Despite being one of the islands close to Athens (just two hours from the port of Rafina) and the second-largest island in the Cyclades, Andros has a unique charm as a green and hilly land that combines a cosmopolitan capital with traditional mountain and coastal villages. It is ideal for visitors who want to spend their days on golden beaches, strolling through alleyways lined with the grand mansions of shipowners and captains, enjoying fantastic food and exploring one of the most impressive hiking networks in Europe. All this and more await in our list of 10 best things to do on your holidays in Andros.
Take a stroll through cosmopolitan Hora
The capital of Andros is unlike any other main settlement in the Cyclades. This is, after all, an island of shipowners and captains and the architecture and stature of many of the buildings bear witness to the riches of Andros' seafaring past. Situated on a narrow peninsula, Hora is full of neoclassical mansions, cobbled streets, churches and other grand buildings that tell the story better than words ever could.
Restaurants, cafes and shops are concentrated along the pedestrianised street leading down to Riva Square at the point of the peninsula, where the statue of the Unknown Sailor pays tribute to lost seamen. From here, you can see two Andros landmarks: the remains of a 13th-century Venetian castle, connected to the mainland by an arched stone bridge, and the Tourlitis lighthouse, built on a rock in 1887 and reconstructed after being bombed in World War II. As you return to the main square, make sure to visit the Church of Panagia Thalassini, built on a rock that is connected to the island by a stone staircase.
There are beaches either side of Hora – Nemporio (divided between a sandy and a pebbly side by a rock known to locals as Tourlos) and Paraporti, long and sandy but more affected by wind.
And the cultural highlights of Hora are outstanding: The Goulandris Museum of Contemporary Art (with more than 300 works of international and Greek artists), the Archaeological Museum (with findings of excavations on Andros) and the Maritime Museum (including exhibits from before independence in 1821) standing out, as well as other cultural venues that stage important exhibitions such as the Kydonieos Foundation and the Kaireios Library at the top of town.
Find your favourite beach in Andros
Andros is dripping with golden beaches. Most are easy to get to by car or boat, with everything from fully organised beaches that are ideal for families and comfort to secluded coves that are all about the exotic landscape. Just a short drive from Hora is Tis Grias to Pidima beach (Old Woman’s Leap), set within an intimate bay and famous for the column of rock jutting from the sea, making it the most photographed beach in Andros.
Heading north of town are Piso Gialia beach and (around 1hr further by car) Achla, one of Andros’ prettiest beaches, although you’ll need a 4x4 to get there if you don’t take a boat. Towards the end of the more sheltered northeastern coast are Vitali (a slice of paradise that also has great facilities) and Zorkos (whose size ensures tranquility even when it’s busy).
Photo by: Andros Secrets
On the west coast, between Gavrio (the main port) and Batsi, are Chrissi Ammos (which means Golden Sand and is popular with younger visitors and families) and Agios Petros (the largest and most popular beach in Andros, with clear water and almost a kilometre of yellow sand).
Meanwhile, a short drive north of Gavrio is Fellos, also long and sandy and with a small beach bar and a nearby taverna but little else. Further down the west coast is Apothikes, whose crystal-clear waters and golden sand are captivating, whether you choose the organised part or the quieter end of the beach.
Get active by the sea with water sports
No list of things to do in Andros would be complete without water sports, especially if you’re a good windsurfer or keen to give it ago. Korthi Bay (which you'll find out more about soon) ticks all the right boxes, with the Nautical Club of Korthi at the northern end of Milos beach (the main beach in the bay) offering windsurfing lessons.
Elsewhere, the watersports options at Kipri beach (near Chryssi Ammos) are exceptional, including windsurfing, wing foil, water ski and wakeboard lessons … or stand-up paddleboard if you’re looking for something more gentle. Meanwhile, on Nimporio beach you will find the Nautical Club of Andros (which offers sailing lessons and has been running the Andros Yacht Race for over 50 years) and a diving centre.
Visit the coastal settlements
Beyond Hora, there are three main coastal settlements on Andros. Gavrio has grown from sleepy fishing village to Andros’ main port, with restaurants, tavernas, bars and accommodation.
Visitors who wish to stay near the port (especially if you don’t have a car), often head to Batsi, 9km down the coast. Batsi is part fishing village and part cosmopolitan resort, built amphitheatrically around a small bay. It is the most popular spot for holidays in Andros, with many shops, cafes, and tavernas & bars and its own beach.
Elsewhere, popular Korthi is both a region in the southeast and a large bay. As a settlement, it is more like two villages, with both a hillside and coastal part.
You can explore the traditional houses and villas on the hillside before descending to the bay (called either Ormos Korthiou or Gialos) for a seafood meal at a seafront taverna.
You’ll also find plenty of facilities by the coast, including bakeries, shops, pharmacies etc.
Discover the mountain villages of Andros
Where Andros leaves perhaps its most unexpected impression on visitors is in its mountain villages packed with traditions and authenticity.
It’s a big island, filled with hills and greenery but you don’t have to travel far from Hora to find yourself in sleepy settlements famous for their handsome buildings and traditional architecture, including towers, stone bridges, watermills and springs.
Just a short drive (or even a hike) from Hora are Stenies, a village that is famous for its captain’s houses, and Lamyra (another listed settlement), as well as Mesaria and Livadia. Menites is built between walnut and plane trees and is surrounded by running water.
Look for the carved lion heads running with spring water at the entrance to the village. Other gems include Apikia, famous for the Springs of Sariza, a fountain in the middle of the village, whose water is said to help with kidney stones and other ailments and is bottled in both still and sparkling form at a nearby factory.
And Ano Pitrofos, near Menites, has an olive museum that is a great example of a traditional animal-powered olive mill.
Fill up on the local cuisine
On such a green and hilly island, it won't surprise you to learn that cheese and meat products are at the heart of Andros' local cuisine. Petroti (a white cow’s or goat’s cheese that can be served alone, in pies or with dried fruits as a dessert), volaki (cone-shaped, rich and buttery and used in salads or grated over pasta) and kopanisti (mizithra cheese fermented with salt until rich and spicy) are three favourite cheeses used in local dishes. And froutalia is an omelette made with potatoes, herbs and (the standout ingredient) local sausage, such as louzes (made from pork marinated in wine, fennel and pepper and flavoured with aniseed). Main dishes include lampriatis (traditionally eaten at Easter), which is lamb stuffed with a mixture of three different types of cheese and other ingredients and slow-cooked in a wood-fired oven.
Breakfasts and snacks are sweetened by ‘spoon sweets’ (look for those made from pampiloni, a large aromatic citrus fruit that is not eaten raw) and preserves made from local walnut, bitter orange, sour cherry, lemon blossom and rose petal-scent. Amygdalota are almond-based confectionery and kaltsounia and pasteli are made with nuts and honey. And a final sweet treat is pastelaries (dried figs with ground walnuts, cinnamon and sesame seeds).
See our list of best places to eat and drink in Andros below.
Set out on the hiking paths of Andros
Andros has an impressive network of hiking trails. Leading the way in every sense is the Andros Routes, an initiative that has revived some 200km of old hiking trails across the island, making it the only island in Europe to have a continuous long-distance hiking trail with a prestigious European Ramblers Association certification.
There’s something for everyone, from beginners to experienced walkers, with trails starting from Hora and other coastal settlements or linking mountain villages. Along the way, you will pass stenes (stone-walled paths), old bridges, watermills, valleys and other natural landmarks.
Highlights include the Pytharas Waterfalls, an easy 10-minute walk from Apikia village or part of a half-day hike (ideally with a guide) between Apikia and Gialia beach. Another beautiful area is the 7km-long Dipotamata River Valley in the southeast of the island.
Walking routes here include an old stone path that was once the only link between Hora and Korthi. You'll pass the remains of Faneromenis Castle near the village of Kochilos (part of the largest and most powerful medieval city of Andros) and about 22 watermills... as well as lots of nature, including oleander, spruce, mulberry, fig and oak trees.
Explore the caves of Andros
Next up are the hidden treasures of the island, specifically the caves, which add an unexpected layer to your holidays in Andros. The Foros Aladinou Cave, near the village of Alidanos, is a hidden world sculpted by nature over millions of years, with stalactites, stalagmites and other colourful limestone formations. It can be reached by following a 300m cobbled path from Aladinou Bridge on the way up to Alidanos. Elsewhere, Trypes Cave is a small cave just above Zorkos beach in northern Andros with a number of entrances that overlook the sea. Don’t forget your phone. You’ll be posting the view of the sea from within the cave.
Visit the monasteries of Andros
Andros is one of the most important pilgrimage destinations in Greece, with monasteries (some resembling castles) dating back to Byzantine times. Most testify to a long period of prosperity on the island, with many sacred relics and unique architecture.
The most beautiful is the Monastery of Panachrantou on the north side of Mount Gerakones, with breathtaking views towards the villages of central Andros and towards Hora.
It is a Byzantine monastery, founded in around 960 AD, with an architectural layout that feels like a labyrinth and massive rocks surrounding it that create caves used once used as hermitages by monks. Inside the monastery, you can see the miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary, which is said to be the work of the Apostle Luke.
Elsewhere, the Monastery of Saint Irene was founded in 1780 by two monk brothers from Apikia. Dissolved in 1833, it was recently restored and has facilities to host cultural exhibitions and summer camps.
And about 5km from Apikia is the Monastery of Saint Nikolaos, believed to have been built in the 11th century and extensively rebuilt in 1760. Due to its remote location, it functioned as a printing press and a secret school during the Ottoman occupation.
The festivals of Andros
Festivals (panigiria) and events take place throughout the year in villages around the island, offering the perfect opportunity to join locals and visitors of all ages. The highlight comes in mid-August as part of the Dekapentavgoustos (August 15) celebrations marking the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. As well as dancing in large circles to the rhythm of the violin, there is plenty of food and drink on offer, making each festival an unforgettable experience.
And last but not least on your list of things to do in Andros, the International Festival of Andros attracts well-known artists and usually takes place between the end of July and the end of August. Held in the 870-seat open-air amphitheatre in Hora, it features theatrical performances and concerts, with everything from philharmonic orchestras to dance groups from Andros and elsewhere.
10 best things to do in Andros
So what’s on your list of things to do on your holidays in Andros? For sure, it will include discovering the highlights of Hora and exploring the best beaches in Andros. But what about all those hidden nature spots and cultural suggestions on the second-largest island in the Cyclades?