The magical landscape of Crete ranks it among the most beautiful islands in the world. Crete, the largest Greek island, offers a multitude of things to explore and, you'll need more than a month to fully explore it. Crete, while filled by turquoise-water coasts, seaside towns, and charming little villages, manages to maintain the aura of a traditional Greek Island.
That said, you can experience Crete from a traditional, leisure, adventurous, or luxurious scope. If you look for elegant, unrivaled beauty and a "settle down" approach, you have to visit the villages of Elounda and Plaka. Stroll around the beautiful harbor and roads, taste some of the most delicious fish and local meat in Crete, and explore the beautiful gulfs of Mirabello bay. If you want to add a touch of luxury in your vacations, then there is only one place to go, Elounda!
This beautiful fishing village of the Heraklion prefecture is home to some of the best luxury resorts in Crete and a popular destination for Greek and international celebrities, influencers, or even newlyweds. Before exploring all the unique and fun activities we can enjoy in Elounda, you have to find a place you can call "home with a Cretan hospitality touch."
Stay at Cayo Exclusive Resort & Spa - the ultimate luxury resort in Elounda, overlooking Spinalonga!
Staying true to Greek culture, hospitality, and the Cretan tradition, Cayo Exclusive Resort & Spa is one of the top - if not the top, hotels to stay on the island. Its luxurious facilities and upscale services create the perfect Greek Island Experience. At the same time, you get the opportunity to enjoy the stunning views of the surrounding area from its private terraces, infinity pools and, the resort's common areas.
The interior design and styling of CAYO have been conceptualised by famous Italian Art Director and Designer Gian Paolo Venier, who got inspired by the beauty of the surrounding landscape and the azure water of the Cretan Archipelago. His inspirations were brought to life in the eclectic décor and textures, which include tailor-made furniture, touches of bright white marble, and the dotting of black volcanic pebbles.
Among the rooms, we stood out the Superior Room with Private Pool and Sea View whose floor-to-ceiling makes the sea view visible right from the bed. The outdoor private swimming pool is another reason we fell in love with this room.
Cayo Exclusive Resort and Spa is also home to a stunning gourmet restaurant. There, you'll experience some of the most delicious breakfast Greek recipes and traditional dishes with the unique touch of the resort's Michelin star awarded chef. For a more luxurious wellness experience, feel free to enjoy a massage at CAYO Spa, or plunge into the warm waters of its large indoor pool.
Before finding the top things to do in the destination, check prices to the hotel's booking engine, and get the best room at a favorable rate.
1. Explore Mirabello Gulf with a private Catamaran cruise
Discover the beauties of Mirabello Gulf, crossing Spinalonga Island (no disembarkation) and Kolokytha Island in a full day cruise with a stop for swim to private spot. Dive in the azure waters of Mirabello and admire the beauty of the sea bottom and the clarity of sea waters.
2. Enjoy the picturesque pebble Plaka Beach
Photo Credits: Greece.com
Plaka Beach, known for its stunning white pebbles and turquoise waters, is the perfect place to spend a day on the beach. It offers some of the best views over Spinalonga Islet, whilst you may enjoy a Greek salad or “meze” from the Beach house (located by the beach), the Cayo way!
3. Explore the dreadful history of Spinalonga Island
Spinalonga Island used to be a leper colony in 1903 so it gives you goosebumps only by standing on it. It was featured in Victoria Hislop's 2005 bestselling novel "The Island", which skyrocketed its reputation. The island is 5 minutes away by frequent local boats departing from Plaka beach or harbor. Some of the most popular sights on the island are the church, the disinfection room, the hospital and the cemetery.
4. Visit Knossos Palace - the preeminent symbol of Minoan civilization!
Once home to the mythical King Minos, Knossos Palace is among the most popular sights in Crete, distinguished for its ancient history, excellent architecture, and thrilling stories that it has given birth to. Numerous myths and legends unfold around this place like the Labyrinth with the Minotaur, or the Daedalus and Icarus, so it's highly recommended it to visit it a host so as to learn all about these exciting stories. Knossos Palace is located few minutes from Heraklion City Center (at around 1½ hour drive from Elounda) and is a major stop for all tourists that pass by Crete.
5. Don's miss Kritsa & Panagia Kera - A traditional village & a Byzantine monument
Photo Credits: Kalispera Crete
Kritsa is a small traditional village, built on two hills at the foot of the mountain located 8km southwest of Saint Nicholas. It is one of the oldest and most picturesque villages of Crete. Its stoned narrow path roads offer visitors the sense of walking in an ancient village surrounded by large trees and stoned fountains. Visitors will have the chance to admire the local weavers and embroiderers, the beautiful lacework, table clothes and other cloths on display and for sale in the village.
Panagia Kera, located 1km east of Kritsa. It is a three-aisled, barrel-vaulted church with a dome since 13th century. Each aisle contains paintings from different periods, representing different religious themes. It is the most famous Byzantine monument of Crete.
6. Visit Ancient Lato - A city from the Hellenistic Period
Photo Credits: CretanBeaches.com
The ruins of ancient Lato located about 5km from Agios Nikolaos, scattered between two hills, at an altitude of 380m, and have stunning views of Mirabello Bay.
The name comes from the goddess Lato (or Leto) - mother of Apollo & Artemis-, which was probably worshiped here. The city was the Minoan period, but actually flourished after the Dorian invasion. Lato was one of the strongest cities in Crete, as evidenced by the agreements (inscriptions have survived) to other cities. The port of Lato was the site of the St. Nicholas and named Kamara. Lato is archaeological site and is considered the best-preserved classical city – Hellenistic period in Crete and one of the most comprehensive in Greece with fortifications, the market prytaneion, small theater, temples, public buildings, tanks, etc.
7. Explore Lasithi Plateau & Dicti Cave - The birthplace of Zeus.
Photo Credits: A Crete Guide
This is an excursion no one shall skip whilst in Lasithi. Lasithi Plateau is situated in east part of Crete in Dikti Mountains. Admire the beauty of the mountain side by admiring the windmills, the picturesque villages like Psichro, the ancient monastery of Vidiani and finally Dicteon Cave - the birthplace of Zeus, impressively adorned by large columns, stalactites and stalagmites.