Nestled in the Aegean Sea, just a two-hour ferry ride from Athens, lies the breathtaking island of Andros. Of the many jewels scattered across this island paradise, the charming seaside town of Chora serves as the perfect gateway.
Thanks to a recent 5-day trip to Chora Andros with Explore Andros, I’m delighted to share an insider’s guide to making the most of your own magical escape to this hidden gem. With far fewer tourists than its glitzier neighbors, Mykonos and Santorini, Andros offers an authentic slice of Greek island life.
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We visited in late September when sunny skies and cool breezes created ideal conditions for relaxing and exploring. The laidback pace, mouthwatering cuisine, and picturesque Cycladic architecture left me longing to return again soon.
Join me as I highlight the top sights, flavors, and experiences that Andros’ capital has to offer. Whether you want to lounge on sun-kissed beaches, shop for local handicrafts, or wander the cobbled lanes while soaking up the atmosphere, this guide will help you plan an unforgettable idyllic island getaway.
How to get to Chora Andros
Rafina Port: Head over to Rafina Port in Athens, which is the closest port to Andros. You can reach Rafina by bus or taxi from Athens city center or the airport.
Due to a delayed flight, we missed our initial Seajet ferry booking to Andros, which would have been a speedy 1-hour route. Instead, we opted to take an Uber (which was actually just a regular cab, given the short distance) to catch the slower 2-hour ferry.
Though disappointed to miss our faster boat, the leisurely ferry ride was quite enjoyable. I purchased the affordable onboard WiFi and did some work during the cruise. The extra sailing time also allowed us to take in the surrounding sea views and island scenery fully.
We were able to catch it on the way back so check out the video below.
Tickets: Buy your ferry tickets online or at the port. If you’re going during high season, consider booking in advance. We booked in advance via Ogias travel agent.
Sail Away: Ferries to Andros usually take around 2 hours.
If you’re renting a car, you can drive to Rafina and then take the ferry. Some ferries can transport cars, so check that option if you want to explore Andros on four wheels.
Parking: You’ll find parking spaces near the port if you opt to leave your car behind.
How to Get Around Andros Island
Bus: Local buses can take you around the main parts of the island.
Car Rental: There are car rental services if you prefer a private set of wheels. In Greece, I loved renting from Avance Rental Cars. Check out my Driving in Greece blog post.
Taxi: A more expensive but convenient option.
We do recommend renting a car if you want to explore more cities in Andros. We ended up using Explroe Andros for tours, and we stayed mostly in Chora, so we didn’t rent a car.
We also saw people renting a motorcycle for a day or taking a cab. It is a very hilly island, so if you are afraid of heights, be aware.
History of Chora Andros
The picturesque seaside town of Chora has long served as the main settlement and capital of Andros. Its strategic location on a rocky peninsula made it an ideal base for the island’s seafaring ancestors. Historians believe Chora was first established in the 8th century BC by colonists from Chalcis (Euboea).
Over the centuries, Chora blossomed into a thriving marine hub and came under the control of various conquerors, from the Romans to Venetians.
During my trip there, I was able to see the wealth that the maritime past has left on the island and its ancestors. Remnants of Chora’s maritime past can be seen in sites like the Nautical Museum and the remnants of an old Venetian shipyard. The town also hosts an annual Navy Week celebration to honor Andros’ naval history.
The island has produced many renowned captains and vessel builders whose skill and mastery of shipbuilding played a key role in Greece’s rich maritime tradition. Even today, you can feel the spirit of the sea in Chora through the fishing boats bobbing in its harbor and the sweeping views of azure waters.
Andros’ seafaring ancestry has left the island with a unique charm and character all its own. During my visit, I gained a deep appreciation for how this maritime past shaped the island. Unlike many Greek isles overwhelmed by tourists today, Andros remains relatively untouched thanks to its self-sufficient nature.
The island is blessed with lush forests and abundant springs, enabling inhabitants to thrive independently since ancient times. This rich natural bounty supported generations of sailors, captains, and shipbuilders who called Andros home. Their legacy lives on in the island’s independent spirit and distinctive allure.
As I explored magnificent seaside villages like Chora, the island’s deep connection to the sea at every turn is palpable. From its winding cobblestone lanes to breathtaking ocean vistas, Andros offers an authentic slice of Greek island life shaped by the waves through centuries.
Does Andros have nice beaches?
With over 100 miles of coastline, Andros has no shortage of spectacular beaches to discover. The island boasts a variety of beach settings, from secluded coves with pebble sand to expansive stretches of golden sand.
Some of the most popular beaches include:
- Korthi Bay – A long sandy beach on the southeastern shore, perfect for swimming and water sports.
- Neimporio Beach – A peaceful, postcard-perfect cove with crystal clear waters.
- Agios Petros Beach – A long stretch of golden sand backed by dramatic cliffs.
- Piso Gialia Beach – A palm-lined beach with off-white sand and a laidback vibe.
- Vitali Beach – Famous for its waterside tavern and dramatic setting surrounded by hills.
- Zorkos Beach – A secluded sandy cove with emerald waters.
With so many options, you’re sure to find your perfect beach retreat on Andros. The island maintains an off-the-beaten-path charm at even its most beautiful beaches, allowing you to experience the serenity of the Greek islands.
We were lucky enough to get some cool Drone Footage of some of the beaches in Chora.
Where to stay in Chora Andros
Our stay at Archontiko Hotel Eleni proved to be a highlight of our time in Chora. Housed in a converted historic mansion that once served as a sailor school, this charming boutique hotel boasts an unbeatable location and authentic island charm.
Situated right on the edge of Chora’s pedestrian-only main square, the hotel offers easy access to the town’s attractions. We loved being steps from the action, while the square’s car-free plaza ensured a quiet and relaxing experience. Beyond the prime location, the hotel charmed us with its unique character. Traditional architectural details paired seamlessly with modern amenities in our room, which even featured a spacious balcony overlooking the town.
From the lavish breakfast spread filled with local delicacies to the sincere hospitality of the staff, the hotel exceeded our expectations. Whether you opt for a cozy double or spacious family suite, Archontiko Hotel Eleni offers the perfect base for exploring Chora’s treasures. The hotel’s rich history, coupled with thoughtful details, made for an atmospheric and authentically Greek island stay.
Another great option is the Micra Anglia Boutique Hotel, which has a fab pool and spa!
Unique things to do in Chora Andros
There are plenty of relaxing and adventurous things to do on Andros Island.
Andros has an extensive network of hiking trails that showcase the island’s stunning natural beauty. The dramatic landscapes of lush valleys, forests, and beaches are best explored on foot.
Some of the most popular hiking routes near Chora include:
- To Pithara Valley – A 6-mile (10km) roundtrip route through a deep green valley dotted with springs. We did the 15 minute walk to Pithara Waterfalls shown in photo below.
- Menites to Gavrio – A coastal hike with astonishing sea views along steep cliffs.
- Chora to Apikia – A panoramic hike from the main town up to the quaint village of Apikia.
- Peristeria Monastery – An easy loop to a historic 11th-century monastery.
Andros’ reputation as a hiker’s paradise began in the 1990s when locals started developing and marking trails across the island. In 1995, Andros Routes was founded to maintain and promote the island’s paths and has detailed maps available for hikers.
The trails range from easy seaside walks to demanding 8-hour treks across the island’s rugged terrain. With over 200 miles of trails traversing forests, mountains, and shorelines, Andros delivers hiking for all levels. Exploring the footpaths lets you experience the island’s wild beauty and hidden gems up close.
Check out Explore Andros for top tours in Andros.
We got the chance to do some smaller hikes and visit some cute villages. Big thanks to tour guides Fotis and Stephanie from Explore Andros.
Explore Cave Faros
One of the top attractions near Chora is exploring the mysterious Cave Faros. Carved by the sea, this extraordinary cave features stunning rock formations, stalactites, and rare fossils.
Sadly we arrived to early and it was closed. They had changed to their winter hours so be sure to contact them ahead of time before hiking up for 15 minutes to get to the cave.
Faros Cave has been a site of fascination for centuries. Archaeologists have uncovered finds here dating back to the Neolithic era. Historians believe the cave was once used as a place of worship. Don’t miss the opportunity to step into this unique underwater gallery carved over eons by the tide’s erosion.
Venturing into the subterranean realm of Faros Cave gives you a glimpse of Andros’ compelling geological history. As you descend into the depths, keep an eye out for rare fauna species that also make this hidden world their home.
Explore old town and square’s history
We loved exploring the old town and the square’s history thanks to our tour guide Fotis, who was so full of knowledge on Chora’s rich history. Here are some things you can do in old town.
- Wander the cobbled lanes of the cycladic-style old town to admire the classic white-washed houses and Medieval architecture. Look for remnants from the Venetian era like arched walkways.
- Soak up sea views as you stroll along the harbor promenade lined with restaurants and cafes. Watch boats bobbing in the port against the backdrop of the old castle walls.
- Visit the main square, Plaza Eugenios Kairis, ringed by cafes and dominated by an imposing statue honoring the sailor. Gaze at the bustling square activity against charming facades.
- Tour the imposing ruins of the medieval castle built in 1207, once an island stronghold. Climb atop the ramparts for panoramic views over Chora and the Aegean Sea.
- Admire the grand mansions of past shipowners and sea captains around the old square, testaments to the island’s maritime wealth.
- Stop by the Andros Nautical Museum inside an 1844 mansion to learn about the island’s naval history and shipbuilding.
- Relax at a harborside cafe to watch the sunset behind the old lighthouse and soak up the romantic, quintessentially Greek ambiance.
- Sit at the piazza and just enjoy a great meal
Visit one of the many monasteries
With over 100 monasteries and churches dotting its landscape, Andros offers many opportunities for sacred sightseeing. Some of the most remarkable religious sites near Chora include:
- Panachrantos Monastery – An 11th-century monastery carved dramatically into a seaside cliff. Its precarious position and Byzantine frescoes make it a ca n’t-miss.
- Agia Thalassini Monastery – Also built on a cliffside, this monastery dates back to the 16th century and has a small ecclesiastical museum.
- Zoodochos Pigi Monastery – “Life Giving Spring” monastery contains a sacred spring and boasts panoramic sea vistas.
- Panachrantos Monastery – – Perched on a hilltop surrounded by cypress trees, this tranquil spot has amazing sunset views.
- Monastery of Agia Triada – A 17th century monastery with two impressive chapels featuring ornate interiors.
Saint Irene Monastery
We arrived at Saint Irene monastery to be greeted by this lovely elderly woman named Theodisa who volunteers at the monastery along with the charming dog named Hera. We were able to tour the grounds, get some drone footage then visit the church and the cool museum.
- The Saint Irene Monastery of Chora Andros is a medieval Eastern Orthodox monastery located on the Greek island of Andros in the Aegean Sea.
- It was established in the 9th century CE, though some sources date its founding to the 6th century. It’s dedicated to Saint Irene Chrysovalantou.
- The monastery complex contains beautiful Byzantine-style architecture, including the main church, which dates back to the 11th to 12th centuries and features rich interior decoration.
- Notable elements include ancient icons, ornate wood-carved screens and doors, as well as the marble tomb of the founder of the monastery. There is also a small ecclesiastical museum on site.
- The monastery has a long tradition as a religious arts and culture center. The monks practiced manuscript copying through the Ottoman occupation. They still make handicrafts today.
- Its impressive library preserves around 3,500 rare manuscripts and over 10,000 books, making it one of Greece’s most valuable ecclesiastical book collections.
- The monastery is situated inland, overlooking the north part of Andros. You can hike ancient footpaths through the cypress and olive groves to reach it.
Some memorable things from this visit:
- Me ringing the Bell
- Being with Hera, the dog
- Drinking Ouzo and the sweet/sour dessert by Theodosia
- The epic views
- The museum with the cool instruments and stories
- The beautiful church
Tucked into the cliffs of Mount Gerakones on the island of Andros, the striking Holy Monastery of Panachrantou overlooks the sea and villages below. Its position nestled among imposing boulders makes it appear like a stone labyrinth. Some of the larger surrounding caves once housed hermit monks.
The monastery is famed for housing an icon of the Virgin Mary, said to be authored by Luke the Evangelist himself. Many also know the monastery as Agios Panteleimon, as it holds the sacred skull of St. Panteleimon. Other treasures include two exceptional post-Byzantine wood carvings – the iconostasis and the entrance door.
While the monastery’s founding is not precisely documented, manuscripts and local legend suggest two monks established it around 960 AD. Drawn by a persistent light emanating from a cave, they discovered the Marian icon. Despite repeatedly returning it to the cave after it mysteriously disappeared from their hermitage, the icon continued finding its way back to the cave.
The monks finally settled permanently by the cave and erected a small chapel. As word of the icon spread, more monks were drawn here. An endowment left by Nikiforos Phokas after a victorious 9th century campaign aided the construction of the first permanent buildings.
Today, the Monastery celebrates its patron saint, Panteleimon, on July 27 and also marks the Dormition of the Virgin Mary on August 15. The cliffs make access challenging, but paths lead to Panachrantou from the villages of Vouni and Falika.
It was incredible to see how monks actually lived in the caves near the monastery as it was being built, and we were always shocked at how people were able to build such incredible things up so high!
A trip to the monasteries transports you back in time with their Medieval architecture and tranquil hilltop settings. Exploring these sacred sites offers insight into the deep spiritual heritage of Andros through the centuries. The historic churches and monasteries remain integral to life on the island today.
Visit a Winery in Chora Andros
From faith to the love of wine! One of my favorite things to do while in Greece besides eating is to try local wine! We were lucky enough to be able to do a wine tasting and tour at the fabulous Kourtesis Winery Estate!
Kourtesis Winery Estate, located in Andros, offers a unique wine experience deeply rooted in the region’s natural and cultural heritage. Here’s a detailed overview of what makes this winery stand out:
- Location and Landscape: The estate is situated in the area of Ipsilou in Chora, perched amphitheatrically at an altitude of 100 meters above sea level. This positioning gives the vineyard a stunning, linear alignment on stone-built levels, creating a picturesque setting that is both traditional and functional.
- Microclimate Influence: A significant aspect of Kourtesis Winery is the role of the local microclimate in its wine production. The Meltemi, a sea breeze, carries sea salt to the vineyards, aiding in the smooth and healthy ripening of grapes. This natural process contributes to the unique flavor profile of their wines.
- Cultivation and Varieties: The winery emphasizes biodynamic and organic cultivation practices. Spread over an area of 3 hectares, it focuses exclusively on Cycladic grape varieties like Mavrotragano, Malagouzia, Assyrtiko, and Mandilaria, along with some indigenous varieties such as Potamisi. This dedication to local varieties helps in preserving the region’s viticultural heritage.
- Organic Certification and Wine Production: Kourtesis Winery produces wines with an organic certification and Protected Geographical Indication of Cyclades. The varieties include Moschato, Mandilaria, Potamisi, Assyrtiko, and Malagouzia, each contributing to the distinct character of their wines.
- Event Hosting: In addition to its wine production, the estate is also a popular venue for events, including weddings. Its location near Andros Town and proximity to beaches like Gialia, Neiporio, and Paraporti make it an ideal spot for special occasions.
- Experiential Stay and Tours: For wine enthusiasts looking for a more immersive experience, Kourtesis Winery offers traditionally renovated accommodations within the estate. These facilities cater to guests who want to deeply engage with the winemaking process and the estate’s unique environment.
Kourtesis Winery Estate thus represents a harmonious blend of traditional viticulture, unique microclimate utilization, and dedication to local grape varieties, all set in a breathtaking natural landscape. This makes it not just a place for wine production but a destination that offers a comprehensive experience of the Cycladic wine culture.
Wine tasting at Kourtesis Winery Estate
They had three types, a white wine, a rose and a red! They only produce a limited amount, so of course, we purchased some to bring home.
Local Shopping in Chora
Be sure to check out the local shops and local delicacies like pastries, honey and drinks. If you travel to Chora in the shoulder season, you will find great deals on clothes and accessories. I saw the same dress in Athens for more than double the price!
I also loved the local pharmacy! I visited it like 4 times. They were so nice and gave me different beauty samples to try. When traveling to Europe overall, I believe it’s important to give back to local community and shop small.
Get a Spa Treatment
An awesome thing to do in Chora, is to get a massage or facial treatment at the Spa at Micra-Anglia Hotel.
The Micra Anglia Boutique Hotel & Spa in Andros, Greece, offers a range of spa services and facilities. The spa features an indoor Jacuzzi/Hammam relaxation area, a massage room, and a specially designed beauty center.
The spa provides various treatments, including beauty services, facial treatments, waxing services, manicures, pedicures, body treatments, and spa/wellness packages. The spa’s opening hours are from 11:00 am to 19:00 pm daily, and reservations can be made by dialing extension number 317. It does close for the winter season starting in September.
The spa also offers personal consultations to design a treatment experience and provides a range of spa products for purchase to extend the spa experience at home. For more information about the hotel and spa, you can visit their official website at https://micra-anglia.gr or make a reservation at https://micraanglia.reserve-online.net.
Best restaurants in Chora Andros
Chora, the capital of Andros Island, offers a variety of dining options, from traditional Greek taverns to seaside cafes. Here are some of the best restaurants in Chora
Frescos For brunch delights and healthy meals, plus vegan cookies, smoothies and dishes.
Lithi: A Greek, Bar, Cafe, Mediterranean, European, and Wine Bar offering a diverse menu
Endochora: A seafood restaurant known for its excellent cuisine and affordable prices
Stamatis Tavern: A favorite dining spot in Andros, offering authentic flavors
Oti Kalo: A charming restaurant with magnificent views of the port, known for its first-class food
Barbarola: Situated in the village of Stenies, this beautiful restaurant offers a terrific view of the countryside and serves Andriot cooking
Ta Skalakia: Located up some steps right in the center of Chora, this farm-to-table restaurant is a top choice for locals and visitors. The staff is super friendly, and you need to try the goat dish.
When visiting Chora, it’s a must to try some beachside restaurants! We loved eating at Binelikia as well as Archipelagos. The owner at Archipelagos was so friendly. He didn’t really speak much English but showed us his fresh food options. Max had the fish, which was so fresh and delicious.
These restaurants provide a mix of traditional Greek dishes, seafood, and Mediterranean cuisine, often accompanied by stunning views of the Aegean Sea. Visitors to Chora can enjoy a delightful culinary experience at these establishments.
Popular Foods to Try in Chora Andros
Here are some of the top local foods to try when visiting Chora, Andros:
- Salted mackerel – A specialty appetizer of the island, enjoyed with lemon and olive oil.
- Sausages – Andros is known for its spicy homemade sausages flavored with orange zest and herbs.
- Seafood – Being an island, Andros is renowned for its fresh and delicious seafood. Fish like bream, snapper, and cod are served grilled, baked, or in stews and are a must-try.
- Kaltsounia – These small savory pies come stuffed with cheese, meat, or greens. The handmade pastries are a quintessential Greek snack.
- Loukoumades are a beloved traditional Greek dessert consisting of small doughnut-like balls fried in oil and coated with sweet toppings.
- Preserved fruit – Due to the island’s fruitful orchards, locally made jams, spoon sweets, and fruit preserves are delightful ways to taste Andros’ harvests.
- Louza – This sun-dried smoked pork delicacy can be enjoyed as an appetizer or main course. The meat is cured with sea salt and herbs.
- Nougat – Called mandolato in Greek, this sweet nougat crafted from honey, nuts, and egg whites is a favorite island treat.
- Gyros – I didn’t eat a chicken gyro. I didn’t like
Sampling these local specialties when visiting Chora is a delicious way to immerse yourself in the culture, cuisine, and bounty of Andros. Be sure also to sip the island’s famed local wine to complement your food explorations.
Overall, we had a fantastic time exploring Chora Andros, and we 1000% recommend visiting this fantastic island.