The island of ÝDHRA (Hydra) is one of the most atmospheric destinations in Greece. Its harbour and main town preserved as a national monument, it feels like a Greek island should, entirely traffic-free (even bicycles are banned) with a bustling harbour and narrow stone streets climbing steeply above it. Away from the main settlement the rest of the island is roadless, rugged and barely inhabited. The charm hasn’t gone unnoticed – Ýdhra became fashionable as early as the 1950s, and in the Sixties characters ranging from Greek painter Nikos Hatzikyriakos-Ghikas to Canadian songster Leonard Cohen bought and restored grand old houses here. There’s still a sizeable expat community, which contributes to a relatively sophisticated atmosphere, and also noticeably high prices. But even the seasonal and weekend crowds, and a very limited number of beaches, can’t seriously detract from the appeal. When the town is overrun, it’s easy enough to leave it all behind on foot or by excursion boat. The interior is mountainous and little-visited, so with a little walking you can find a dramatically different kind of island – one of rural cottages, terraces of grain to feed the donkeys, hilltop monasteries and pine forest.
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