This Charming Greek Island With Easy-To-Reach Beaches Is Rick Steves' Favorite

When it comes to choosing which Greek island to visit during your trip, the choice depends on a few different factors. Are you looking for a laid-back atmosphere, or do you prefer hitting up one of the best party destinations in the world? Are you a fan of beaches, or would you rather immerse yourself in local culture? Ultimately, though — no matter what your destination ends up being — Greek island life all boils down to white sand beaches, mouthwatering cuisine, and endless sunshine. Nonetheless, travel expert and TV host Rick Steves has one destination in particular that stands out among the likes of Santorini and Mykonos. According to his blog, Steves' favorite Greek island is the charming and unassuming Hydra.

Part of the Saronic Gulf Islands — a group that also includes Poros, Agistri, Aegina, and Spetses — Hydra is located just two hours by ferry from Athens. Quaint and less crowded, the little island of roughly 2,500 inhabitants makes for a great overnight trip if you're looking to get away from it all.

What's so special about the Greek island of Hydra?

Put simply, one of the most appealing things about Hydra according to Rick Steves is the fact that there are no cars allowed on the island. Not only does this help preserve the clean air, but it also sets the scene for a truly relaxing holiday that's not disturbed by beeping, screeching wheels, or unexpected traffic jams. So, how exactly are you meant to get around? While most travelers prefer to tackle the island by foot or via water taxi, Steves has one more option if you need an extra hand with your luggage: donkeys. "On Hydra, a traffic jam is three donkeys and a fisherman," he writes.

While the travel show host doesn't think the beaches on Hydra are extra special, he does appreciate how easy they are to get to. With nearly a dozen of them to choose from, you'll be spoiled for choice. Some of the most popular beaches in Hydra include the picturesque Vlychos Beach, equipped with sun loungers, dining spots, and just 1.2 miles from Hydra Town; Kaminia Beach, 0.6 miles from Hydra Town and perfect for families; Hydroneta, located on the rocky coastline and with a bar nearby; and Molos Beach, more remote than the others and accessible via water taxi from Hydra Town. If you're looking to hit up more than one spot, beach-hopping tours are also available with operators like G&G Cruises, and tickets will set you back around $43 per person.

Making the most of your visit to Hydra

If you're planning to visit Greece on a budget, you'll be happy to hear that Hydra is prepped and ready to welcome travelers from all over the world, and with all sorts of budgets. In terms of accommodation, the island is brimming with traditional guest houses and budget-friendly hotels. According to TripAdvisor, some of the most popular and highly-rated options include the Orloff Boutique Hotel (5-star rating), Hotel Mistral (five stars), and Hotel Leto Hydra (4.5 stars).

When it comes to dining, Hydra doesn't disappoint either. With local joints specializing in fresh seafood, Mediterranean cuisine, and Greek snacks, it's all a matter of what you're in the mood for and how much you want to spend. A few spots worth highlighting include Téchnē Restaurant & Social, Piato Restaurant, and Kai Kremmidi (a smaller and budget-friendly restaurant). As for bars, Hydronetta and Spilia Beach Club typically steal the show.

Lastly, there's the issue with what to do aside from lounging on the beach. Luckily, Hydra has plenty of activities to keep you busy. From visiting the bastions around the port to hitting up the island's Historical Archives Museum, Tetsis Art Museum, or the Lazaros Koundouriotis Historical Mansion, there's no shortage of things to do. As for music lovers, there's the option to stroll along Hydra Town until you reach the famous Leonard Cohen House, where the musician and poet once spent his days writing as he sank into the rhythms of Greek life.