Scenic holidays: Even though holidays to Elounda have grown in popularity in recent years, the resort has still managed to retain a quaint rustic charm all of its own. From the dusty, sun-baked hills dotted with green shrubs, to the cobbled roads and white sugar cube houses overflowing with vines, Elounda holidays will give you a taste of the Greece of old.
Day trips and excursions: Another attraction of Elounda 2012 is the fact that it’s a little like two holidays in one. That’s because Spinalonga is very nearby – it’s an intriguing island where the Venetians built a huge fortress back in the 16th century, and it was later used as the last remaining leper colony in Europe. Today, it’s a major tourist attraction which has appeared in films, novels and TV series.
Venetian Fortress: This impressive citadel is actually located on the nearby island of Spinalonga, but because Elounda is the closest holiday resort to the island we thought we’d mention it here. This dusky beige fort consisting of rough cobblestones and culminating in a curved watchtower at the top of the hill was built in 1579, as an important strategic defence against invaders from the sea.
Abandoned Leper Colony: It’s easy to see why Spinalonga is such a draw for tourists on holidays in Elounda as it has not one, but two major attractions in the area. Spinalonga was used as a leper colony from 1903 to 1957 when thankfully improvements in medicine helped to reduce the frequency of the disease in Europe. However, you can still wander the ruins of the old leper village today and explore the tunnel entrance known as Dante’s Gate, as well as the cobbled stone leper hospital.
Activities in Elounda
Spinalonga: As we’ve mentioned previously, this island is a must-visit if you’re having your holidays in Elounda. It’s only 2km away too, making excursions to Spinalonga quick and easy. The island boasts a number of attractions, including the Venetian Fortress and the ruins of the old leper village. It has a magical draw of its own, with many works of fiction, including Victoria Hislop’s bestselling entire book The Island, being set here.
Elounda Harbour: Whilst on your holidays in Elounda you’re sure to see the pretty little harbour which lines the waterfront in the centre of town. It’s a wonderful spot to sit and rest and take in the amazing views of the cool blue Mediterranean, watching village fishermen sailing in traditional wooden boats.
Elounda Thalassotherapy Centre: This water-therapy centre is actually part of the Blue Palace Resort hotel in Elounda, which offers luxury all inclusive holidays. But you’re free to visit its spa, even if you’re not having your holidays at the hotel. Unwind with invigorating treatments such as hydromassages, sea water baths and water jets.
Beaches in Elounda
Elounda Lagoon: Lagoons are often thought of as peaceful, protected sections of water of mesmerising beauty, and that’d certainly be an apt way to describe the Elounda Lagoon. It’s covered by a long headland that ensures waters remain calm even during windy weather, making the beach here ideal for children who wish to swim on their holidays.
Schisma Beach: Just a little further south, Schisma is Elounda’s closest neighbouring town. Alongside a scattering of shops it has one of the region’s most charming beaches, consisting of soft golden sand backed with huge palm trees. It also has plenty of sun beds and parasols for hire – essential for avoiding sandy towels and sunburnt skin during beach holidays!
Driros Beach: One of the prettiest spots you’ll see on Elounda holidays, this sand-and-shingle beach is located between Schisma and Plaka. The beach has a dense forestry of cypress and olive trees, with the lightly coloured sand leading to shallow turquoise waters. You’ll also enjoy a great view of the hilltop fortresses on Spinalonga Island.
Restaurants in Elounda
Ferryman Taverna: This rustically styled wooden tavern has one big claim to fame – it was a setting for the famous 1977 BBC series ‘Who Pays The Ferryman’. This has attracted many people on holidays in Elounda to visit, but luckily there’s a lot more substance to this restaurant than just an incredibly picturesque location.
Lotus Eaters: This particularly popular restaurant also serves a high standard of traditional Greek cuisine. Try filling meals like a thick meat stew named stifado or grilled sea bream rubbed with sea salt. We must mention the view from the terrace too – it takes in all the surrounding mountains layered with the horizon of the shimmering sea for paradisiacal scenery on your holidays.
Ergospasio Restaurant: The Greeks take great pride in their cuisine, as you’ll see in the sheer number of authentic restaurants and tavernas available on holidays in Crete. Ergospasio is another excellent example, with it offering classic Greek meze of stuffed vine leaves, rosemary lamb and fresh chicken stew.
Nightlife in Elounda
Understated holidays: The nightlife on Elounda holidays is certainly not as lively as more notoriously raucous Malia holidays and Hersonissos holidays. However, there is a good selection of sophisticated cocktail bars and charming little taverns. Relax with a cool drink in hand at the waterfront by the harbour, or mingle with the chic and stylish at the bars and discos at the luxury hotels offering all inclusive holidays in the area.
The Argos Bar in the Elounda Gulf Villas Hotel is a perfect example, with its sleek metallic bar, polished woodwork and soft lighting. And you’re free to visit these bars and clubs even if you’re having all inclusive holidays at the hotels. It’s not all about dressy adults-only establishments either; there are some fabulous family-focused bars too, like Aligos Bar, which has a friendly atmosphere and huge TV screens which play all the latest action from Sky Sports.
Shopping in Elounda
Souvenir shopping: Elounda holidays have become rather popular in recent years, and this is reflected in the numbers of souvenir shops that have been popping up around the waterfront. They sell the kind of items you’d expect from such places, including swimwear, handmade ornaments and plenty of postcards! Perhaps a more memorable souvenir to pick up from holidays here would be from the wonderfully diverse cuisine of Crete, and indeed Greece as a whole.
Look out for Oliva, a charming shop on the main road of Elounda which sells its extra virgin olive oil made from its own press. Carati is a great place to go for exceptionally high-quality jewellery and there’s even a fascinating and eclectic bookshop (with lots of literature in English) named Eklektos.