Andros is the second-largest island in the Cyclades right after Naxos, yet unlike its world-famous sister islands of Mykonos and Santorini it stands out for its uniquely verdant and fertile landscape and sophisticated architecture. Its prominent geographical location, being first on the maritime trade route to Istanbul and the Black Sea, played a crucial role in shaping its maritime tradition, which until this day has been excellently preserved by the island’s aristocratic identity. Just a short 2-hour ferry ride from the port of Rafina in Athens makes this hidden gem a sought-after destination to visit.
Chora, the island’s main town is perched above the sea on a rocky peninsula hugged by two sandy beaches, one on each side, offering stunning views of the Aegean Sea. In this post, we give you all the reasons to stay in Chora Andros and to discover the island’s diverse beauty at your own pace.
10 Reasons to Stay in Chora Andros
1. The Grandeur of Chora
Unlike the other Cyclades Islands which are characterised by the whitewashed cube houses and blue-domed churches, Chora of Andros is well-known for its beautiful neoclassical mansions. On a leisurely walk through the picturesque alleyways of Chora one can admire the grandness of these impressive mansions some of which have been turned into boutique hotels, shops and restaurants.
2. The pedestrian Georgiou Embirikou Street
Everything in Chora happens around the most famous street, the marble-paved pedestrian Georgiou Embirikou Street that ends at the charming Kairi Square.
The beginning of the pedestrian street commences at the Vasili Goulandri Square, with a marble column dedicated to the Fallen Heroes of Andros and right-across it is an exquisite retirement home building which was built in 1894.
Lined with shops, cafes, pastry shops and restaurants – you are bound to cross it multiple times throughout the day.
3. Kairi Square
Inside the lively village squares is where you are bound to experience the true Greek spirit. Enjoying a relaxed meal, a coffee or a cold ouzo, in one of the quaint squares while escaping the heat underneath the shade of a plane tree is what defines an authentic Greek island experience. In Chora of Andros, the bustling Kairi Square is home to some of the settlement’s most prominent landmarks.
Here you will come across the imposing marble wall fountain of Kambanis, built in 1818, the bust of Theofilos Kairis, one of the greatest Greek intellectuals of the 19th century and the two museums – the Archaeological Museum and the Goulandris Museum of Contemporary Art.
4. Porta – The Gate
At the end of Kairi Square you will encounter a beautiful arch, a special gateway that connects the main part of Chora with the old part of the town where you will find some of the most refined mansions, as well as the home of Theofilos Kairis, the dominating Cathedral of Agios Georgios and the Rivas Square with its high-rising bronze statue of the Unknown Sailor.
5. The Statue of the Unknown Sailor on Rivas Square
The beautiful high rising bronze statue which crowns the Rivas Square is dedicated to the Unknown Sailor, a work of art completed in honor of all the seafarers who lost their lives in the sea by the sculptor Mihail Tombros in 1959.
The statue is a donation of the Goulandris family. The Rivas Square where the sculpture stands today was once the Embirikos family mansion that was destroyed in 1943 during the bombings made by the Germans on the Italian Guard of Andros during the Second World War. All the buildings were destroyed and the Embirikos family donated that whole area to the Municipality of Andros which was eventually turned into a square.
6. The Kamara and the Venetian Castle
Right at the tip of the Chora peninsula lies an arch bridge – the Kamara which connects the Rivas Square to the Venetian castle that is perched on a barren islet. The Lower Castle was built during the Dandolo dynasty (1207-1233) and was considered to be one of the most important castles in the Aegean. The castle was almost completely destroyed during the 1943 bombings by the Germans.
7. The Museums
Lovers of art and culture will find plenty of inspiration on this magical Greek island. The Chora of Andros is home to some notable museums.
The Archaeological Museum located right in the heart of Kairis square houses a collection of findings from the Geometric settlement of Zagora, pre-Byzantine and Byzantine sculptures as well as those dating from the Archaic to the Roman times.
The Museum of Contemporary art was founded in 1979 to exhibit the works of the local sculptor Michael Tombros. The exhibits were further enhanced by the addition of more than 300 works of distinguished Greek and foreign artists donated from the personal collection of the two founders, Basil and Elise Goulandris. Over the years the museum has hosted exhibitions from world famous artists such as Picasso, Matisse, Kandinsky, Bouzianis, Klee, Chagall, De Chirico, Rodin, Joan Miró, Georges Braque, among others.
The Maritime Museum located next to the Rivas Square was founded in 1972 where visitors can admire original documents and artefacts that vividly present the entire history of Andros’ merchant past.
8. The Churches
The island of Andros is rich in religious history and many significant monasteries and churches dot its landscape. In Chora visitors will come across several notable churches such as the Panagia Theoskepasti church, dedicated to the Patron saint of the island.
In the old part of Chora there is the 17th century Cathedral of Agios Georgios with its two bell towers and the church of Agia Varvara just before reaching the Rivas Square. Just off the docks, rising above the sea stands the impressive church of Agia Thalassini, amidst the dramatic landscape it can be reached by a flight of steps.
9. Tourlitis Lighthouse
Tourlitis Lighthouse, is the only lighthouse in Europe that crowns a stone column inside the sea, naturally shaped by millennia of natural erosion. As the saying goes, beauty lies in the eye of the beholder – and this lovely beacon is surely one of the top highlights of Chora Andros.
10. Andrion Club
Founded in the capital of Andros, in Chora in 1925 the Andrion Club is one of the oldest associations on the island and the most progressive social clubs in Greece.
The role undertaken by the current administration is to return the club to its former glory by restoring the Club’s historic archives and to preserve and promote the history which was envisioned by its original founders. Housed inside a neoclassical building it is adorned with original furnishings and memorabilia.
Where to Stay in Chora, Andros
Just like its compact size, there are no large accommodations found inside of Chora. It is ideal for those who are seeking a more intimate experience, to connect with the locals, and to absorb the island’s unique charm.
This charming boutique hotel enjoys the most prominent location inside the old part of Chora, set almost at the edge of the rock with breathtaking views of Lower Castle and the whimsical Tourlitis Lighthouse. Housed inside a historical fortified tower that was built during the Venetian era – this impressive hotel features four suites, individually completed to accommodate the most discerning guests.
During our stay, we enjoyed the comfort of the Odysseus Suite named after the famous Trojan War hero, the illustrious warrior of Homer’s epic works. An architectural marvel completed with old stone walls and cypress wood ceilings, the spacious suite covers 50 sqm and can accommodate up to five guests in its separate king-size bedroom and living room with a two-seat sofa bed.
There is a kitchen area with a dining room and a built-in sofa that can accommodate one more person. The highlight of the suite is the spacious open-air verandah that offers spectacular views of the sea, castle and the Tourlitis Lighthouse. An ideal spot to escape the crowds and to relax under the starry sky.
Where to Eat in Chora
Whether you are looking to enjoy a light meal, a hearty breakfast or a traditional Greek lunch, the restaurants and cafes of Chora will not disappoint.
Located along the pedestrian Embirikou Street this Mediterranean restaurant serves creative Greek dishes with a twist using fresh locally-sourced products.
From refreshing salads topped with pasteli- a Greek honey sesame bar, to fried zucchini balls served with yogurt dip, and black roe salad infused with cuttlefish ink, there are plenty of delicious dishes to choose from. If you want to surprise your taste buds, try the Greek version of sushi – dolmades served with anchovies, – it’s definitely something that you will not commonly find on other restaurant menus.
Set along the stairs – which is what the name implies, on one of the side streets just off the main pedestrian street – Ta Skalakia is a lovely family-owned taverna serving traditional dishes and small plates (meze) which are ideal for sharing.
If you want to try something local we recommend ordering the island’s staple dish which is froutalia. It is an omelet made of hand-cut potatoes, herbs, local sausages, and “glyna” (pork fat), which adds a special flavor.
Fresco Juice & Salad Bar
The Fresco Juice & Salad Bar is an ideal choice for those looking to start their day with healthy options. The menu consists of freshly made juices, salads, sandwiches and wraps. Outdoor seating is available and is great for people watching.