Andros island is truly the jewel in the crown of the Cyclades, and that’s saying a lot! Andros is one of the most verdant islands of the Cyclades, easily the most famous cluster of Greek islands, and the most popular one for dream vacations in Greece.
Andros strikes a perfect balance of the picturesque and the cosmopolitan. And while, like all the Cyclades, it is windswept, there is a lot more protection from the wind than one would expect!
What’s better than a perfect balance of lush vegetation and sugar cube houses clustered together at the slopes of the hills, overlooking the deep blue waters of the Aegean? In Andros, you are surrounded but colorful beauty and sensations of calm relaxation combined with new experiences you can only find there.
Unlike Mykonos or Santorini (Thera), Andros remains somewhat off the beaten path of high-traffic tourism, which means you have more chances to enjoy the best of the island without being crowded even during the high season.
With this guide, you will know everything necessary to maximize your enjoyment of Andros and make your vacations truly unique and unforgettable!
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Where is Andros?
Andros is the Cycladic island closest to Athens! It is the second-largest island after Naxos, and likewise has relatively high mountains, capes, and coves. Andros is the first island located in a projected line from Euboia, with Tinos and Mykonos in close succession.
Like all of Greece, Andros’ climate is Mediterranean, which means it gets relatively warm, rainy winters and dry, hot summers. Temperatures during winter get around 5-10 degrees Celsius on average, while during summer they get around 30-35 degrees Celsius.
However, like all the Cyclades, Andros features the famous northern winds which can be quite strong. They can make the temperature feel colder during winter and cooler during summer, so make sure you have a light cardigan in your bags for those cool evenings! The wind will be your ally for the relentless summer heatwaves which can push the temperature as high as 40 degrees Celsius, but it will feel a good few degrees cooler.
How to get to Andros?
You can only reach Andros directly by ferry which departs from Rafina port, not Piraeus port. You can get to Rafina by bus or taxi. It’s about 30 minutes’ worth of a drive there from Athens’ airport. The ferry takes only 2 hours to reach Andros island. We traveled to Andros with Fast Ferries. Find below the ferry schedule and book your tickets.
There are flights to other Cycladic islands, like Mykonos, from where you can get the ferry to Andros, but you won’t be saving any time or hassle doing that, so it’s not recommended. What is recommended though, if you stay long enough, is to get to Tinos and Mykonos or Syros islands from Andros, as they are very near and make for great single-day adventures.
For more information check out: How to get from Athens to Andros.
A brief history of Andros Island
According to Greek mythology, the god of the sun and music Apollo loved Rio, the granddaughter of the god of wine Dionysus. From that union, there were born two sons, Andros and Mykonos. They went on to rule on their respective islands and gave their names to them. That’s how Andros and Mykonos were named.
In truth, Andros has had several names in antiquity and the past, depending on what was being highlighted. Some are Hydroussa, which means “the one of many springs/waters”, Lasia, which means “the one with rich vegetation”, Nonagria, which means “the one with damp grounds”, and Gavros, which means “the proud one”.
The island has been inhabited since prehistoric times. Andros gained importance during archaic and classical times, with Dionysus being the main god of worship. Many remarkable archaeological sites still remain from these eras.
During Roman times, Roman colonizers assimilated with the Greek inhabitants, adopting their language, customs, and way of life. The only thing that shifted was the main god of worship, which became Isis.
During Byzantine times, Andros became a hub for the production of silk and agriculture but slowly fell into economic obscurity. The Venetians came next in the 1200s and remained until the 1500s, who fortified the island against pirates. Andros fell to the Ottomans after that, and the economy started shifting to being naval, with a fleet of commercial ships emerging. During the Revolution of 1821, because it was a powerful naval force, Andros played an important part. After Greece gained independence, and up until the two World Wars, Andros was second only to Piraeus in naval activity.
However, the world wars devastated the island, especially with fierce bombings in 1944.
Things to see and do in Andros Island
Andros’ capital town of Chora is a beautiful, old, proud place full of history and tradition. Situated in the south-eastern part of the island, it is built on a tiny peninsula that gives the impression of the city cutting through the sea, leading to the monument of the Unknown Sailor. It is surrounded by two sandy beaches on either side, and there is a Venetian castle on the tiny islet that the narrow peninsula leads to.
Andros’ Chora is not typically Cycladic. Instead of purely white and blue, there is ochre and crimson. Because it was the basis of operations for rich merchants and ship owners, Chora boasts a neoclassical grandeur that is unique to the island. Several mansions, paved picturesque pathways, beautiful churches, and squares that look to have been made for postcards await for you to explore them.
Outwards, seemingly built on the surface of the sea, is the single lighthouse for you to admire. Andros Chora also has some amazing museums to explore including the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Archaeological Museum and the Maritime Museum.
Batsi is a beautiful seaside fisherman’s village located 27 km from Chora. It is extremely picturesque and has kept its traditional character despite being very popular with tourists. In Batsi you will find several restaurants, bars, and cafes to enjoy the seaside view from. One of Batsi’s assets is that its location fully protects the village and its gorgeous sandy beach from the wind, so when it’s hard to swim anywhere else, Batsi is where you should go. The beach is fully organized, so you will have all comforts when you choose to visit.
Batsi is a perfect combination of the elegance of Chora and the picturesque allure of the typical Cyclades. Built amphitheatrically and featuring a beautiful bay, Batsi is a village you shouldn’t miss out on.
Gavrio is another fisherman’s village that also features the port that connects Andros to Rafina. So this is where you will land when you first arrive on the island. And don’t hurry to go, because as soon as the hubbub of new arrivals from the ferries dies down, you will be able to enjoy the picturesque beauty of Gavrio.
Gavrio, like Batsi, manages to retain its traditional authentic character despite catering to tourist flows. Despite the abundance of restaurants, bars, cafes, and souvenir shops, you will also find gorgeous little paths leading to sandy beaches, colorful boats bobbing in the port, and romantic promenades.
Situated only 4 km from Andros’ Chora, there is Foros Cave: the first cave complex to have ever been discovered in Greece, with a lot of history behind it, starting with its name. The Italian-based etymology wants “Foros” to mean opening, the entrance to the cave that looked like a black open maw of the earth. The Greek-based etymology wants “Foros” to mean ‘taxation’, as the myth demanded that tribute was paid to appease evil spirits by the animals that fell through the opening and disappeared forever in the cavernous blackness.
Nowadays, Foros is open to your exploration. A fascinating and majestic underground world will open itself to you, with colorful stalagmites and stalactites, basins of waters, and pearls of rock await you in its eight grand chambers. There are even animals completely adapted to life in near-complete darkness that you may see if you are lucky enough!
Foros is a fascinating underground realm that you should not miss out on, as it is one of the most important sites of Andros.
You can visit th cave on a guided tour only that lasts around 20 to 30 minutes. You can call here for more information +306939696835 and to book a visit.
Visit the gorgeous beaches
Andros boasts some of the most beautiful beaches of the Cyclades. Due to its coastline’s shape, there are more than eighty beaches to choose from. This literally means that there is something for everyone’s taste in terms of beaches and seasides in Andros. However, out of all the gorgeous beaches, there are some that are even more beautiful and breathtaking, which you should definitely put on your list to visit:
Aghios Petros Beach: This is a gorgeous sandy beach that stretches for 1 km. Even on its most busy days during high season, you will never feel crowded or lacking space to stretch out and enjoy the seaside. Aghios Petros Beach is at the same time wild and cosmopolitan, as it is very near Chora, and combines the best of everything.
Ateni Beach: 12 km from Batsi village, you will find Ateni Beach. Though it’s one beach, it looks like it’s two isolated, beautiful coves with lush greenery touching the golden sand and waters being turquoise and emerald: Little Ateni and Large Ateni. Little Ateni feels like a pond, which is perfect for families. Large Ateni is deeper and darker, for the adults. An atmosphere of calm and wilderness reigns in this stunning beach.
Ahla Beach: This beach combines a habitat and a beautiful sandy expanse. It is where Ahla river flows into the sea. This creates lush vegetation, including a forest of tall platan trees and a small delta right there in the sand. Approach Ahla beach by car or by boat. Both are experiences to remember!
Vitali Beach: This is a beach to remember even for the drive there, as it will give you amazing views of the island. Vitali beach’s waters are warm, crystal clear, and constantly shaded. The rock formations are beautiful and sheltering at the same time. The little chapel right to the edge is an extra touch of folklore.
There are several more beaches that deserve to be listed, so make sure to check out Golden Sand Beach, Tis Grias to Pidima beach (it means “Old Woman’s Jump” and is a wordplay), Fellos Beach, and Paraporti Beach to name only a few of the gems you will discover.
You might also like: The best beaches in Andros.
Aghios Petros Tower
Overlooking the bay of Gavrio, there is the majestic tower of Aghios Petros. The ancient tower was built in the Hellenistic era, around the 4th or 3rd century BC. It used to have five stories and it is of a cylindrical shape. Its use was for scouting imminent attacks by pirates or potential invasions in time.
The ancient tower was also a protection for copper mines nearby. Make sure to visit and marvel at its size, construction, and resistance to the elements and time.
Castle of Faneromeni
The Castle of Faneromeni (also called “the Old Woman’s Castle”) was the biggest medieval town of Andros, built by the Venetians to defend themselves from pirates. The location is stunning too, with craggy hills and cliff faces that seem to jut out of the fortifications and the remaining structures.
This high altitude, wild scenery, and endurance of the castle gave it the rumor that it could not be overrun. There are underground channels for communication and a church of Faneromeni which on the 15th of August holds a huge feast.
Walk to the Castle, enjoy the breathtaking views, and take in the history surrounding you.
Take at least a hiking path
Andros is unique in that it’s a Cycladic island with the most picturesque and diverse sceneries you can find and hike through. Enjoying the sceneries, taking in the beauty of nature, and simply getting in touch with the side we neglect when we’re back at work in our homes or in the cities.
Andros has it all: rivers, creeks, forests, beaches, and pathways. The Andros Route is one of the best and internationally certified hiking route programs in Europe, so make sure to go on at least one!
Find below some of the best hiking paths around Andros:
Route 1: Chora – Lamyra – Panachrados Monastery
Distance: 11,5 km, Duration: 4½ hours
Path 2a: Chora – Apikia – Vourkoti with a detour at Pythara Waterfalls
Distance: 7,8 km, Duration: 3 hours
Route 3: Chora – Dipotama – Korthi
Distance: 9,8 km, Duration: 3½ hours
there is the option for a detour to Faneromeni Castle making the distance 11.5 km and the duration 4½ hours.
Route 4: Aidonia – Tromarchion Monastery
Distance: 7 km, Duration: 2½ hours
Route 6: Vourkoti – Aghios Nikolaos – Achla Beach
Distance: 9,4 km, Duration: 3½ hours
Route 8a: Apikia – Gialia Beach with detour at Fabrica Watermill
Distance: 5.7 km, Duration: 2 hours
Route 14: Gavrio – Ammolochos – Frousei
Distance: 13 km, Duration: 4½ hours to 5 hours
Route 15: Gavrio – Aghios Petros Tower – Aghios Petros Beach
Distance: 5 km, Duration: 2 hours and 15 min
Route Men1: Menites Circular Route
Distance: 3 km, Duration: 1 hour and 15 min
Route A1: Arni 1 Circular Route
Distance:5 km, Duration: 2 hours and 15 min
Andros Route 100 km: This 100 km hiking trail connects the island from North to South and it can be completed in 10 days.
For more information you can check Andros Routes.
Go rock climbing at Palaipolis Waterfalls
Palaipolis Waterfalls are the biggest waterfalls of the Cyclades and an excellent location for some rock climbing! Don’t miss out if you have never tried it or you feel you’re a beginner. There are experienced guides and teachers to make sure you do everything right and have an amazing experience scaling the slope and enjoying the magnificent view while cooling off on the crystal waters near you! Click here for more information.
Visit the monasteries
The two monasteries of Andros are definitely must-see. Start with Zoodohos Pigi Monastery, situated between Batsi and Gavrio. It’s not certain exactly when it was built but it was there by the 1300s by the latest estimate. The monastery houses Byzantine works of art of exquisite beauty and historical significance within its church and library. There is also a museum for you to enjoy a wide arrangement of ecclesiastical items and prehistoric tools.
According to the lore, while the monastery was being built in another spot but unsuccessfully, it was finally built after a blind man was led by a goat to a water spring. Parched, the man drank from it until a woman appeared before him and washed his eyes with the water, saying he will be cured. Indeed, he was immediately able to see. The woman revealed herself as the Virgin Mary and instructed him to get the monastery built there.
The Monastery of Panachrantou is the most beautiful one of Andros. It is near Chora and the village Falika. It was built in Byzantine times by Emperor Nikiforos Fokas in 969, as a tribute for his successful campaign against the Arabs of Crete. This monastery houses a priceless icon of the Virgin Mary said to have been drawn by Loukas, the Evangelist.
There are more monasteries to visit, such as that of Aghia Marina and Aghios Nikolaos all of them unique and centuries old.
The area around Pythara’s Waterfalls is a ravine called “fairyland” because it’s so fairytale-like in its sheer beauty it feels unreal. Lore has it that fairies and nymphs bathed in the crystal waters.
You will find the area on the way to Apoikia, just ten minutes away from the road. The waters from several springs form picturesque waterfalls of intense and wild beauty, creating a verdant, lush habitat full of beautiful waters, rare plants and flowers, and a rare ecosystem of water life.
Visit the gorgeous Andros villages
Apoikia: This is a stunningly beautiful village full of lush vegetation and iconic architecture. It is also where the famed source of Sariza, from where high-quality water springs, is located.
Stenies: An authentic and traditional village that hasn’t been touched by tourism much at all, is located very near Chora, on a green slope of orchards. Near Stenies you will find Bisti-Mouvela tower, a 17th-century three-story structure, and the church of Aghios Georgios with frescoes dating from the 16th century.
Menites: 6 km from Chora you will find Menites village on Petalo mountain. It is beautiful and surrounded by lush greenery, and the famous Menites springs adding cool waters to the already gorgeous scenery. Make sure you attend the Feasts for Dionysos if you time it right, and taste the sweet delicacies that are given freely.
Get the local delicacies
Andros is famous for a wide array of delicious local products, savory and sweet, which you will find nowhere else. Make sure you taste not only the local dishes but what is used to make them:
Tris Melisses (“Three Bees”): This Andros-based beekeeping company is where you will get that exquisite taste of pure, authentic, unadulterated honey products. The honey produced and the other relative products derived from beekeeping will stimulate your senses with a sweetness that sugar can never match. The bees graze over wild thyme, briar, and savory plants to create unique tastes and textures for the honey varieties. Get your unique products here, from honey to beeswax to royal jelly to propolis, for yourself or for special gifts.
Androp ouzo and tsipouro: The distilled process of how ouzo is made in Andros is unique and produces a fragrant strong drink. The process is highly traditional and a century-old legacy. The same goes for tsipouro! The Androp distillery strictly uses these methods to produce a wide range of high-quality, fragrant ouzo, and tsipouro. You can get a tour in the premises of Androp distillery and see how ouzo is made while you also learn about the related traditions!
Potzi: Andros also makes liquor called “Potzi” from berry raki and honey. It’s strong in alcohol but worth the taste!
Louza: A local type of smoked ham which is naturally made and served in threadbare slices is considered a delicacy by the locals, to be enjoyed as a treat together with good drinks!
Petroti/ Analati: this is a type of semi-hard cow cheese that is quite powerful in taste and flavor. Enjoy it on its own with wine or in pies.
Zairis Pastry Shop’s Local Sweets: This is one of the most renowned pastry shops on the island, specializing in making many local sweets like almond sweets, several types of local cookies, some with filling, some soft and crunchy, and a wide array of spoon sweets from the local fruit produce.
Where to Eat in Andros
There’s nothing better to replenish energy than eating at great restaurants, tavernas, and other eateries. There are a lot in Andros, each one pretty good in their chosen menus, but here are some you should definitely check out as you explore the island:
Sea Satin Nino: Located at Korthi Bay in southeastern Andros, this restaurant specializes in fusion Greek Andros cuisine and a deep and luscious foray into the special tastes the island can give. Modern and traditional at the same time, you won’t be disappointed.
Oti Kalo: You will find this restaurant at Batsi village. This is a cosmopolitan fine dining restaurant specializing in Mediterranean cuisine by chef Stelios Lazaridis. Don’t miss out on the wonderful salads and traditional dishes.
Stamatis’ Taverna: This taverna is one of the most iconic and historical of Batsi village. You can’t miss it at its central corner. Enjoy the view from the veranda while you feast on delectable cycladic dishes.
Karavostasi: You will find this fish taverna in Gavrio, not too far away from the port. This eatery specializes in ‘mezedes’ which means serving a large variety of side dishes that go well with ouzo or other drinks. Enjoy your selections as you gaze over the sea!
Eftyhia: The name means “bliss” or “happiness” and that’s exactly what you get when you go in for your breakfast or coffee or simply to satisfy your sweet craving. This is an elegant café and bistro in Gavrio, close to the port, which has already become a favorite with the locals and tourists alike.
Where to stay in Andros
The most popular areas to stay in Andros are Gavrio (port), Batsi, Chora and Korthi. During my recent visit to the island we stayed in Batsi, a lively seaside town with a lovely beach, a great choice of restaurants and great nightlife. We stayed at Blue Era Apartments, located just 80 m from the beach and the restaurants. The Apartments offered spacious, clean rooms with airconditioning, free wi-fi and a small kitchen. There is also free parking available and the owner is very friendly and helpful.
For more accommodation options around the island you can check in the Andros Cycladic Tourism Network.
This trip was organized by the Andros Cycladic Toursim Network and Travel Bloggers Greece but all opinions are my own.