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Hydra Island Greece


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One of the most exciting and dynamic of the Greek Saronic Islands. Hydra Island has an understated, sophisticated, jet-set appeal combined with a traditional, unassuming, rural style that's utterly captivating to potential property buyers and visitors. With a reputation for being the jewel of the Saronic Gulf, Hydra is also a Mecca for the arts and creative professions. It is also unique as there is an island-wide ban on any wheeled vehicles and the island boasts the biggest herd of working equines in the world. The National Preservation Order prohibits any building work that does not conform to the style of the 18th C., emphasising the fact you are living history and it feels like you've stepped back in time. Taking all of this into consideration for prospective real estate buyers is important as owning and maintaining a home on Hydra has its unique set of foibles to deal with.

Hydra's Preservation Order

Back in the 1950s, Hydra was given national heritage status and the associated preservation order has ensured that the architecture and its streets remain much the same today as the island looked in 1850. The Preservation Order is enforced by the national Greek Ministry of Culture with various departments contributing to the effort to keep Hydra as pristine as it is. The preservation order has protected the island from the Sixties surge in high-rise construction that has changed the character of so many other islands. From a homeowner's point of view, this has a significant impact on how you can alter your home. Even painting your windows a different colour, technically, requires a permit. Building anything modern is completely out of the question.

Wheeled Vehicles Banned Island-wide

One of the most attractive features of Hydra is that no wheeled vehicles are allowed on the island (anywhere, except for rubbish trucks, ambulances, and the occasional truck but only for a limited-use and limited-time permit).  This is a Presidential Decree that was issued around the time that the Preservation Order came into being. As a homeowner or house builder, this has a considerable impact on the price of getting deliveries not just of provision shopping but building materials. Everything from fridge/freezers to the stones used to build houses is carried by mules. Given that a mule can only carry three 25 kilo sacks of cement at a time, the cost of getting building material to your plot can go up very quickly.

Working Equines

The Preservation order means that most of Hydra's lanes are too narrow for roads and the ban of wheeled vehicles, means that everyone walks and carries as much of their shopping or luggage as possible. But when the load is too vast or heavy, this is when Hydra's workforce of well-cared-for mules keep things moving on Hydra. The island has more mules living on it than there are people. The muleteers operate teams of mules of different sizes depending on the type of loads they typically carry. Some only ever carry weekly shopping and suitcases because the size of the mules dictates how heavy a load they can carry. Larger mules are used by the building trade to carry loads of brick, cement and wood. There are muleteers who specialise in furniture and kitchen appliances. What can be carried is always dependent upon the size and stamina of the mule. Unlike other islands that get bad press because of animal abuse, on Hydra abuse of mules is not tolerated. The muleteers feed and water their animals with good diets and provide regular vet checks to keep their animals in peak condition because their living depends on their animals. On Hydra, mules do not work when it is raining (not because they don't like getting wet) to protect mules from slipping and hurting themselves. If the summer temperature goes over 35 degrees, by law, mules must stop working and be put into the shade with water and food until the temperature goes down. If a muleteer is caught working his mules in high temperatures he is fined €10,000. 

From a homeowner's point of view, mule deliveries can be expensive, so you need to get organised with your shopping and do most of the bulky heavy things weekly. Then carry any daily fresh stuff yourself. Using mules also means that you must check to see how heavy your delivery is when you make your purchase. Basically, anything that weighs more than 100 kilos is going to be a problem.

Local Regulations

Apart from the ban on using wheeled vehicles, building regulations, and not working your mule if it's too hot, there aren't too many other local regulations to worry about.


One, that on Hydra seems to be ignored by all and sundry since the commissioning of the desalination plant for water on the island, is we are not supposed to hose down our terraces or the streets outside. The rule isn't there to conserve water, it's to prevent humans and mules from slipping on what are already slippery marble stones.

In Hydra harbour it gets quiet in the afternoon but the tourist shops and supermarkets stay open. But the banks, couriers, DIY and building trade shops close by 2 pm. Siesta time between 3-6 pm is still observed. Woe betide any builders who continue making construction noise during siesta time. During August (the national holiday month) no building work is allowed on Hydra.

Because there are no roads on Hydra, households have to take their rubbish to their nearest wheelie bin collection point. You are not supposed to leave it in the street.

Hydra Town & Villages

There is one port for Hydra, called Hydra Harbor which is also the main town. So when you arrive at the port, you are immediately immersed in the day-to-day life of the island. Hydra harbour/town faces north across the Saronic Gulf, only slightly separated from the Peloponnese mainland and the tiny port and car park at Metochi.

Hydra Town

The town of Hydra is the capital and main harbor of the island. It is an officially protected settlement due to the historic, cultural, and aesthetic value. According to the law, the construction of new buildings not built in accordance with authentic colors and style is forbidden. The town is full of beautiful mansions built during the 19th century by wealthy merchants and ship owners.

The traditional houses cascade down the sides of the natural amphetheatre mountains that embrace the town. You will find interesting museums to visit, many cafes and souvenir shops, as well as taverns where you can enjoy traditional Greek cuisine. The nightlife here is diverse and exciting. Don’t miss the breathtaking sunset views!


Getting to Hydra

The quickest and most often used route is from Piraeus on a Hellenic Seaways Cat. The journey is an hour and a half long and the Cat will make a quick interval stop at Poros before it goes on to Ermoni and Spetses. Or you can drive overland, park at Metochi or Ermioni and then travel over with the Freedom or Christos passenger ferries (30 mins)

Ports of Hydra

There is one port in Hydra, called Hydra Harbor which is also the main town. So when you arrive at the port, you are immediately immersed in the day to day life of the island. Hydra harbour/town faces north across the Saronic Gulf, only slightly separated from the Peloponnese mainland and the tiny port and car park at Metochi.


The town of Hydra is also the administrative center of the island and there you will find many tourist shops, hotels, and taverns. 

Capital & Villages


Hydra Town


Avlaki is a calm and elegant area, located five minutes by foot from the town center. It is a quiet residential area consisting of a beautiful bay and a small group of houses rising up at a steep angle to the top of the hill. The highest point of the area is the Haramis Windmill, sitting directly above the bay.


Kiafa is an endearing combination of narrow, meandering cobblestone alleys and stairways, high-walled houses, old ruins, and breathtaking views of Hydra Town. The area is very picturesque and entirely residential, with no taverns and bars. Kiafa was one of the first populated areas of the island as it was located high enough for lookouts to spot any incoming pirate ships. In Kiafa, you will find the Church of Agios Konstantinos (the patron saint of Hydra), built on the site of the martyr’s birthplace.

Kala Pigadia

Kala Pigadia is a quiet residential area situated at the top of the Miaoulia Valley. Named for the local wells that used to provide drinking water, it is a peaceful area. The location is picturesque and an ideal place for artistic expression.

Madraki Bay

Madraki Bay is approximately one kilometer along the coast road, heading east from Hydra Harbor. Historically, this bay was protected by fortifications and it served as a major shipbuilding center as well as Hydra’s primary naval port. During the Greek War of Independence, the bay was also used to construct and launch battleships and war vessels.


Port Authority of Hydra: +302298052279

Hydra Hospital: +302298053150

Municipality of Hydra: +302298320200

Police of Hydra: +302298052205

Hydra Health Center: +302298052420

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