Winter Holidays on Hydra
A Greek Island winter holiday is not something you might immediately think of, but here is why you might consider an off-season, winter holiday on Hydra Island.
Winter holidays on a Greek Island? Not a question often considered but in my opinion, the winter off-season on Hydra Island is the best half of the year. It's relaxed and more laid back and without the pressure of so many visitors it reverts to the gentler, softer place which is what I most enjoy about living here. Visitors who only ever come during the summer really don't know what they're missing.
All the photos shown on this page were taken between October to April.
The island's residents start to unwind and smile knowingly, gleefully greeting each other during October with the phrase "see you soon". The anticipation of eighteen hour working days, with no weekends off, coming to an end with the summer, is just around the corner!
The off-season is when Hydriots have time not only for each other but also to welcome visitors as friends and to get to know them even better. The off-season and winter atmosphere is reminiscent of the 60's and 70's when the island was less touristic and more informal.
Because of three-island-cruise boats visit throughout the winter, the island still gets an influx of daily visitors which keeps most of the shops open until the day-trippers depart. Obviously the supermarkets, butchers and bakers are open daily as are the banks so that this thriving community can function. And both the island's hair-dressers are open so everyone can be pampered. Shopping & Services.
And those restaurants, hotels, guest houses and holiday let house owners who live permanently on Hydra (ie they are families with children in the island's schools) tend to stay open during most of the off-season except for a few weeks when they take their own holidays.
Expect a little of everything. The weather is mild although changeable and the countryside bursts with colour and fragrance makes walking blissful after the searing heat of the summer.
Often the still frequent bright sunny days entice people to swim from the almost deserted beaches. Yes it does rain, but unlike Northern European countries, it rains torrentially in one hit without endless grey months of drizzle. You can easily go for a walk in bright morning sunshine but have to take shelter from the rain in the afternoon!
Temperatures from November to March can range from 2 - 20 degrees. It very rarely gets cold enough for snow. But the wind, especially if it is northerly, can be quite chilly. The cobble stones in Hydra town and along the harbour seem to 'bleed' dampness during the winter and can be quite slippery so you need to be careful walking. The trick to avoid slipping over when you walk is to step on the concrete between the cobbles. Please see What To Pack for more 'survival tips'!
For artists and photographers the weather transforms the appearance of the island and it becomes even more photogenic with rapidly changing light, bursts of colour not seen during the summer and the clouds cast shadows that create dazzling sunsets. There are even days when the air is so clear that it appears as though someone has pulled the mainland closer so you can see the Peloponnese houses and roads.
From October - March whilst the beaches may be deserted because the beach boats are in dry-dock (an even nicer time to visit them if the sun is shining), the countryside of Hydra becomes the favourite places of walkers, hikers and riders. Even the elderly 'yayas' (grandmothers) take to the hills to collect 'horta' (wild therapeutic greens) and mushrooms. With a couple of days notice it's possible to hire a boat for those who want to be out on the water and the tennis fanatics organise trips for games on the mainland which anyone is welcome to join. Even the island's theatre group have time during the off-season to rehearse and perform their winter play for islanders and visitors to enjoy.
Hydra is never closed as some of the Greek Islands are. It's a living community with year around interests. The island's children go back to school, the Greek Orthodox Church continues to mark the months with the special services and regular observances that are the heart beat of Hydra. This close-knit community visibly unwinds and becomes more sociable. Families, who hardly see each other during the summer, gather to eat and drink or take part in community events which is impossible for them to do during the high season because they were running their businesses.