Last updated on April 6, 2023 by Wandering our World
The Greek islands are amongst some of the most incredible to visit around the world, and are known for their rich and diverse culture, history and statement architecture. Each island offers a unique perspective into Greek life, and no two are alike – and that’s certainly true with Poros and Hydra.
But because these two islands are actually quite different from each other, making the right choice is even more important…
For example, Poros is a true gem of the Saronic Gulf, filled to the brim with stunning scenery, cultural experiences, quaint streets and lovely beaches just itching to be explored.
In contrast, Hydra is one of the more unique islands in the Saronic Gulf. It feels upmarket, yet is small and packed with charming towns and breathtaking views. But cars (and anything with wheels) are banned on this rustic island, and beaches are a little hard to come by too.
Luckily if you’re confused about which to visit, we’re here to help!
We’re diving in head first to show you the cuisines, culture, landscape to expect and more. If there were ever two islands so similar yet so different, Poros and Hydra would fit the description.
- A Brief History
- Which Has The Better Beaches?
- Which Is Better For Nature?
- How Does The Culture Compare?
- Which Has The Better Food?
- Which Is Better For Families?
- Which Is Better For Couples & Honeymoons?
- Which Is Cheaper?
- Where To Stay According To Your Budget
- Which Is Easier To Get To?
- Which Is Easier To Get Around?
- Which Is The Better Choice?
Poros vs Hydra: A Brief History
Poros has a rich history that dates back centuries to the Neolithic Period.
Its position in the Saronic Gulf and abundance of natural resources made it an attractive island for early settlers, with empires such as the Hellenic, Byzantines and Ottomans once calling Poros home.
Poros also played an important role during the Greek War of Independence in the 19th century, acting as a base for the Greek Navy at the time.
Evidence of past occupations can still be found around the island today, although not in the abundance you may expect compared to other Greek islands.
Throughout its history, Hydra has been known for its seafaring tradition, and the island was home to a thriving merchant marine industry in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
There’s evidence of occupation from as early as the Neolithic period, with other notable civilizations like the Venetians, Ottomans and Russia playing a key role in the island’s history.
Like Poros, Hydra had a favourable position in the Saronic Gulf, which quickly saw it become an important trade centre.
It’s a far more modernized island today, but evidence of past influences can still be seen in traditional practices and architecture today.
Which Has The Better Beaches?
Poros: The Beaches
Poros is known for its stunning variety of beaches that suit all travellers, and will likely be the better destination if you want to spend plenty time on the beach.
The island is surrounded by a picturesque coastline and clear waters and has become quite the haven for watersports fanatics.
Visitors can choose from a versatile list of gorgeous beaches to visit, some sandy, some pebbly, and some just too awe-inspiring for words.
Amongst our list of favourites are:
- Love Bay
- Askeli Beach
- Kanali Beach
Each offers something unique and beautiful, with well-kept amenities, easy access to local beach bars and tavernas, and ala carte watersports equipment ready to rent and test out!
And if you plan your trip right, you might even be able to try your luck paragliding to experience some of the best views Poros can possibly offer.
Hydra: The Beaches
Hydra, on the other hand, is often referred to as a beachless haven. Luckily for fans of sun, sand and sea, this isn’t totally true.
What most visitors to Hydra don’t realize is that while most of the island’s coastline is taken up by yachts and fishing docks, there are a few hidden gems accessible through long hikes or by water taxi.
Most of the available beaches are pebbly, but as they’re not easy to reach they are local secrets which is honestly a dream come true for introverts who want to escape from crowds.
If you’re up for the trip, here are some of our favourite beaches to visit:
- Avlaki Beach
- Mandraki Bay
- Agios Nikolaos
But if you prefer to avoid the hassle of a hike or water taxi, you can always visit the Spilia and Hydronetta swimming platforms, which will satisfy any craving you have for saltwater and cool coastal currents.
Overall, when it comes to beaches Poros is certainly the clear winner for any avid beach-goer. Hydra’s beaches are simply too unknown, hard to visit and rather underdeveloped compared to Poros.
Which Is Better For Nature?
Poros: The Nature
Taking a walking tour of Poros, you’ll soon come across the stunning natural pinewoods that call the island home.
Of all the Greek islands, Poros has been rumoured to fall among the greenest of them, with plenty of stunning natural scenery to get soaked into. It’s a natural, lush garden, with trees lining the streets and sections of untouched wilderness just waiting to be explored.
The hiking trails around the island can lead you to some stunning places with panoramic ocean and village views too.
The two most popular hikes on the island would definitely be The Sanctuary of Poseidon Trail and Rossikos Nafstathmos Beach Trail which takes you to Dana Lighthouse.
As for animal encounters? Well, small mammals thrive across the island, and there are plenty of bird species to keep avid birders happy.
The marine ecosystem in Poros blossoms too, especially in the north, where you can see octopi and other marine wildlife in abundance while paddle boarding, kayaking or snorkeling.
Hydra: The Nature
Hydra’s size works in its favour, with plenty of untapped wilderness waiting to be discovered across the island.
The island is known for its hidden valleys, untouched (but hard to reach) beaches and an intricate system of trails that could take even veteran explorers months to complete.
And the island’s choice to ban the use of vehicles and bicycles has created a quiet and serene destination where small mammals and birdlife thrive.
However the fact remains that for the most part, Hydra is arid. Though it does have pockets of beautiful forest and wetlands that can be reached on foot or on horseback.
All in all, Poros’ lush greenery and thriving natural ecosystems makes it a better choice for nature-loving travellers.
Hydra is beautiful, but because of its denser population, more land is taken up by towns, villages and farms than untouched nature.
How Does The Culture Compare?
Poros: The Culture
Thanks to Poros’ rich and diverse history, the cultural side of the island is a thriving and one that visitors are encouraged to experience.
The locals are amongst some of the friendliest you’ll find in Greece, welcoming tourists like honoured guests as opposed to outsiders.
The island’s history still runs deep, and influence from older civilizations still shines through in the gorgeous architecture, stunning monasteries and churches, and of course, the island’s most famed archaeological site, The Sanctuary of Poseidon.
And thanks to the ease of travel around the island, exploring the back streets of Poros has never been easier and is highly recommended for those who seek to immerse themselves in the culture.
Tourism may be a thriving industry on the island, but the locals have not let outside influences change their traditions.
Hydra: The Culture
Hydra is a unique Saronic island with interesting traditions – including not allowing cars or bicycles on the island. Instead everything is transported by hand or donkey!
It thrived as a fishing civilization, and fish is still one of the island’s main exports, with the docks becoming makeshift fish markets, surrounded by loud fishermen, colourful locals and a congregation of cats from the island’s colony.
The architecture is stunning too, and the towns are under strict building codes to keep the same style throughout.
You won’t find any high-rise apartment blocks or monstrous hotels breaking the scenery here. Instead, the winding streets are all beautifully uniform and covered in greenery.
You may even feel like a welcomed guest when exploring the backstreets and small outlying villages, so embrace the traditions and culture when visiting as though you had lived there your whole life.
Summing up, both islands are very close to each other in this aspect. But we think Hydra has a more rustic approach to cultural tourism which is unique, charming and a real treat to experience.
Which Has The Better Food?
Overall, both islands provide some tasty delicacies and a fantastic opportunity to experience the best part of a vacation, the food!
But we personally believe Poros has the better food scene. We love farm-fresh ingredients, and unlike Hydra, Poros has no shortage of agriculture on the island.
Poros: The Food
Poros is known for its gastronomy and delicious seafood.
The island’s approach to cuisine has made it a hotspot for day visits to try out the numerous cafes, tavernas and beachbars found around the island.
Like most typical Greek islands, the food is rich, mediterranean-style cuisine made with passion and flare from traditional recipes that have been around for centuries.
Amongst the island’s notable dishes are Mussels Saganaki and Lemon Stuffed Sardines, which should be on the top of your list to try, most restaurants and cafes have their own renditions.
As for our recommendations on restaurants to visit, here are our top three:
- Taverna Karavolos
- To Kaplani
Hydra: The Food
Similarly, Hydra has an unforgettable food scene that has been described be some as a foodie paradise.
This might sound slightly strange considering the island mostly imports their produce. Yet with a rich history built off of a thriving fishing industry, you’ll find numerous cafes and restaurants serving up freshly caught seafood.
But it’s not unusual to find tender lamb, goat and snails on the menu as well.
Amongst some of the island’s most popular traditional dishes are their sweet Pies and Zarganes Sovro, a red mullet dish. But there are other traditional meals that work their way onto the menus that are worth a try!
So when you’re looking for somewhere to eat, here’s where to go:
- Plakostroto Hydra
- Mikra Anglia
Which Is Better For Families?
Poros is a relatively small island, which makes it easy to navigate with children. That makes it ideal for families looking for a peaceful and stress-free holiday.
Thanks to the easy-going and friendly atmosphere of the island, families with small children can enjoy some peace of mind knowing that their kids are in a safe and very family-friendly environment.
The island has plenty to see and do as well, with lovely beaches brimming with activities from watersports to sunbathing, as well as the various museums, points of interest and restaurants that’ll give you plenty to do during your stay.
Not to mention, if things feel a bit repetitive, it’s unbelievably easy to grab a ferry to a larger island for a day trip somewhere new!
Hydra, while beautiful, doesn’t quite offer the same family-friendliness as Poros. However it’s great for older children who would appreciate the stunning architecture, art and food scenes.
There’s also a lack of easy access to beaches on Hydra, which may make it difficult to keep the little ones busy.
Instead Hydra is better for families who enjoy exploring and adventure, as they can take full advantage of the various hiking trails around the island. And remember, if you have small children, there are no cars and bicycles, so it can be difficult to get them from point A to point B.
So it’s an easy win for Poros here. Unfortunately, Hydra just doesn’t offer enough for families to do and enjoy, especially for younger kids. Whereas Poros is an ideal destination for families with children of all ages.
Which Is Better For Couples & Honeymoons?
It’s easy to feel swept off your feet with a vacation to the gorgeous Greek islands, but when you’re in the mood for swooning and romancing, you won’t find much better than Poros and Hydra.
Poros’ gorgeous winding streets, stunning sunsets and pristine beaches create an unforgettable experience for lovers.
The quaint and charming towns, beautiful scenery and abundance of cute cafes and rustic restaurants make it easy to see why novelists swooned over the island and why it creates such a lovely backdrop for romantic proposals.
You and your partner can have your pick of accommodations, from luxury hotels with in-house spa treatments to the cosy quarters of a hostel room.
Wander the streets hand-in-hand and explore the boutique stores and little markets, and when the day winds to a close, settle somewhere to enjoy an oceanic sunset with a mouth-watering meal.
However Hydra may be even better if you’re seeking a quiet destination to get lost in love.
The island is cosmopolitan and quite upmarket, with yachts lining the port as ferries drop off guests. Boats drift over crystal clear waters, and the island offers a paradise of gorgeous scenery, untouched by cars – it’s unsurprisingly peaceful and quiet.
You and your partner can go in search of stunning hidden beaches and hike trails that stretch across the island and will lead you to unique and interesting places.
For couples who enjoy their alone time, Hydra is the ideal vacation destination.
All in all, both Poros and Hydra offer idyllic destinations to swoon your partner, and at the end of the day, the final decision on which is better depends on you.
If you’re an outgoing and adventurous couple, Poros might suit you better, but if you prefer tranquillity and luxury, Hydra is your best bet!
Which Is Cheaper?
Travelling requires a certain finesse around budgeting and financing, especially if you’re looking to save a few bucks but still have the adventure of a lifetime!
You don’t need to have money pouring out of your wallet to ensure you have a good time on vacation, but it certainly helps to know what the costs look like ahead of time.
With that said, Poros definitely comes up as the cheaper alternative of the two islands.
The average cost of a week-long stay for a single budget traveller sits at around €625. Although luxury trips could cost close to €7000 for a week. This hefty price difference is mainly caused by accommodation costs. As most travellers know, a hostel is cheaper than a private villa!
But food and sightseeing cane be around €30 a day for frugal travellers, with plenty of options for free activities as well, while big spenders can average around €50 per day.
Hydra is a cosmopolitan island and wracks up a higher bill because of its luxury and upmarket status.
A week spent in Hydra as a budget traveller will average around €800, while upscale travellers are looking at spending close to €9000.
Once again, this pricing jump is heavily based on the different types of accommodation, as food and sightseeing averages close to €70 per day if you’re being extravagant and €30 per day if you’re being frugal.
Where To Stay According To Your Budget
Budget: NESEA Boutique Apartments is a gorgeously decorated, self-contained apart-hotel in a fantastic location. The views from your terrace – mountain and/or sea – are pretty special too. See photos and rates!
Luxury: The 19th century, 5-star Hydrea Hotel is true luxury on an island known for its upmarket vibes. Enjoy feeling like a celebrity while also taking in panoramic ocean views. See photos and rates!
Budget: With a big garden, lovely swimming pool and even a pool bar, a stay at the self-catered Villa Dolphins will feel like a little slice of luxury but at a budget price point. See photos and rates!
Luxury: For one of the best views of the island, try and get your hands on a stay at Kasteli Suite. This place is often booked up months in advance, but no wonder considering the sea view you get from the terrace. See photos and rates!
Which Is Easier To Get To?
The islands of the Saronic Archipelago usually don’t have their own airports and are mainly accessed via boat, private charter or ferry from the mainland.
Athens is usually the easiest city on the mainland to reach these islands by, as Athens is the central hub for most ferry activity around the Greek islands.
The port of Piraeus in Athens offers year-round ferry trips to Poros.
There are options as to the type of ferry used, obviously with some cost variances, but both standard and high-speed ferries are available to make the journey. On average, a ferry trip from Athens to Poros can take 1 to 2 hours.
Alternatively, you can also drive to Galatas in the Peloponnese, where a ferry trip to Poros will be around 10 minutes long.
To get to Hydra from Athens, you’ll need to catch one of the daily ferries offered at the port of Piraeus, and the trip usually takes around 2 hours using a high-speed vessel.
Hydra is also interlinked with other islands, as well as the Peloponnese via ferry, so guests can indulge in sneaky day trips to and from the island should they feel fit.
Which Is Easier To Get Around?
Usually, advising on the best ways to traverse around your chosen destination is easy.
But Poros and Hydra are unlike any other destination you’ve probably been to. Unlike other places where your next sightseeing adventure is just a cab trip away, Poros and Hydra offer their visitors a more unique travel experience.
Poros is a relatively small island to visit, with both parts adding up to about 23 square kilometres.
Most points of interest are within easy reach by foot, bicycle or through using water taxis, and you can also easily find a rental car or taxi within the towns and villages.
Hydra’s diameter is nearly twice that of Poros, and one of the island’s weird and specific quirks is that the use of cars and bicycles has been banned.
That’s right. Their lack of well-developed roads paired with their uniquely rugged terrains have made them negate the use of four and two-wheeled vehicles altogether.
Visitors to the island will be greeted right off the docks by a collection of mules and donkeys, which, aside from walking and wheelbarrows, is the main source of transport used across Hydra.
These valiant steeds will carry your luggage, and maybe even you, up the steep hills and through the rocky terrains to get to your destination with ease, with the help of a handler to ensure the animals and guests are safe and happy.
For alternative travel methods, water taxis are also a safe bet, easily navigating the coastline of Hydra to help get you to some of the hard to reach beaches.
When Is The Best Time To Visit?
Poros is temperate throughout most of the year but can experience very cold winters.
The hottest months fall within their summer period between June and August, which is also the peak season. You can expect high weather and higher prices as the peak season sees the most tourist activity.
Throughout spring and autumn, the weather is pleasant and not overbearingly warm, and there is also fewer crowds.
Winter is when the island is quietest. While the island doesn’t necessarily experience snow and heavy rainfall, temperatures do drop significantly, which is off-putting if you’re planning a seaside vacation.
Hydra is similar to Poros, with the peak season sitting between June and August during their hotter months.
Summers are some of the warmest in the area, with spring and autumn offering a reprieve to those who don’t want stifling heat and would prefer the temperate climates the Mediterranean is known for.
Winter temperatures can drop rather low, and while snow won’t threaten your vacation, it’ll become apparent why winter is the quietest season.
Poros vs Hydra: Which Is The Better Choice?
Both destinations offer their own unique charms and characteristics, but when we chalk it up, Poros has more going for it than Hydra.
Hydra is a stunning, upmarket, luxury island with a very unique rustic vibe. But Poros has it all, the beaches, the museums, restaurants, and plenty to do for adventurous souls. Plus it costs far less!
Wherever you decide in the end, have fun!