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Everything you Need to Know About Elounda

Everything you Need to Know About Elounda

Taking a holiday to the sunny beaches of Crete is one of life’s greatest pleasures. If you’re yet to experience its charms, we explain why a break in laid-back yet enticing Elounda is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. It’s a small coastal town in the north of the island, formed by a handful of classic fishing villages merging together. There’s more than meets the eye to Elounda, so we’ve put together a quick rundown of the town’s best bits.

Understanding the appeal

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Looking at a map of Crete, you’ll find Elounda in the northeast, close to Mirabello Bay. While the island itself is as famous for secluded shores as it is upbeat nightlife, Elounda fits neatly in between as not too quiet but not too hectic, with a population of around 2,000. It’s developed a unique character thanks to a distinctive mix of history and natural beauty – sitting on the natural lagoon that is the Gulf of Korfos.

Modern Elounda is a classic Greek-styled town of boxy colourful houses scattered down the hillside by the shore. In contrast to its sleepy appearance, Elounda actually boasts countless luxury hotels and resorts, and has garnered a reputation as a secretive stomping ground for celebrities looking for a break off the beaten track. Leonardo DiCaprio and Lady Gaga are just two of the famous faces sighted here over Elounda’s tenure as a tourist’s delight.

There’s a rich and earthy realism in Elounda as it lacks the brashness of neon-lit locales or the empty solitude of more hidden retreats. Another selling point is Elounda’s pristine strip of shore to the town’s north. Holding year-round appeal, it’s secluded by natural woodland just enough to be away from fierce sunlight, yet open enough to welcome sunbathers and watersports fans galore. Finally, the beach stretches for a quarter of a kilometre, is Blue Flag accredited, and promises plenty of peace.

Discovering Elounda’s foundations

Elounda is home to two of Crete’s most important ancient sites. Once part of the same territory as the ancient Greek city of Olous, this metropolis of a bygone age is now long lost to the sea. Huge stone windmills have been brought up from the seabed and are displayed as a reminder of what lies submerged, which you can dive down to explore.

Head out by boat on top of the waves and you’ll reach the island of Spinalonga, which has been free of permanent human habitation since the 1950s, but before this was one of the last remaining leper colonies in Europe. And even further back it was the site of fortifications under the rule of Venice.

But today Spinalonga is considered more a place to get away from it all. You can still wander the streets of the leper colony, visit the ruins of the fortress, and even climb it for a superb view of the bay. Spinalonga Island also proves popular with families for its pebble beaches and shallow water, perfect for plucky paddlers.

Local culture and cosy nights

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While good bus links get you to nearby towns like Plaka and Aghios Nikolaos for a handful of euros and around 20 minutes on the road, there’s enough going on in downtempo Elounda to keep you upbeat. The main hub of the town is the harbour and the nearby main square.

As you’d expect from a coastal community whose main form of income was fishing before tourism took hold, it’s seafood that fills both platters and tummies here. The catch of the day is served up for your enjoyment in any number of restaurants across Elounda, from those pristine and palatial places tucked up in the foothills to the family tavernas in the town centre or the rustic seaside eateries by the waterfront.

Watching the sun go down over your dining experience is a given, and what you’ll tend to find is that most restaurants pull double duty as bars as much as lunchtime hotspots. The same can be said of the cafes, which go from lazy coffee and snacks at day to places for crisp cool beers and local music at night.

You’ll find plenty to do during the day as well – sightseeing is a joy, with narrow winding streets hiding all manner of stories, from local art projects to backstreet coffee shops. However, it’s Fridays in front of Elounda Church that really get shopaholics hot under the collar. That’s when the local produce market hits full swing, with a few locally produced craft beers and even trinkets and jewellery thrown in. Strong tangy cheeses and fresh fruit are among the delights you’ll experience, alongside plenty of juices, smoothies and ice creams to help you beat the heat.

The whole experience is the aperitif to the Akti Oloundos waterfront avenue, where the main shopping district is located. Tourist knick-knacks, like almost obligatory fridge magnets, replica ancient Greek helmets or tiny models of ancient monuments, are sure to raise smiles back home. But many visitors go to pick up the ceramics and necklaces adorning the finer store windows here.

However you’re looking to enjoy Elounda, one aspect you can be certain of is relaxation in the sun, as well as a number of local curios well worth your attention. With livelier parts of Crete a hop skip and jump away, you’re not too secluded from the action, but tucked away enough that a holiday here promises peace and blue skies all round.

Get in touch if we can help you further in making your dream Elounda holiday a reality, but for now, check out these fantastic deals.

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