Andros is the gem of the Cyclades; it has a distinctive beauty, different to any other Cycladic island and to the islands of the Aegean Sea.
Andros’ uniqueness lies on its rich nature, abundant waters and particular soil morphology. The island has a long uninterrupted history of 7000 years and a tradition in folk technological achievements. An amazing hiking trail network allows trekkers to access and visit the island’s beauties.
Andros has the additional advantage of being touristic enough to have organized infrastructure and facilities without being commercial or loud. It displays a variety of beautiful beaches and villages in a quiet and relaxed ambient.
Not being the typical party island, Andros still offers many choices for night life and day activities, and those who enjoy fishing, sailing, swimming and diving will find their private paradise here.
Geography and morphology
Andros covers an area of 374 km². It is 39.8 km long and has a breadth of 16.7 km. Its coastline is approximately 110 km. The surface is mountainous but most of the inhabited parts of the island are in valleys. The island is divided to 5 peripheries by 4 mountain masses; Mount Saranta (725 m.) situated at the north of plateau Makrotantalo (200 m.) and at the south of Batsi, Ateni and Katakolo valleys. Mount Petalo has the highest peak on the island (Kouvara, 994 m.) and is situated between the aforementioned valleys and the valley of Messaria, from north to south. Gerakonas (720 m.) lies between the valleys of Messaria and Korthi. Lastly, mount Pahi (681 m.) lies at the south of Korthi valley and extends to the southern end of the island.
From west to east, the island is crossed by 4 small rivers. Those rivers, along with the mountains, are the ingredients of Andros’ beauty. Supplied with the water that springs from mountaintops, rivers run throughout the year, which is uncommon for a Greek island. Arnipotamos River runs to Lefka bay, Ahla River’s estuary is in Ahla bay, Megalos Potamos River’s mouth is in Paraporti beach, at Chora, (town of Andros). Diplomata River’s estuary is in Syneti bay. Besides the rivers, there are 7 more streams with water throughout the year. As a result, there are large areas of abundant vegetation and a remarkable aquatic fauna.
Andros’ coastline is particularly steep with a number of picturesque small bays, all with beautiful sandy beaches. The islands’ main inlets are Gavrio, Batsi, Hora (town of Andros) and Korthi, all with full-equipped ports, and there is also Fourni bay and Agios Petros beach, in the north.
Andros is quite different from any other Cycladic island. It is an island full of contrasts and surprises, with its high rocky mountains, green, deep, fertile valleys, abundant running waters, plateaus, steep coasts, and numerous golden beaches of various sizes. Andros is ideal for hiking and driving, as the scenery keeps changing drastically every few kilometers.
One can easily move from a sandy beach with clear blue waters to a rich valley or a gorge with abundant vegetation and fauna.
Agriculture in Andros is extended, although cultivable areas are few, narrowed in the valleys between mountains that serve to protect from strong winds, which is a characteristic feature of the Cyclades. Abundant waters and vegetation have produced a fertile and rich soil.
History of the island
Human presence has been uninterrupted on the island since 5000 BCE, as manifested by disperse traces all over Andros. Antiquity’s visible monuments extend throughout 7 millennia, making Andros a miniature representative of the history of Greece.
According to Greek mythology, Andros was Appollo’s grandson and a general to the Cretan king Ramanthos. The king offered his general the island of Andros, as a token of gratitude for his services.
Andros has been inhabited by many different people; Carians, Phoenicians and Cretans during the 2nd millennium BCE. Later on, Andros was occupied by the Persians and entered the Delian League for protection. Athens, the leading part of the League imposed heavy taxes on Andros, and the island switched and allied with the Spartans. By 400 BCE, the island was occupied by the Macedonians, and later on by the Romans.
In the early 13th century, Venetians occupied the island, which prospered under the Venetian protection. During the Byzantine years the island remained safe from piracy attacks due to its effective defense. The island fell to the Ottoman rule following the invasion of Admiral Barbarossa in 1537. Andros’ habitants fought fiercely for freedom at the Independence War in 1821, and achieved their liberation 9 years later.
Andros was heavily destroyed by German bombings, in 1943.
Andros is commonly referred to as the cultural capital of Cyclades, and with good reason, too. Several famous museums and foundations offer more than their exhibits; events and festivals run mainly in the summer, honoring Andros’ cultural reputation. In Chora (town of Andros), a museum is dedicated to the shipbuilding history of the island. There is also an interesting archeological museum with exhibits from the whole range of the island’s history. In Sariza, there are mineral water springs. Most of the island’s bottled water has its source in Sariza. Menites village also worths to visit. Messaria valley covers Andros’ breadth from west to east ending to the coastal zone of Chora (town of Andros). In this zone one can visit the most beautiful villages of the island.
To the north, the main villages are Strapouries, Pitrofoú, Lamira, Mesathouri, Ipsilou and to the south, there are Alantino, Falika, Koureli and Sasa. During the Byzantine era, all the aforementioned villages, with Messaria village in the centre, were the epicenter of Andros’ economical development. This same area experienced a big economical boost in the early 20th century, due to navigation developments. There are several byzantine churches to visit in the area, as well as the monastery of the Holy Virgin, Panagia Panahrantou.
Chora, the town of Andros, pops out in elegance. Visitors will appreciate the beautiful, neoclassical mansions of the island’s ship-owners who lived in Andros during the 20th century. Chora’s most distinctive and precious quality is serenity, stemming from the fact that the centre of the city is only accessed by pedestrians. There is a parking area for vehicles at the edge of the city; visitors need to walk in Chora. In fact, with its well-organized hiking trail network, the whole island is a paradise for hikers.
Gavrio is the local of entry to the island and the main port; there is little historical information on the spot, but it appears that Gavrio had been an ancient port connecting the mainland (Attica) to Andros, much in the same way as it does today. As the boat enters the port, one can see the small town of Gavrio, with a front of coffee shops, local taverns and tourist shops. Small sandy beaches can be reached at a walking distance. From Gavrio, there are buses leaving to Chora during the day. If one prefers to make their own discovery of the island, there are several car rentals. For those interested in buying property in Andros, there are many real estates, too.
We suggest a visit to Ano Gavrio, the upper town, on foot or by car. The route leads to a beautiful countryside and farmland with brooks and bridges; Andros’ famous dovecotes are part of the scenery. On the same track to Ano Gavrio, one can visit Agia Sofia, the main church of the settlement.
Not far from Gavrio, lies a beautiful beach with the name of Agios Petros and an interesting ancient Tower worth visiting. Batsi is the island’s touristic settlement; most of the hotels, rooms to let and the only camping site of the island are here. Batsi has a small marina for yachts and fishing boats. Batsi and Gavrio belong to the municipality of Idroussa. Most of the island’s beaches are situated in this zone, along with a number of picturesque villages on mountain slopes and bays.
Andros is ideal for hiking and has a well preserved network of footpaths. Visitors can notice trails of old footpaths running all over the island. Old, event ancient routes follow natural paths through mountains and ravines connecting spots of social and economical interest for the island. It is justified to claim that all those footpaths have remained the same, in their main route, since the remote antiquity. Every church, monastery, watermill, pasture, farm, spring, beach, bay or settlement, however small, has at least one footpath leading to it.
The island’s social and economical life lies on those ancient paved paths from prehistory to recent post-war years. All those interested to get acquainted to original Andros, can simply follow the routes.
Andros is the perfect place to be not only for hiking lovers but for anyone who enjoys swimming, diving, fishing and sailing. Sailing races are running every summer and there are numerous beautiful beaches for wind surfing, as the island is well-served be the famous Cycladic winds. In Batsi’s small harbor there is a variety of choices in maritime sports during the summer. Recently, Andros’ municipality assembly elaborated a program for the development of low-profile tourism. Among other things, the main hiking trail network will be cleared and marked to the use of inhabitants and visitors.
If you wish to get acquainted to the tradition of Andros and a history extending to more than 6000 years, and meet the island’s beautiful nature of thermal waters, rich fauna and hundreds of species of wild flowers and herbs (some of them growing solely in Andros), follow the ancient footpaths that have sustained the social and economical life of the island from prehistory to recent post-war years. Embrace an experience that will mark you forever.
Andros’ lacy coastline forms numerous small, picturesque bays; almost in every single of them hides a sandy beach. Rumor has it that there exist more than a 100 of them!
Most of them are situated at the northwest coast of the island. Nevertheless, there are dozens of beaches dispersed all over the island. Some of them are cosmopolitan and noisy, others are deserted and lonely; take your pick!
For those interested in clubbing options, there are several bars in Batsi and Gavrio, open in high season, where you can enjoy local and foreign music. There is an open-air cinema at Chora (town of Andros).
A great variety of local delicacies and specialties is offered in the island’s restaurants and taverns. Local sausage, homemade salted pork and wine are not to be missed! Andros has a great reputation for its traditional pastry; “skaltsounia”, made of almond, are famous all over Greece. In Gavrio, you can enjoy Greek cuisine at “Konaki” tavern. Local delicacies are offered in “Nefeli”, a tavern at Chora (town of Andros), just opposite the church of the Virgin Mary/ Panagia. Try also the food in Gerogios Empirikos street that leads to the archaeological museum and at Korais square. Choose Batsi for fish and meze (small plates with delicacies). Korthi is also specialized in fish and sea food.
There are several shops in Chora (town of Andros) and Batsi. Apart from the necessary souvenirs, you can also buy textile products, jewelry and pottery. In Gavrio and in Chora there are pastry shops where you can buy the famous almond delicacy “skaltsounia”, the best in Greece. You might also want to purchase some local sausage, salted pork and raki, a strong alcoholic drink.
Andros is a considerably large island, and it might be a good idea to rent a vehicle. There are several local buses connecting the main villages of the island, as well as several taxis. Buses are leaving in front of the port of Gavrio to Chora (town of Andros).
Boats to Andros
Superferry II sails to Andros as often as twice a day from the port of Rafina (Attica). Click here for timetables.
Emergency phone numbers:
- Phone code: +30 (Greece) 22820 (Andros)
- Health Centre: 23333
- Port Authorities: 22250
- Police: 22300