Elounda is situated on the North-East coast of Crete and is about two hours by bus from Heraklion Airport. Once a simple fishing village, it is now an ideal place to visit if you want to be away from the hustle and bustle on the island, but not overly isolated.
There is an abundance of fresh fruit and brightly coloured flowers growing around every corner of Elounda. The colours pop beautifully against the island’s otherwise dry, brown landscape.
Although relatively quiet, there is still plenty to do in Elounda and spending a week here is a perfect amount of time to balance relaxation with adventure. Here are some examples:
Catch a boat over to Spinalonga
Spinalonga is an island with a dark past. Although it has been on the radar throughout history – since the 1500’s in fact, its more recent events are what attracts visitors today. The island was used as a leper colony from 1903 to as late as 1957. Today, the old fortress and building ruins remain and there is a somewhat eerie feel as you walk around the island.
Boats leave regularly from Elounda and take roughly 25 minutes to get to the island. If you are planning a trip to Spinalonga, The Island by Victoria Hislop is an excellent way to acquaint you with its past, before you go.
Hike along the peninsula
If you’re feeling energetic, head across the causeway to the peninsula. If you continue to follow the dusty, rocky road up over the hill, you’ll find a lovely little sheltered beach on the other side called Kolokytha. It’s excellent for swimming and relaxing. However, be sure to wear decent footwear and take plenty of water and snacks. There are no shops or other amenities available.
Fill your face with fresh, Greek food
It’s difficult to tire from Greek cuisine. From the salads to the seafood, it is easy to eat healthy, feel-good food. The olive oil in Crete is some of the finest in the world. It’s not surprising that the average Cretan family gets through 60 litres of it a year. In comparison, Brits get through just 3 litres! The Cretan diet also caters exceptionally well to vegetarians.
Browse the beautiful gift shops
From seashells dangling from driftwood and gently jingling in the breeze, buckets overflowing with natural sea sponges and gourds that have been transformed into intricately painted ornaments; to homemade raki (a traditional alcoholic beverage), local honey, olives, soaps, pottery and crafts; the list goes on!
Visit Agios Nikolaos
Being so close to Elounda (roughly 10km), it’s worth taking a trip over to neighbouring Agios Nikolaos. It’s a touch livelier, therefore great for food, drinks, shopping and nightlife. You can get there by bus, taxi, or by renting a car. The taxi services are particularly reliable, cheap and take just over 10 minutes.
Go on safari
If you want to go a little further afield, head out of Elounda with Safari Club to explore the central part of the island. The tour guide will have you giggling from the get-go. They also have a wealth of knowledge about the history, people and nature of Crete.
You’ll visit tiny, authentic towns and villages high in the hills, pass through the biggest forest on the island, climb over 1000 metres above sea level into the mountains, potentially get chased by mountain goats and even see some in the trees!
You will be awe-struck by the magnificent Lassithi Plateau, hike up to a cave, which mythology states to be the birthplace of Zeus and see a famous 2,000 year old tree in the village of Krassi.