So far, the isle of Andros in the Greek Cyclades is not well known for tourism.  Few tourists come here, and those that do tend to be Greeks rather than foreigners, attracted by the proximity of Andros to Athens.

All that is starting to change with the emergence of Andros as a hiking destination.  A few years ago, a non-profit group of local volunteers led by Olga Karayiannis started clearing and marking the historic pathways of Andros as hiking trails.  So far, they have finished nearly 20 trails varying from 1km to 13km in length.  Each trail is clearly marked with white-and-red numbered trail markers.  The volunteer team did a fantastic job marking the trails; it is nearly impossible to lose your way even if you have zero route finding skills.  There is a lot of information on their Andros Routes website.

The emergence of Andros as a hiking destination is a very recent development.  When we visited in May of 2017, locals told us that the first foreign hikers started showing up about two or three years ago.  We still had the trails all to ourselves.  In the first two days of the hike we saw literally not a single person.  The last three days, we did see a couple of other people who were mostly Dutch folks on self-guided tours organized by SNP.  This blog describes how to do the hike on your own, but if you prefer logistical support (ferry bookings, hotel bookings, luggage transport, etc.), SNP seemed like a decent option.

All trails are shown in great deal in the excellent, very detailed, and very accurate map of Andros from the Anavasi map company.  This map is for sale in the bookshop in the Andros harbor, but you might want to get it in advance to help plan the trip or just in case the map is sold out on Andros.  We bought ours in the travel book store Pied a Terre in Amsterdam (we have spent many hours in this book store getting inspiration or various trips).

Several of these trails can be combined in a 100km multi-day hike that is called the “Andros Route”.  The standard route, as described in detail on the Andros Routes webpage, takes 10 days to complete.

This blog describes a variation of the Andros Route.  We visited more or less the same trails as the official Andros Route, but we visited them in a different order.  By making longer days, we completed the route in 5 days instead of 10 days.  Each day we ended in a town with restaurants and hotels.

As mentioned before, we undertook this hike in the first half of May 2017.  Spring is the perfect time of year.  This is well before the main tourist season in July and August.  Prices for hotels in the pre-season are much lower, sometimes half, of prices in the high season.  In summer the blazing sun and the scorching 40 degree Celsius heat make hiking nearly impossible. But in May, temperatures are still a pleasant 20 to 25 degrees Celsius, often with a lightly overcast sky and a cool breeze.  Also, in spring the landscape is still green with many blooming trees and flowers.

The only disadvantage of going that early is that some hotels and restaurants are not yet open.  In towns with only a few hotels, such as Menites, it is wise to call ahead to make sure you will have a place to sleep.

Speaking of hotels and restaurants, we noticed that each town actually has many more restaurants and hotels than are listed on TripAdvisor or on Google.  Many of these are small mom-and-pop places that have not yet figured out how to advertise themselves online.  In particular Gavrio, Batsi, Chora (also known as Andros Town), and Ormos Korthiou have many more places than the Internet would have you believe.  Just walk around on arrival and find a place to your liking.  The only town to be careful is Menites which only has a couple of hotels.

Getting to Andros

There are plenty of cheap flights to Athens.  The usual budget airlines such as Transavia and Ryanair all have flights to Athens.  We took a Transavia flight from Eindhoven in the Netherlands to Athens for 55 euro per person.  Add 25 euro per person if you need checked luggage.

To get to Andros Island, you need to catch a ferry from the town of Rafina, which is about 17 km out of Athens airport.  There is a bus straight from the airport to Rafina or you can take a taxi.  We took the free shuttle bus that was provided by hotel Avra.

We arrived late (8pm) and stayed a night in Rafina in the excellent and modern hotel Avra in Rafina (50 euro on Expedia).  The hotel is right next to the ferry harbor and there are plenty of restaurants nearby.

The next morning, we took the 7:50am Golden Star ferry to Andros (38 euro per person).  You can book the tickets online.  You need to print out the reservation and pick up the tickets at the office near the dock, which opens early in the morning before the ferry leaves.

Golden Star ferry from Rafina to Andros - 1 (1)
Golden Star ferry from Rafina to Andros

We arrived in Andros Town (also known as Chora) around 10am.

In Andros Town we picked up some snacks and water.  If you don’t have the Anavasi map yet, you should be able to buy it in the bookstore in the harbor.

We took a Taxi (15 euro) from the taxi stand right next to the dock to the Agios Mamas chapel, which is point 01 on the map and the start of route 14.  The Taxi should drop you off right at a big sign at a dirt road which marks the start of route 14.

Route finding on Andros

We are not going to provide a turn-by-turn description of the hike.  Each section in this trek follows one ore more of the numbered and marked routes.  Each of these numbered routes is shown very accurately and in great detail on the Anavasi map which we mentioned before.  Make sure you bring it.

All trails are very well marked with red and white numbered markers.  The markers are never more than a few minutes walking apart.  The only thing to be careful of is that turn-offs are not always clearly marked in advance.  Often, there is only a marker after the turn, not before the turn.  Create a habit of looking for markers both ways at each split in the road.  If you notice that you haven’t seen a marker for more than a couple of minutes, you are probably on the wrong path, and you should back-track to the last place where you did see a marker.  In some sections (e.g. route 12) there are also red paint markers that can help.

Essential supplies

Make sure you carry plenty of water and enough food for the day.  Especially in the first couple of days, there are no water sources and no places to buy any food along the way.  Even if you pass through a village, there are often no shops, or if there are, it is likely that they are closed early in the season.  Each day ends in a town with at least a couple of hotels and restaurants, so you don’t need to pack dinner or a tent.  For the smaller towns (in particular Menites) it is wise to call ahead to make sure the hotel is open.  The weather is usually warm (20 celsius) and dry in May — a sweater and a light rain jacket should be enough.  You should be able to keep your pack below 10kg.

Day 1: Gavrio to Batsi

Day 1 Summary

Gavrio → Taxi → Route 14 → Optional side trip Route 14a → Route 15a → Route 16 → Optional side trip Agias Monastery → Batsi

Take a taxi from Gavrio and have it drop you off at the start of route 14 (point 01 on the map).  Follow route 14.  Soon after the start there is a short optional in-and-out side trip along route 14a to a small chapel.  Continue on route 14 through along the side of a small creek through a lovely little canyon with numerous abandoned water mills.  Once you exit the valley (still on route 14) you climb up along the ridge of a mountain up to a viewpoint at about 550m with nice views in all directions.  Before you reach the end of route 14, switch over to route 15a, which connects you to route 16.  Route 16 takes you all the way down to Batsi.  But before you get there, you can make a short optional in-and-out side trip to the Agias Monastery.

The route is clearly marked with red-and-white route markers for the entire day.

Total time 7 hours and 45 minutes.

Day 1 Photos

Big sign at start of route 14 - 1
Sign at start of route 14 (where the taxi should drop you)

Abandoned watermill in valley on route 14 - 1 Abandoned watermill in the valley on route 14

Views all around from the top of route 14 - 1Views all around from the top of route 14

One of the many chapels along the way - 1
One of the many chapels along the way

Agias Monastery - 1Agias Monastery

Arriving in Batsi - 1
Arriving in Batsi

Day 1 Details

Take a taxi from Gavrio where the ferry arrives to the start of route 14.

0:00     Begin the hike at the start of route 14, at location 01 on the map.

0:10     Reach the split between route 14 and route 14a.  Go right on route 14a for a side trip to a chapel.

0:25     Reach the small Agios Stathis chapel.  Return on route 14a, the same way you came.

0:40     Return to the split for route 14 and route 14a, where you were before at 0:10.  Now, take the other fork to follow route 14.  Follow path along creek through small canyon.  Pass many abandoned water mills.  The path crosses the creek a couple of times (you can easily jump across).  This is a very beautiful section of the trail.  We brought drinking water, but the water in the creek seemed clean enough to drink with chemical purifier or a water filter.

1:45     Another creek merges from the right.  Stay on route 14.

2:00     Pass a concrete bridge.  Soon after, there is a large sign that marks the split between route 14 and route 14b.  Turn right to stay on route 14.

2:20     Turn left past the abandoned house.  It is easy to miss the route 14 trail marker for the turn-off.  Don’t go down into the valley.  Ten minutes later, there is another easy to miss route 14 marker at the turn-off to the left from the dirt road to a smaller track at another house.

2:54     Cross tarmac road with big sign for route 14.  Continue on the narrow trail to stay on route 14.

3:16     Reach a dirt road at the top of the trail.  You can see the antennas close by on your left.  It can be windy here.  Turn right to stay on route 14 and follow the dirt road towards the top of the mountain.

3:29     Reach the top of the mountain with spectacular views in all directions.  You can take a break below the rocks to stay out of the wind.  Continue on the dirt road to stay on route 14.

4:13     As you walk down the dirt road, you will pass an elaborate stone wall that runs parallel to the road on the right side.  At the end of this wall there is small faint trail that goes down the mountain.  You need to turn right and go down this trail.  There is a route 14 marker, but it is very easy to miss.  For the next 20 minutes the trail is very faint.  There is another stone wall that runs parallel to the faint trail.  Just follow this wall.  There are markers for route 14 on this wall every 100 meters or so.

4:32     Reach a dirt road at the end of the trail.  There is a white chapel on your right.  Continue on route 14.

4:41     Reach a junction with a large trail sign.  Nearby is another marker for route 14.  Do not continue on route 14.  Instead, go left on the dirt road for the connection to route 15a, as indicated on the large trail sign.  A few minutes later there is a sharp bend in the dirt road.  Here there is another large trail sign.  Go straight to enter a smaller trail and follow the connection to route 15a as indicated on the sign.  Very soon after this, there is a third large trail sign.  Go left to the Agia Mavra chapel as indicated on this sign.

4:54     Reach the Agia Mavra chapel.  You are now on route 15a.  Continue straight to follow the route 15a marker.

5:12     Reach a big trail sign at a tarmac road.  Continue straight on the tarmac route to follow the connection to route 16 as indicated on the sign.

5:22     Reach route 16 which goes left and right.  Go left to continue on route 16.  Follow the markers to stay on route 16.

6:21     Reach a big trail sign which indicates that it is still 3km to Batsi.  From here, we take a short side-trip to the large Agias Monastery which is also indicated on the sign (650m to the left).  Follow the tarmac road to the left.  This tarmac road takes you all the way to the Monastery.  Or, at the first sharp turn in the tarmac road, you can take a short-cut trail between a pair of stone walls to reach the other side of the Monastery.  The Monastery and the nearby chapel are very nice, but both were closed when we visited.  There is a water tap for drinking water in the courtyard of the Monastery on the road side.  This is the first water source since starting the hike (not counting the creek).  From the Monastery return to the trail sign where we start the side trip, either over the tarmac road or the short-cut.

6:40     Back at the trail big trail sign.  Continue back onto route 16 as indicated on the sign.  We ran into two large snakes in this next section.  Both slithered safely away.

7:12     First views of Batsi in the bay below in the distance.  Continue on route 16.

7:45     Enter Batsi.  Have a well-deserved beer in the Alexis bar right on the beach front.

Hotels and Restaurants in Batsi

Batsi is a medium size cute little harbor town.  There are several hotels and restaurants.  We stayed in the very nice Chryssi Akti hotel which is right on the beach front very close to all the restaurants in the harbor (50 euro for a sea-view room including breakfast).  We had dinner in restaurant Oti Kalo which has a nice balcony with views over the harbor below.

Day 2: Batsi to Chora

Day 2 Summary

Batsi → Route 11 → Optional side trip to Route Ka2 → Route 11 → Route 12 → Route 2 → Chora (also known as Andros town).

Today is the longest (almost 9 hours) and most difficult day of the trek.  We ascent from sea level to the top of a mountain at 950 meters following route 11 and route 12.  There is a wonderful little chapel perched on top of a huge rock near the top.  From there, we continue on routes 12 and 2, making our way to Chora (also known as Andros Town) which is the main town on the island.  Before we get to Chora, we have to descend and ascend again to cross one more large hill.  As we get closer to Chora, we leave the remoteness of the center mountains and pass through several small villages.

The route is clearly marked with red-and-white route markers for the entire day.

Total time 8 hours and 52 minutes.

Day 2 Photos

In the hills above Batsi - 1
In the hills above Batsi

A spring for drinking water - 1
A spring for drinking water

The monastery on top of the rock - 1
The monastery on top of the rock

View from the top of the mountain - 1
View from the top of the mountain

Heading down to Chora on ancient stone trail - 1
Heading down to Chora on ancient stone trail

Day 2 Details

0:00     As you exit hotel Chryssi Akti, turn left on the main road, and you will see the first markers for route 11 after 50 meters or so.  Soon after, turn left and start ascending the stairs.  Once you exit the village, follow the route 11 markers along the trail, which initially ascends steadily towards the top of the hill.

0:35     Big sign that indicates the split between route 11 and route 11a.  Turn left to stay on route 11.

0:47     Reach white chapel at the top of the hill.

1:15     There is a tap for drinking water in the square of the village.

2:00     Big sign that indicates the start of routes Ka1 and Ka2.  Do the optional loop of Ka2 and return to the same point to continue on route 11.

2:35     Finished the Ka2 loop and back at the sign.  Continue on route 11.

3:18     Pass three chapels.

3:41     Another drinking water source.

3:47     Route 11 joins route 13.  Continue on the joined route 11/13.

3:48     Reach church Ami Virgin Mary.  Large signs with route descriptions here.  We take a 10 minute break.

3:58     Continue on the road past the signs.  Soon after we see the first marker for route 12.  Continue on route 12.  Very soon after, there is a sharp turn-off to the right where we exit the road and enter a trail which starts a steep-ish and long ascend to the top of the mountain.

4:28    Stay right at the split, following the red arrow.  On this trail, you can also follow the red paint dots or arrows when the official markers are not clear.

4:39    Reach the dirt road at the top of the trail.  Follow the dirt road.

5:13    Reach the magnificent chapel Sanagia, which is perched on top of a rock very high on the mountain.  Beautiful views in all directions from the chapel.  Take a break here.

5:25    Continue to follow the route 12 markers along the trail towards the highest point of the hike today (approximately 950 meters).

5:47    Reach the top.  Enjoy the view and continue on route 12, now descending.

6:32    Cross a tarmac road.  Reach the end of route 12.  Start following the markers for route 2.

6:42    Reach the split between route 2 and route 6.  Continue on route 2.

6:47    Cross a bridge.

7:05    Reach the top of the second and last large hill before Chora.

8:52    Reach Chora at the end of a very long day.

Hotels and Restaurants in Chora (also known as Andros Town)

Since Chora is the main town on the island, there are plenty of hotel and restaurant options.  You wouldn’t think so when you enter the town from the end of route 2: you enter the town at the beach on the North side of the town.  When we got there in early May, most hotels and restaurants were still closed in that part of town.  We ended up staying in Karaoulanis Rooms.  There is a sign for Karaoulanis Rooms in a very shabby looking building on the road along the beach, which points you to a fishing gear shop on the other side of the block.  The owner of the shop can bring you to the actual rooms which are simple but nice small apartments very close to the beach (40 to 50 euro per room excluding breakfast).  Right next to the apartments is a tiny little restaurant called Nano’s Taverna that servers excellent traditional Greek food.  The next day, we discovered you can continue up the white stairs towards the main shopping street in town where there are plenty more restaurants and hotels.

Day 3: Chora to Ormos Korthiou

Day 3 Summary

Chora (also known as Andros Town) → Route 3 → Route 3a for optional detour through Sineti → Route 3 → Route 3b for optional side trip to Castle → Route 3 → Ormos Korthiou.

Today we take a short day to give us the opportunity to explore Chora a bit in the morning and also to take a bit of a rest from the very long and arduous day yesterday.  We follow route 3 for the entire day.  The first half of the route has some sections along a tarmac highway.  However, the second half goes through lovely mountains a valleys.  At the highest point of the trail, you have the option of visiting a castle at the top of a mountain.  Don’t skip this, even though it’s a steep 150 vertical meter climb to the castle.  You can leave your pack one of the chapels at the split and pick it up on the way back to make the climb easier.

The route is clearly marked with red-and-white route markers for the entire day.

Total time 5 hours and 29 minutes.

Day 3 Photos

03-01 Streets of Chora - 1
Streets of Chora

03-02 Walking through Syneti - 1
Walking through Syneti

03-03 View from the castle - 1
Views from the Castle

03-04 The hills between Chora and Ormos Korthiou - 1
The hills between Chora and Ormos Northiou

03-05 Walking into Ormos Korthiou - 1
Walking into Ormos Korthiou

Day 3 Details

0:00    Start on the main square in Chora.  There are large signs with route information on the corner of the square.  Close by is the first marker for route 3.  Start following route  3, it will take you all the way to Ormos Korthiou.

0:13     The path changes from road to trail.

0:21     Reach a road and a chapel at the top of the trail.

0:44     Reach the top of the hill.

1:15     Reach split route 3 and route 3a.  Leave the main tarmac road to take the detour through the little town Sineti (also spelled Syneti).  At the end of the detour, you get back on the main tarmac road and continue on route 3.

3:09     Reach split route 3 and route 3b.  Hide your packs between one of the small chapels here and take a detour on route 3b to the ancient castle on the top of the hill above you.

3:51     Reach the castle.  There are signs in English explaining the history and there are magnificent views in all directions.

4:21     Back at the route 3 and route 3b split.  Pick up your packs and continue down on route 3.

4:36     There is water tap for drinking water in the village.

5:29     Reach the beach at Ormos Korthiou

Hotels and Restaurants in Ormos Korthiou

TripAdvisor would have you think that there is only one hotel and no restaurants in Ormos Korthiou.  Not true.  There are several restaurants along the main beach-front road that you enter as you exit the trail.  As you reach the end of this road, where it starts turning inland again, there are several hotel options.  We stayed in the the very first hotel that you run into, which is the Korthi hotel.  This hotel is right on the beach.  The front rooms have balconies with great sea views.  It is run by a very friendly elderly gentleman who does not speak a lick of English (but does speak some Spanish).  The rooms are simple but clean and comfortable.  We payed 35 euro for the room plus 5 euro per person for breakfast.  We had great traditional Greek mezes in the tiny restaurant without an English name and two table out front at the beginning of the beach road as you exit the trail.

Day 4: Ormos Korthiou to Menites

Day 4 Summary

Ormos Korthiou → Route 5 → Route 18 → Route 1 up optional side trip to Panachradou monastery → Route 1 down  → Menites

Today another spectacular day, mostly through the remote hills and valleys on the inside of the island. There is a steep with well worth side-trip to the Panachradou monastery.  You finish in the small town of Menites with natural springs.  There are only a few restaurants and hotels here.

The route is clearly marked with red-and-white route markers for the entire day.

Total time 8 hours and 36 minutes.

Day 4 Photos

04-01 A dove cove - 1
One of many dove coves along the way

04-02 A church - 1
One of the larger churches along the way

04-03 Lots of blooming trees with a view of Chora in the distance - 1
Lots of blooming trees with Chora down in the distance

04-04 Panachradou monastery - 1
Panachradou monastery

04-05 Menites springs - 1
Menites Springs

Day 4 Details

0:00    Go back to the place where route 3 entered the town at the end of the day yesterday.  Initially, follow the signs for route 3.  After about 3 minutes, you reach the split between route 3 (right) and route 5 (left).  Follow route 5.

0:53    Reach a road with a large sign.  Continue on route 5.

1:29    Turn left onto a trail to continue on route 5.  Do not follow the dirt road.  There is a route 5 marker, but it is not clear.

2:26     Reach the Exo Vouni church.

3:23     Reach the top of the hill; the highest point of the hike today.

4:01     Reach the end of route 5.  There are markers for route 18 going both left and right.    Go left to follow route 18.

5:41    Reach route 1.  Route 1 goes both up and down here.  Take a break.  Then drop your packs and hide them in the nearby bushes.  Take the optional and steep side-trip by follow route 1 up for 1.4km to the Panachradou monastery.  The side trip is well worth it and it is not nearly as steep as some people would have you believe.

6:31     Reach the monastery.  The buildings are absolutely magnificent.  The monastery is in active use.  You will likely be greeted by one of the monks who still live here, and who will show you the inside the church and offer you a cookie in the reception room.  You can also get drinking water from a fountain in the courtyard.

7:30    Back at the split where you stashed you packs.  Now follow route 1 going down.

7:46    Cross the small river at the bottom of the valley across a beautiful old stone bridge.

8:06    Reach and cross the main road.  Continue on route 1.

8:27    Reach the split between route 1b (left) and route 1 (right).  Take a left and follow route 1b to Menites springs.

8:36    Reach Menites springs.  There are water lion shaped water fountains spewing the clear and delicious spring water, and there are a couple of restaurants right here for a well deserved beer.

Hotels and Restaurants in Menites Springs

Menites is the smallest town on the trek.  There are only a handful of restaurants and hotels here, so it may be worth to call ahead to check whether the hotel of your choice is open.  There are a couple of restaurants right by the Menites springs where you end your hike.  We had an early dinner there before we headed down to the hotels.  There is a small cluster of hotels about 800 meters down from the Menites springs.  Just follow the main tarmac road down from the springs towards the main road in the valley.  About 30 meters before you hit the main road, there are a couple of signs pointing to hotels on a side road on the right.  We stayed in the Armonia resort which is very luxurious and run by a very friendly mother and son pair.  It is probably prohibitively expensive in the high season, but we got a super deal (50 euro including breakfast) since it was very early in the low season.  There are also a couple of cheaper options nearby.

Day 5: Menites to Batsi

Day 5 Summary

Menites → Route 1 optional detour Kato Ipsilou → Route 10 → Route 9 → Batsi → Taxi to Gavrio

We start the day by continuing on route 1, going east to Kato Ipsilou.  From there we connect to route 10, and then route 9, and head back west towards Batsi.  If you want a shorter day, you can skip this detour by following route 9b west to connect to route 9.  Route 9 takes you all the way to Batsi, where you can take a taxi back to Gavrio to catch the ferry.

The route is clearly marked with red-and-white route markers for the entire day.

Total time 3 hours and 44 minutes up to the restaurant on route 9, which was 5km before Batsi (we took a taxi from there to catch our ferry on time).

Day 5 Photos

05-01 Leaving Menites, after the 9b - 9 split - 1
Leaving Menites, near the 9b / 9 split

05-02 The olive museum - 1
The Olive Museum

05-03 The descent towards Batsi - 1
The descent towards Batsi

05-04 One of many goats along the way - 1
A goat along the way

05-05 The restaurant where we caught a taxi - 1
The restaurant where we ended the hike and caught a taxi

Day 5 Details

From your hotel, return to Menites springs where you ended your hike yesterday.

0:00    From Menites spring, head back down route 1b, the reverse way that you came up yesterday.

0:06    Back at the split with route 1, which goes both left and right.  Yesterday you came from the right.  Now, go left to continue on route 1.

0:43     You reach a strange three-way split.  You are coming from route 1.  The path goes left and continues straight – both are marked route 1.  We take a left.

0:48    Another one of those strange three way splits.  Once again, we are coming from route 1 on the road.  There are paths to the left and to the right, both are marked route 1. We go left.

0:54     Reach the split between route 1 (right) and route 10 (left).  Go left to follow route 10 towards Strapouris.

1:16     Reach the split between route 9 and route 10.  Continue on route 9 towards And Aprovatou.

2:04    Reach the split between route 9b (left) and route 9 (straight).  Continue on route 9.  This is where you would enter route 9 if you had not taken the detour over route 1.

2:55     Pass two natural springs where you can get drinking water.  Also pass the Olive Museum; it looked quite nice but it was closed when we passed.

3:35     Reach the highest point (600m) for today’s hike.

3:38     Reach split between route 9a and route 9.  Continue on route 9.

3:44     Reach a restaurant by the side of the road.  We stopped to have lunch here.  It is an additional 5km to Batsi from here.  We decided to have the restaurant call a taxi for us to take us to Gavrio because we had an early ferry to catch.