophists asserted as early as the 5th Century BCE that time might be simply a figment of the imagination. Today, Greeks still appreciate the opportunity to slow things down and savor the moment. The common Greek phrase, "sigá-sigá" translates to "slowly-slowly," and is a frequent invitation you might hear to linger instead of rush your way through life in Hydra.

Connect with sensational shorelines and local cuisine

One of the very best places to start when you're looking to slow down, enjoy the moment, and live like a local in Hydra is the beach. Fortunately, this island has no shortage of spectacular shorelines to explore. Start at Vlichos Beach in the village of the same name. Here, you can settle in under a thatched-roof cabana undisturbed when you want to avoid crowds. You can also swim in clear blue waters, or take a leisurely stroll on the pebbled sand.

If it's colorful architecture, charming shops, and delicious eateries that best connect you to Greek culture, you'll find it all waiting for you within Hydra Town. Located right on the harbor, Hydra Town is a destination that thrives on a storied naval history, fishing, and boating culture. As picturesque as it is fun to explore, Hydra Town is the perfect place to walk along the port, admire stone mansions, navigate narrow alleys, or pop in and out of boutique waterfront stores.

When cravings come calling, Hydra is a one-stop-shop for iconic Greek cuisine. The restaurants here serve up fresh seafood in abundance much to the delight of locals and visitors alike. Some of the traditional dishes you might want to try include a shrimp known as Hydriotika Garida, or an appetizer known as Savoro which is sardine-based.

Make time for museums and monasteries

Once you've had your fill of Greek fare, take some time to explore the welcoming village of Kaminia. Not far from Hydra Town, this village sits on a beautiful and quiet inlet. Kaminia offers a look at what Greek life was like in Hydra in decades past.

Connecting with Greek history is simple when you spend time exploring Hydra's Bastions. Here, hilltop fortifications still stand that protected the island from sea attacks during the 18th century and beyond. A highlight is certainly the rows of historic cannons, but the view out over the water from above is equally appealing. Another top activity to enjoy when you're visiting Hydra and looking to connect to local culture is to make time for museum stops. The island hosts the Ecclesiastical and Byzantine Museum which houses an impressive collection of religious artifacts. You'll also want to check out the Historical Archives Museum which sits in the restored residence of a former Greek shipowner and focuses heavily on maritime history.

Don't end your stay in Hydra before hiking your way up to the Monastery of Prophet Elias. This is just one of a collection of monasteries you can find across the island. What makes it stand out is its stunning location at the summit of Mount Eros. The monastery dates back to the early 1800s and is a wonderful example of Orthodox architecture that will have you lingering to admire all the details.