Hidden away on the eastern coast of Crete, Elounda is a pretty fishing village that is the perfect destination for a relaxing seaside getaway.
You’ll love Elounda if you’re looking for a traditional Greek resort that isn’t too crowded or commercialized. However, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do here. If you’re planning on travelling to Greece, then consider adding this hidden gem to your itinerary.
Spend your days relaxing on the beach or bathing in crystal clear water. Explore pretty streets and admire the stunning scenery. The coastal paths are perfect for walking, and you can explore the surrounding area and get to know this part of Crete a bit better.
I loved the authentic Greek feel of Elounda, the friendliness of the locals we met, and the generally relaxed atmosphere of the village. Moreover, the view across the bay is spectacular. I could have spent my entire week just gazing out to sea — this is one of the most relaxing places to visit in Greece.
In this travel guide to Elounda Crete, I’ll list the best things to do, where to eat, where to stay, the best beaches, and how to get around.
3 Things To Do in Elounda Crete
We stayed in Elounda for 7 nights and although it’s a low-key place, we found plenty of things to do. We like to get out and about exploring but if you like to spend a lot of time on the beach then you could stay longer.
Elounda is the perfect base for leisurely walks, and no matter where you are in the village, you’re pretty much guaranteed a lovely view of the bay. If you love the water, you’ll be delighted with the crystal clear sea here on the Eastern Cretan coast.
Here are some of the best things to do in Elounda, Crete:
1. Explore the Harbour
Probably the first thing you’ll want to do when you arrive in Elounda is to take a walk around the central town. Here, you’ll find the picturesque harbour with everything from traditional fishing boats to rowing boats.
Stroll along the harbor to the east and pass some of Elounda’s popular taverns before arriving at the main beach. If you head south along the coast, you’ll be rewarded with some of the city’s most exclusive restaurants overlooking the bay.
2. Foot of the sunken City Olous
Continue south from the resort and you will reach the sunken town of Olous. Olous was an ancient Greek city of the Minoan era. Don’t expect to see obvious ruins under the sea, although if you look closely you can see some of the ancient walls.
Some reports suggest that Olous was sunk due to volcanic activity, but others say that it is more likely that it sank slowly for many years.
For tourists today this is an interesting place for a gentle coastal walk outside the main city. If you want to find the ruins underwater, take your diving equipment with you.
3. Take a boat trip to Spinalonga
One of the highlights of our trip to Crete was a visit to Spinalonga. The Island is a former Leper Colony. The sick from Crete (and sometimes from mainland Greece) were forcibly moved to the island to stop the spread of the disease.
Although Spinalonga is quite famous locally, it became famous thanks to the publication of Victoria Hislop’s novel the Island. The book tells the story of the Fielding family, involved in the leprosy drama and the Island of Spinalonga.
This is actually a great read, so if you are looking for a holiday read during your stay in Crete, I highly recommend it. The Spinalonga leper colony was closed in 1957, a few years after finding a cure for the terrible disease.
How to get to Spinalonga Island
For a long time, Greek officials preferred to forget about Spinalonga, but that changed when tourists, inspired by Hislop’s Novel, asked for a visit.
Now you can visit Spinalonga yourself by taking a boat in front of the main island. Boats depart regularly from the port of Elounda and take about 30 minutes to reach the Spinalonga Pier.
It costs 10 euros per person or 5 euros for children. It is a pleasant trip and you will see more of the coast when you cross.
For a shorter trip to the Island, head to the nearby village of Plaka. There is plenty of free parking in Plaka near the boat docks, making it an easy option if you have a car.
Boats regularly depart from two docks, so if you just missed the first one, go a little further along the harbor and try the other one.
It is a 10-minute drive from Plaka and costs 8 euros per person. The boats from both sites leave around 10 am and depart at regular intervals throughout the day until 4:00 – 4:40 am.
Discovery of the Island of Spinalonga
Once on the Island of Spinalonga, you will have to buy an entrance ticket at the small kiosk for 8 euros. Crossing the arc, you immerse yourself in a world of narrow streets and colorful houses.
In some of them you can find ads with information about their former residents. It’s fascinating and rather sad, especially if you’ve read Hislop’s book.
Many Buildings have been restored, but other work is underway. When you leave the main settlement, take a walk at the foot of the hill and, looking up, you will see ruins stretching to the top.
Although most visitors seem to stay on the main trail below, the upper levels are accessible if you don’t mind climbing a few slopes and rocky steps.
I recommend the trip to Plaka and Elounda for a magnificent view of the bay. You will also have a bird’s eye view of the Spinalonga colony.
If you want to spend the night in Agios Nikolaos or combine your excursion to Spinalonga with a swim and lunch, there is a half-day excursion on site. Cost about 25-30 euros for a half-day cruise with stops for swimming and snorkeling, including lunch.