- Region : Crete
- Prefecture : Lasithi
- Municipality: Agios Nikolaos
- Population: 2185
Elounda Village, once a picturesque fishing village in lovely Mirabello Bay and nowadays is an ideal destination for people who want a seaside holiday in a place which is neither too busy nor too isolated, having a spectacular coastline, shaded beaches, crystal clear seas, archeological interest.
In Elounda you ... will find small, pretty beaches, visit the island of Spinalonga, walk along and swim at the peninsula of Kolokitha (the word means “pumpkin”), and explore the many little villages (Mavrikiano, Plaka, Skisma, Epano Elounda) far from the sea, offering a window into times gone by.
Elounda is not for those looking for a hectic, vibrant nightlife, nor for those who prefer the isolated beaches of unspoilt southern Crete.
Elounda's sea, as described by Mr. Anestis Makridakis, glows like a sapphire under the azure light of the sky, rose-hued in summer afternoons, silvered on moonlit nights. It is a sea whose light infuses you gently but swiftly, having the power to touch you emotionally. To float in this sea, or to observe it from further away is like dreaming with open eyes.
How to get there
From Heraklion Airport or Port to Elounda is just over an hour’s drive. See flights here. Take the National Road east to Agios Nikolaos and turn left to Elounda just before entering the town.
By ferry: Major ferry lines operate to the port of Herakleion. You could book your ferry tickets through our website.
There are frequent buses from Heraklon ot Agios Nikolaos and then to Elounda Village. The route from Agios Nikolaos to Elounda is one of the loveliest in Crete, due to the view of the coastline and Mirabello Bay.
Allow approximately 2.5 hours to get to Elouda from Rethymno Town and 3-3.5 hours from Chania Town.
What to see & do
Elounda's harbour, known as the Gulf of Korfos, is a natural, beautiful lagoon which is bordered by rugged peninsulas, and with the island of Spinalonga a good guard at the harbour entrance, it's like a shelter within a shelter with crystal, turquoise waters that is enclosed within the wider blue waters of the Gulf of Mirabello.
An absolutely prime location where many occupiers - the Minoan, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Venetian and Ottoman empires - have all left their mark on Elounda's heritage. Elounda hosts two of the most important archeological sites of Cretan history, the relics of the ancient sunken city of Olous and the Venetian fortress on the island of Spinalonga.
In its glory days, from 500 to 200BC, Olous was one of the most powerful trading centres in Crete. The city had a population of 40,000, its own king and its own currency. Now, the ruins sleep beneath the clear shallow waters off the Spinalonga peninsula, a kilometer east along the waterfront from the modern harbour at Skisma and joined to the mainland by a causeway.
On a calm day, when the sea is unruffled, you can make out the rubble of long-lost streets and alleyways just by standing at the water's edge. This underwater metropolis provides a happy hunting-ground for snorkelers and divers.
The walk from Elounda's harbour to Olous ancient town is a trip in memories for anyone who remembers "Who Pays the Ferryman", was a television series produced by the BBC in 1977? Now colorful bars-cafes and restaurants with terraces overlooking the sea, leads direct to the Ferryman taverna, where much of the action for the TV series was filmed.
Let's head to fascinating Spinalonga Island or just "The Island" according Viktoria's Hislop book. For decades from 1913, it was a leper colony serving the whole of Greece. Its small inner network of run-down streets and houses, abandoned by Turkish occupants at the end of the previous century, became home to the so-called "living dead".
Hundreds of lepers lived and died here – marooned far from friends and families, yet separated from the sounds and lights of normal life on the mainland by only a narrow strip of water. It wasn't until July 1957, just half a century ago, that the last remaining sufferers were relocated to a hospital near Athens. Inevitably, a sadness seems to cling to the ghost-village they left behind.
In the early 1980s, the only way to get to Spinalonga was by asking a fisherman to take you. Once you landed, you could expect to have the island pretty much to yourself. That's all very different now. Tourist craft sail half-hourly from Elounda and the island receives up to 2,000 visitors a day in high season – which means that your chances of an atmospheric, contemplative ramble are much reduced. Tour groups shuffle through at a snail's pace.
Please note that there are plenty of locals who are more than willing to take you over to Spinaloga after the tour boats are finished for the day so that you can experience the island when it's quiet.
Nearby Elounda is the charming fishing village of Plaka, where you can eat in a traditional taverna or enjoy your ouzo or tsikoudia at lovely "Pefko" Coffee Bar.
Visit the nearby Monastery of Aretiou, which it has been one of the largest and most powerful monasteries in Crete with great fortune.
Where to stay
Elounda Solfez Villas, a Journey into Senses, with spectacular Views over the Mirabelo Bay.
Domes of Elounda Suites & Spa Resort, offers guests the true Mediterranean experience, connecting luxury to natural environment and local culture.
Elounda Villa, a superb, secluded villa with its unique quiet beach and the exquisite and invigorating sea view of Mirabello bay located just few steps from the sea shore of Elounda Village on the road to Plaka Village.
Where to eat
Kanali Restaurant, located on the other side of the Elounda bay (just over the causeway). You will be eating right next to the water and have excellent food and service. The fresh fish is spectacular. Do not expect low prices but not that expensive either.
Taverna Ferryman, a quite famous restaurant, (where they filmed the TV series «Who Pays the Ferryman»), family-owned and operated with friendly service and a superb waterfront location, away from traffic, and offering spectacular views over Elounda bay to Spinalongha island, the setting is cool, airy and peaceful.