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Elounda

Elounda: Traditional Resort experience combination

Elounda, in Lassithi District, is a picturesque fishing village located on the eastern coast of Crete, approximately 70 km east of Heraklion and 11 km north of Agios Nikolaos, offering a traditional Greek resort experience without the crowds. Its location on Mirabello Bay offers breathtaking views of turquoise waters and rolling hills. This destination effortlessly combines history, natural beauty, and modern amenities, making it a favorite among travelers seeking a perfect blend of tranquility and adventure.

A journey through time

Elounda’s past whispers through its cobbled streets and historical sites.

The submerged remnants of the ancient city of Olous or Olounda, a significant trading center from 500 BC to 200 BC, lie just offshore, waiting to be explored by divers.

According to archeologists, the city had an estimated population of over 30.000 and was one of the most significant ancient city-states of the Minoan era that was minting its own coins.

From the coins, they distinguished the forms of Zeus with an eagle and Artemis Vritomatris, and they speculated that they were the Gods worshiped in this area.

Ancient Olous was connected with other ancient city-states in the area.

After some boundary disputes with Ancient Lato, they entered into an alliance treaty, while some ancient texts uncover mentions of trading relationships with Knossos and Rhodes Island.

During the Byzantine and Roman eras, the city-state flourished and was used as a commercial hub.

The period of its prosperity was seized by a combination of the Corsair Arab era and a devastating earthquake in 780 AD, forcing its inhabitants to seek refuge inland.

During the Venetian era, the harbor was restored to its former glory, even though the city was in ruins, making good use of its location and its saltpans.

Salt has been a prized product since the Roman Empire, and, as surprising as it may sound, it is connected with the current word for monthly payment, “sallary.”

It was so valuable that often soldiers were paid with salt, which was used as a way of trading products instead of coins.

Elounda: Saltpans
Elounda: Saltpans

The name Elonda (without the letter u) was a small change from its former name mentioned in Venetian documents.

Despite the protection of the Venetian Republic, the harbor goods were constantly a pirate target, forcing the Venetians to build the Fortress on Spinalonga to secure and protect the Mirabello Gulf from raids.

It was so well fortified that it was given to the Turks when the hope of taking back Crete was lost after 70 years of Ottoman occupation.

Today, Elounda is one of the most famous resort areas, providing luxurious amenities while keeping its tradition alive.

Elounda's Treasures

Beyond its historical significance, Elounda offers a plethora of activities for every kind of traveler.

In its vicinity, there are many beaches for a leisurely day under the sun, like Elounda Beach and Kolokitha Beach.

Hike or bike through the scenic landscapes surrounding Elounda, or try your hand at watersports like kayaking and paddleboarding.

There are many trails that you can discover and walk while admiring the views of the area.

Elounda: Kolokitha Beach
Elounda: Kolokitha Beach
Agios Nikolaos
Agios Nikolaos

A few minutes away (by car) is the village of Plaka, where you can take a small boat in order to visit the islet of Spinalonga, which was turned from a fortress into a leper community from 1903 until 1957.

It is so well maintained, and the breathtaking views of the Mirabello Gulf make it one of the most famous destinations in Crete.

Agios Nikolaos, the capital of Lassithi district, is a ten-minute drive away.

Strolling through the city’s graphic streets or having a meal at Voulismeni Lake is also a priceless experience.

Another nearby destination is Kritsa village. What makes Kritsa special is the preservation of the traditional Cretan lifestyle, which attracts dozens of visitors.

The scenic narrow streets, the blooming yards, the textile shops, the traditional coffee shops, the folklore collections, and the Byzantine temples can easily give the settlement the characterization of an open folklore and historical museum about Crete.

A similar destination can be considered the village of Epano (up) Elounda.

Kritsa Village: Traditional Alleyway
Kritsa Village: Traditional Alleyway

Indulge Your Senses: Food and Amenities in Elounda

Elounda caters to diverse preferences, providing a range of accommodations from luxury resorts to charming boutique hotels.

Visitors can indulge in spa treatments, private beach access, and world-class amenities at many Elounda establishments, ensuring a comfortable and memorable stay.

Having Mirabello Gulf as its frontyard, Elounda has become a haven for discerning travelers, including prime ministers, Arab princes, and other distinguished guests seeking a luxurious Cretan escape. Which is not to say that ordinary mortals, like you and me, are not welcome too!

For couples seeking a romantic escape or a tranquil retreat, the adults-only Kalypso Suites Hotel offers an oasis of serenity and sophistication.

This elegant property exudes a refined character, boasting luxurious amenities and impeccable service.

Guests can indulge in uninterrupted relaxation on private balconies overlooking the breathtaking panorama of the Mirabello Gulf or venture out to explore the nearby beaches.

Elounda: Kalypso Suites Hotel
Elounda: Kalypso Suites Hotel
Elounda: Kalypso Suites Hotel
Elounda: Kalypso Suites Hotel
Elounda: Alykes Hotel (Alikes Hotel)
Elounda: Alykes Hotel (Alikes Hotel)

Families or those seeking a traditional Cretan experience might find themselves drawn to the Alikes Suites & Studios (a 4-star hotel).

This charming property is renowned for its warm hospitality, offering a welcoming atmosphere that embodies the essence of Cretan culture.

The hotel’s proximity to the sea provides easy access to the refreshing waters of the Mediterranean, while its convenient location allows guests to explore the heart of Elounda with ease.

Elounda offers a delightful array of experiences to cater to various preferences. Whether you seek luxurious pampering or a taste of traditional Cretan culture, you’ll find something to tantalize your senses. 

Elounda: Moon Spinners Restaurant
Elounda: Moon Spinners Restaurant

Elounda’s culinary scene is a haven for both casual and discerning palates.

From traditional tavernas serving fresh seafood caught by local fishermen to upscale restaurants offering gourmet experiences, every tastebud is catered to.

For an unforgettable dining experience, be sure to visit Moon Spinners, a renowned restaurant perched on a platform overlooking the sparkling sea.

This award-winning establishment boasts breathtaking panoramic views and an exquisite menu featuring the finest locally sourced ingredients, prepared with a touch of culinary artistry.

Moon Spinners offers a unique and luxurious dining experience that perfectly complements the sophisticated ambiance of Elounda.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN elounda

Explore the charming harbor
Take a boat trip to Spinalonga
Visit the windmills
Relax on the beach
Visit Agios Nikolaos
Photograhy
Trail Trekking iat Kolokitha Peninsula
Enjoy local food
Explore Nearby Traditional Villages

How to Get There

By car:

Getting to Elounda by car is a convenient and efficient option for visitors. The town is easily accessible via a well-maintained road. Here’s how to get to Elounda by car:

From Heraklion: Take the national road 090 from Heraklion to Agios Nikolaos and follow it until you reach Vrouchas/ Vraouhas intersection. From there turn left and follow the road Agios Nikolaos- Vrouchas until you see the signs for Elounda. The journey from Heraklion to Elounda should take approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes.
From Agios Nikolaos, you get to Elounda by following the new road of Agios Nikolaos- Vrouchas or the old one (which leads you to the new), until you see the signs for Elounda. The journey is almost 15 minutes.

We recommend using GPS for your travels in Crete.

By bus: 

If you’re riding the bus, there are direct bus schedules from either Heraklion or Agios Nikolaos central bus station. These are the KTEL buses (big ones)

Taxi:

Of course, there is the option to use a cab or another private transfer. We were unsure about the pricing of this service. Be mindful and ask for the price beforehand.

Conclusion

Elounda beckons with an irresistible blend of luxury, history, and natural beauty. Whether you seek relaxation on pristine beaches, exploration of ancient wonders, or indulgence in world-class amenities, this captivating destination offers an unforgettable experience.
Beyond the curated experiences, embrace the essence of Crete. Venture beyond the tourist trail, immerse yourself in the slower pace of life, and connect with the warmth of Cretan hospitality. Uncover hidden gems, savor authentic flavors, and discover the true spirit of the island. Elounda awaits, ready to unveil its magic and create memories that will linger long after your departure.

ADDITIONAL TIPS FOR AN ENJOYABLE VISIT TO elounda

A relaxing resort!
At Elounda, you don't have to worry too much about huge crowds and queueing. There are plenty beaches, restaurants and amenities for everyone! Take some time and enjoy your vacations!
Exploration!
You can explore the Kolokitha Peninsula and discover secret beaches, churches, and ruins.
Take day trips!
Elounda is a great spot to use as a base of operations. Take day trips to Spinalonga island, Agios Nikolaos and many more destinations nearby!
Local Cuisine Exploration!
While a dinner at a taverna is essential, consider trying local delicacies. Ask for recommendations, and try foods that highlight the region's characteristics.
imagination!
Just a stroll or a hike along Elounda's shores will take you back on a journey in time. Try to imagine the past of the land and explore its hidden treasures!
Respect the Environment!
Help preserve the natural beauty of Mirabello Gulf and the coastal areas by being mindful of the environment. Dispose of waste properly and adhere to designated paths. Sustainable tourism ensures that this pristine landscape remains unspoiled for future visitors.
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