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Elounda, Lassithi Crete

Elounda is one of the most famous tourist resorts in Crete, with luxurious hotels and full facilities, along the long beach. It is situated some 11 kilometers far from Aghios Nicolaos at the North, 70-77 kilometers eastern to the International airport of Heraklion and some 80 kilometers western to the airport of Sitia. The village counts some 1650 permanent residents.

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Elounda is a very popular destination of tourists, both Greeks and from abroad; as a result a very good network of accommodation and other facilities has been developed at the place. A wide range of lodging is available, from luxurious hotels and studios of all categories, to rooms to let. There are abundant choices for food, drink and amusement; you will find taverns and restaurants, cafes and bars, discos and clubs. Swimming is possible both at well-organised beaches with full facilities (umbrellas, sunbeds, showers, sea sports etc) as the one in front of the town, Plaka and the other beaches of Spinalonga peninsula, and to more remote and “natural” ones as Vlychadia.

In case of health problems, a Medical Center is available at Schisma.

Apart from the facilities available and the marvelous sea, what makes Elounda so attractive is the great variety of sightseeing. What to choose first, it’s up to you! However, you should not miss to start your day with a coffee at the scenic small port of Schisma, with view to Spinalonga, to the sea and the town. It is from this port that you will catch the boat to the islet of Spinalonga. If you feel like strolling around, you may walk along the beach to see the ruins of the ancient city of Olounda, visible within the sea at the narrow part of land connecting Elounda and the Spinalonga peninsula with the rest of the island. The land and the city had been sunk into the sea in antiquity, an abrupt interruption to the development of that important city. At the same area, you may see the ruins of an Early Christian basilica, with its beautiful mosaic pavement preserved up to now.

Walking along the beach you will also see the old saltpans and the stone windmills.

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The whole area around Elounda and the villages are full of old churches and monasteries, Byzantine and more recent ones; most of them have interesting paintings and icons of the Cretan School. The most important of them are the small church of Evangelistria (“Annunciation”) at Epano Elounda, the church of Aghios Constantinos, the patron-saint of the village, the church of Aghios Focas, established on the 10 th century in honor of the Byzantine emperor Nikephoros Focas, who liberated Crete from the Arab domination; also, it is worth seeing the church of Aghios Antonios at Kato Selles, within a cave, as well as the Monasteries of Xira Xyla, of Aretius and of Aghios Andreas.

The vividness of the area is completed with Plaka, a scenic coastal settlement, departure point of the excursion boats to the islet of Spinalonga with the remains of the Venetian castle and the construction of the leprosy hospital and the numerous cute mountainous villages as Epano (or Ano) Elounda, Pines, Fourni Syrmesso, Dories, Nofalias, Skinias, Loumas, Selles, Vrouchas, Kastelli, Karydi etc.

You may also visit the beautiful private Folk Museum at Fourni, where you will come across the everyday life of Cretans in the past.

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Once at Elounda in summer, you should not miss the interesting cultural events organised by the cultural associations at Schisma and Spinalonga; you are also recommended to attend the famous “Psarovradia” (the “Fish Eve”) with abundant fish and wine or tsikoudia, music and dance.

If you like religious local feasts, don’t miss to take part to the local feast (“panighyri”) on the 6 th of August, in honor of Christ’s Transfiguration at the traditional settlement of Epano Elound, and on the 21 st of May, in honor of Aghios Constantinos and Aghia Eleni at the scenic port of Schisma.

Access from Aghios Nicolaos is possible by public bus, with very frequent service, by taxi and, of course, by rented and private car and motorbikes. From Athens you will arrive at Elounda by plane at the International Airport of Heraklion or at the airport of Sitia and then by bus, taxi or car. 
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