Andros Greece took me by surprise. I came here to relax and catch up on work during my five-week trip all over Greece and before heading on a Greek Island cruise. Yet I found my favorite Greek Island yet.
Just 2 hours by ferry from Athens, this unexposed Greek island “should” be overrun by tourists. Yet it remains one of those “hidden gems” that has flown under the radar of mass tourism.
Andros has had a long history as the center of the Greek maritime industry and therefore never had to rely on tourism as an income stream. Only recently have they started expanding their tourism infrastructure with a focus on sustainable, nature-focused tourism.
Here are 5 Reasons why you will fall in love with this beautiful little island in Greece.
1. The Natural Beauty
After Naxos, Andros is the second largest of the Cycladic Islands which also includes the tourist hot spot Mykonos. With a population of only 8300, you will find many areas of Andros that are completely unspoiled and off the beaten path.
What makes Andros so special is how green it is. While most Greek islands have a very arid climate and desert-like landscape, Andros is lush and green year-round. Here you will find citrus orchards, forests, waterfalls, and lakes.
Combined with steep, rocky cliffs plunging into the turquoise ocean, scenic sandy beaches, and you have a landscape that will make mountain AND beach lovers’ hearts beat faster. That makes it the perfect destination if you and your travel companions are split between the two camps ;-)
2. Outdoor Adventures & Hiking in Andros
I was lucky to go on a few hikes and outdoor adventures in Andros. There are several options for you, whether you are looking for a quick hike to a waterfall or a multi-day trek traversing the island.
A volunteer organization called Andros Routes maintains over 180 km of trails. Go check out their website for a description of the trails. They also make sure the trails are well-marked and easy to follow.
Apikia to Pythara Waterfall
I hiked a short section of hiking trail 2A from the mountain village of Apikia to the picturesque Pythara waterfall. This hike is pretty easy and short (about 15 minutes from the village), so perfect for beginner hikers or if you are pressed for time or did not bring hiking boots. In the summer, you can even go swimming in the little pools below. Well, not swimming as they are not deep, but you can cool off.
Gerolimni Waterfall Trek
I also joined a guided waterfall trek to Gerolimni waterfall which was absolutely fantastic. This trek is a little more challenging and includes some steep sections and light bouldering. I highly recommend you wear hiking boots or at least trainers with grippy soles. The waterfall hike takes about 3 hours and leads through a lush valley. There is no marked trail to the waterfall, so a tour guide is a must to stay safe. Our guide Argie was incredible and always there to help me through the more challenging sections.
Of course, make sure you have all the appropriate hiking gear, and that you tell someone about your route and when you expect to return.
The same company, Explore Andros, also offers rock climbing and abseiling, as well as jeep tours, if you are really into outdoor adventures. Check out their tours here:
3. The Food
Who doesn’t like Greek food? From tasty dips, fresh seafood, saganaki, succulent lamb, juicy Greek salads, crumbly feta, and salty olives, the Greeks know how to tantalize your tastebuds. Farm to table is not a bougie concept here, but the way of life. Greeks know high-quality ingredients and cherish their local cuisine. On Andros, there are a few local specialties that you need to try that this island is known for:
Spoon sweets: These are fruits and vegetables that are preserved in thick sugar syrup. They are usually eaten either by themselves as a small dessert, or over yogurt or ice cream. I tried pumpkin, lemon, and cherry and they were all fantastic.
Tzipouro: This is the local alcohol of choice, made from leftover grapes. It is quite strong and can either be drunk as a shot or sipped (with ice, or water).
Lemons: Andros is known for its lemons and they are very prevalent in the local cuisine. You will find lemon used in desserts, sweets, and also many savory dishes.
Pastries: The island’s love affair with decadent sweets goes back to Venetian times. The world-faring mariners brought back sweet treats and recipes from all over the world. On Andros, you can find many desserts and pastries based on traditional recipes from other countries with a unique “Andros’ twist”.
Thyme honey: Thyme, oregano, and other herbs grow plentiful on Andros and so the island has become known for its delicious thyme honey.
Wine: Andros wine has just received a big honor: It was served at the White House! If it is good enough for the president, it is good enough for me ;-) Check out Kourtesis Winery near Chora (by appointment only). They are currently the only winery open for wine tasting on Andros and their wines are fantastic. And check out the view from their estate!
4. The Stunning Hotels & Accommodation Options
Hotels are usually not why I fall in love with a place. But Andros has some seriously beautiful hotels that made my trip here extra special.
There are two main tourist areas to stay on Andros: Batsi and Chora. Batsi is on the West side of the island, near the port city of Gavrio. I would not recommend staying Gavrio, as it doesn’t have much to offer for visitors.
Hotels in Batsi
Batsi is what I would call a resort town. Not many locals live there and it mainly consists of resorts, restaurants, bars, and tourist shops. This is a great spot if you don’t have a car and are looking for more of a traditional resort vacation and access to great beaches right at your doorstep. I did not stay there, but these hotels were recommended to me by some locals:
Hotels in Chora
I chose to stay in Chora, the capital on the East side of the island. This is a great village if you plan to explore on your own a bit and want to do some outdoor adventures, explore mountain villages, and a traditional Greek small town with lots of things to do.
My hotel was Micra Anglia, a luxury boutique hotel in the heart of the town. The property is absolutely stunning and the service was fantastic. The location couldn’t have been better – just one block off the main street and within walking distance of everything (if you don’t mind hills and stairs).
I had some issues with my internet and they didn’t leave any stone unturned until it was fixed. Everyone was extremely kind and helpful. They also have a nice restaurant on the property. I usually avoid hotel restaurants, but this one surprised me with delectable food and top-notch service. I would definitely stay here again!
I also visited two more hotels and a vacation rental that looked absolutely fantastic and that I would definitely stay at the next time I visit Andros.
Anemomiloi Andros Boutique Hotel
This hotel has a modern style with a fun vibe. They have a beautiful pool and the rooms come equipped with a small kitchen. The location is also very convenient you can reach any part of Chora on foot from there.
Archontiko Hotel Eleni
This stunning boutique hotel is in a historic captain’s villa in the center of Chora that has been renovated with style and authenticity. The rooms, furniture, and decor are simply stunning.
Castel Abaso Boutique Apartments
But my absolute favorite place I visited was this vacation rental. This 3-unit traditional house in the heart of Chora has one downstairs unit and two upstairs units. If you can, get one of the upstairs units. They come with a stunning rooftop terrace with a WHIRLPOOL. I mean can you imagine soaking here, sipping on an Aperol Spritz, and watching the sun go down?
5. The People of Andros & Their History
There is no question that Greek people are among the most hospitable, friendly, and welcoming in the world. I have met so many incredible people during my travels in Greece. In most places in Greece, tourism is the main source of income for people and the locals know how to make tourists happy.
Andros is different though. The island has a history of a flourishing maritime industry. Many locals are maritime ship captains and own several ships. There is substantial wealth on this island. The previous generations built a successful industry for their island.
However, it came with a cost. The captains were often gone for months, sometimes years at a time. The women stayed home and ran the island. From their fortunes, the locals invested in their island and built a good infrastructure, hospitals, and schools, and supported the local monasteries.
One of the monasteries I visited, Saint Irene, was rebuilt by a local captain, Lefteris Polemis. He not only paid for everything but also showed up every day to make sure the workers had what they needed. Once the renovation was complete, he paid for groups of Greek orphans to come to Andros for a vacation until he passed away in 2022.
This is just one example of how the locals are giving back to their local communities, honoring their past, and making investments for the future success of Andros.
When you visit, make sure to talk to some of the locals and listen to their stories. It is a fascinating place, but the people are the true gems of this island.