The island with a long maritime tradition
Andros town (Chora) is home to many prominent Greek captains and ship owners. Andros is a fascinating Greek island, due to the fact that it is not a conventional example of Cycladic architecture, but rather a blend of medieval, neoclassical and island style residences. Don't miss a visit to the Hellenistic Tower of Agios Petros and the Venetian castle, which is located on an islet across the main island and is connected by a 13th-century arched stone bridge.
History and mythology
In ancient times, Andros was named Hydroussa attributed to its pure and high-quality mineral springs and lush vegetation. Dionysus, Greek mythology's God of wine and grape harvest, was worshipped there and water was converted into wine. According to the prevalent interpretation, that of Diodorus of Sicily, the island was named after Andros, General of Radamanthys, King of Crete.
Palaiopolis, the capital of Andros, is said to have been surrounded by fifty settlements during the Classical period. The island of Andros has grown quickly from the 11th and 12th centuries. It became well-known around the world as a result of its silk products and commercial shipping.
A cultural tourism destination
The Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation's Museum of Contemporary Art - Greece's first Contemporary Art Museum - includes unique collections of paintings and sculptures by artists from the 19th and 20th centuries, including Matisse, Kandinsky, Balthus, Giacometti, Klee, Chagall, de Chirico, Rodin, Picasso, Braque, Mir, Toulouse-Lautrec. On the contrary, the Archaeological Museums in Chora and Palepolis illustrate the island's long violent history.
A gastronomic paradise for foodies & wine lovers
Despite being an island, Andros is known for its fresh meat rather than its seafood. Andros' local products include oil, citrus, fruit, meat and dairy products such as armexia, chloro, petroti, volaki, and kopanisti cheese, pork derivatives such as lardia, the famed sausages louza or syglina and sissira, and greens such as capers and kritama found along the shore.
Andros' traditional dessert is almond paste-amigdalota (made from marzipan and flower water), "Kaltsounia" with nuts and honey filling, and "Pasteli" (sesame seed candy) made of local walnuts and sesame. "ourtalia" is a food for the brave, an omelet with potatoes, pork, and sausages cooked in a sort of animal fat called 'glina' instead of oil, with several variations.
Andros, like the rest of Greece, has its own distinct gastronomic traits. The island has lush valleys with orange, lemon, mulberry, pomegranate, fig, and vegetable crops. Local cooperatives produce oil, wine, raki, digestif liqueurs derived from citrus fruits, and pontzi, a local alcoholic beverage created from raki and honey.
Andros' enchanting cycladic coastline beaches
Andros' sandy beaches are hidden gems differing in style - from secluded or popular, organised or not, accessible by car or boat - that suit all tastes. Some northern beautiful beaches, such as Ahla, Zorkos, Ateni, Vitali, Grias, and Pidima, can only be reached by boat or by dirt road. Zorkos bay is located in the delta of the Makrotandalos river, which gets the most fresh water from the mountains of north-east Andros and supports a unique biotope and natural reserve. Old Lady's Leap (Tis grias to pidima), with its spectacular stone pillar sticking out of the sea, is another option. Southern destinations are more popular, such as Agios Petros, Batsi and Chryssi Ammos, but if you are more into virgin and isolated beaches, you can visit Vlychada, Agios Sostis, and Halkolimnionas.
Activities, sights & attractions
Stenies is one of the most beautiful picturesque villages in the green hills surrounding Chora. Its large residencies, hidden behind towering trees, may be the attraction for visitors, but you can also tour a 17th-century tower, an old stone bridge, and a lovely old factory with a massive waterwheel. The Tourlitis Lighthouse is the only one in the Cyclades built on rock formations in the midst of the sea, off the coast of Chora.
The Cyclades Olive Museum is an excellent example of a tiny pre-industrial olive oil making plant and is a must-see attraction, revealing how closely Greeks are linked to the olive tree and its products in their lives and culture. One of the most important archaeological sites in Andros is Strofilas, Europe's most ancient city, dating from 4,500 to 3,300 BC. It is the greatest settlement of the Modern Neolithic Age discovered in the Aegean sea.
In recent years the island has witnessed an exponential growth in sea-sport activities, particularly wind-surfing in the Southern port of Korthi and the North Eastern beach of Agios Petros. The island has a very extensive network of hiking trails. Andros Route is a continuous hiking trail that runs from north to south on the island of Andros. It cuts through Andros' mountain ranges, going through some of the island's most spectacular natural landscapes and historic sites.
How to reach Andros
Andros is the northernmost island in the Cyclades and the second largest island in terms of land area after Naxos. There are three ports on the island, two on the west and one on the east. Gavrio is the primary port, with regular connections from Rafina port, which is close to Athens International Airport "Eleftherios Venizelos". You can easily access the main port of Andros to embark on your island-hopping adventure, since the island is also directly connected with Tinos, Mykonos and Syros as well as other Cycladic islands.