Elounda village and the Island of Crete
Elounda (in Greek: Ελούντα), alternative transliterations (Elounta or Elouda), is a small fishing town on the northern coast of the island of Crete, Greece. It is part of the municipality of Agios Nikolaos. Elounda is located in east Crete, north of Agios Nikolaos and south of the seaside resort of Plaka. Elounda was once a picturesque fishing village in the lovely Mirabello Bay. The inhabitants lived from farming, fishing, salt extraction from the Venetian saltpans, and emery mining
The road to Elounda from Agios Nikolaos is approximately 12 km in length and follows the shore as it climbs to the top of a small mountain. The view from the top is incomparable; on a clear day it is possible to see the whole Mirabello Bay and all the way to the eastern tip of Crete.
It is also the closest major town to the former leper colony of Spinalonga (Greek: Σπιναλόγκα), located on an island officially named Kalydon (Greek: Καλυδών). In 1579, the Venetians built a mighty fortress on the island on the ruins of an ancient acropolis. The Venetians kept control of the island even after the rest of Crete fell to the Ottoman Empire in 1669 and it remained under their domination for almost another half a century until its capitulation in 1715. Spinalonga Island is notable for being the last active leper colony from 1903 until 1957. Today, it is uninhabited and is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the area.
On the elouhills around Elounda, exists a mineral unique to Greece, “akonopetra” or whetstone, a type of fine emery used to make whetstones and emery paper to hone tools used in many different jobs. The emery of Elounda had long been known in Europe by the name of “Turkey stones” or “Naxos stone”.
The small fishing village of Plaka, which overlooks the island of Spinalonga and Kolokitha Peninsula, can be reached by sea, 5 km from the main square of Elounda heading north from Agios Nikolaos. Elounda is a famous tourist attraction, heavily visited by VIPs for its seaside luxury resorts. Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou used to spend his summers in Elounda; today, it is visited almost every year by the royal family of Saudi Arabia. In 1984, the President of France, Francois Mitterrand and Colonel Muammar Gaddafi of Libya met in a luxurious Elounda resort to discuss conflict resolution in Chad. Elounda was also the favorite resort of Kostas Simitis, recent Greek Prime Minister.
Once discovered by tourism, Elounda has been developed into a resort famous for its beautiful scenery and the luxury hotels which are still being built in the area. It is said to be the place with the most five-star hotels in Greece.
History of Elounda
The earliest recorded settlement at Elounda was the ancient Greek city of Olous, whose people were in intermittent conflict with the citizens of Dorian Lato, until a peace treaty was eventually reached. Elounda has a later history as part of the Venetian era. Elounda has changed considerably during its lifespan. The bulk of the ancient city of Olous was reclaimed by the sea towards the end of the Ancient Greek period and is still visible, in part, when diving in the bay of Elounda. During the early 1900s, Elounda acted as a stopping off point for lepers being transported to the leper colony at Spinalonga. The archaeological site of Olous is submerged near Elounda's salt flats and can still be seen today.
Elounda is ideal for people who want a seaside holiday in a place which is neither too busy nor too isolated.
Tourists can visit the island of Spinalonga, walk along the peninsula of Kolokytha (the word means “gourd” or “pumpkin”), discover small, pretty beaches and explore the many little villages far from the sea, offering a window into times gone by. Elounda is not for those looking for a hectic nightlife, nor for those who prefer the isolated beaches of southern Crete.
People might think that with so many luxury hotels, Elounda is the priciest place in Crete for a holiday. It’s a reasonable assumption, but not true. Prices in Elounda are much like those in the rest of Crete in the smaller hotels, apartments for rent, restaurants and cafeterias.
Public transport to Elounda
Bus service in Elounda is operated by the KTEL (Greek: ΚΤΕΛ) bus company, with scheduled services running between Plaka and Agios Nikolaos throughout the day.
There are frequent buses from Agios Nikolaos to Elounda, while it will take you about 15 minutes to drive there in your car. The route from Agios Nikolaos to Elounda is one of the loveliest in Crete, due to the view of the coastline and Mirabello Bay. From Heraklion to Elounda is just over an hour’s drive. Take the National Road east to Agios Nikolaos and turn left from the traffic lights to Elounda just before entering the town. Allow approximately 2.5 hours to get to Elounda from Rethymno and 3-3.5 hours from Chania.
Some more info.. The four villages of Elounda are spread out along the lower slopes of the mountain. Up(Pano) and down(Kato) Elounda, Mavrikiano and the new settlement of Skisma , the port of Elounda, bask in the glorious sea as it opens up before them offering its beauty and charm. The area’s diversity is offering a wide range of perspectives to the visitor who has a number of choices to choose from, which makes this destination popular for many reasons.
Elounda was selected for the filming of the popular BBC television series “Who Pays the Ferryman” in the late 1970s. It is the setting for the Belinda Jones novel “Out of the Blue”. It also features in Victoria’s Hislop novel “The Island”, which has also been adapted for Greek television, as a mini series starting in October 2010.
“The Island”. Also see the Moon spinners by Disney. Along with “The Island”, by Victoria Hislop there is also available a much more substantial work on the same subject called YANNIS by Beryl Darby who also wrote the first guide book to Spinalonga.
Elounda things to do
In the area of Elounda, travelers can find a wide range of shops selling local products such as the excellent Cretan honey, the famous Cretan Wines and a variety of the most tasteful local cheeses.
A wide range of shops selling leather goods of high quality can be found as well, for the lovers of the kind and not only.
Cretan’s diet consists of fruits, vegetables, groceries, legumes, varieties of cheese, olive oil and bread, of the best quality. Taste all the local traditional recipes. Appetizers and dishes like rusks, honey and cheese, pies from Sfakia, grass pies, cream cheese, boiled snails, staka, stuffed vine leaves, rabbit casserole, patty, Sfakiani casserole are only a few of the tastes you will never forget.
Outdoor adventurers, can be revitalized through Active holidays and various Outdoor Activities by joining Cretan Adventures in the nature and the history of Crete, the island of contrasts.
Rock Climbing in Crete means an extraordinary combination of holidays with this unique fun activity, which builds group spirit and self-confidence on mountain crags, beach cliffs and beautiful traverses right above the waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Canyoning in Crete, for the adventure lovers. The most extreme canyoning experience in Greece is here in Crete. Waterfalls and high vertical rocks, canyons shaped like a blow with an axe, await Cretan Adventurers to cross their deep soul.
With the gentle whir of our pedaling, we enjoy the spectacular views and smells of Crete’s and Greece's countryside with a mountain bike.
Caving in Crete
Caves have always been a part of Greek Mythology and History, from the birth of Zeus, the Father of Gods, to the most recent European History.
More..You can also live the amazing experience of crossing gorges through the actual rivers. An activity with plenty of swimming, easy and short climbing and a lot of fun. Or an amazing group jeep safari. Take a horse-riding lesson or discover Crete’s countryside by our horseback riding trips, accompanied by professional guides. Special trips and excursions for children and teenagers, young explorers, aiming to come closer to Cretan nature and history through various outdoor and entertaining activities.
The enchanting Island of Crete is a popular tourist destination therefore transport connections to the island are excellent. One can reach the island of Crete in the following ways:
Charter Flights to Crete
Charter Flights are a popular way to reach the island of Crete from most European countries. Especially during the summer season (April-October) there are numerous direct flights from many countries in Europe to Heraklion.
Whichbudget.com : Flights to Crete, including scheduled, charter and low cost.
Alternativeairlines.com : Flights to Crete, including scheduled, charter and low cost airlines.
Justtheflight.co.uk : Flights from the UK and from Ireland to Crete.
Charterflights.co.uk : Charter Flights to Crete.
Thomsonfly.com : Flights from England to Crete.
Jet2.com : Budget airline from Leeds and Bradford airport to Heraklion.
Budgetair.ie : Flights from Ireland to Heraklion.
Scheduled Flights transiting through Athens
Travelers can reach the island of Crete through Athens International Airport, "Eleftherios Venizelos" with numerous connecting flights to Heraklion. From Athens:
Aegean Airlines: www.aegeanair.com
Olympic Air: www.olympicair.com
The nearest to hotels international airport is the Heraklion "Kazantzakis" airport - code: HER. The island of Crete has also a regional airline called SkyExpress connecting the island with other islands in Greece.
Heraklion Airport: http://www.hcaa-eleng.gr/herakdat.htm
Unique sea view holiday houses in the greek island of Crete!
Magic swimming pool villas at Elounda at Mirabello bay!
Vacations of style to remember!