Beach + Island

Car-Free Destinations for Your Big Summer Trip

by Marisa Lascala

Hydra Island
Greece

One of Greece's Saronic islands, the car-less Hydra is known for its cosmopolitan nature, with lots of seaside snack bars, cafés, tavernas, restaurants, bars, and clubs for people-watching at all hours of the day. There are a multitude of beaches for swimming in blue waters (though only one, Mandraki, is sandy, as opposed to rocky), as well as historic sites—including old monasteries, stone windmills, and great stone manors that date back to the 18th century. For a look inside one, try the historic house of Lazaros Kountouriotis, which operates as part of the National Historical Museum.

Getting Around: Travel here is mostly by foot, but if you're worried about carting around your luggage on an island with no motorized transport, you can always hire a muleteer to bring it by donkey. Sure, you can ride one yourself, too—if you don't mind looking like a tourist.

Getting There: If you're coming from the port of Piraeus, close to Athens, you're hovering. High-speed hydrofoils with names like FlyingCat and FlyingDolphin, from Hellenic Seaways or Aegan Flying Dolphins, will ferry you to the destination. The downside: Despite the speedy names of the vehicles, it's a long trip, taking between 90 minutes and two hours. If that's too long, you can always find a way to drive to Metoxi and park, then come to the island via a 12-minute ferry trip from Hydra Lines.

FYI: Celeb-watchers should keep an eye out, as notables have been known to either keep vacation homes here or frequently visit (Leonard Cohen and Joan Collins among them).

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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