Are you undecided on which Greek island to choose for your holiday?
As I have mentioned in previous blogs, in a country which has up to 6000 islands depending on what size criteria you apply (about 200 of which are inhabited) why should you choose to visit Andros? I will offer my arguments for choosing Andros, the second largest island in the Cyclades, below by addressing a few key areas:
Overcrowding – The biggest names on the Greek island tourism radar includes locations such as Santorini, Mykonos, Crete and Corfu. These islands have the option of direct flights from mainland Europe and are heavily advertised by the leading tour operators. This however comes at a cost. With increasing popularity comes swathes of foreign tourists flooding into these islands over the warmer months. Andros does not have the option for direct flights and a two hour ferry from the mainland is needed (actually making it one of the closer islands to Athens). This, coupled with the fact that Andros has traditionally been reserved as a holiday destination for Greeks from the mainland has led to a relatively small foreign tourism trade. With this comes the potential for quieter beaches, less competition for restaurants and accommodation, less crowding in the main towns and all in all a more relaxed holiday feel.
Now obviously there will be quieter beaches on islands like Mykonos, but without doubt on average Andros will offer more scope for peace and quiet.
Expense – With increasing popularity comes increasing cost. An average hotel price in June on Mykonos from Booking.com is about £150-£300 per night versus an average of £30-£100 per night in Andros for this same time of year. In parts of Santorini, a beer can easily set you back €5 whereas typically in Andros you will pay between €2.5-4. The ferry to Andros will add about 20 euros each way to your flight costs however overall if expense is an important consideration for you, then a less touristy island such as Andros may make your money go further.
Admittedly, Santorini and Mykonos are two of the most expensive Greek islands. Other similar options to Andros cost-wise include Aegina, Poros, many parts of Evia, Kimolos, Lemnos, Leros, Thassos, Kalymnos, Antiparos, Skyros, Tinos, Astypalaia, Kythnos. The list goes on… As a rough guide, the islands that you can’t fly to, are often cheaper as they have fewer tourists and therefore more competition with other buissnesses which keeps their prices low.
Arriving into Andros by boat
Walking and hiking opportunities – This is perhaps Andros island’s trump card over the other Greek islands. Andros is commonly listed as the top Greek island to visit if you are a fan of hiking and walking. Media sources such as The Telegraph, The Guardian, Traveller.com and Vogue have highlighted its untapped potential in this area of outdoor pursuits. After the European Ramblers Association awarded the Andros Routes project as possessing leading quality trails, in October 2015, it has started to attract an increasing population of overseas tourists wanting to explore the ancient network of paths passing through some of the most beautiful corners of the island.
Andros is the only Greek island to have achieved this ‘Best in Europe’ recognition for its well developed path network. Few, if any Greek islands offer such a developed walking and hiking infrastructure which attracts consistently excellent reviews from abroad. With 100km of maintained routes there is plenty to explore and this repertoire is expanding all the time. If you have an interest in the outdoors and would like to include some walks in your holiday, then Andros would be an obvious choice.
Versatility – The variation in topography and range of different accommodation choices in Andros will cater to a wide range of tastes. Options include busy all-inclusive hotels in Batsi, quiet beach huts on the isolated Onar resort in Achla, rural Air B&B rentals in the countryside and even neoclassical mansions in Chora. The range of options is vast depending on whether it is commotion or isolation you are looking for.
Many of the accommodation options in Andros will allow visitors to choose peaceful and secluded spots to allow for a restful and relaxing holiday. This ability to cater to those wanting escapism is not as well met by some of the busier islands.