Eleonas (Crete)

Zaros, Crete, Greece Book from Book from £118 per night

An agrotourism settlement in the mountains of southern Crete, with rustic cottages, tranquil pools and a great taverna

Eleonas, meaning 'olive grove' in Greek, is a collection of pastel-painted cottages, sprinkled amongst a wonderful fruit and olive estate in southern Crete. Set in a stunning location, against a backdrop of dramatic rocky peaks at the foot of Crete’s highest mountain, Psiloritis, it's close to the sleepy village of Zaros but still feels wonderfully remote.

The 22 stone cottages are centred around a taverna serving authentic Cretan home cooking, the adjoining main and kids' pools, plus an adults-only pool (for over 16s) in a 'quiet zone'. Popular with local Greeks, Eleonas is also a working farm. They grow their own fruit and vegetables, produce olive oil, and keep goats and chickens. Guests are welcome to help feed the animals, and can also take cooking lessons or learn how to milk the goats and make cheese. It’s a great choice for those searching to escape commercial tourist resorts and urban chaos, and a fantastic set-up for families, who are as warmly welcomed as everyone else. One of our favourite finds in Crete.

Information provided by Eleonas (Crete) on 08/01/2021.

Cleaning and hygiene
Rules and measures in line with the new enhanced health and safety protocols set by the Greek authorities and recommended by the National Public Health Organisation (EODY). Highly visible stations with alcohol-based hand sanitiser plus PPE in reception, restaurant and cafe and in rooms. Increased frequency of cleaning and disinfection of public spaces including steam cleaning for high-touch areas. Additional staff training. Use of PPE. Safety protocol in-room leaflet provided. Linen changed every 3 days.

Common areas
Physical distancing in place throughout.

Food and drink
Restaurant operating with reduced capacity and socially distanced tables. No food from outside the hotel permitted to be consumed on the premises. Room service available at no extra cost. Breakfast 0800-1100; lunch 1300-1600; dinner 1800-2200.

Numbers of bathers in the swimming pools restricted, social distancing respected.

The cancellation terms regarding CoViD-19 for the summer season 2021 are free cancellation. All deposits can be used for future reservations.

Check-in and check-out times extended (1100 and 1500). Cashless payments.


  • Within walking distance of a lovely lake and a dramatic gorge for picturesque hikes
  • Ideal for families: cots, and sofabeds in the cottages; a kids' pool; a safe environment for older kids to run free; farm animals to feed and bikes
  • We love the newer stylish stone cottages - each with a private plunge pool or hot tub
  • A good base for visiting the archaeological sites of Phaestos and Gortys, and the unspoilt beaches of Crete’s glorious south coast
  • Exceptionally good value for money


  • Not a lot going on in Zaros, so Eleonas could feel rather isolated and sleepy (a high for some)
  • Unless you want to go into Zaros, you'll eat all meals at the 2 tavernas (they are very good but could get repetitive)
  • You really need a car to explore the surrounding area, unless you’re a mountain bike fanatic
  • The nearest beach is a 30-minute drive away

Best time to go

To avoid the crowds, try to visit in shoulder season (May-June or September-October) when the days are sunny but not too hot and the sea still warm enough to swim. During high-season (July-August), the island swarms with visitors, while in low season (November-March) most tourist facilities close down.

Our top tips

A 30-minute drive away, you can swim and sunbathe at beaches on Crete’s stunning south coast, which gives onto the Libyan Sea. Choose from Matala (known for its red cliffs with caves), Kokkinos Pirgos (made up of fine sand) or Kalamaki (rockier). Or head for Agia Galini (32km), then take a local boat to the lovely unspoilt beach of Agios Pavlos.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Great Outdoors
  • Boutique Cottages
  • 22 cottages
  • Restaurant + bar (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Heated Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Bicycles Available


The 22 warm and homely stone cottages are pitched on a hillside amidst beautiful olive groves. Each has a wooden beamed ceiling, terracotta tile floor and traditional Cretan furniture with prettily coloured fabrics. Outside, among honeysuckle, bougainvillea, roses and vines, you'll find a seating area looking out past olive groves to the mountains; some cottages have their own plunge pool too.

Entry-level Stone Cottages with Terrace have a bedroom, a living area with a single sofabed and open fireplace, a small kitchenette and bathroom with tub. Mezzanine Cottages are double-height, with a wooden mezzanine-level master bedroom and balcony. The Two Bedroom Mezzanine Cottages have a double bed, 2 single beds and space for extra beds in their living rooms. The open-plan single-storey Deluxe Cottages with Jacuzzis have jacuzzi tubs in their bathrooms and are best suited to couples.

Families - and couples wanting more space and seclusion - will love the private pool cottages. The Deluxe Stone versions have one bedroom and a double sofabed (plus space for a rollaway), while the Suite versions have two bedrooms (1 double, 1 twin - or you can convert the twin into a sitting area). Both have private walled courtyards with loungers and a lovely little pool - rectangular or kidney-shaped - which is heated in the cooler months.

With fresh mountain air and total peace and quiet, you'll sleep soundly whichever you choose. We certainly did; and can thoroughly recommend visiting at either end of the season, lighting the fire (logs are supplied) and cosying up for a few days.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Barbecue
  • Central heating
  • Coffee maker
  • DVD player
  • Extra beds
  • Fireplace
  • Fridge
  • Hairdryer
  • Hifi music system
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Safe box
  • Satellite TV
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi


One of the highlights of staying at Eleonas is the food, prepared from mostly home-grown produce. Meals are served at the central taverna, which is popular with Greeks from across the island, and a 5-minute walk from the furthest cottage. You can either eat inside by the log fire, or out front on the stone terrace surrounded by geraniums, with mint scenting the air, and cats idling in the sun.

Breakfast is an impressive buffet spread: freshly squeezed orange juice, homemade yoghurt and cheeses, various types of homemade pita, fritule, freshly made bread, cakes and biscuits, local honey, and homemade jam and marmalade.

Lunch and dinner menus feature authentic Cretan cuisine, and you can have full meals or snacky options. We had delicious katsohiri (homemade goat's cheese), followed by a rich kokkinisto (cockerel stewed in red wine and baby onions), and finished with a small carafe of raki.

Each cottage has a small kitchenette. Upon arrival, you’ll find a welcome carafe of raki, some Greek coffee, Greek mountain tea and a bowl of fruit. The kitchenettes are for preparing snacks and coffee rather than meals, but parents will find them extremely useful. Handily, there are 3 supermarkets in Zaros.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Barbecue
  • Children's meals
  • Coffee maker
  • Fridge
  • Organic produce
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Vegetarian menu


  • Swim in the pools, then join a cookery demonstration (4-12 people) to learn about local cheese making and how to bake bread, pita and other traditional Cretan dishes
  • Walk to Lake Zaros, ringed by eucalyptus and pine trees, and home to fish, ducks and turtles. It’s overlooked by a waterside taverna and a restful café, and there’s a small playground for kids
  • Hike up the Gorge of St Nicholas - an easy enough 2-hour walk, following a path and clambering over rocks in parts. Enthusiastic hikers might continue up a steep path to Rouvas Forest and the Church of Agios Giannis. Ask for a map at reception before setting off
  • Hire a mountain bike (Eleonas has 20) and wind your way through olive groves to Zaros, a sleepy Cretan village with two churches, a handful of cafes and tavernas, bank, post office and watermill
  • Visit Phaestos archaeological site, where the ruins of a Minoan palace date back to 1600BC, or Gortys (13km), which incorporates Greek temples, a Roman forum and amphitheatre, and a Byzantine basilica
  • Spend a day in Heraklion on Crete’s busy north coast. Explore the pedestrian-only Venetian-era old town, and visit the excellent Archaeological Museum and the Crete Historical Museum

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Archery
  • Cooking classes
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Mountain biking
  • Playground


A lovely retreat for families, with lots of space and rural surroundings. The heated outdoor pool and farm animals are bound to amuse, as are the sandy beaches nearby. All ages are welcome.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

We'd recommend the Cottage with Attic if you're a family of 3 or a 2-Bedroom Cottage for families of 4 or more. If you're 2 adults and 2 kids, then opt for the cottages with private outdoor heated pools (they have 2 single beds and 1 kingsize). All cottages have simple kitchenettes.


Babysitting is available - request in advance (additional cost).

Baby equipment:

  • Baby cots
  • Baby bedding
  • High chair
  • Baby bathtub
  • Pushchair
  • Bottle warming

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

Each cottage has a basic kitchenette (with hot plate, crockery and fridge). The taverna is great for families, serving a kids menu, high tea, half portions and takeaways. There are cafés nearby and a supermarket 1.5km away.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Kids pool (heated during shoulder season)
  • Main pool (heated during shoulder season)
  • 2 soft playgrounds
  • Playroom
  • Children's DVDs
  • Farm animals: goats, rabbits, chicken
  • Football court
  • Table tennis

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Lake Zaros, 1km away, has a big outdoor playground plus fish, ducks and turtles
  • Kamihis Farm Experience (5km) - become a farmer for the day, look after chickens, bees and goats, ride the donkey, make cheese and traditional Cretan pies
  • The beach is a 30-minute drive away
  • There are hiking and mountain biking paths nearby - hire bikes from Eleonas

Families Should Know:

There's a mobile phone signal everywhere in the property. As the settlement is built on a hill, there are a number of steps to be aware of.


  • Airport: 55 minutes
  • Doctor: 20 minutes
  • Shops: 3 minutes by car (Zaros)
Kid Friendly:


Eleonas lies on the southern slopes of Mt Psiloritis, 1.5km outside the peaceful village of Zaros, and 42km southwest of Crete’s capital, Heraklion.

By Air:
Heraklion Nikos Kazantzakis (45km) lies northeast of Zaros. It is served by daily flights from Athens the year through, and by charter flights from most European capitals in summer. Click on the links below for a list of airlines serving this airport.

From the Airport
You could catch a taxi, but we'd recommend hiring a car (see below).

By Sea:
Heraklion port lies 42km northeast of Zaros and is served by daily overnight ferries from Athens’ port, Piraeus, on the Greek mainland.

By Car:
To explore the region better, you really need to hire a car - see our car rental recommendations.

Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.com.

More on getting to Greece and getting around


  • Heraklion Nikos Kazantzakis 45.0 km HER


  • Beach 25.0 km
  • Shops 1.5 km
  • Restaurant 1.5 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 11 independent reviews from i-escape guests


Excellent accommodation with private pool. Good local home cooked food.
It does need finesses in some parts for the village but overall was a fabulous stay. The staff certainly make this place. Friendly warm and welcoming.


We absolutely loved Eleonas Cottages. From our warm and relaxed welcome, my first ice cold beer and loads of helpful arrival maps and ideas through to the exceptionally amazing breakfast and dinner. The cooking is truly some of the best I’ve experienced in Greece and that’s saying something. Walks in the local area are lovely too, suggest you start those early in the day if you’re staying in June onwards however as they are exposed and hot! Grounds are superbly put together with landscaping making it almost your own place. The beaches are a good 40 minutes drive away through some exciting roads. However swimming pools on complex are well maintained and comfortable with loungers and plenty of space. We were genuinely sad to leave this lovely place. We loved sitting on our balcony to watch the stars in the evening and the dinner setting is beautiful. Thoroughly recommend, such a friendly place.


According to the Lonely Planet guide for Crete, Eleonas is one of the most atmospheric places in Crete, and who are we to argue! We went for our honeymoon and we couldn't have chosen better, it's peaceful, got amazing scenery, great food, private pool rooms available and the overall vibe created by Manolis the owner, and Diamond, who runs the front of house in the taverna, is spot on if you're looking for a chilled, laid back but personal vibe.
Shout out to the Chef, Manolis' brother, the food was out of this world, with the taverna regularly visited from locals all over Crete.
If you want a break with a slower pace, good local food, nice personal touches, and a little slice of heaven this is the place for you.


Brilliant place to stay with kids (aged 8 and 5) in a lovely mountain setting. All the staff were very welcoming and always helpful and friendly, the whole site felt really safe and kids loved having the freedom to play on their own with other children. Food was good, breakfast was particularly good. Only criticism, and its a minor one, is that some parts of the hotel looked a bit tired (area by the swimming pool, games room, signage) although this could be because it was the start of the season.


We had an amazing stay at Eleonas. It was exactly the relaxing break we wanted. We stayed in one of the two cottages with its own pool, and that was ideal for us with our six year old, as she loved being able to just use the pool whenever we were 'home'. The other pool was great too, and both were heated.
All the staff were friendly and very good at making us feel at home, and the restaurant had a good range of food and drinks for breakfast, lunch and dinner, all served in the pretty taverna. There was enough in the area to keep us occupied when we wanted to go out, including some interesting local walks/hikes to see the local lake, gorge and monastery.
The facilities onsite for kids were impressive too, with the soft play room and outdoor playground enough to give our daughter some play time when we were finishing dinner. All in all, highly recommended!


I can't rate Eleonas highly enough. Whether your a couple, small or large family this place has it all. The location is beautiful as are the cottages. There's plenty to do and see from hiking to cycling or you can just relax at the family or adult pools. Definitely we'll be back.


A hidden gem in beautiful Crete! The friendly owner and their staff couldn’t do enough for us and our two young children. Everything was brilliant - highly recommend to anyone.


Fabulous place, amazing setting with stunning views from all of the site. Manalis and all the staff were so friendly and helpful, made us feel special and not just a number. Food was great, simple, well done and reasonable prices. Very relaxing atmosphere. If your not keen on walking up hill, ask for one of the lower properties.


Our second stay here in three years having visited as a couple and now with two children. Excellent setting, service and food; catering for couples and families. A great base for the beaches of Crete or just as chill-out place in it's own right being away from it all in the mountains.


We had a fantastic friendly family holiday staying at Eleonas. Manolis and his team go out of their way to welcome you and to help make your holiday as relaxing as possible - from fixing car seats, to fitting a stair gate without us asking, to taking a flat tyre to be fixed - they go above and beyond. Our six year old daughter has such fun playing in the pool, making friends and using the play area - whilst we were of course watchful, she was able to experience a magical sense of freedom. Our 16 month old was made welcome by the staff and enjoyed playing in the safe enclosed patio area in cottage 1 as well as in the very clean soft play area. We has some lovely days out at the beach (Manolis recommended lovely places to go) and my husband and daughter had a super half day at a Cretan farm experience. The new adults only pool is a welcome treat if you can or want to steal yourself away for a little quiet time, and the views throughout the property are a feast for the eyes. This place is such a gem. Thank you Eleonas for such a fabulous family holiday.


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