Eastern Crete is the perfect laid-back destination for those looking to escape the crowds. A world of discovery awaits, from the cosmopolitan town of Agios Nikolaos to some of the island’s most beautiful churches, architectural gems and pristine sandy beaches. It’s also an area replete with lush countryside and nature, so it’s little wonder this part of the island is a major draw for walkers and hikers.
Elounda is one of the most upmarket villages in Crete and the perfect base for leisurely walks, with lovely views of the bay. If you relish being by the sea, you’ll be delighted by the crystal-clear waters on the Eastern Cretan coast, along with the Blue Flag sandy beach. Explore the colourful harbour with authentic Greek tavernas and don’t miss a boat trip to the fascinating island of Spinalonga just across the bay. A former leper colony, the tiny island inspired author Victoria Hislop to create her bestselling novel, The Island.
Drive the scenic coastal route or jump on the tourist train to the picturesque small village of Plaka, just five kilometres from Elounda. Located in the stunning Mirabello Bay area, you’ll find plenty of souvenir shops around the harbour, as well as delectable seafood restaurants and local tavernas in the village’s lovely main square. Make a day of it and check out the pebble beach with a promenade backed by tamarisk trees, or visit Knossos, the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on Crete and considered Europe's oldest city.
The charismatic town of Agios Nikolaos is approximately ten kilometres south of Elounda and suits those looking for a lively day out by the coast. The area is bustling with an array of boutiques, restaurants and bars lining the charming harbour area, which opens into a deep lake dotted with mega-yachts and fishing boats. Attractions here include the many Blue Flag beaches, an archaeology museum which houses 6,000-year-old relics and the Cretan Olive Oil Farm, where guests can learn about the processes involved in making traditional olive oil, pottery and wine.