Andros

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Getting to Andros

Cyclades map

Where is Andros? Not a particularly well visited island for Brits Andros is still one of the closest Greek islands to Athens, just off the east coast in the northern Cyclades group, and it's a popular weekend retreat for mainland Athenians.

Andros has no airport on Andros but regular daily ferries sail from the mainland port of Rafina calling in at Andros, Tinos and Mykonos so visitors can fly either to Athens or to Mykonos and catch the ferry

Beaches are fairly thin on the ground and the best are strung along the west coast, with Batsi and Agios Petros the best.

A great island for walkers, the inland hills are criss-crossed by mule trails and for the more culturally minded there is the elegant architecture of Hora, the remarkable field walls, the intricate dovecotes and ancient water mills.

The roads are good but few, with only one road from the port at Gavrio in the north to the bay of Ormos in the south and a branch road that crossed the island to the capital at Hora.

Updated for 2016

Andros flights: go by air

Andros has no airport so most visitors fly to Athens International Airport (ATH) then catch a bus to Rafina in order to hop on one of the regular daily ferries.

Athens International is located about 27 kilometres east of Athens and buses leave regularly for Rafina from just outside the airport terminal opposite the Sofitel Hotel. There are usually about 14 buses daily from 4.50am to 10.15pm with a journey time of 30 to 50 minutes depending on traffic

Take care to catch an airport bus on the way back or you end up in Athens city. Athens city buses leave from the main Rafina Square, airport buses from the port road at the seaward end of the square.

You can also take a taxi to Rafina from the pick-up points outside airport exits two and three and the journey takes about 30-40 minutes.

Some tourists choose to fly to Mykonos International Airport (JMK) and catch the Mykonos to Rafina ferry.

Andros ferries: travel by sea

The Rafina to Mykonos ferry route is currently operated by five ferry companies so there is no shortage of sailings on this popular route. There are normally three to four ferries sailing daily from Rafina and the sailing time to Andros is two to four hours depending on the ferry type.

Blue Star Ferries has a daily sailing from Rafina with a journey time of just over three hours while Fast Ferries has two sailings daily but with a sailing time 30 minutes longer.

One of the fastest is the Golden Star superferry leaves Rafina daily at 7.50am and arrives on Andros two hours later

Also operating fast ferry services to Andros are the nine weekly sailings by Sea Jets which take just two hours and the daily sailing by Hellenic Seaways which take another 15 minutes.

There ferry services sail on to Tinos and Mykonos so holiday visitors can fly to Mykonos and catch the return ferry to Rafina although this is a relatively expensive option.

Don't be late for fast ferry connections as turnaround times on this route are notoriously short. They only take a few minutes and fast ferries don't wait for stragglers.

The ferry link to Mykonos also opens up further travel as Mykonos is a major gateway to the Cyclades islands and even further afield.

There are no water taxis to the beaches or round island trips on Andros, although it is possible to hire a boat in the larger resorts.

Andros map: getting around

Andros is the most northerly and the second largest island of the Cyclades group. It is 374 square kilometres, about 40 kilometres by 17 kilometres with a coastline of 110 kilometres.

Four mountain ridges lie east to west across the middle of the island. Mount Saranda (725 metres) tops the highlands of Makrotandalos near the resort of Batsi; Mount Petalo (994 metres) lies between Batsi and Messaria; Mount Gerakonas (720 metres) between Messaria and Korthi and Mount Pachi (681 metres) the most southern.

Four rivers run down from mountain ridges and , unlike many in the Greek islands, they flow all year round. The Arnipotamos flows into the bay of Lefka, the Achla flows into the bay of Achla, the Megalos Potamos flows into Paraporti beach in Hora and the Dipotamata into the bay of Syneti.

The coastline of Andros is highly indented and cultivated areas are relatively small. Andros is known for its mineral springs, the most noted at Apikia where water is bottled and sold all over Andros.

The main cross-island route is west out of Hora then north along the coast to Gavrio. Old donkey trails have been preserved and restored and now make for fine walking routes.

Andros climate and weather

Andros is in the north Cyclades group of islands and enjoys a typical east-Mediterranean climate with mild winters and hot summers.

From June to September average daily temperatures are 26°C. May and October are a little cooler with occasional showers although rain rarely lasts long.

Winters on Andros are mild and wet, with most of the rain falling in November and December. Winter temperatures average 8°C although Andros can get winter snow.

Andros transport: go on land

Car rental

Car or moped hire is highly advisable on Andros because bus services are limited and the island is too big to reach all the many places of interest on foot.

There is a regular bus service between Gavrio port and the capital town at Hora, passing through Batsi beach resort on the way. Buses are timed to meet the ferries as they arrive and the service is reliable.

Cars, bikes and bicycles are available for hire in the main centres at Gavrio, Batsi and Hora. Taxis are also available in all three centres but mainly operate from the ferry port. Some of the beaches can be reached by water taxi. Water taxis connect all the popular beaches on the west coast and local travel agents will organise excursions inland for a price.

Walking trails on Andros

Andros is criss-crossed with many walled donkey trails or 'moni' but walking can be strenuous as Andros is a very hilly island. Although the moni track system is extensive and reasonably well maintained, some walls have collapsed and others overgrown with thorns.

Information on local maps is not always reliable but the best are the Road Edition and also the Andros Touring and Hiking Guide which is sold in shops on the island.

The scenery on Andros is particularly fine and the island is littered with old or ruined buildings and water mills, especially in the south, and a huge number of remote churches. Of some interest are the many intricately designed dovecotes and the slate walls that terrace many of the hills.

Andros rooms: go to sleep

Rooms

Andros has a good range of holiday accommodation, catering mainly for Athenian visitors who flock to the island at weekends during the summer. Most of the hotels and apartments are found around the island's only major beach resort at Batsi on the west coast. There is also accommodation at the port of Gavrio in the north and at the Andros capital town of Hora on the east coast.

Ferry passengers at the port of Gavrio can expect to see plenty of room owners touting for trade along the waterfront. There are plenty of rooms for those on a budget there is a camp site Camping Andros at Gavrio about 400 metres from the port.

Andros Town, or Hora, on the east coast has plenty of rooms and small hotels as well as family-run guest houses and self-catering apartments. It can cost a bit more here, especially in summer, as this is the preferred destination for wealthy visitors from Athens.

There are also rooms to be found at Ormos Korthiou, in the south-east, and although there are few beaches there are plenty of mountain trails well away from the tourist hotspots.