Elounda Holidays at a glance
On Crete's Eastern coast within striking distance of the resorts of Aghios Nicolaos, Hersonnisos, Malia and Heraklion, Elounda is the perfect holiday package all wrapped up: the high-quality accommodation is modern and comfortable; there's plenty going on and plenty to do; the beaches are good for swimming, snorkeling and diving, and views are fabulous - just perfect for settling back and letting all life's stresses and strains drift away on the harbour breeze.
Fishing boats are still a feature of this pretty place, sailing in and out all day while, just across the bay, the haunting island of Spinalonga beckons you to visit.
Elounda's heart beats in the main square, hemmed by restaurants, shops, bars and traditional tavernas, where you can make like a local and just watch the world go by, and where, after dark the party mood picks up. A favourite among the Greek glitterati, Elounda was the setting for the film "Who Pays the Ferryman".
Lively in high season, the resort enjoys less frenetic, more relaxed times during spring and early autumn.
Who holidays in Elounda?
Holidays to Elounda are ideally suited to families & couples wishing to relax amidst beautiful scenery.
Elounda Holidays - Destination Profile
A thriving town towards the Eastern tip of Greece's largest island - Crete, Elounda enjoys its proximity to the effervescent liveliness of Aghios Nicolaos, 12 kms away, but reserves a calm and classy air for its inhabitants within its attractive harbour setting. Nonetheless, in high season, things can get really busy and, since the 1960s, the resort has been a favourite amongst Greek's elite. More recently, it has enjoyed the attention of the likes of Lady Gaga and Leonardo di Caprio, but level-headed locals treat all visitors to the same warm welcome, famous or not, which is no doubt part of the attraction.
The town is located in a bay facing out towards Spinalonga Island. There are boat trips out to it, although it is connected to the mainland via a narrow causeway. The tavernas and cafes which line the harbour bay are the perfect place to while away a few hours in the heat of the day or the cool of the evening. People-watching is a national pastime, particularly over a strong coffee or an ouzo or two, and there's plenty of activity to observe in the height of summer. At night, this is the spot to increase the pace a little in some lively discos and bars, or enjoy a leisurely meal at your choice of restaurant, from the many whose lights twinkle in the inky dark.
Accommodation in the area comes in the form of luxury hotels along the seafront and more laid back, equally enjoyable self-catering holiday complexes around the area which are ideal for families and young people. With sandy beaches for sunbathing and watersports, and pebbly coves ideal for snorkelling and scuba diving, Elounda is a perfect pick for the holiday that has a bit of everything, suitable for all budgets and tastes.
Elounda Holidays - Things to see
Heraklion Archaeological Museum: This museum in Heraklion is renowned for its huge collection of Minoan treasures and artefacts and is the place to visit to become immersed in the ancient civilization which began on Crete and, for centuries, dominated the Aegean islands.
Chania: Stroll through the streets of Chania's old town, an intact neighbourhood of the original Venetian buildings. The fortifications date from the 13th century and its picturesque Venetian harbour is well worth seeing. Enter the 16th-century Venetian Church of San Francisco and lose yourself amid this vast collection of finds in the Archaeological Museum, dating from the neolithic to the Roman era. See jewellery, floor mosaics, statues, vases and painted sarcophai from a late Minoan cemetry. There is also a Naval museum, as well as the Historical Archives of Crete.
Cretaquarium: Situated at Gournes, 15 kms East of Heraklion is this huge indoor aquarium installed at a former US Air Force base. The artificial underwater world is home to over 2500 Mediterranean and tropical sea creatures with interactive educational multi-media activities. Buses run every 30 minutes from Heraklion
Dikteon Cave: According to legend, the infant Zeus was born in this cave, and hidden here to avoid him being eaten by his father Cronos. It has an upper and lower section and a huge stalagmite known as the Mantle of Zeus. It can be reached by a steep walk from the village of Psyhro, with some lovely views of the verdant plateau of Lasithi, or you can pay to go up on a mule.
Knossos Palace: The ruins and treasures of Knossos, in a beautiful spot 5 kms southeast of Heraklion, had lain buried for centuries, but were unearthed in 1900 by Sir Arthur Evans, a British Archaeologist who spent 35 years excavating and reconstructing the palace. It is the most popular of Crete's tourist attractions with thousands of visitors each year. Guided tours of roughly 90 mins introduce visitors to a fascinating insight into the sophistication of the Minoan civilisation which dominated Europe, ruling large parts of the Aegean, in the Bronze Age about 4000 years ago.
Nikos Kazantzakis Museum, Myrtia: Dedicated to the author of Zorba the Greek, here you can listen to a short documentary about Kazantzakis before scrutinizing film posters, letters, photographs and other personal effects of Crete's most famous writer. Afterwards, enjoy a coffee in one of the many kafeneios surrounding Myrtia's town square.
Samaria Gorge: Slicing through the White Mountains, or Lefka Ori - of Crete, this is reputedly the longest gorge in Europe and second in the world only to the Grand Canyon. It was made a national park in 1962 in order to protect the endangered kri-kri, a timid wild goat, which lives in the gorge. An area of outstanding scenic beauty, the gorge teems with wildlife including an incredible wildflower display in spring months.
Spinalonga Island: Made famous when used as the setting for the film Who Pays the Ferryman? thousands of visitors come every year to see the ruins of the Venetian Fortress and former Leper colony. There are frequent boat trips here from Elounda.
Zakros and the Valley of the Dead: Situated at the eastern end of Crete, the village of Zakros is the starting point for a trail through Zakros Gorge, otherwise known as Valley for the Dead, due to the abundance of caves which are ancient burial sites. Follow it down to Kato Zakros, on the coast, for some spectacular scenery culminating in the partly submerged ruins of the Minoan Zakros Palace and a pebble beach where tavernas provide refreshments.
Things to do on a Holiday in Elounda
Popular activities in Elounda include:-
- Jet skiing
- Scuba diving
- Rock climbing
- Walking and hiking
Great Excursions during Elounda Holidays
Make your holidays to Elounda extra special by booking one of our wonderful excursions. We have a range of options selected to cater for all interests. Some of our most popular are:-
Chrissi Island: An exceptional day to a tropical paradise set in the crystal clear waters of the Libyan sea. Sunbathe on the unusual coloured sand of one of the beautiful beaches.
Unknown Crete: Travel through unspoilt villages where donkeys are still a favoured form of transport. Visit a local winery and see how wine is made. You will be able to try some and buy a bottle or two afterwards.
Cretan Night: If you like nothing better than to eat, drink and dance, then this is the trip for you. On this night out, you will be transported into a world of Cretan entertainment and merry-making as only the Greeks know how.
Lutra and Samaria Gorge Ferry trip: On this Olympic Holidays excursion, you will travel to the gorge by ferry, stopping en route at a village called Lutra which is accessible only by boat.
Jeep Safari: Travel off the beaten track through traditional mountain villages - a chance to pick up the authentic Greek flavour.
Spinalonga Island: Made famous as the setting for the film Who Pays the Ferryman?, Spinalonga island attracts thousands of visitors every year to see the ruins of the Venetian Fortress and its leper colony. Hop on a boat to the island and take your time exploring or find a quiet, sunny spot for restful day away in the sun, tucking into the authentic Greek barbecue and taking a quick dip before heading back.
Beach Party: Join your Olympic Reps on a private sandy beach for an afternoon partying in the sun. An hour and half of free drinks will have everyone in the mood for some wickedly wild games.
Don't miss out; talk to your Olympic rep at the welcome get-together the day after your arrival.
Eating/Drinking During Elounda Holidays
Cretans eat anything that their rich soil produces, and so they consume a lot of fruit, vegetables, greens, fresh produce, legumes, cheese and bread. Herbs such as oregano are frequently used, and desserts are sweetened with honey and molasses. The excellent local wine will often be the accompaniment to their meal.
Elounda is blessed with a large number of inexpensive restaurants and tavernas for eating out, offering traditional, wholesome recipes, using pure, natural local ingredients - a part of your Elounda holiday to relish.
Getting Around on Elounda Holidays
Boat: Several boats operate on day trips to offshore islands or isolated beaches as well as to the enchanting island of Santorini.
Bus: For the free and easy, public buses are still an excellent means to explore Crete, as they are inexpensive, relatively frequent and provide connections to all but the most isolated villages. There are frequent buses from Aghios Nicolaos to Elounda, one of the loveliest routes in Crete, due to the view of the coastline and Mirabello Bay.
Taxi: Similarly, getting around by taxi on your Crete holiday is cheap and convenient and adaptable to your own schedule. Be sure to confirm the price in advance, though, rather than allowing your journey to be metered.
Car: An excellent way of getting around during Elounda holidays is car hire which allows you complete flexibility on your holiday in Elounda. If you opt for car hire, which can be arranged when you book your choice of Elounda Hotels, and you'll be able to reach some of the places away from public transport routes. From to Elounda, Heraklion is just over an hour's drive; it's about 2.5 hours to Rethymnon and 3 to 3.5 hours to Chania.
Elounda Holidays Shopping
Popular purchases for those taking Elounda holidays include:-
- Tsikoudia or Raki local high street spirit
- Traditional woven fabrics, Cretan Rugs and Blankets
- Locally produced Olive Oil
Elounda Holidays - Beaches
Elounda's main town beaches: Situated in the centre of town adjacent to the harbour is a beach equipped with sunloungers and parasols with a lifeguard on duty. It has an abundance of cafeterias, restaurants and hotels nearby. There is a further beach to the eastern end of the town, similarly well-equipped but smaller.
Kolokytha Beach: On the Kolokytha Peninsula, the beach can be reached by crossing the narrow isthmus occupied by windmills and heading for the small church of Agios Loukas. Here a small path will take you down to this uncrowded little beach. Between 12 and 3, however, the peace is periodically broken by the arrival of a boat returning from Spinalonga island. There is an area of flat rock to the northwest where the boats moor, which is favoured by nudists.
Driros Beach: A lovely spot backed by pine trees and views of Spinalonga island situated a few kms north of Elounda, here you will find sun loungers and a cafe with tables and chairs on a wooden jetty. Watersports are also available here.
Plaka: A little further on past Driros beach are two picturesque pebbly beaches with crystal clear waters. The beach of Agia Marina, named after the nearby Byzantine church, in front of a large hotel, has big pebbles and deep waters. Access is via a small path alongside the church cemetery. West of the village is the Plaka beach which is well organized with tavernas within walking distance.
Malia Beaches: Malia is the place to go for a good choice of sandy beaches and these range from the busy Dolphin and Agapi beaches at the bottom of Beach Road where you'll find sun loungers and water sports, to the larger and quieter Tropical Beach - a popular choice with families. All offer snacks and drinks and there are 3 or 4 watersports centres in the area.
Preveli Beach: Situated in Rethymnon, this is one of Crete's most attractive beaches. It boasts crystal clear waters and palm trees. The bed of the Kourtaliotis River ends up here, forming natural pools among the boulders.
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