Greece may be a very small country but it’s full of wonders. Mostly famous for its beaches, our country’s other natural treasures should not go unnoticed. For instance, caves in Greece, although scarce, are breathtakingly beautiful. Each of them hides a unique little world of impressive natural sculptures that date back to millions of years.
One of the lesser-known caves in Greece is Foros on Andros Island. As you may have noticed by now, we absolutely love this island. As much as we enjoy relaxing on its long sandy beaches though, we are equally fond of exploring its natural treasures, such as its wide network of ancient paths. So, once we found out that Andros is home to one of the most well-hidden caves in Greece, we set off to explore it.
The fascinating tales the cave has to tell start from its very name. There are two explanations as to the origin of the name Foros. According to the first one, the name derives from the Italian word foro which means opening or hole. The second version is more of a superstition. It was believed that, whenever an animal fell into the cave and disappeared, it was some kind of tax paid by the locals so as to appease the evil spirits. Φόρος (foros) in Greek means tax.
Andros is the second biggest island in the Cyclades complex. That’s why it’s best to explore by car. It’s an easy drive to Foros Cave from pretty much everywhere on the island. Foros is situated in Aladinos village near Chora (Andros Town). Just follow the brown road signs to the cave and you will soon reach the old bridge of Aladinos village. The magic begins right from this spot as you need to pass this beautiful bridge in order to reach the cave. The arched bridge was built in 1680 AD by builders coming from the Epirus region, who were renowned for their stonemason skills.
You even get a tiny taste of hiking in Andros on the way to the cave. The cobblestone path that leads to one of the most well-hidden caves in Greece coincides with Andros Route 18a. Once at the cave’s entrance, we understood we were in for a really authentic experience. Our guide provided us with helmets and torches which made us feel like actual explorers ready for yet another adventure.
The guided tour inside the cave lasted for about 15-20 minutes. Froso, our guide, was extremely knowledgeable and very happy to answer all of our questions. During the tour, we learned about the cave’s history. From how it was first discovered to its inclusion by the Hellenic Caving Association in the official list of caves in Greece. Although not large, Foros abounds in impressive formations such as stalagmites, stalactites, helictites, gours and many more. Add to this the occasional limestone or marble touch and you have a jaw-dropping collection of natural sculptures.
Side trip: Stichiomeni Bridge
After visiting Foros, we felt like exploring a bit more. Stichiomeni, yet another old arched bridge, is in close proximity to the cave. Stichiomeni Bridge can be reached on foot from a hiking trail starting at the old bridge of Aladinos village. Alternatively, jump into your car, leave the Aladinos old bridge behind and keep on the main road until you spot on your left a tiny signpost marking Andros Route 1. Park on the road and start descending the stone steps at the foot of the signpost. The way back is quite uphill so bring water and take your time.
Στοιχειωμένη (stichiomeni) means haunted in Greek. The story behind this stone bridge is part of an old legend common to many regions in Greece. According to it, a bridge could never be complete unless the head builder’s wife (or daughter for that matter, but you get the misogynist picture) was sacrificed right there on the construction site. At some occasions, they would actually build the unfortunate female within the stone bridge itself. How could she not possibly haunt the freaking bridge afterwards? Hence the name.
About the cave
The cave is open to the public all year round but sometimes you can only visit by appointment. Check the cave’s Facebook page for opening times as well as contact information. Entrance fee is 5€ per person. You can only visit as part of a guided tour. The latter are frequent and they are available in either English or Greek. The cave has a steady temperature of 16-17°C throughout the year so dress accordingly. Comfortable shoes are necessary.
How to get to Andros
Andros is a mere 2-hour journey by ferry from Rafina port. It takes about 45′ to drive from downtown Athens to Rafina. There is also frequent coach service from Athens to Rafina port. Keep in mind, though, that it takes coaches at least an hour to get to the port so plan your trip accordingly so as not to miss the ferry. There is also direct coach service from Athens airport to Rafina. You can find more info here.
For our most recent trip to Andros Island we once again chose Fast Ferries. We always do. We enjoy travelling with the newest and most comfortable ships on this specific route.
Disclosure: Fast Ferries kindly offered us complimentary tickets but, as always, we express nothing but our very own and honest opinion about the experience we had.