Andros' proximity to Attica makes it an ideal destination for a quick weekend vacation, and its quiet character is conducive to an even longer relaxing holiday.
Despite the short two-hour trip from Rafina (about half hour away from Athens), Andros has remained under most tourist radar screens. Most of the island hums a rural Greek tune, and only a couple subdued tourist spots on the east coast act as reminders that it is an Aegean island.
If you are looking for an island that feels "Greek" and is less "touristy", Andros fits the bill nicely. A stroll along the busy Chora (Andros town) would bring you among families of local or visiting Greeks, in an atmosphere similar to any non-touristy Greek town. Legend among Greeks have it that the locals (meaning the shipping tycoon families of yesteryears who made Andros their favorite island nest) don't really desire or need tourism, so it's an industry that they haven't catered to.
But don't let such legends keep you away from Andros. You will feel perfectly welcome and treated to a more genuine Greek hospitality in an island full of class and good taste.
The only archaeological site that's open to the public is Ypsili, just south of Batsi on the west coast of Andros. The ruins date from the Geometric and Archaic eras (9th -5th c. BCE), and besides an expanse of building foundations, there is not much else to see on the wind-swept hill that overlooks the Aegean.
The site was protected by a thick wall that reached about 7 meters on the east side. The excavated town is a rare example of Archaic town plan in the Cyclades. At the center of the acropolis, a sanctuary was probably dedicated to Demeter and was active between 8th and 5th c. BCE. An inscription marks the spot of it, and other significant buildings on the archaeological site, but otherwise it's difficult to decipher the low ruins without a high vantage point through the uncleared brush.
A ticket to the site costs 2 Euro and gets you admission to the site and a brochure with the history of the place. A leisurely visit would take about 15-20 minutes over a very rough terrain that makes up the visitor's path. Sturdy shoes are recommended, and we would not recommend the site for those with mobility issues. During our visit in the summer of 2013 the site was so windy we could barely stand on our feet as we wandered around the site with a nervous guard following our every step, so choose a calm day for your visit if possible.
If swimming is your pleasure, there are plenty of beaches in Andros to keep you happy. The largest ones are close to the rudimentary roads and small towns, but some are way out of the way. As a rule of thumb, in the summer the beaches of the west coast are better sheltered by the northern winds that can be very strong on the eastern coast of the island.
Our favorite beach during our visit was Delavoyas beach (top-left photo), a little to the south of Batsi town. Its soft golden sand lines a cozy rocky cove accessible easily on foot through the stone steps on the side of hotel Aneroussa.
The lighthouse Tourlitis of Andros Chora. Andros became a significant maritime power during and after the war of independence of 1821. The lighthouse was built in 1887 and was the first one of the Greek automatic lighthouse system.
The main street of Chora (Andros town) comes alive as soon as the sun goes down with Greek families, children playing, and tourists who stroll and pack the outdoor cafés and restaurants. Life on the streets begins to pick up after 10 or 11 in the evening.