Greek Guide

Andros Island Greece Guide Andros

Andros Island, Greece Greek Holiday Destinations

Andros is the largest of the Greek Cyclades Islands, located in the Aegean Sea 30 kilometres south east of the mainland port of Rafina. The island has been largely overlooked by international tourists but is a favourite weekend getaway for wealthy Athenians, many of whom own villas here. You won't find the wild party scene of Mykonos or Santorini on this island but if it's lush green valleys, waterfalls and mountain springs you're after you've come to the right place.

The island is a two hour ferry hop from Rafina, the mainland's second major port (an hour's bus ride north east of Athens). Take a hydrofoil to cut your journey time by half. There are also regular ferry and fast boat connections to many of the neighbouring islands including Mykonos, Syros, Tinos and Paros.

This is one of the most fertile of all the Cycladic islands which are generally characterised by their somewhat dry and barren landscapes. Andros is awash with mountain streams which tumble down towards the coast. The plentiful water supply has led to the cultivation of olives, figs, citrus fruit and vines.

The island is a hikers' paradise a place where you can ramble for hours along the mountain footpaths, stopping at a riverside taverna for inexpensive Greek fare while you listen to the sound of the nightingales without another tourist in sight.

Andros has 110 kilometres of coastline with no less than 300 sandy beaches, most of which are untouched by tourism. Some can only be reached by small boat or moped. The island only has one major resort area at Batsi, eight kilometres south of the port of Gavrio where the ferries and Flying Dolphins arrive.

Batsi is the place to head for if you want all the usual tourist paraphernalia watersports, nightlife, accommodation and eateries all in full measure. Andros Town, on the east side of the island, is an enchanting place on a long, narrow peninsula more pricey than Batsi because this is where wealthy ship owning families bed down for the night. Its imposing neoclassical 19th century mansions, once the homes of well heeled sea captains, lend the island capital an air of old style elegance.

The island offers museums to visit, historic sites to explore and a network of country roads and footpaths via which you can roam through the pine forests and mulberry woods to find pretty inland villages and mountain springs. Andros is the only Cycladic island with a source of natural spring water which is bottled and exported throughout Greece.

The snaking dry stone walls and ancient dovecotes which pepper the island are among its most distinctive features. The elaborately decorated dovecotes were introduced by the Venetians who held sway here in the 13th century. Further evidence of the Venetian occupation can be seen in the ruins of the castle, built around 1220, which occupies the small island at the end of the Andros Town peninsula.