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Elounda, Crete

Elounda, Crete

by Julie Ryan

Situated on the stunningly beautiful Gulf of Mirabello, on the North-Eastern coast of Crete, Elounda has grown from a pretty little fishing village to a bustling small town. Its success is due in no small part to the fortress island and former leper colony of Spinalonga, which holds sentinel over the town. Beryl Darby’s ‘Yannis’ and of course, ‘The Eagle of Spinalonga are both fictionalised accounts of the island’s history but it is Victoria’s Hislop’s book, ‘The Island’ which has caught the imagination of visitors and locals alike. When it was serialised for Greek TV, the villages of Pano Elounda and Plaka just down the coast were used with facades of the house fronts as sets for the street scenes. Sadly, these have now been removed but many of the locals took part as extras. You can catch a boat trip to the island from the main harbour.

Spinalonga, Crete

Today there is much building in the hills above the town of luxurious multi-million pound villas for Russian Oligarchs and along with the five star hotels, Elounda attracts American film stars and Greek politicians. Scratch beneath the surface however, and it is still very much a working town where you can catch glimpses of a more traditional Greek way of life. The little fishing boats in the scenic harbour are not just for decoration, but in time-honoured fashion, bring in the day’s catch to supply the local restaurants and tavernas. The fish and seafood here are especially good and if you choose wisely, not over-priced.

Elounda, Crete

The town is centred around a main square where you will find the taxi rank and the bus stop. There are regular buses to the local capital, Agios Nikalaos and for less then 2 euros, the bus passes some most stunning scenic views on the thirty- minute journey. There are also buses to Plaka where you will find some fabulous fish tavernas and some interesting souvenir shops. Plaka is also the closest point to Spinalonga as well as being the cheapest boat crossing.

The Square is a great place for people watching. You couldn’t be anywhere other than Greece when you see a motorcyclist, no helmet, one hand on the handle, the other clutching a cup of coffee as he engages in a conversation on his mobile phone.

From Elounda’s Square, if you continue following the sea past the seafood restaurants, you come to a causeway. In the shallows lies the sunken city of Olous, a Greco-Roman city of archaeological importance but unless you are a diver there is very little to see from the surface. Continue over the artificial canal and just past ‘to Kanali’ restaurant there is a little footpath leading to an early Christian Basilica of which a mosaic remains portraying frolicking dolphins.

Elounda, Crete

If you want an afternoon’s sightseeing or wish to orient yourself, there is a land train, which leaves at midday from the children’s park. This four-hour trip takes you to Plaka, then to the mountain villages of Vrouchas and Seles with time for lunch in a local taverna.

Elounda doesn’t have many sandy beaches – there is a small beach by the harbour and a few of the big hotels have their own beach where you can rent sunbeds but most of the coast is rocky. With the mountains behind to protect it from the worst of the weather, Elounda enjoys a mild climate. With its picture postcard beauty, vibrant atmosphere and fascinating history, it’s hardly surprising that it attracts people from all walks of life from all over the world.

There are plenty of great places to eat but one of my favourite is Kanali, a fifteen-minute walk over the causeway with waterside tables for a lovely atmosphere. The restaurant specialises in fish and seafood so it is not cheap but not too expensive and the shrimp spaghetti  is exceptional. The 'shrimp' were larger than king prawns;  the size of baby lobsters! Also a  family restaurant in town, To Paradosiako, - on the corner as the road divides, is recommended for typical Greek food, well cooked at reasonable prices.

Julie Ryan is a member of Matt Barrett's Greece Travel Guides Group on Facebook and has a blog where she write about places she has visited. She has also written three novels set in Greece inspired by the time she lived there in the eighties.

Elounda Hotels

Elounda Mare Hotel, Crete

Elounda Mare Relais & Châteaux Hotel

Elounda Mare Relais & Châteaux Hotel features a sauna and fitness center. The resort has an outdoor pool and views of the sea, and guests can enjoy a drink at the bar. Free WiFi is featured throughout the property and free private parking is available on site. A flat-screen TV and DVD player, as well as a CD player are available. Some rooms have a sitting area where you can relax. A balcony or patio are featured in certain rooms. All rooms have a private bathroom. For your comfort, you will find bathrobes, slippers and free toiletries. There is a gift shop at the property. This resort has a private beach area and car rental is available.

Blue Palace Resort, Crete

Blue Palace Resort

Showcasing a seasonal outdoor pool and playground, Blue Palace, a Luxury Collection Resort and Spa, Crete is located in Elounda. The resort has a sun terrace and views of the sea, and guests can enjoy a drink at the bar. Free private parking is available on site. A flat-screen TV and DVD player, as well as a CD player are available. Certain rooms include a sitting area to relax in after a busy day. A balcony or patio are featured in certain rooms. The rooms are equipped with a private bathroom. Extras include bathrobes, slippers and free toiletries. There is a hairdresser's on the property. This resort has a private beach area and bike rental and car rental are available.

Porto Eloundo

Porto Elounda Golf & Spa Resort

Porto Elounda Golf & Spa Resort features a sauna and a private beach area. The resort has an outdoor pool, playground and sun terrace, and guests can enjoy a meal at the restaurant. Free private parking is available on site. Every room comes with a flat-screen TV with satellite channels and DVD player. Certain accommodations feature a sitting area for your convenience. Certain rooms have views of the sea or pool. All rooms are equipped with a private bathroom. For your comfort, you will find bathrobes and slippers. Bike rental and car rental are available at this resort and the area is popular for biking.

Elounda Krini Hotel

Elounda Krini Hotel

Just 200 metres from Elounda Beach in Crete, Elounda Krini Hotel features free WiFi, a restaurant and buffet breakfast. Rooms have a balcony overlooking the Cretan Sea or the mountains and pool. The air-conditioned rooms at Elounda Krini feature a satellite TV. All rooms have access to the hotel gardens. Each provides a private bathroom with shower. A free fridge is included. Lunch and dinner are served at the restaurant and include local and international dishes. Guests can have drinks, coffee and snacks at the pool bar in the garden. Staff at the 24-hour front desk can offer information on boat trips to the nearby Spinaloga Island.

Elounda Suites

Elounda Garden Suites

Elounda Garden Suites is a beautiful beachfront site in Elounda, Crete – a privileged destination worldwide and certainly, among the leading destinations in the Mediterranean. Laying softly on a exqisite location, totally bathed in the warm Cretan sunlight, Elounda Garden Suites offering marvelous landscape views. Elounda Garden Suites will be, beyond doubt, your preferred vacation option, allowing a restful holiday escape in a place of exceptional beauty, combined with high-end services and great value for money.

For more hotels, villas, self-catering apartments and holiday homes use Matt's Elounda Accommodation Search

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