From Agios Nikolaos to Spinalonga Island, Crete

Chrisa Lepida | Live the World

May 29, 2024

Are you looking for a unique and historical adventure in Crete? Look no further than the tiny teardrop-shaped island of Spinalonga! This once off-the-radar destination has become a must-visit for tourists to Elounda. If you are looking for a memorable trip from Agios Nikolaos, read on to discover why you will not want to miss this unforgettable experience.

© Istock/Gatsi

Why you should visit

The tiny island of Spinalonga, located just off the southern coast of Crete’s Lassithi region, is a must-see destination for anyone visiting the area. There are several reasons why you should add Spinalonga Island to your itinerary. Firstly, it offers a glimpse into the past and the chance to learn about the island's history as Greece's leper colony from 1903-1957. Secondly, the island is surrounded by crystal-clear waters that are perfect for swimming and exploring by boat. Finally, the island is a peaceful and tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, making it a perfect place to relax and recharge.

The island: a history lesson

From the coast, you will see the remains of a 16th-century Venetian fortress, but the real history lies in the ruined houses and buildings of the former leper colony. The island gained international recognition as the setting for Victoria Hislop's best-selling novel, "The Island," and a popular local TV dramatisation.

Tour the island

As you arrive on the island, the size of the medieval fortification will take your breath away. The walls are just as impenetrable today as they once were to countless invaders. Follow the 1.5 km path around the island's perimeter to see the former settlement, hospital, theatre, church of St. George, and cemetery.

© Istock/AxPitel

Discover the settlement

Walking clockwise, you will reach the main settlement of the leper colony. A few houses have been renovated and turned into museums with photographs, historical information, and everyday objects. Imagine the hardship of the time as you tour the cramped living quarters, yet, despite the difficult conditions, a community of around 400 people created a school, shops, and taverns that you can still see today.

Explore the hospital

Next, you will reach the hospital, a basic building that offered little in the way of treatment for leprosy. However, patients were allowed visitors who had to undergo disinfection before leaving the island.

Experience the theatre

The island's community was so organised that they even created a theatre! These actors had a story to tell, and you could experience it yourself.

Visit the Church of St. George and the cemetery

Your tour ends with a visit to the small Venetian-built church of St. George and the cemetery, with a plaque commemorating those buried there. The last resident of Spinalonga was a priest who left in 1962.

© Istock/Gatsi

Embark on an unforgettable adventure with Get Your Guide and visit the famous Spinalonga Island! Get ready for a full day of exploring northeastern Crete's rich history, breathtaking views, and local cuisine. Then, choose from three unique tour options to make the most of your time on the island.

  1. Day Trip to Agios Nikolaos & Spinalonga Island: Enjoy a day filled with picturesque views, rich history, and plenty of opportunities to relax and soak up the local atmosphere. Explore Agios Nikolaos and the picturesque village of Elounda, then take a boat trip to Spinalonga Island to learn about its history. 
  1. Day Tour of Spinalonga, Agios Nikolaos, Elounda & Plaka: Start with a pickup from your hotel and travel to Agios Nikolaos, famous for its bottomless lake and cosmopolitan atmosphere. Explore Elounda, known for its beautiful views of Spinalonga and Kolokitha. Visit the olive oil farm and end the day in Elounda.

3. Spinalonga Island & Agios Nikolaos Tour with BBQ: Be picked up from your accommodation in the morning and take a comfortable bus ride to Agios Nikolaos. Board a ship and cruise to Spinalonga Island, where you will take a guided tour and learn about its rich history. Relax on the beach in Kolokytha Bay, savour a delicious BBQ lunch, and have free time in Agios Nikolaos.

© Istock/Gatsi

In conclusion, Spinalonga Island is a must-visit destination for anyone travelling to Agios Nikolaos, Crete. It offers a unique history lesson, a peaceful escape, and plenty of opportunities for swimming and exploring by boat. So make the most of your visit to Crete and add this unforgettable experience to your itinerary today! 

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