ANDROS island is one of the central Cyclades group of Greek holiday islands. Andros is large island and a popular choice for weekending mainlanders. Andros has a character all of its own - if a little one-dimensional, variety is not the island's long suit.
Andros island has a single tourist holiday resort at Batsi and a fairly humdrum capital at Hora. The island, however, has its good points. Natural springs give rise to lush green valleys between majestic mountain peaks and Andros island's beaches can be spectacular if remote.
Andros has an extensive network of donkey paths criss-crossing the interior, making the island an ideal destination for hikers. Although some of the walking paths can be choled with scrub and thorns, many of them are reasonably well maintained.
Andros is also easy to reach from mainland Greece. Ferries heading for Mykonos and Naxos leave Rafina every day and Andros is usually their first port of call.
But don't expect lots of the usual Greek island friendliness on the island of Andros. The natives are a dour, monosyllabic lot and some of the villages can be about as chummy as a Welsh village on a wet Wednesday. Andros is completely different to all other islands in the Cyclades. With its high and craggy mountains, deep, green and fertile valleys, its abundant running water, plateaus, terraced farmlands, steep coasts and the many large and small golden sandy beaches, is one of constant contrasts and surprises.
Its perfect for gentle strolling, hiking or driving and within a few kilometres the landscape surroundings change dramatically. One moment you are in a dry, scrubby windswept area and the next in a forest of pines, or a wood of chestnut, plane and oak trees with the sound of running water babbling over its stony riverbed. You can move from the sunbaked sandy beach with clear sparkling blue sea of the seashore to green and fertile valley or lush gorge that is rich with vegetation and flora.
Four small rivers cross the island from west to east.These rivers, along with the mountains, are the beauties of Andros. Unlike many Greek islands they flow all year round fed by the mountain peaks. The River Arnipotamos flows into the bay of Lefka, the River Achla which flows into the bay of Achla, the Megalos Potamos River flows into Paraporti beach in Hora and the Dipotamata River flows into the bay of Syneti.
Aside from these rivers there are around seven streams which also flow continuously all year. This makes a total of eleven waterways, nearly all of which shape small aquatic areas at the mouths, with rich vegetation and remarkable aquatic fauna.
In Andros' capital, Chora, there is a museum about the island's shipbuilding through times. There is also an archaeological museum with artefacts from many periods in history. The Sariza wells are natural wells where you can drink that water straight out of them. Much of the bottled water on Andros comes from here. Andros or Hora, as it is locally called, is the capital of the island and, beyond any challenge, the nicest town.
The mid-ages style houses, the neo-classical and island-type ones, in addition to the narrow alleys, the museums and the beaches, are the main attractions for every visitor. Close to Hora is Messaria, the medieval center of the island, with Taxiarchis Michail, an important Byzantine church built in 1158.
Menites is an all-green village with lots of waters, gardens and big plane-trees. Stenies will impress you, since it is one of the most beautiful villages of the island having lovely mansions. Higher above lies Apikia, well-known thanks to Sariza natural spring and Pithara as well, an ecosystem of great natural beauty with lakes and waterfalls.
In the northern part of the island you will come across two main towns, Gavrio and Batsi. The first hosts the port, while both have the main tourist facilities of the island. Picturesque towns with lot of tavernas and coffee-shops, can offer the visitor all kinds of services and entertainment. Further north you will find many villages, Chartes, Kalivari, Varidi, Amolochos, Vitali, Makrotantalo, Agios Petros.
Country villages in a mountainous landscape, ending to nice isolated beaches. Moving higher up from Batsi the visitor will find Katakilos, Aprovatou, Arni and Ateni on the east coast. Half-way to Hora lies Paleopoli, the ancient capital of Andros, a green village built on the steep slope of the mountain, with many important ancient findings, which you can see at the Archeological Museum.
The most popular beach is probably Batsi, but other places to recommend are also Agios Petros, Fellos, Korthi, Gavrio, Kypri, Lefka, Kaminaki.and the bay of Korthi.
If you insist on "clubbing" a bit, there are music bars in Batsi and Gavrion, at least during high season. There are also many bars, and you can enjoy both Greek and foreign music, whatever you prefer. In Chora there is also an outdoor cinema: all films are shown in their original languages with Greek subtitles.
There are many taverns and restaurants on Andros, and quite a few local specialities. You should try the local sausages, sun dried wine and various mezedakia - tit bits. The pastries should not be missed: Andros is renowned for its excellent sweets especially those that are made of almonds the famous "kaltsounia".
Coming out of the ferry in Gavrio the restaurant 'Konaki' right on the waterfront offers excellent Greek cuisine. In Chora you will find local meze dishes in 'Nefeli' opposite the church of Panagia, in Georgiou Empeirikou street that leads to the Archaeological museum in Korai square and further down to the Maritime Museum and the statue of the Unknown Sailor.