Elounda Island Villas

Elounda, Crete, Greece Book from Book from £76 per night

Simple, secluded apartments (for 2-4) with a tiny beach, on a rugged island off the coast near Elounda

The Gulf of Mirabello is one of the most picturesque stretches of coast on northern Crete, and one of the busiest. Elounda is hotel central, bustling with 5-star resorts and all manner of watersports within its enclosed lagoon. But just offshore, connected to the town by a causeway and an old stone bridge, is a little island which feels a world away. In Minoan times, this was a wealthy port: you can still see traces of the stonework beneath the surface of the clear blue sea. Now there's hardly any traffic at all: just 3 ruined windmills and an open-air taverna where, over breakfast and freshly brewed coffee, you can watch fishing boats chug home through the canal.

On this islet there is just one proper building - and there probably won't ever be more, given the strict planning laws that are now in place. It's a cluster of cubist Greek-style apartments: whitewashed and boxy, with paved patios, fragrant gardens, and olive and carob trees for shade. Inside each, the decor is simple and rustic. Not only is the resort family-friendly, it’s also family-run: you're warmly welcomed by artistic Leda and her parents Kiki and Ilias, who run the place with a laid-back, English-speaking ease. This spot makes a delightful, friendly base for an undemanding family or couple wanting to relax by the sea and explore some of eastern Crete, without spending the kind of money required by other Elounda hotels.
Covid update: see our Flexible Booking Policy.

Highs

  • Fantastic swimming and snorkelling on your doorstep, and a sandy beach nearby with crystal clear waters
  • Great views from your breezy balcony over the sparkling sea
  • You share the island with just a handful of other guests, yet nearby Elounda offers bars, shops and boat trips to Spinalonga island
  • Excellent value for money

Lows

  • Children must be 6 years old and over
  • You'll need to head out for meals (the small on-site café is liable to be closed)
  • You can easily explore the surrounding area on foot, but for anything further afield you'll need a car
  • Some local beaches get crowded in summer - but Leda can point you in the direction of hidden gems

Best time to go

The best time to visit Crete is between April - October, which is also when the hotel is open; though bear in mind that July-August can be very hot and very crowded. We went in early October and loved it - the perfect window between busy-ness and shutting down, with warm seas to boot.

Our top tips

Bring your own mask and snorkel, and a copy of Victoria Hislop's "The Island". This best-selling novel tells of a family whose life on and around Spinalonga is brought to colourful, and often tragic, life. Though somewhat harrowing, like all Greek tragedies, it leaves you feeling affirmed.

Great for...

Beach
Eco
  • Budget Apartments
  • 9 bedrooms
  • Self-catering
  • Kids over 6 welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Tennis Court
  • Motorboat hire
  • Gallery
Room:

Rooms

The apartments are simply but adequately furnished, with plain pine tables and chairs, stone-flagged or tiled floors, cheerful cushions and curtains and a variety of built-in beds. The layout is open-plan and split level, with the bedroom (or bedrooms) half a floor higher than the sitting areas. Each apartment also has a simple kitchenette and a bathroom with tub (hand-held shower only); outside is a balcony or patio with glorious views over Elounda Bay. Electricity comes from photovoltaic cells which heat the shower water and power the eco-friendly lamps. There is no heating or air-con.

Features include:

  • Kitchenette
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • TV
  • WiFi

Eating

For breakfast you can buy supplies of orange juice, yoghurt, honey and nuts and do it all yourself in your kitchen: gas hob/oven, sink, fridge and basic cutlery/crockery. For provisions, the centre of Elounda is a 20-minute walk or short drive.

For dinner, we loved wandering a few minutes down the track to the delightful Kanali restaurant, shaded by tamarisks which overlook the canal separating Elounda Island from 'mainland' Crete. With colourful fishing boats buzzing past, it's the perfect setting for grilled catch of the day, super-fresh salads, baked veggie dishes and carafes of local wine (or bottled, if you prefer).

And there's no shortage of tavernas and bars in Elounda. Favourites include The Ferryman on the waterside (try their slow cooked lamb and the stuffed vine leaves) and Lotus Eaters for seafood (the grilled prawns and peppered steak come recommended). A good budget option is Vacchus - serves simple homely fare at unbeatable prices. In nearby Plaka, several tavernas have wonderful waterside settings facing the islet of Spinalonga, but watch out for the prices.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Kitchenette
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • On the islet, sandy Kolokytha Bay (10-min drive / 30-min walk) boasts the most beautiful turquoise waters; in summer, go before 11am or after 4pm to avoid the tour boats
  • Walk aross the land-bridge to Elounda's sand and shingle beaches (10 mins): sunbeds to hire, plentiful tavernas along the sea's edge and a smattering nightlife in summer for teens (and, why not, their parents)
  • Have a look at the onsite art gallery. Elounda welcomes artists in residence to stay and create something for the villas or the gardens.
  • Catch a boat from Elounda (or Plaka) across the lagoon to the rocky island of Spinalonga, with its Venetian fortifications and macabre history as a leper colony; go early (or late) to avoid crowds
  • Elounda offers watersports and some shopping, but for more choice, drive 10 minutes into Agios Nikolaos, a bustling town famous for its totally enclosed (and supposedly bottomless) fishing harbour - very pretty, but skip the touristy waterfront tavernas!
  • To get away from it all, point your hire car towards the rocky hills and olive-studded valleys. Aim for the tiny hamlet of Fourni, with its shady square (and taverna), its black-clad ladies and a line of ruined windmills above; or don't aim at all, just drive at will - Crete is full of heart-warming surprises for those who make the time

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Nightlife
  • Sailing
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Windsurfing

Kids

Children aged 6 and over are welcome, and the larger apartments can sleep up to 4 (with a combination of double and twin beds). We think it could work well for a family with teenage children, who can enjoy water sports and gentle nightlife in Elounda.

Best for:

Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Any of V1 / V4 / V5 / V10 would be fine for a family of 4, who don't mind using the living room as the 2nd bedroom. Otherwise you can get 2 adjacent apartments.

Kids Activities on site:

There's a small sandy beach just outside, and tennis players can ask about the state of the court (avoid the midday heat, of course).

Families Should Know:

The apartments have unprotected steps and sharp edges.

Kid Friendly:

Location

Elounda Island Villas are 1km from Elounda town in the east of the Greek island of Crete. They lie on a tiny island attached by a causeway to the main part of Crete,

By Air
It’s easiest to fly into Heraklion (also called Iraklion), which mainly has charter flights. Alternatively, there are year-round scheduled flights via Athens.

From the Airport
You can catch a taxi from Heraklion (best to agree a price before getting in, or to book in advance through the hotel); or catch a bus to Aghios Nikolaos and a taxi from there. But the easiest way to get around is by car.

By Car
From Heraklion, it’s easiest to hire a car and drive to Elounda – a 1.5-hour (100km) drive via Agios Nikolaos. Hiring a car will also allow you to explore the area better - see our car rental recommendations.

Detailed directions will follow when you confirm a booking through our site.

More on getting to Greece and getting around.

Airports:

  • Heraklion, Nikos Kazantzakis 100.0 km HER
  • Athens, Eleftherios Venizelos 430.0 km ATH

Other:

  • Beach 0.1 km
  • Shops 1.0 km
  • Restaurant 1.0 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 4 independent reviews from i-escape guests

9/10
Room
9/10
Food
10/10
Service
9/10
Value
9/10
Overall

We loved the location of Elounda Island Villas. The “healthy” breakfast was excellent. Our room (8) was not ideal as it was too cool to sit out on the balcony early in the day. The bed was also impossible to get round as it was built right against a wall. This was not our original choice of room but the room we were offered…
Excellent meals and service were had at Ferryman, Moon Spinners and The Rakaki. We had dire service at Anemomylos, although the meal, when it eventually arrived, was good. Similarly at Kanali, poor service and whilst one meal was good the other was poor.

8/10,

We loved our stay at Elounda Island Villas. After the 18 months of no travel, it was a great place to visit for a short 2 night stay (after a week at a villa on the island), a very special location, It is walking distance to a lovely pebble beach and slightly longer walk (you can drive part of the way) to a fabulous sandy beach. The water is clear and great for snorkelling. There is no traffic by the hotel, which adds to the feeling of peace and relaxation.

We travelled as a family with 2 teenage girls, and had 2 apartments. The I-escape review is very accurate, so I won't repeat most of that. I have added some detail below that I would have liked to see in other travellers reviews, so I hope others find it helpful.

As others mention, Leda is a great host and very welcoming and helpful with lots of tips on what to do and where to eat.

The apartments themselves are comfortable, a small fridge and 2 ring gas hob mean you can rustle up a simple dinner to eat on your balcony overlooking the sea. The beds are very comfortable and not rock hard like some you will find in Greece. Bathroom and showers are good. There is no air con, but we found the fan adequate and you can open the windows by the bed and there is a good breeze that comes off the coast. The loungers and chairs on the balconies are very comfortable. One of our apartments had balconies at the front and back which meant we could avoid the heat of the sun at the appropriate parts of the day. There is a supermarket in Elounda that does fresh veg/milk and bread. Its about a 20 minute walk/5 minute drive.

We had breakfasts both days - a simple continental breakfast on the Sunday and eggs with feta on the Monday. All freshly prepared and good quality. Fresh juice and coffee/tea on offer too. There is a very helpful map of the island that is provided a s a place map, which we thought was a nice touch.

We had lunch in our apartments and ate at Kanali in the evening - which is a 5 minute walk - a seafood restaurant mentioned in the main listing. Food was excellent and service was very good. The shrimp pasta was a big hit with our children. You will have to book at the better restaurants in Elounda. We drove over to Place which has some very good restaurants by the sea, but thought the place was slightly touristy, so we headed back to Elounda island, which felt more authentic.

I would not hesitate to book here if you are looking for a relaxed peaceful holiday by the sea.

10/10,

We loved the Elounda Island Villas. A warm welcome, plenty of information and help. The villas are charming with magnificent views, in a wonderfully quiet location. The taverna offered delicious breakfasts, drinks and cakes. Although the villas have the facilities to self cater, we walked into Elounda (20 mins) every evening for supper. There were several walks on the island and we swam from 2 of the beaches. We would recommend this place highly.

10/10,

We found Elounda Island Villas exactly what we needed to have a break from our busy life, finding peace, tranquillity in a rustic and fabulous location. It felt like we had a whole island to ourselves at times with the sea a few steps away from our apartment. If you are like us and don't want to cater for yourselves (except for breakfasts on the balcony) you can easily walk to excellent restaurants/tavernas, supermarket, market for fruit & veg and beaches. The hosts made us feel very welcome and on hand, without being invasive, to provide advice and recommendations. The accommodation was clean, bed comfortable and the fans were a welcome addition as we prefer not to use A/C. Clean sheets, towels and beach towels provided with due diligence to the environment in the maintenance of the apartments and surroundings. Cannot recommend enough but scared that it will get too popular and its not available for our next trip. It is very rare that we return to a holiday destination but we will be making it an exception with Elounda island Villas. A big thank you to Leda and Costas for creating such a wonderful place and sharing this with us.
See you again soon.

10/10,

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Rates for Elounda Island Villas

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