If you’re looking for a touch of paradise, with glamour and five-star service in Crete, Elounda and its picturesque main town Agios Nikolaos offer a microcosm of luxury in Greece.
Beautiful Elounda has beaches and hotels to match, along with the attraction of Agios Nikolaos’ mythical lake. And in the distance lies tiny Spinalonga, an islet-fortress rich in history. You’ll find everything you need to make your holiday in Crete feel special.
What to do in Agios Nikolaos & Elounda, Crete
Explore the charms and legends of Agios Nikolaos
The main town of the Lasithi region, Agios Nikolaos embraces a picturesque lake that is lined with neoclassical homes, restaurants, bars and shops. The setting is reminiscent of a typical Greek island and you’ll never tire of just wandering around, stopping to enjoy a drink near the marina.
As for the lake, you’ll understand immediately why, according to mythology, this is where the goddesses Athena and Artemis bathed. It has a movie-set appeal, encapsulating everything glamourous about Elounda. But there are other secrets hidden in the lake. Locals recall how the Germans sunk their weapons here during their retreat in the Second World War. Another local legend claims that the lake is bottomless. Whatever you believe, you’ll lose yourself in the mystical beauty of Agios Nikolaos.
Visit Spinalonga, the inspiration behind a bestseller
Entering the Bay of Elounda, you’ll see a fortress that for centuries many tried to conquer until, from 1905 to 1957, it was Greece’s designated leper colony. The story of Spinalonga inspired the award-winning novel by Victoria Hislop, The Island, which in turn was developed into a popular Greek television drama. Today, you can take a boat or swim across to Spinalonga and you’ll still feel its mystical energy and weighty history.
Take a tour around Spinalonga
Discover sandy coves and say ‘ciao bello’ to Mirabello
"Look, beautiful!" the Venetians exclaimed when they first encountered Mirabello – and the name stuck. You’ll say the same thing when you witness the sandy coves and clear water, north and northwest of Agios Nikolaos, one of the most beautiful spots in Crete.
Prepare for the ultimate in luxury in Greece
Holidays in Elounda allow you to choose from the highest concentration of five-star resorts in Greece. Private villas, bungalows, luxury suites… whatever you fancy, you’ll find it in this gorgeous corner of Crete.
Hidden gems of Elounda, Crete
Beauty in simplicity in the nearby villages
Across from Spinalonga, you’ll find the picturesque fishing village of Plaka, where you can wander through cobblestone streets and dine in waterfront fish tavernas. Then travel past the abandoned village of Havgas, with a panoramic view of the gulf, and on to the untouched villages of Kastelli and Fourni. Don’t miss the restored Aretiou Monastery with its well-tended garden – it’s one of the most significant attractions in the area.
The splendour of Ancient Minoan Olous
Just 10km from Agios Nikolaos you can visit the site of one of the 100 most important cities of ancient Crete, whose population numbered more than 30,000. Here they worshipped Zeus Tallaeus, the goddess Artemis Britomartys and Apollo.
A boat trip to Koufonisi, home to a desert and 36 beaches
With so many beaches and its very own desert to explore, Koufonisi, off the southern coast of Lasithi, offers a sand-filled escape for day-trippers who want to venture beyond Elounda. It is uninhabited now but Koufonisi held a special value for ancient Greeks and its waters – rich in sea sponges and shells – attracted civilisations as varied as the Minoans and the Byzantines.
Take a boat trip to Koufonisi, Crete’s desert isle