I am often asked questions such as how many days should we spend in Andros for our holiday? Or do you think a week is long enough?… or too long to spend in Andros? The answers to such questions depend entirely on what you are looking for from your holiday.
For a packed trip full of adventures, activities and experiences 7 days is a perfect amount of time. You could fit the main attractions in during this time and manage to see most of the island. However if you want complete rest & relaxation with a more laid back itenerary then I would recommend going for longer than a week. For those with less time, you can squeeze in the top attractions over a weekend but you might not get a real feel for the place with such a brief visit.
Below is an example itinerary of a 7 day getaway to Andros, which includes the days of travel either end.
Arrive by boat from either Rafina (if flying in to Athens airport) or Mykonos (if flying to Mykonos airport). If catching an early morning flight, you should be able to get a late afternoon/early evening ferry to Andros. In peak season, 5-6 boats per day will run to Andros however outside of this the average is about 2-3. I would recommend the user friendly website Ferry Hopper for planning your boat connection. On arrival at Gavrio you could pick up a hire car from a company such as Escape in Andros, Anna Vrettou, or Avance. Alternatively rent a motorbike, use public transport, taxis or even follow the environmentally friendly option and don your walking boots and use the Andros Routes network to reach your accommodation (I have seen this done!).
Given that the majority of accommodation on the island is located around the touristic hub of Batsi, it makes sense to explore this on your first full day. Have a wonder around the seafront where you will find a large number of restaurants, bars, coffee shops and souvenir stores. There is also a large beach which is well suited to families due to the shallow waters and nearby amenities. It is worth walking up the steps away from the main seafront to explore the beautiful backstreets of Batsi in which whitewashed houses are adorned with colourful flowers such as Bougainvillea. An alternative beach to visit nearby is Kolona beach on the other side of the bay; during the summer months there is a beach bar here.
Why not head out for an evening meal followed by going for a relaxing drink. One of my favourite restaurants in Batsi is Oti Kalo. Other favourites of mine include Cavo D’oro and The Dolphins. If you fancy desert, I would recommend stopping by Yo n Ice, they have delicious ice cream and frozen yoghurt. My preferred place for a drink is Apomero which is a short 10 minute drive away in Gavrio; however Batsi has a large variety of places to sit back with a drink and admire the scenery.
A must see when visiting Andros, is its capital town Chora. This is about a 40 minute drive from Batsi by car or you can take the public bus (the bus times are advertised on a display board in the middle of Batsi). Take a walk down the marble paved main street and admire the attractive neoclassical mansions and the Cycladic architecture. Bring swim shorts and once you reach the end of the narrow peninsula on which Chora is situated, you can go for a swim and admire the Tourlitis lighthouse in the distance.
For any art lovers amongst you, check out the Museum of Contemporary Art which on occasion will have well known international artists exhibited. When in Chora, why not do as the locals do and sit in one of the many coffee shops lining the main street and watch the world go by. A brilliant way to explore the surrounding area of Chora and observe the stunning mansion estates owned by former wealthy island families is to walk the circular 4.5km Andros Route number 17 which starts and finishes in the central square of Chora. Imposing and graceful cypress trees sit alongside prolific citrus orchards in what has always been one of the islands most green and fertile areas.
In light of Andros’ success in recent years as being recognised as a centre of excellence for rambling and hiking within Europe, I cannot recommend exploring one of the many Andros Routes paths enough! They are free to access all year round and all you need is a map which you can easily pick up at one of the many souvenir shops in the larger towns such as Gavrio, Batsi, Chora and Korthi. Make sure to bring a pair of decent shoes to walk in as the terrain is often quite rocky; those wearing flip flops do so at their own peril! There are a whole range of different routes which vary from relatively flat and easy to challenging ones with large amounts of vertical ascent and difficult terrain. Indeed you could spend several weeks in Andros just exploring the Andros Routes network if you wanted to.
Why not try something different by day 5 such as planning a visit to the Monastery of Panachrantos. Step back in time by visiting this beautiful monastery perched high above the capital Chora and experience the hospitality of the monks who live here all year round.
Another option would be to visit the impressive underground Foros Cave in Aladinou village.
Companies such as Trekking Andros offer cookery classes to teach you a variety of local dishes. For those looking for a real adventure Explore Andros offer a large variety of activities such as rock climbing and canyoning. Another option for the adventurous amongst you is to hike to the top of Andros’ highest mountain, Kouvara. Once at the top of this 990m peak, the views are exceptional. See this blog post for details of how to do this.
During the warmer parts of the year you could catch the water taxi between Chora and Achla beach (one of Andros’ finest beaches). Alternatively you could charter a private boat trip through companies such as Mamais Boat Tours.
For those looking to explore the island in a casual fashion, you could drive the loop from Batsi to Chora via the green, forested area of Arni and come back through Menites; see this blog post for details. This will allow you to see how versatile Andros is in terms of geography as the mountainous inland areas are decidedly greener and are a far cry from the arid coastal areas. An alternative drive to this would be to visit the quaint, seaside town of Ormos Korthiou on the southern part of the island.
Why not spend your last day squeezing in some sunshine at one of Andros’ many different beaches. Whether you want a quiet beach all to yourself or a lively beach with a bar & music, there are plenty of options. See this blog post for more details of the different beaches. Andros has a consistent level of wind making it ideal for water-sports such as windsurfing. Other options include SUP and canoeing. See Andros Surf Club for more details.
Why not top your last evening off with a meal in one of the islands many restaurants. If you haven’t tried it by this point, maybe consider a drink of the local sprit Raki, made from fermented grape-skins. Pretty much all important social occasions for the Andros locals will involve a toast of Raki at some point. If you choose O Kossis restaurant which is a local favourite, then the Raki comes complementary on the house.
As your trip comes to it’s end, this is often a good time to stock up on souvenirs or local produce. Particular specialities for the island would be honey, Raki (spirit), dried herbs such as oregano and olive oil. Chora has the largest number of shops to acquire such items to take home, but Gavrio, Batsi and Ormos Korthiou still have plenty of options. In terms of quality and taste, the local produce is exceptionally good thanks primarily to the plentiful sunshine and fertile soils on the island.
Head back by ferry to either Rafina or Mykonos. Remember that the connection to Athens airport from Rafina by taxi or coach, can take unto an hour depending on traffic. Mykonos airport is only a 10 minute taxi from Mykonos port. Please note that the high speed catamarans (which do these journeys in under 2 hours) are more prone to cancellations if it is particularly windy whereas the ferries will still travel unless there are severe gales.
Hopefully the above itinerary gives you some ideas for how to make your week in Andros, a memorable one!