Andros is a beautiful, lush island two hours from Athens. It’s known for Chora, the capital, with its rich maritime history. But the island is also becoming well known for its hiking paths, and rightly so. I’ve spent over three months living on the island and it’s really one of my favourites.
Andros is the second largest of the Cyclades, after Naxos. And have to say I found it similar to Naxos in a number of ways. The abundance of natural springs means that both islands are much greener than their arid neighbours.
Both islands have interesting and varied landscapes which makes hiking or even just driving around the island, diverse and enjoyable. Both Andros and Naxos have a combination of gorgeous long, sandy beaches, mountains and plenty of other countryside in between.
It’s true that in Andros you won’t find many of the typical whitewashed, sugar-cube homes you think of when you imagine the Cyclades. Chora is much more like the neo-classical structures you’ll find in Syros. And the architecture changes again in the rest of the island.
Overall I’ve been told that Andros is much more like Evia to the north than the other Cyclades. I haven’t ventured that way yet but I can see how it could be the case.
During my visit to tick off one of my bucket list items, I found Andros to be a friendly island. I had actually expected it to be a bit more like Kea but it wasn’t at all. I also found many people spoke very good English which was helpful.
Anyway, enough of the comparisons! I definitely recommend Andros as an excellent place to visit whether you’re into active hiking holidays or just want a beautiful beach to sprawl out on. There isn’t a huge amount of history but there’s enough to add a touch of it to your visit if you wish.
How to Get to Andros Greece
The ferry from Athens takes about 2 hours to Andros. There are multiple ships running each day from Rafina port. Rafina is the second busiest port after Pireaus but it’s quite a way out of Athens on the opposite coast. However, it’s much closer to Athens Airport.
There’s a bus that runs between Athens Airport and Rafina port. It’s quite infrequent but if it fits with your schedule then it’s the cheapest way to go.
Taxi is the quickest and easiest way to get to Rafina from the airport. It takes about 25 minutes to get there and costs from around 40 euro.
If you’re coming to Rafina from Athens city centre then you can get the bus.
Again, taxi/private transfer is the easiest option and takes about forty minutes and costs from about 40 euro. You can use Welcome Pickups to book your transfer and you know upfront the cost and time it will take.
Arriving at Andros
The ferries arrive into Gavrio port on the west coast (although in Andros they talk about Gavrio in the north and Chora in the south).
When you arrive there are some taxis available. There are also a number of car hire places along the front but if you’re coming at a busy time make sure you book in advance.
Getting Around Andros Island
I’d definitely recommend having a car in Andros. There are buses and you might just about manage with those. But I think the best way to see the island on your own schedule is with a car. It’s a big island and can take about 45 minutes to get to Chora from Batsi.
The best way to truly discover Andros and all the villages is with your own set of wheels. I wouldn’t recommend a scooter or quad bike because of the size of the island and the bendy roads.
Tour Companies in Andros
However, if you’re happiest not driving you can use tour companies to see more of the island as they offer hotel pick-ups.
Areas of Andros
Although I can imagine the car situation in summer is absolute chaos, Gavrio is nice to walk around.
There are some lovely bakeries and coffee shops, a cute book/gift shop (second-hand English books in the back if you need to stock up), an holistic therapy place with handmade skin products. Plus there’s Andriakon organic food shop with all sorts of weird and wonderful things and a smattering of restaurants.
Just outside Gavrio, on the road to Batsi (as well as just beyond) you’ll find some great beaches. These ones along this stretch are mainly organised although some are busier than others.
Batsi itself is a small fishing village along the west coast. It’s the main tourist village on the island and has a wide cove of golden sand. There are lots of restaurants and coffee shops along the front where you can people-watch and see the boats.
The village is a bit touristy for my liking but there’s a lovely quiet walk running along behind all the bustle. Head down to the left from the big church and follow the narrow path that runs parallel with the seafront. Or grab an ice cream and walk the opposite direction under the leafy canopy.
Chora Andros is the capital of the island and quite a grand town. There are museums, the castle ruins, restaurants, shops stuffed with all the local products you can imagine and old shipping mansions galore. There is plenty to keep you entertained in Chora, Andros.
Parking is a bit of a pain but look for the outdoor cinema as there are two car parks there. Alternatively, you can park next to Neimporio Beach but you will need to hike up the stairs to the main pedestrian street.
Korthi Bay (Ormos Korthiou) is a little bay on the southeast side of the island. It’s not too exciting but there are a couple of good restaurants and a bakery where the sweets come highly recommended. You might pass through Korthi Bay if you decide to visit the Tis Grias To Pidima beach with the stone pillar in the sea.
There are some lovely traditional villages that are worth visiting:
- Aladinou with its stone bridge and interesting cave
- Menites with the stone lions and gorgeous lush environments
- Apikia with the famous Sarzia spring and Pithara Waterfalls
- Paleopolis with the circular walk to the beach and the Archaeological Museum
What to Do in Andros
There’s loads of information about these villages and other things that are worth doing in Andros in this post. It includes the best beaches to visit including more secluded ones.
If you’re looking specifically for things to do in Chora have a read.
For the walkers, I have a separate post about walking in Andros that will tell you all you need to know about that.
When to Visit Andros
The island’s beaches and touristy areas are at their best between mid-June and the end of September (even into October depending on the weather). Batsi is like a completely different town in summer than in winter. Lots of cafes and shops close down in the off-season.
But, tourism has never been the biggest income-driver on the island. So it’s still a bustling place in the winter months with plenty of year-round residents. You can definitely come to Chora for hiking between November – December and then March – June.
Outwith the summer months, the weather is more likely to be changeable. It gets windy and can be rainy. So if you’re coming to hike then plan accordingly. But walking is much more pleasant when the temperatures are lower so don’t rule the island out in spring or autumn.
Where to Stay in Andros
I stayed in Ano Mera which is a quiet village outside Batsi with an amazing sunset view. Another time I think I would like to stay nearer Chora, perhaps in Menites. There is quite a lot to explore on that side of the island and it would have been easier to be closer.
For beautiful properties from 50 euros per night up to hundreds a night for a beautiful mansion check out Androsbnb.gr.
If you’re an animal lover after a rustic experience you can stay at Magic Mountain in The Magic Room, a converted grape press in Arni village.
Alternatively, check out Booking.com or Airbnb for something in the area you want to stay.
Sustainable Travel on Andros
Most people on the island wouldn’t recommend drinking water directly from the tap. However, there are options for filling your own containers without buying more plastic bottles.
If you’re near Apikia you can fill up your containers from Sariza spring in the village. There are lots of springs on the island but don’t assume the water is potable. If there’s no sign, ask someone in the village if the tap is usable and err on the side of caution.
Don’t worry if you’re not. There are free, filtered water dispensers in Gavrio (beside the little tourist information opposite the bookshop), Batsi (by the little playground near the chemist) and Korthi Bay (on the other side of the road from the supermarket, closer to the town).
If you do buy water on the island the blue Sariza spring water has travelled less distance than water brought in from other islands or areas of Greece.
Alternatively, bring a reusable water bottle with an internal filter.
Clean Green Andros is working hard to make Andros as clean and green island as possible. You will see recycling bins around the island so please use them. (Even if your accommodation does not separate your rubbish).
There are two animal welfare groups on the island. I have found Andros Animal Shelter Greece the best to deal with. You can make a donation, visit the shelter, adopt an animal or stay to volunteer long-term.
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