The island of Hydra in the Argo-Saronic Gulf is a true paradise for walkers. A simple stroll around the island reveals all sorts of hidden beauties.
There are endless winding walkways through the dazzling white cobbled paths that lead up to picturesque neighbourhoods with charming old houses and the Monastery of the Prophet Elias which offer fantastic views. Or stroll along the shore from the beautiful harbour to Kamini, Vlychos and Palamidas. The temperate climate of the island and the varied landscape mean that conditions are right for walking at any time of year, though Spring is the most beautiful season here, when the island is adorned with beautiful wildflowers that grow even from among the ancient stones of historic houses, and the cracks between freshly whitewashed cobbled streets.
There are over ten walking trails on the island, which means that those who wish to explore on foot will have plenty of choice. All you need is the right disposition, a pair of trainers, a hat, sunglasses and a light rucksack for essential items like water. Here are a few of the best walking trails on Hydra.
From Hydra’s harbour to Palamidas
For those who love walking and admiring sea views, the most appealing walk on Hydra will begin at the picturesque port and lead to Kamini, another harbour that has perfectly preserved the atmosphere of old-time Hydra. It was here that the film Boy on a Dolphin, starring Sophia Loren, was filmed, bringing the island to the international stage. Along the path there are a number of points where you can pause to take in the view.
Perhaps the most magical time of day is the early evening, when you can surrender to the beauty of the sunset as you gaze across to the little island of Agios Nikolaos and spot the outline of the Peloponnesian hills in the distance. Along the way to Kaminia you will pass Kanonia, Periptero and Spilia, as well as the fine old sailors’ houses in the district of Avlaki. Then climb the steps to continue along the trail, crossing a small bridge and arriving at the Bay of Vlychos, with its organised beach and the chapel of Agia Paraskevi, which is perched on a rock beside the waves.
The trail continues through the village of Vlychos and along a shady path that leads to Plakes, a little settlement of stone-built houses with an organised beach, hotel and restaurant. A little farther on you will come to Palamidas, where you can relax and enjoy the crystal-clear waters from the pebble beach. The whole walk takes about an hour, depending on your pace and how often you pause to rest.
Make the day twice as nice by returning to the harbour of Hydra along the same route. Then enjoy some good food in one of the picturesque tavernas on the shore or in the town’s charming little streets, followed by drinks and music in one of the delightful little bars.
To the Monastery of Prophet Elias
Every visitor to Hydra surrenders to the charm of the dazzling white cobbled paths that lead up to the imposing historic houses, from where one can look down on the picturesque harbour and the vast expanse of sea.
Follow one of the best-loved walks on the island to the Monastery of Prophet Elias, just below the peak known as Eros. Along the path to the top there are plenty of places to pause and enjoy the views of the harbour, the island landscape and the sea’s endless blue waters.
This walk starts at the harbour and then follows the road out of town towards Kala Pigadia. Follow the road up the mountainside to the crossroads that direct you to the Monastery of Prophet Elias and Eros peak. Then, take the road through the pine trees to a dirt path. After about twenty minutes you will come to the steps that lead to the Monastery of Agia Matrona, which is perched on the steep hillside. Ascend the stone steps all the way up to the monastery and you will eventually arrive in the beautiful courtyard, where you will be greeted with delicious loukoumi (Turkish delight) and a refreshing glass of water. Light a candle, and enjoy the panoramic views before retracing your steps down the slope. The descent is much less demanding, but be careful as the stone steps can be slippery.
The walk up to the Monastery takes about an hour and a half to two hours, and the descent is about one hour and fifteen minutes. It is recommended to make the ascent early in the morning, to avoid the heat of midday.