There is no shortage of islands to visit in Greece, but for those who are looking to escape the crowds and enjoy a quality and safe Greek island experience, Andros is the perfect answer. Ideally located in Cyclades Archipelago, Andros is a short two-hour ferry ride from the Port of Rafina (Athens). This charming Greek island offers a fantastic blend of the famous Cycladic minimalistic architecture, neoclassical nobility, and unparalleled natural beauty. We give you our top reasons to visit Andros.
1. A Fantastic Hiking Destination (Voted as the Leading Quality Trails – Best of Europe)
If you’ve been to other Cyclades islands, you would have noticed how dry and barren these islands are, however, what is most surprising about Andros is its greenery and its remarkable natural environment. In fact, it is the greenest of all the Cyclades.
The island’s natural terrain boats a dramatic coastline, enriched by distinctive mountain peaks, flowing streams, fragrant lemon tree groves, and high-rising plane trees. No wonder why Andros is listed as one of the top hiking destinations in Greece and Europe. In 2015 Andros Route was certified as one of the Leading Quality Trails – Best of Europe.
The network of hiking trails in Andros covers an area of almost 300 kilometers in length. Almost 170 km of hiking trails have been restored according to European standards. Nature enthusiasts will find joy in the numerous hiking trails that pass through scenic mountain villages, ancient walled terraces, gushing waterfalls, and pristine beaches.
There are many wonderful hiking routes that you can enjoy as day hikes, you can view the whole list here.
During our 3-day trip to Andros, we started our walk with the visit to the refreshing Pytharas Waterfalls (Hiking trail No2) passing along beautiful cobbled paths, while being greeted by a local baby goat. We then continued our hike with Route with No8 that leads to Stenies and Gialia Beach. This route is moderate and takes around two hours to complete if you take a detour to visit the abandoned Empirikos watermill, a fine example of the remains of the first period of industrialization in Greece.
We ended our hike at Stenies Beach – next to it you will find a wonderful all-day destination – Votsalo Seaside Estate, which is a complex of three residences and a cafe bar. Perfect for escaping the summer heat.
2. Cave of Foros – A spectacular natural wonder
Locates in the village of Aladino, the spectacular Cave of Foros can be accessed through a short hiking trail. This impressive natural wonder covers an area of 200 square meters and features magnificent stalactite and stalagmite formations.
The cave was discovered in 1937 and was only accessible to the public at the end of 2010. You can discover the cave on a guided tour which takes approximately 20 minutes.
3. Visit the LIFE Andros Park
The LIFE Andros Park is a project which has been implemented with the financial support of the European Union LIFE Instrument and the Green Fund. The goal of this project is to protect the biodiversity of Andros and more specifically its three Natura 2000 sites. At the Botanical Garden at the Agadaki Estate, you can learn all about the rich biodiversity of Andros and admire the various plant species that grow on the island.
4. Explore Chora
The main town of Andros is definitely one of the prettiest in the Aegean, boasting a wealth of architecture and history which is evident in the neoclassical mansions that showcase the island’s rich maritime tradition.
From the Square of the Unknown Soldier to the impressive Tourlitis Lighthouse, which stands out from the sea, the several notable museums, charming squares, and beautiful churches, the Andrion Club and the remains of the Venetian castle are only a few of the reasons why you must absolutely visit Andros.
Check out our post on 10 Reasons to Stay in Chora Andros
5. Mouthwatering Cuisine
The rich natural environment and the wealth of fragrant herbs and fruit-bearing trees pave the way for quality products that are used in the preparation of local, quality dishes. Andros has its own long-standing culinary traditions, and in its tavernas, you will savor some of the best traditional recipes. If you find yourself in the quaint seaside village of Ormos Korthi, on the eastern side of Andros, make sure to visit Sea Satin Nino. This delightful cafe bar-restaurant serves creative Mediterranean dishes.
Try their specialties like cherry tomatoes, served with cheese and pesto sauce topping, octopus cooked in a rich wine sauce served with finely cut potato chips, grilled sardines served on top of thin slices of grilled bread, and baby squid prepared with pesto sauce, pine nuts, and grated cheese. As a sweet end to your meal – try their smoked, cherry Vermouth drink. The presentation alone is spectacular.
On the west side of the island, in the popular, cosmopolitan village of Batsi, you will find Oti Kalo – which translates as “What is good” – well everything on the menu is excellent, and at reasonable prices.
Overlooking the picturesque harbor this Greek- Mediterranean restaurant serves both fish and meat dishes. Try their homemade ravioli cooked in a sweet pear sauce, and shrimp linguini prepared in a fantastic fresh tomato sauce.
6. A Sweet Tradition
Andros is particularly famed for its sweet delights, and rightly so. Among the local specialties are nougatines which are a marzipan type of sweet, kaltsounia filled with honey, walnuts, and pine nuts, and of course the famous Pastitsakia sweets which are macaron inspired treats made of sweet roasted almonds.
The reason for the French-inspired dessert? Well because the famous 19th-century local pastry chef, Ioannis Athinaios learned the secrets of French-pastry making in Alexandria where he received much fame before returning to his homeland – Andros. Today you can try these mouthwatering creations at Zairis pastry shop, which has been making its delectable desserts for the past 50 years. The original recipes are top-secret, which only a selected few know. Their ice-cream selection is equally excellent, try the salted caramel and you will not be disappointed.
In the port-town of Gavrio, head over to Eftichia cafe that is set along the harbourfront. Eftichia means happiness, and here you are guaranteed to taste happiness in every spoonful of dessert. The cakes are amazing.
7. Pristine Beaches
Andros boasts a spectacular coastline and is home to a number of scenic beaches, many of which are unorganized.
The white sandy beach of Achla, located on the eastern side of the island is only accessible by jeep or motorbike. This is one of the most beautiful beaches on Andros and it offers no beach facilities.
The beach of Syneti, situated on the southeast side of the island not a long drive from Chora, is the most favored among nature lovers. Surrounded by massive rocks, this remote cove-like beach is a paradise.
Andros’ most photographed beach, the Grias to Pidima is recognizable for its narrow rock that springs right from the sea. Legend has it that during the Turkish occupation an old lady was tricked into asking to enter the castle, so during the night the old lady opened the gates and as a result, the town of Andros was captured. She regretted her action and jumped off a high rock into the sea. To this day the castle is known as the Old Lady’s Castle and the beach as the Old Lady’s Jump (Grias to Pidima).
8. Traditional Villages
From verdant mountainous villages to medieval villages and seaside settlements, Andros offers an abundance of places to visit and explore. If you wish to spend time discovering the traditional charm of the island, then renting a car is a must.
In the area of Korthi, we recommend visiting the village of Episkopio, lined with traditional stone houses, the Bridge of Love which was featured in one of the scenes of the famous Greek movie – Mikra Aglia (Little England), along with lush vegetation and springs. A wonderful place to connect with nature.
9. Monasteries and Churches
Andros is home to numerous churches and monasteries that are found in some of the most remarkable locations.
The monastery of Agia Eirini, which was a Byzantine nunnery, was originally built by two monks in 1780 until it was abandoned in 1834 due to the orders of King Otto’s Royal Degree that demanded the disruption of monasteries (almost 1000 in all of Greece). The monastery was left in a terrible state until it was restored with the initiative of Captain Eleftherios Polemis who bought the monastery in 2006. The course of renovation lasted for ten years.
The monastery is no longer an active monastery as there are no nuns or monks living here, however it plays a crucial role in the local community. During the summer the monastery holds summer camps for orphan children. Inside the monastery are several museums, dedicated to the history of writing (Kairis collection), traditional music instruments, collection of fossils and minerals (Spiros Mpellas), the flora of Andros (Elli Mandaraka Stamatiadou), and the blacksmith’s work (Kairis collection).
We had the pleasure of meeting Captain Polemis himself who talked to us about the restoration project. He also shared with us the stories of his voyages and how he rescued an oil tanker ship and all his crew from an explosion on the coast of South Africa in the early 1980s. His love and dedication to restoring his island’s history is remarkable and it was evident from his stories.
The church of Agia Thalassini which crowns the old harbor of Chora is dedicated to the Virgin of the Seas and was constructed to protect the seafarers. It is definitely one of the most impressive churches of Andros.
For guided tours of Andros check our Explore Andros