5 Best Sights in Hydra Town, The Saronic Gulf Islands

Ayios Nikolaos

Fodor's choice

Boats ferry bathers from Hydra Town harbor near the Mitropolis church to pebble beaches on the island's southern coast, the best of which is Ayios Nikolaos, where there are sun beds and umbrellas for a charge (starting at €3) and you can also rent canoes. Ayios Nikolaos is located on the south side of the island, facing the Aegean Sea, and it is the largest organized beach on the island. It is mostly pebbled with some small sandy stretches that are ideal for children's play. The large boats heading to and from here have set fees (to Ayios Nikolaos from Hydra Town is €8); water taxis, max 8 passengers, charge around €150 for the round trip. Amenities: food and drink; water sports. Best for: snorkeling; swimming.

Hydra Historical Archives and Museum

Fodor's choice

Housed in an impressive mansion, this collection of historical artifacts and paintings has exhibits that date back to the 18th century. Heirlooms from the Balkan wars as well as from World War I and II are exhibited in the lobby. A small upstairs room contains figureheads from ships that fought in the 1821 War of Independence. There are old pistols and navigation aids, as well as portraits of the island's heroes and a section devoted to traditional local costume, including the dark karamani pantaloons worn by Hydriot men. Temporary art exhibits are also showcased from time to time.

Church of the Dormition

Founded in 1643 as a monastery, the Church of the Dormition has since been dissolved and the monks' cells are now used to house municipal offices and the small ecclesiastical museum "Ayios Makarios Notaras." The church's most noticeable feature is an ornate, triple-tier bell tower made of Tinos marble, likely carved in the early 19th century by traveling artisans. There's also an exquisite marble iconostasis.

Hydra Town, 18040, Greece
Sights Details
Rate Includes: Church free (donations accepted), museum €2, Museum closed Nov. 16–Mar. 31 and every Mon., Church: daily 10–2 and 5–8. Museum: Apr.–Nov. 15, Tues.–Sun. 10–5

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Lazaros Koundouriotis Mansion

Impressed by the architecture they saw abroad, shipowners incorporated many of the foreign influences into their archontika, old, gray-stone mansions facing the harbor. The forbidding, fortresslike exteriors are deliberately austere, the combined result of the steeply angled terrain and the need for buildings to blend into the gray landscape. One of the finest examples of this Hydriot architecture is the Lazaros Koundouriotis Mansion, built in 1780 and beautifully restored in the 1990s as a branch of Greece's National Historical Museum. The interior is lavish, with hand-painted ceiling borders, gilt moldings, marquetry, and floors of black-and-white marble tiles. Some rooms have pieces that belonged to the Koundouriotis family, who played an important role in the War of Independence; other rooms have exhibits of costumes, jewelry, wood carvings, and pottery from the National Museum of Folk History. The basement level has three rooms full of paintings by Periklis Vyzantinos and his son, friends of the Koundouriotis family

Hydra Town, 18040, Greece
Sights Details
Rate Includes: €3, Closed Nov.–Feb. and Mon. Mar.–Oct., Mar.–Oct., Tues.–Sun.10–2 and 5:30–8:30

Slaughterhouse/DESTE Foundation Project Space

Internationally renowned modern art collector Dakis Joannou acquired this former Hydra slaughterhouse, a leisurely 10-minute walk from the town (toward Mandraki), in 2009 to host artistic events and projects organized by his budding DESTE Foundation. Surprisingly, this is not what one might expect a chic and modern art gallery to look like: housed in an unassuming small building on a cliff by the sea, it can be missed if you don't actively look for it. But perhaps that is exactly the point that Joannou wanted to make with the Slaughterhouse, which has already acquired a leading role in Hydra's cultural life. Starting with the 2009 multimedia project "Blood of Two" by Matthew Barney and Elizabeth Peyton (which paid homage to the space's morbid past), every summer the space is now assigned to a different artist who is invited to stage a site-specific exhibition. Since then Doug Aitken, Urs Fischer, Paul Chan, Pawel Althamer, and Kara Walker, among others, have had works and installations exhibited there.