In all honesty, Andros had never been on my radar up until a few months ago, when the lovely Allegra Pomilio invited me to spend a few days over at her dreamy holiday home Mèlisses, nestled on a cliffside on the western coast of the island.
Part of the Cyclades Archipelago, Andros is the second-largest island after Naxos and the greenest. Its rugged landscape, turquoise waters, dizzying cliffs, sun-drenched villages, and Mediterranean specialities remind me, somehow, of Southern Italy.
When there, we stuck to the areas surrounding Mèlisses (that sits a stone's throw from the historic archaeological site of Palaiopolis), the pretty villages of Batsi and Gavrio, Waterfalls of Pythara and the Chora - from the Greek' χώρα', which refers to the main town of an island.
Long story short, we spent most of our time in awe, shouting with joy when we were driving past those white and solitary blue and white chapels scattered throughout the island, the elegant Neoclassical mansions of Chora, the countryside glowing at the golden light of sunset, the crystal clear waters of the Aegean Sea.
One thing about the island that stroke me most, is the fact that it's pretty off the beaten path and very little known among the hoards of international tourists who flock to the Greek islands every summer.
Which makes your experience even more memorable, since you won't get that annoying crowd one usually finds in Santorini and Mykonos. The reason is the island was once the retreat of Athen's wealthiest families who wanted to keep it hidden from foreign visitors, so it's been very secluded ever since.
WHAT TO DO IN ANDROS
Check the archaeological site of Palaiopolis, Andros' ancient capital, thought to be built around the 5th Century BC.
Get lost in the quaint lanes of Batsi with its whitewashed houses and explosions of bougainvillaea, then drive East and take a few hours wandering the streets of Chora, lined with neoclassical buildings and lovely homes.
Visit the Museum of Modern Art and the Archeological Museum for an immersion in art and culture.
Shop at Waikiki: the chicest concept store in the heart of Chora, owned by fashion designer Kiki Sinteli, who creates most of the collections herself. It's a little paradise for fashion buffs like myself, always on the lookout for the perfect summer basics.
Linen dresses, striped espadrilles, embroidered caftans, white blouses, sartorial shirts, studded sandals and timeless jewellery, are some of the pieces on sale at Waikiki, and, believe me, you'll want to buy everything. Kiki also has a fabulous sense of style, and she will impeccably advise on the pieces that will suit you best.
Go to the beach: you will be spoiled for choice because of every corner of this island has dreamlike beaches with turquoise and inviting waters to dip in. Vitali, Batsi, Agia Marina and Achla, among others, are just some of the most beautiful seaside spots.
Hiking: yes, there's more than pristine beaches on Andros. If swimming and sunbathing are not your cup of tea, or you just want to experience the island differently, you can immerse yourself in the green (and steep) sceneries of the mountains. The waterfalls of Pythara, for example, are an excellent starting point for a good hike.
WHERE TO STAY IN ANDROS
Mèlisses holiday home - the beautiful and highly photogenic retreat with design credentials, sitting on the western coast of the island and run by the talented Allegra.
WHERE TO EAT IN ANDROS
To Iannulis: a beachside eatery run by a lovely and caring nonna, who prepares, among other things, the most delicious Greek salad, meatballs, courgette croquettes, potatoes, and sublime yoghurt, served along with a generous amount of grapes and cherry compotes.
Barbarola: fresh fish, colourful salads, larger-than-life portions, divine yoghurt, all served with a side of dramatic sea views off the coast of Chora and a refreshing mountain breeze.
If you're looking for the quintessential Mediterranean dining experience, this is the place.
Stamatis: a traditional taverna overlooking the bay in the pretty village of Batsi. The ideal place to binge on fresh fish and flavourful salads while enjoying the beautiful view of the whitewashed little houses by the sea.
Endochora: located in the heart of Chora, it serves one of the best fish soups I've ever tried so far in my life, as well as a nice dose of beautifully curated interior design.
BEST TIME TO VISIT ANDROS
From April to October. Also, being Andros still unknown to many even July and August are ok, as the island doesn't get too crowded like other more popular destinations in the Cyclades.