It can be difficult to strike the right balance when you pick a holiday resort. On one hand, you might not want a destination that’s too crowded. On the other, you want somewhere with a little bit of life. The pretty seaside village of Elounda ticks all the boxes. Found on Crete’s eastern coast, Elounda is neither too busy nor too isolated. You’ll get a sense of traditional village life, yet still find beaches to sprawl on, some brilliant tavernas and a bar or two where you can enjoy a drink after the sun goes down. There are also a few local shops to buy a souvenir and one or two historical sights to explore.
Families and couples are particularly attracted to Elounda. Its small beaches are perfect for a dip in the sea or a quiet spot of sunbathing. Elounda becomes even better if you hire a car to explore the nearby area. You’ll come across more beaches and villages to take a look around, while the nearby town of Agios Nikolaos is a little more lively than Elounda. If you fancy some nightlife which isn’t too raucous, then Agios Nikolaos is a good option.
Hopping aboard a ferry is also well worth considering in Elounda. Boat tours run to the island of Spinalonga, lying just off the coast. Spinalonga was a leper colony until the 1950s. Taking a tour is of the island is a fascinating trip back in time.
It’s only recently that Plaka has appeared on the tourist map after it was previously only home to one man and his dog. There are several hotels and tavernas in the fishing village now, although it’s still a quiet, atmospheric spot for a day trip. It only takes a jiffy to reach Plaka by heading up the coast. It’s worth the journey just for the views over the bay and Spinalonga island. You can take a seat on the pebbly beach and admire your surroundings.
Holidaymakers young and old are attracted to the town of Agios Nikolaos, lying just a stone’s throw from Elounda. The beaches of Agios Nikolaos have proved a magnet for tourists over the years, as has the town’s lake. The lake is a great spot to sit and relax with a glass of something. But Agios Nikolaos is also worth a look if you fancy a night on the tiles. It’s nowhere near as raucous as the infamous Malia, but there are cocktail bars and chic nightclubs to spend the early hours.
A few miles inland from Elounda, the small mountain town of Neapoli really is a place to get off the tourist trail. It’s surrounded by olive trees and there’s a beautiful square in the centre of the town. Neapoli is also a good place to go if you feel like cooling off. A refreshing mountain breeze blows through the town during the sweltering summer months.
Up until the 1950s, Spinalonga was a leper colony serving the whole of Greece. Many miles away from their families, hundreds of lepers lived and died on this island. Nowadays, it’s a popular tourist spot, with thousands heading here on daily boat trips. There’s a spooky, atmospheric feel to the surroundings as you explore the village.
You don’t have to be particularly energetic to wander along the coast from Elounda to the historic site of Olous. It only takes 15 minutes to reach the remains of Olous - an ancient city submerged below the sea. A landslide or an earthquake are thought to have brought an end to life in Olous more than 1,000 years ago. Today you can see five huge stone windmills which have been excavated from the city.
We’re sure you’ll want a souvenir from your fantastic holiday in Elounda. Along the seafront, there are designer clothes stores and gift shops aplenty. You can pick up everything from locally-made pottery to model Trojan helmets. Every Friday, there’s also a food market in front of Elounda Church. It’s the place to pick up a bottle of raki or Cretan vino.
Beaches in Elounda
The main beach in Elounda is a relatively short stretch of sand just north of the town’s harbour. It’ll only take you a couple of minutes to walk there from Elounda’s town square. There are hundreds of sun loungers and umbrellas for those looking to work on their tan. It’s particularly good for kids with lifeguards patrolling the shallow waters and there’s also a children’s playground.
Once you taste that first bite of the local grub in Crete, you’ll instantly be looking for second helpings. The food here is healthy and, most importantly, utterly delicious. Some of the most popular dishes are a slow cooked lamb stew called kleftiko and a skewered kebab, known as a souvlaki. Cretan cuisine also has a wealth of vegetarian options. One of the most famous is ntakos - a Greek version of bruschetta with tomato, feta and olives.
Restaurants in Elounda
You don’t have to look far to find a good eatery in Elounda. The tavernas are spread in a L-shape around the harbour. They serve up authentic Greek grub and have the added bonus of brilliant views.
Holidaymakers looking for a beach resort in Crete with a few shops, activities and bars will love a trip to Elounda. There’s plenty to keep you occupied, without feeling noisy or too touristy. Look no further than easyJet holidays when it’s time to book your holiday to Elounda. By booking your flight and hotel together with easyJet holidays, you can even save money.
If you’re still pondering your holiday options, then why not take a look at our other Crete destination guides.