Andros has a lot to offer those who choose to visit. It is however not suited to everyone and there are some factors to be aware of before choosing Andros. I have tried to compile this list in order to prepare any potential visitors for it’s possible downsides, and factors which may make it different to some of the other Greek islands.
1) Tourism infrastructure still in development…
Andros has traditionally been a weekend retreat for Athenians and rich ship-owners. With it being only two hours from Athens by boat it made for the perfect spot for those on the mainland to build a holiday home near the sea. Foreign tourism however is generally something which has only started to develop in recent years. As such it does not have a plethora of art galleries, museums, tourism activities etc. The public transport system is basic, as most of the locals opt to drive their own vehicles instead. So if you are looking to turn up somewhere and be bombarded with tourist activities and be spoon-fed by a well oiled tourism trade, then maybe Andros isn’t the right choice.
One final point on this, a small number of people that I have spoken to who have visited many of the more touristy Greek islands have told me that to them Andros did not feel as welcoming and they felt they did not interact with the locals as much as on other islands. One interpretation of this is that Andros is not reliant on the foreign tourism trade unlike other touristic Greek islands (due to it’s predominantly domestic tourism) and thus business owners, shop assistants etc. may not force themselves upon tourists as they might in islands where they need to encourage trade with tourists. As such on the surface it may not feel as culturally immersive as some other Greek islands. What I can say from my own personal experience is that the local people are warm, loyal and generous. This island is not neccisarily polished for tourists it is simply an authentic Greek island offering, in my opinion, a more real experience.
2) The Siesta shutdown
Between the hours of about 3-6pm each day (even during the cooler months) a large percentage of shops and restaurants across the island will close. This is traditionally to avoid work during the hottest hours of the day and instead extend working hours later in to the evening when the temperature is more amenable to working. This practice is however prevalent across much of the Mediterranean and is therefore not specific to Andros. It is worth keeping this in mind when planning your day, as for example turning up to Chora at 3.30pm looking to shop and eat, may leave you disappointed.
As exemplified by this unfortunate Eucalyptus tree on an exposed part of the North of the island, Andros does occasionally experience strong winds. Many of the Aegean islands experience the Meltemi winds which for the most part just offer a cooling breeze. However on occasions it can get quite windy which some may find disruptive. This can mean that you have to choose more sheltered beaches when going for a swim. The winds rarely stay high for long periods though, and usually abate within a day or two.
PLEASE NOTE: The winds in the Cyclades are a common concern of tourists visiting the area. In my opinion, without it the island would be too hot during the summer months. There are rare circumstances where the wind reaches strong gale force which can lead to ferry cancellations however this is very rare! (e.g. in 31 years of visiting Andros multiple times per year, this has happened to me twice).
Why not have a look at the live Gavrio webcam and see the weather for yourself, scroll down to see the current weather map and windspeed.
4) Dirt roads
Many of the best beaches in Andros can only be reached by dirt roads. Most are not a problem as long as you take a little more care when driving on them. Some roads such as those to Achla beach & Vori beach are better suited to having a 4X4.
This should not act as a deterrent, but purely make you aware that you may need to drive a little slower and more carefully given the road surface. In some cases the inaccessible nature of such beaches can almost guarantee seclusion!
5) Waste disposal
Many of the Greek islands have a problem with how to manage rubbish. Greeks traditionally are not known for recycling. Due to public service cuts over recent years, occasionally rubbish collection is delayed and you may see bins piled high. After a recent visit to Andros I was pleased to note that recycling bins had been delivered to several sites. It may be some time however, until the habit of recycling becomes ingrained in to the Greek psyche.
None of the above should act to deter you from wanting to visit Andros. I merely want to highlight some potential downsides that I have noticed other travellers mention.
Nobody is perfect hey, but Andros comes pretty close!