A Small Paradise
Andros is the northernmost island of the Cyclades Islands cluster, the second largest after Naxos and is situated in the heart of the Aegean Sea.
The island of Andros, specifically the main port of Gavrio, is located at a distance of approximately 2 hours by boat from the port of Rafina.
From Athens, the distance to the port of Rafina is approximately 1 hour by bus. Andros is also connected with the other islands of the Cyclades Islands cluster.
The island of Andros is gifted with important sightseeing, which is interspersed all over the verdant landscape. Hora, the capital, built on a peninsula, is a beautiful town with a ruin of a medieval castle as well as two interesting museums, the archaeological and the modern art museum.
After Gavrio, the main port of the island, the impressive tower of Agios Petros prevails. Batsi, the most popular resort of the island that pulses with traditional Cycladic houses, and a reverent monastery with an incredible view in the next village.
Paleopolis, Ormos Korthiou, Messaria, Apikia, are also magnificent settlements that worth a visit.
Andros Island at a glance
Andros is an island that throbs with amazing natural beauty that is reflected on the revitalizing flora, the natural springs, the amazing beaches, and the crystal waters that embellish the gorgeous landscape.
The famous spa at Apikia, the sandy beaches at Gavrio, Kypri, Agios Petros, Pisso Limnionas, as well as the pebble beach at Vitali.
Moreover, the much frequented and long sandy beach of Batsi, the small Stivari beach, the beautiful Ateni beach, and the verdant beach of Agia Marina is also amazing.
As far as your entertainment is concerned, if you are interested in the cosmopolitan lifestyle and intense nightlife, here are our recommendations. The popular town of Gavrio that has organized tourism substructure, the coastal resort of Batsi that throbs with tourists and of course the much-frequented capital of Hora, are the places to be, as they pulse with various entertainment centers.
Furthermore, all over the island of Andros, all year round, interesting saint festivals and important cultural events are being organized, so do not miss the chance to relish this experience.
History of Andros
Archeological excavations prove the existence of developed settlements, dating back to Mycenaean times or even earlier. The island becomes historically known during the Geometric period (9th-7th century B.C.), as it is proved by traces of a settlement found in Zagora, at the south-western part of the island, close to Zaganiari.
The capital of Andros island, during classical times, was Paleopoli. The prosperity during that period is shown by the big production of coins. Relevant findings together with Hermes of Andros statue are exhibited in the Archeological Museum in Hora. In the 7th century, B.C. Andros island participated with Chalkideans to the colonization of Halkidiki and coastal areas of Thrace in northern Greece.
Andros, following with the rest Aegean islands the fate of continental Greece, consecutively fell under Roman, Frank, and Ottoman occupation. Dating back to the 11th century, Byzantine style churches are found around the island, like Taxiarchis in Ipsilou, Melida and Messaria, and Kimisi Theotokou (Assumption) in Mesathouri. In the 14th century, the “Agias Monastery” (Zoodochos Pigi) was built near Batsi, while Agios Nikolaos monastery was founded in 1560 and rebuilt in the 18th century. Panachrantou monastery was founded in the mid-17th century. At Agia Triada (Holy Trinity) in Korthi, a school has been established in 1813, before the Greek War of Independence against the Ottomans. It was founded by Samuel Plasimis and it incorporates a separate building, serving as the teacher’s house and library.
On May 10th, 1821, Theofilos Kairis declared the War of Independence, thus marking the starting point of the island’s recent history, during which Andros reached the peak of its economic prosperity, thanks to its ships. It is worth noting that Andriot Dimitris Moraitis initiated Greece-North America line at the beginning of the 20th century, while Andros was in 1939 second to Piraeus regarding ship registration.
The port of Gavrio bustles into life every time there is a ferry, and there is a good choice of tavernas and bars. There are several beaches nearby. A fairly regular bus service provides connections between Gavrio, Batsi, Andros Town, and Korthi Bay.
The first village after Gavrio is the rapidly expanding Agios Petros, which has a long wide beach, some parts with shade, several tavernas, and the Tower of Agios Petros (probably the oldest structure on the island).
Between Agios Petros and the village and beach of Kypri are the ever-popular Golden Sands beach – shallow water, soft sand, shade, and a beach bar.
Above the village of Kypri is the Monastery of Zoodochou Pighi (Life-Giving Spring). You can visit the monastery before 12.00 and after 17.00.
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Seven kilometers from Gavrio is the village and harbor of Batsi, probably the most popular resort on the island due to its long, sandy beach, the picturesque harbor, and the exceptionally good choice of tavernas, restaurants, cafes, bars, and dance bars. Greek Sun Holidays and Auto Europe car hire are both based in Batsi.
Greek Sun Holidays offers accommodation, ferry tickets, information, exchange services, excursions, Western Union, and much more. Auto Europe has new cars for hire and what better way to explore the island. Both offices are situated in the center of Batsi and are open every day.
Batsi has a chemist, doctor, post office, one bank, an open-air cinema (high season only), moped hire, mountain bike hire, water taxi, bakeries, supermarkets, and plenty of souvenir shops.
The main connecting road between Batsi and Andros Town (Hora), the present-day capital, passes by many of the islands 80 villages. Paleopolis, the ancient capital, which has a small museum and a beach which is reached by 1039 steps!
At the crossroads (Stavropeda), there is a route that leads to the Geometrical site of Zagora, although all the findings from the site are now in the Archaeological Museum in Hora. Two roads lead off to Hora and Korthi Bay. The road to Hora passes through the villages of Pitrofos, Aladinou, by Menites – a beautiful green village with natural springs, Messaria, and finally to Hora.
Hora is a residential town, with a wide variety of shops and exceptional museums – the Archaeological, Modern Art, Nautical, and Folklore. Other places of interest are the Kairis Library, the Kydonieos Institute, and the statue of the Unknown Sailor. Hora is flanked by the beaches of Paraporti and Nimborio. Lydi beach and Gialia and Piso Gialia are all within proximity.
The villages of Stenies, Lamira, Apoikia (Sariza) are close to Hora and well worth a visit.
There are three monasteries nearby – Saint Nicholas, Panachrandou, and Saint Marina – the first two are open daily for visitors. To get to St Nicholas and St Marina, take the Nimborio beach road away from Hora towards Apoikia. For the Panachrandou, take the road from Hora which leads to Korthi Bay until you reach the village of Exo Vouni.
Just outside Hora is the connecting road to Korthi Bay – passing by the Sineti Gorge, the villages of Sineti and Kochylou, the old site of Paleocastro (Old Castle). Dramatic, barren scenery in direct contrast with the lushness and wealthiness of Hora and its surrounding villages.
Korthi Bay has a good beach and is a quiet, very well kept village with a good choice of tavernas.
The Melissa beach and the beach of the Old Woman’s Leap are close to Korthi Bay. During high season, there is a water taxi service and also a windsurfing school.
Walking and hiking are very hard, the island is seriously hilly with quite often 500 to 800 meter climbs involved in the walks. The path system is extensive, although some have collapsed and also can be very overgrown with thorns and thistles – having a trekking pole is quite useful. Nevertheless, there is a very good walking opportunity on the island, you just have to sometimes take the information on the maps with a pinch of salt. There are a couple of maps available for the island plus several books which you can buy in Batsi.
For trekking and hiking, Andros is the best island to go to Greece due to the presence of many natural springs and ancient stone footpaths that are graced by its mountainous nature.
The island grantees a unique experience as it has an 85 km network of old trekking paths paved with stones and stone bridges throughout the island thus offers a wide range of entertaining walks.
The small creeks and rivers that are covered by vegetation give gorgeous natural scenery as you walk through the stone-paved paths that were carved centuries ago.
The coastline is spectacular; walking through the sandy beaches and numerous alcoves is just amazing.
The cliffs that have been carved by the northerly wind are sensational. If you want to get in touch with the unique nature of Andros hiking may not give it all trek on its paths.
Organizing a multi-day or a single day walking trip to explore the nature of the island requires a knowledgeable team that will lead you to visit protected areas like Achla beach (recommended) or Dipotamata.
Then go to the religious monuments like the churches and the monasteries. You should never miss going to the archaeological site of Strofylia walking through the stone bridges from one destination to another.
Andros has other activities apart from the outdoor activity that can unite you with the wild nature of Andros and the local people. There are holistic activities like the holistic therapy session of acupuncture also referred to as Chinese massage and the Chinese arts of Taiji and Qigong.
If you are in a group a mini-workshop can be organized upon request. There is a high level of service and the safety of the participants is paramount.
Trekking outdoor activities in Andros includes traveling experience that provides a chance for every guest in love with nature and local tradition. Buses can be arranged depending on the number of participants for instance a bus for a group of 15 to 40 people and a taxi for less than five participants.
Meals can be arranged in a local restaurant if requested or have local food cooked during the trips.
Trekking can range a variety of activities from bird watching through boat trips, then get to water sports in Gavrio a surf club that offers high-quality windsurfing lessons and rentals.
Then enjoy the culinary experience after a long day of trekking by attending cooking classes of meals conducted on the most unpredictable place in the region.
To meet Andros’s unique nature you need a competent team that will lead you through as you prepare to have a taste of the homegrown organic products of the Mediterranean land.
Andros Walks Menus
Batsi circular (1)
6km via 3 beaches and Ipsili headland – easy walking
Batsi circular (2)
11km – to Moni Zoodochou Pigis – moni paths, track and steep
Batsi circular (3)
222km – via K. Katakilos + Katakilos. Moni-path, track/road – very steep in places
Strapouries to Batsi
15km – mostly moni-path, road+track at end. Undulating
Andros Town (Chora) circular
16km – track, moni-path, road – via M.Panachrantou + Menites. Strenuous in places
8km – via Stenies – Ghialia beach. Steps/paths. Fairly easy
16km – via Exo – Vouni – Stephanes gorge. Strenuous
Circular walk to Achia Beach
10km – track and moni-path (visits the lovely Achia beach). Moderate
Vourkoti – there and back
8km – mostly track – undulates
There are loads of beaches on the island but quite a few of them are remote and involve either a very considerable walk or some can be reached by car. The beaches are either sand or very small stone and quite comfortable to be on – though the ones we saw did not have much or any shade. The tavernas were only just being painted and organized when we visited in May and most were not open. The water was crystal clear and very good for snorkeling but using jellies or similar on your feet is a good idea because of sea-urchins in some places. The beaches were also just being cleaned up from the winter debris of seaweed and flotsam – as mentioned our visit was in May which is early – on the several more remote beaches we went to it was unusual to see anyone else around – so going nude was not a problem. The unofficial nudist beach is just on the edge of Batsi by Blue Bay – this is quite a small beach but very pleasant to be on. Incidentally, we never saw one snake on any of the beaches we visited and we were looking since we like to photograph them.
There is such a choice! Not all of them have tavernas, so take water.
From Gavrio, you can visit Zorkos, Pisolimnionas, Felos, Selki, Vitali, Agios Petros, Golden Sands, Kypri.
From Batsi, you can visit Stivari, Delavoyas, Agia Marina (by foot), Ateni, Lefka, Vori, Achla, Paleopoli, and Halkolimionas.
From Hora, you can visit Paraporti, Nimborio, Gialia, Piso Gialia, Lidi and Sineti.
From Korthi Bay, you can visit Melissa, the Old Woman’s leap, and Plaka.
How to get to Andros Island
Accessible only by ferry from Rafina Port (60 Minutes from Athens airport). The journey from Rafina to Gavrio (Andros’ port) takes 2 hours by ferry and just 1 hour by catamaran. It is also been connected with Tinos, Mykonos, Syros, Andros, Paros, Crete, Thessaloniki.
The bus service on Andros is cheap and reliable but not that frequent – as an example, there are 07:05 and 10:20 services to Andros Town (ticket cost 2.50 Euro which you buy on the bus) which takes about 45 minutes and the last bus back is at 15:00 – there are later buses back on Friday and Sunday evenings however at 19:30. These times were for May which is quite early in the season so probably more buses will be put on in June/July/August.
A taxi from Batsi to Andros Town (Chora) was 15 Euros and from Gavrio to Batsi was 5 Euros (always remember to ask and maybe negotiate with the driver before leaving when using a taxi). There is a taxi rank on Batsi front by the square, the drivers can be found sitting in the taverna opposite most of the time during quiet periods.
Car and Scooter Hire
A small car such as a Daewoo costs about 30 Euros a day (for a 5-day hire) including full insurance (this has a 250 Euro payment due on top if any accident/damage is your fault). Batsi only seemed to have one car hire place and we thought their rates were rather expensive – also for a one day only hire they additionally had a per kilometer charge. One of the taverna owners suggested we go over to Gavrio where there are several cars hire companies – thus competition – and this proved worthwhile for the 5 Euro taxi trip. We hired from Tassos – and they were quite happy to let us leave the car in Batsi at the end of the hire which was good. There are two quite big scooter hire firms in Batsi (located just by the bridge). There are only 4 or 5 petrol stations on the island, known ones by us are one just as you enter Hora on the main road, one at Gaviro on the road towards Batsi and one on the Batsi by-pass road.
Nightlife and Entertainment
It is lively, full of cocktail bars, dancing bars, and discos. Do not forget to taste “fourtalia”, an omelet specialty with potatoes, smoked pork, and sausage.
The south part of the island is lush and green while the north part is scorched and barren. 6 Km northern from the Capital Andros Town (or Hora) Stenies village is the most beautiful on the island. Close to Messaria there is a Byzantine church of Taxiarhis (1158 AD). Batsi is the island’s biggest resort with excellent sandy beaches.
In Andros Town, you can see the famous Hermes of Andros (2 BC) in the Archaeology Museum. Exhibitions of modern artists can be viewed in the Museum of Modern Art. The cathedral Ag. Georgios (Saint George) is built on the ruins of a 17th-century church. Palatiani is Byzantium 13th century church.
Roads and Tracks (driving)
A lot of the roads connecting the villages are tarmac – apart from the main Batsi to Chora road these roads are often quite narrow, very hilly, and full of hairpin bends. The smaller roads are prone to huge potholes in places – quite often on the invisible side of a hairpin bend so you have trouble avoiding them. Goats and sheep are everywhere and seem to take great pleasure in sauntering across the road just as you are driving past – there again they are the locals and you are the visitor and what is the hurry anyway?. As per normal, the farmers in their pick-up trucks have the usual small Greek island habit of driving in the middle of the road and -maybe- only moving over at the last minute seemingly surprised that anyone else is around. The tracks vary in their condition – one of the problems with a car as opposed to a jeep hire is the small cars have very little ground clearance – certainly, some of the beaches which are accessible by track in the north and south of the island are not any good by car because of the deep ruts – also bear in mind how hilly Andros is so that the tracks often drop/climb very very steeply and can be very sandy or scree/rocky due to rock-fall. Note the road from between Remata and Arni which branches off to Vourkoti is shown as a track on maps but is now tarmac.
The scenery is outstanding – the island is full of old buildings, old mills and so on; the path walls have been built unusually, i.e. conventional rock stacking but they also use huge slabs of flat perpendicular rock in between. The amount of churches dotted around is unbelievable – some of them are very old, possibly there is one church for each islander? The wildlife (do you count sheep and goats??) is everywhere – from buzzards, eagles, kestrels to smaller birds, millions of lizards which scatter off just in front of you as you walk up a path; snakes are around dozing on the paths and rocks in the sun but they are quite small (the largest we saw was about 18 inches) and anyway they clear off quickly when they hear you coming. Then there are huge bees, butterflies, and moths as well as the usual wildlife found near streams, springs, and wet boggy areas. In some villages, there are quite long Levada runs – these are always so fascinating to walk along as well as being great for a quick splash/cool down when the weather is hot. Along the paths you are often accompanied by what must be miles of small rubber pipes that are used to transport the water intercepted from the springs high up in the hills back down to the villages and farms.