I am often surprised by the variety of different landscapes and scenery in Andros. From typical Greek port towns like Gavrio to mountainous lush green forested towns like Arni. This variation in topography sets it apart from the other Cycladic islands, for example Mykonos which is predominantly dry, rocky and devoid of any running water.
A good way to experience this variety of scenery is to drive the loop from Batsi to Chora via Remata and then return to Batsi via Mesaria and Palaiopolis. You could drive it all in one in a couple of hours or make a day of it by stopping at various places along the way.
First half of loop:
Second half of loop:
First of all drive out of Batsi to Katakilos then head down to Remata which has a stream running through it all year round. This is a nice tranquil place to stop for a quick paddle.
Following this, drive up the steep and winding road to Vourkoti. This will take you past Arni or ‘little Switzerland’, a picturesque mountainous village bearing resemblance to a Swiss village. The scenery as you gain altitude is quite impressive.
After Vourkoti you will pass through Apikia which is the home of the Sariza spring. Although the water bottling factory was established in about 1929, locals have been drinking from the Sariza spring for hundreds of years. Beyond Apikia you will pass through Stenies and then eventually descend down to Chora, the islands capital.
Once you have rested your legs and maybe had a bite to eat in Chora, drive out towards Messaria. At this point you could detour and turn up in to Menites which has its own natural springs. There are a couple of tavernas and cafes here. Don’t be surprised if the waiter walks across the road and fills up your water jug from the mouth of the lions below:
After Mesaria, continue on past Pitrofos which is the location of the Cylades Olive Museum, to the coast road and follow it back to Batsi. This will take you past the ancient town of “Palaiopolis” which is where many ruins and artefacts have been discovered over the years.
After Palaiopolis you will pass Aprovato and at this point you could consider a detour to the Mpalkoni tou Aigaiou or “Balcony to the Aegean” which is a nice taverna nestled on the mountainside overlooking the sea. The main attraction here is the incredible view. In the distance you may be able to see the uninhabited prison island of Gyaros. This was used as a place of exile until as recently as 1974. From left-wing political dissidents in modern times to Roman philosophers such as Gaius Musonius Rufus who was exiled here by emperor Nero in 65AD, Gyaros has long been used to imprison people upon its barren and desolate shore.
The road on this loop is tarmac all the way and isn’t particularly difficult driving. If your feeling lazy, or fancy seeing a bit more of what the island has to offer then this loop can give you a good overview of the many different faces of Andros.