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Andros is the nearest Cycladic island to Athens, about two hours by ferry from the port of Rafina (there is currently no service from Piraeus). The island is known for its abundance of fresh water, which makes it greener than many other islands in the Cyclades. It's very popular with vacationing Greeks, so has a good basic infrastructure for tourism, but it's quiet and not too crowded except during weekends in peak local holiday season. Foreign tourists from elsewhere are present, but in low numbers. Accomodations consist primarily of vacation homes and small villas offering apartment-style accomodations, plus a few mid-size hotels and resorts. The result is an economy, and landscape, in which tourism is important but not overwhelmingly dominant. Agriculture still plays an important role, and a few fishing boats may still be seen. On the whole, prices are lower than in the more famous resort areas.
A network of paved roads covers much of the island and connects the four main towns. Most of the tourist development is concentrated between Gavrio (the port) and Batsi (the main resort town) on the northwest coast, although there are also some tourist facilities at Ormos Korthiou on the southeast coast. The main city, Andros Town (or Chora) is built on a scenic peninsula jutting out into the sea on the east coast, and is a microcosm of the island as a whole in that it caters to tourists while limiting large-scale development, thus retaining the lived-in, authentic feel of a normal town. Because of its size, a car is recommended for those who want to explore the island, and rentals are available from several companies.
For the visitor, Andros offers a variety of activities with one notable exception: wild nightlife. Tavernas are plentiful but geared toward relaxed family gatherings rather than all-night partying. The island has been inhabited since ancient times, and features several archeological sites of interest as well as a couple of antiquities museums. There are good beaches at or near all of the main towns, and many more in the countryside. Some of the best beaches are also the most remote, accessible only by long drives over rough dirt tracks and offering no facilities. Thanks to numerous springs and year-round streams, flora and fauna are plentiful. The interior hills offer many splendid views and are dotted with monasteries and tiny churches. The interior also boasts several quaint, picturesque villages which are worth visiting. Last but certainly not least, the island boasts a network of footpaths which predate the coming of the automobile. Although many of these are now poorly marked and falling into disrepair, some have been maintained and signposted. A good trail map was published in 2003 and is readily available.
This combination of features makes Andros one of the best destinations in the region for hikers and nature-lovers. It's also excellent for families with children and anyone travelling on a modest budget.