Athenaze and Ariobarzanes
In early June 2021, we decided to take our fully vaccinated selves on a trip to Greece. We spent a large portion of our trip hiking on the island of Andros. We have spent a lot of time in Greece, but mostly on the mainland. Neither one of us has spent a great amount of time in the islands, nor had we been to Andros.
Andros, the northernmost island of the Cyclades, is only a two-hour ferry ride from Athens’ secondary port, Rafina. In spite of its proximity to the capital, however, it does not host a lot of tourists, most of whom prefer to spend their time on better-known islands like Mykonos and Santorini. For that reason, it feels much more relaxed than some other islands. It feels like what it really is: a place where people actually live.
That said, Andros is now an excellent hiking destination thanks to the efforts Andros Routes (link), a volunteer organization dedicated to promoting sustainable tourism on the island. In recent years they have done a lot of work clearing, rehabilitating, and marking the island’s footpaths, many of which have been used for centuries to connect the villages of the island with one another. The trail network has recently by recognized by the European Ramblers’ Association. It is possible to link segments together into a through-hike, as we did; we walked for almost 100km over six days with the assistance of a local travel and adventure company that helped with route planning, hotel planning, and baggage transportation from one hotel to another.
We cannot overstate the amount of work that the volunteers at Andros Routes have put into marking the island’s network of footpaths. Major junctions are clearly signed in Greek and in English, like this junction of Trail 1 and Trail 17a near the village of Menites in the center of the island. The individual trails are also all marked at regular intervals with numbered red and white blazes like those you see here on the signpost.