Hydra © Herbert Ortner
Considered the most beautiful island in the Saronic Gulf, Hydra has a number of pretty towns with not a high-rise building or noisy car in sight thanks to zealous development restrictions. The island is not named for the mythical beast, the Hydra, but comes from the Greek word for water and pays tribute to the natural springs on the island. Hydra port is the main village and the pretty, crescent-shaped harbour has some great restaurants, shops and galleries to entertain visitors. Steep and quaint stone streets lead upwards from the port, pebbled beaches ring Hydra's impressive mansions of wealthy Athenians, and there are worthwhile cultural attractions like the Cathedral of Hydra and the Hydra Museum. Other villages and hamlets on the island include Mandraki, Kamini, Vlychos, Palamidas, Episkopi and Molos but as no cars are allowed the only methods of transport are donkeys, bicycles and your own two feet. This adds to the charm of the place and it is wonderful to walk or ride around the island. Though the island is very beautiful, its longstanding reputation as a weekend getaway spot has obliterated most traditional ways of life in favour of catering to tourists.