Hydra ('EE-dra') is an easy day trip from Athens. It has no cars, is a bit of an artist's colony, has an attractive harbor and lots of hills to hike on. Old sea captain's mansions are scattered around the harbor.
At high season it is a tourist trap and the destination of many day cruises from Athens. Yet it is easy to find serenity here, either in the main town itself or with one of many hikes.
The island was an organizing point during the Greek War of Independence with the residents providing much of the navy for the rebellion. After independence, the island became a center for ship owners.
It has a rich history in popular culture and Greek politics. Hydra was the setting for the 1957 film Boy on A Dolphin marking the Hollywood debut of Sophia Loren. Leonard Cohen lived here for a while, composing songs for his second album. One of Greece's presidents (G. Koundouriotis) and five prime ministers have hailed from the island.
But most come to savor the town set around the beautiful harbor.