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Why Should I Visit Andros?

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Andros at a glance

Cosmopolitan and refined, the second largest of the Cyclades is one of the least explored islands in the Aegean.

The home of famous shipowners and sea captains, Andros island stands out for its rare mix of an Aegean aesthetic with a natural setting more often found on the Greek mainland. Its mountains and sea together form a perfect whole, in which bare Cycladic beauty coexists with verdant landscapes and pristine beaches with emerald waters.

From the grandeur of Andros Town, with its impressive neoclassical buildings, iconic museums and aristocratic atmosphere, to the beautiful vernacular architecture of the stone-built mountain villages, there are countless cultural and historical treasures scattered throughout the island.

For lovers of exploration, Andros is like an inexhaustible eco-museum that never fails to enthral, where forests and valleys boasting impressive flora and fauna are interspersed with thermal springs and waterfalls, dovecotes and stone watermills, cobbled streets and arched bridges, and ornate castles and historic monasteries.

Rich in surprises but always understated, Andros overturns every stereotype of a Cycladic island, and promises a fantastic holiday experience for the most demanding travellers.

10 reasons to visit Andros
  1. To admire the stately splendour of Andros Town, a stunningly beautiful location with an aristocratic atmosphere, full of reminders of the island’s seafaring tradition. Built on a tiny peninsula, it ends in an arched stone bridge to a rocky islet with the remains of a medieval Venetian castle. Wander around the narrow cobbled streets of the Old Town, absorbing its nostalgic atmosphere, before taking in the grand neoclassical captain’s houses of the 19th and 20th century in the newer areas.
  2. To visit the iconic Goulandris Museum of Contemporary Art. The temporary exhibitions held here every summer attract culture lovers from all over the world and feature works by some of the greatest artists of the twentieth century, including Picasso, Matisse, Klee, Kandinsky, Chagall, Rodin and Miro.
  3. To explore the verdant interior of Andros, with its dazzling mountain villages, wonderful natural monuments, and unique cultural treasures on the island’s paved hiking trails. Don’t miss the Springs of Dionysus in the village of Mainites, where the water flows from the mouths of marble lions’ heads, as well as the tower houses of Aidonia, the waterfalls of Pythara, the stone bridges and watermills – 22 of them – in the valley of Dipotamata, and the archaeological site and museum at Palaiopoli.
  4. To wander around the excellent Archaeological Museum of Andros and admire impressive finds covering the period from the Neolithic to Byzantine times. They include the marble “Hermes of Andros”, a Roman copy of Praxiteles’ Hermes found in Palaiopoli in 1833, and two headless Kouroi (statues of young men from the Archaic period).
  5. To cool off with the famous Sariza spring water from the large stone fountain in the verdant village of Apikia.
  6. To gaze out over the sea from Riva Square, where the legendary Statue of the Unknown Sailor, one of the island’s best known landmarks, stands. This unique and much photographed spot, where the waves crash onto the rocks, is ideal for a romantic walk.
  7. To visit the imposing 9th-century Monastery of Panachrantos, high on the northern hillside of Mount Gerakones. Founded by the Byzantine emperor Nikephoros Phokas, the monastery has two magnificent examples of post-Byzantine wood carving, the icon screen and the door to the narthex. Its spectacular location offers dizzying views of Andros Town and the central villages of the island, giving visitors a sense that they are hovering in mid-air.
  8. To marvel at the famous stone Tourlitis lighthouse (1897), the only lighthouse in Europe built on a rock in the sea.
  9. To experience the cosmopolitan atmosphere of the seaside village of Batsi, where local tradition coexists with vibrant nightlife in the countless cafés, bars and tavernas.
  10. To admire the wonderful architecture in the traditional village of Stenies, a jewel of stone houses, paved courtyards, beautiful squares and wall fountains. Don’t miss the impressive country houses of the island’s prominent ship-owning families, as well as the imposing Bistis Tower (1734).
The top 5 beaches

Achla: One of the island’s most famous beaches is situated in a beautiful closed bay on its south-east coast. With fine sand and small white pebbles, its emerald waters remain calm even when the wind is up, although they can be cold, as the river Achla enters the sea at this point. The water soon becomes deeper, making this an ideal spot for snorkelling. The small church of Saint Nicholas stands at one end of the beach, while the imposing Gria lighthouse looks down over the other. Access is by sea or dirt road from the village of Vourkoti.

Old Lady’s Jump: This is the most famous – and most photographed – beach on Andros thanks to the huge (15-metre high) pillar of rock rising out of the sea a few metres from the shore. According to legend, it is the petrified form of an old woman who ended her life by throwing herself off the cliffs at this point. The shallow turquoise waters and beautiful sand create an irresistibly exotic setting. Access is by boat from Korthi Bay, or on foot, which involves a hike and then a descent down a steep path.

Batsi (Golden Coast): Attractive and cosmopolitan, the island’s most-frequented beach is notable for its long stretch of golden sand and shallow waters that are well-sheltered from the wind. Its safety and range of amenities make it especially popular with families of young children. Alongside the tavernas, cafés and beach bars playing pleasant music, there are also opportunities here for water sports. The beach has a superb view of the traditional village of Batsi, which is particularly magical at night, when the lights come on.

Golden Sand: The island’s liveliest – and noisiest – beach owes its popularity to its fine golden sand, gorgeous turquoise waters and sheltered aspect. It has every amenity, from sun loungers and umbrellas to endless options for water sports, as well as beach bars playing loud music and a canteen. A favourite destination for both young people and families, it is easily accessible from the main road that connects the Gavrio port with Andros Town. It is worth visiting by choosing a ferry to Andros.

Zorkos: A large beach with golden sand and crystal-clear turquoise waters in an exotic setting of rocks and fragrant plants. Its pristine beauty and tranquillity attract large numbers of people here, despite its exposure to the north wind. The bay has a magnificent view of the Aegean and there is a taverna behind the beach serving excellent local delicacies and fresh fish.

Don’t leave Andros without…
  • Climbing the path that leads to the Upper Castle or Castle of Faneromeni above the village of Kochylos, the island’s most powerful settlement in medieval times. You will see the ruins of churches, houses, and water cisterns, as well as the small church of Faneromeni with stunning views of the Aegean and southern Andros, from an altitude of 600 metres.
  • Visiting the iconic Kairis Library, which houses a unique collection of letters and 3,000 books belonging to the leading representative of the Greek Enlightenment, the philosopher Theophilos Kairis, as well as rare editions, manuscripts and works of art. It has some of the most attractive period rooms you are likely to see in Greece.
  • Walking from the noisy Kairi Square to the iconic Square of the Unknown Sailor via narrow streets lined with beautiful houses.
  • Crossing the stunning “Bridge of Love” in the village of Episkopio, a stone-built work of art in a verdant fairy-tale setting. The location appeared in the film “Little England”.
  • Looking out over the Aegean from the Tower at Agios Petros on the plain of Gavrio. This impressive cylindrical monument from the Hellenistic period (4th-3rd century BC), built from local schist, is 20 metres in height and would have been used as a watchtower for maritime activity.
  • Exploring the stunning Aladinos Cave, a spectacular maze of compartments and eight chambers full of stalagmites and stalactites. The tourist route is 150 metres long.
Tasty Experiences
  • Try the wine produced in the village of Sineti, an area with an ancient winemaking tradition.
  • Sample some of the excellent cheeses from Andros: petroti (fresh unsalted cheese), volakia, three kinds of graviera (made with cow’s milk, goat’s milk, and wine), and manouso (a soft white cheese with a salty taste).
  • Enjoy the spicy smoked pork sausages made locally and louza (air-dried pork).
  • Satisfy your sweet tooth with kaltsounia (filo parcels filled with crushed walnuts, almonds, honey, nutmeg, rosewater, cloves and sugar), amygdalota (almond sweets made with rosewater and bitter almond essence), nougatine, pastitsakia (almond biscuits), and spoon-sweet preserves.
  • Don’t miss the famous fourtalia or froutalia (a local omelette made with potatoes, local sausages, and mint).
  • Taste favourite local mezes such as potato balls, fritters of wild greens, and courgette flowers fried in batter.
  • At Easter, enjoy lambriati (goat meat stuffed with cheese, eggs, onions, liver, rice, mint and parsley, roasted in the oven with sprigs of rosemary) and braised rooster with pasta, two traditional specialities of the island.
  • Have a traditional breakfast of avgokalamara (folded strips of fried dough served with honey).
  • Raise a glass of pontzi (made with raki and local thyme honey).
Trivia

Andros was a mecca for silk production during the golden age of Byzantium (10th-12th century). The islanders perfected the craft to such an extent that their output included hexamita (a heavy, thick velvet-like material) as well as zentata (lighter silks) and Andros became a centre for the export of silk and gossamer to the West. Due to its great value, silk from the island was much sought-after in Europe, often being sent as a gift to the German Imperial Court.

MAP OF ANDROS
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