Elounda is located in Lasithi, on Crete's north coast and is part of Agios Nikolaos. It is one of the most famous tourist resorts in Greece and has large hotels that attract not only the Greeks but also countless tourists from abroad.
In the past, Elounda was just a picturesque fishing village, whose inhabitants, if not fishermen,they would be working in agriculture, salt production in Venetian saltpans and mining of whetting stones, a unique fine emery, from which tools for sharpening are made.
Then, major hotels were built and tourism became an integral part of the residents' life.
Elounda combines the relaxing and tranquil holiday with fun, since it is neither noisy nor isolated. It has beautiful beaches for swimming and activities such as diving, fishing and water sports. It is located opposite the island of Spinalonga, known because lepers were isolated there until 1957 and there are boats that connect the two points, so as tourists to wander around the ruined buildings on the "island of lepers".
Although Elounda is famous worldwide because of the five-star huge hotels, it also offers other types of accommodation for those desiring to visit it for their summer holidays. In an area with such an excellent tourist infrastructure one can find smaller units, apartments and rooms for rent, cafés, shops and restaurants and taverns serving Cretan delicacies and more.
Elounda has been for years the No 1 travel choice for States presidents, prime ministers, sheiks and celebrities who rushed there to enjoy private beaches, suites, luxury marinas and unique resorts with high standard services. Among the celebrities who have stayed in the past in Elounda include: Andreas Papandreou, French President Francois Mitterrand, Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Mariah Carey, Montserrat Kampagie, Andrea Bocelli, Bon Jovi, U2, Pedro Almodovar, Riana, Lady Gaga and many others.
Elounda has a long history. The ancient city Olous, one of the strongest in ancient Crete, was built at the point where the modern settlement is now located. Except for Olous, there were other names to describe the ancient town as well, such as: Olounda, Hersonissos, Amylka, Amykloion, Pumpkin Olous, Alyngos, Naxos, Axos, Oxa and Mount Tallaion Kadistos.
The exact location of Olounda has been placed at the region of Poros, next to the salt flats, where ruins of a submerged state have been discovered. The city-state of Olous was fortified, it used to have a port and its own currency. Its residents were engaged with the trade and the mining of whetting stones.
The existence of two basilicas churches, found between Elounda and Pumpkin Peninsula proves that the town was economically strong during the Roman and Byzantine times as well. One of the two churches served as Episcopal seat.
The coastal settlement, which based its flourish on trade business, was badly affected by the Arabs' invasions, that were more than usual in the Meditterannean back in the 7th century. The citizens were made to move within the country and as a result they had to flee unsurprisingly their trade occupations. A strond earthquake in 780 AD is also blamed for Elounda's destruction.
Till the 13th AD century, when Venetians came, Elounda almost devastated. The Venetians, however, began to exploit the physical port and they built saltpans because salt trade was very lucrative at the time. During the Ottoman rule, the salt pans continued to bring in profit, but the region was not thriving so much as in the past.
The 20th century finds the residents of Elounda dealing with the mining of whetting stones, salt production, agriculture and fisheries. In 1913 Crete was united with Greece. From 1928 till 1939 the British company "Imperial" used the area as a refueling station for its seaplanes.
During World War II, the Germans occupied Elounda and fortified it, so as to prevent the English from landing there.
The first major hotel was constructed in 1969. From that point, Elounda took the tourist path we already know today. It became one of the most famous tourist resorts and the No 1 vacation choice for heads of states, politicians, artists, princes and other VIP visitors from both Greece and other countries.
By ferry from the port of Piraeus to Agios Nikolaos. From there, there are frequent bus itineraries to Elounda. The route lasts about 15 minutes and is one of the best in Crete, due to the view towards the coast and the Gulf of Mirabello.
Alternatively, by aeroplane or boat to Heraklion and then by car. You will follow the highway to Agios Nikolaos and turn left with direction to Elounda before entering the town of Agios Nikolaos. It will take a little less than an hour.
From Rethymno you will need to drive a route of about 2,5 hours, while the trip from the city of Chania lasts 3-3,5 hours.
Piraeus Port Authorities (Schedules): +30 2104226000-4
Agios Nikolaos Port Authorities: +30 2841090108
Heraklion Port Authorities: +30 2813406900