Explore Elounda … the east side of this incredible island….
AIRPORT & TRANSFER
We flew into Heraklion airport which is closer to Elounda and the bigger airport – no drama at all with getting bags etc. All straight forward.
Airport transfer was booked through Heraklion Taxi 75€ each way which, as we arrived late, was worth it as it only took an hour (3 by coach). They were brilliant at communicating and were there bang on time to collect us on the way home – all arranged via email.
For departure – all straight forward and normal check in. Though note to those last minute souvenir shoppers – Airside there was a big lack. Basically one large duty free – containing only minimum over priced momentoes – so ensure you pick up any tat you need during your stay (Confession: every trip I have to have as standard a mug, snow globe and key ring though this trip my snow globe smashed 😞
We were staying at the Royal Marmin Bay Hotel after an easy check in around 11pm local time – we headed to the hotel bar. (Oddly for an adult only hotel they only offered lemonade as a welcome drink!) The hotel bar is actually the pool side one, perfect for a quick arrival drink and day time hydration of pina coladas but not a destination if you weren’t staying there.
The room was small but actually perfect for us, tho the ‘sea view’ was a little over sold. However when we mentioned this the next day, the manager himself showed us another room and happily moved us!
The hotel is built up into the mountain rocks and so the walk up and down was excellent for keeping that bikini bod in shape but who wants to do that on holiday? Not me! So we utilised the golf buggy service. We would just call or request one from the pool and someone would come and collect you. Super fast and efficient – no waiting around. We were very grateful for our breakfast ‘lift’ – our driver would arrive with such humour and kindness and whizz us up to the restaurant knowing how hungry we were!
The breakfast was pretty standard buffet with gluten free bread available & tailored made eggs though unusually no brecki bubbles (funnily enough, probably not a bad thing and if asked did provide). The views at breakfast were ridiculous – over the infinity pool to the ocean below and mountains ahead.
Which is also where we would then plonk ourselves for the day. The pool was officially manned from 10am, as was the private beach, where also all staff bent over backwards to ensure you relaxed as quickly as possible. (Even helping ensure I stayed in the shade.) As well as the pool bar there was a beach bar for lunch though it’s undersold with this reference – it’s simply stunning – the traditional Greek colours set on a back drop of turquoise waters whilst also being in the shade.
Our favourite local wine fast became the nautilus rose – a beautiful blush. We also tried the blue Chardonnay- yes it’s actually blue! Sweeter and more a novelty but fun to experiment.
And what else would you have for lunch but a Greek salad!
We only ate once at the hotel for dinner. Hugely tempted by the sushi restaurant but just couldn’t justify not having more of a variety of fresh fish. So Poseidon it was. Stunning location. Lovely service and fabulous starters and puddings … but the mains didn’t live up to the Greek standard. But as we went on our last night for ease and rest, it was a great choice.
Worth noting just a 10 minute walk down the road is another hotel – Elounda Blu which also has a sushi rooftop restaurant and a bar attached. Perfect if you want get out of the hotel for a bit but not have hassle of taxis or going far. The cocktails at the bar were rather splendid but again it was the view that got under my skin.
So to other restaurants…. where do I start? It was so hard to decide which to do – so many amazing choices from local taverns to fancy fish eateries – hence why I’m writing this – to help you!
There are 3 villages/towns we wanted to explore: Plaka, Elounda and Agios Nikolaos.
My favourite. Let’s start there – small, gorgeously Greek, beautiful boutiques and a lovely row of taverns.
We could have walked but hopped in a 5 min cab for 8€s as we were scorching. After a potter and many perfect gifts and clothes purchased, we ate at Captain Nikolas Fish Tavern on the recommendation of @holidayqueenuk. I was tempted by the gorgeous blues and whites of some of the other places and am sure they would have been brilliant too but stuck with where planned! Freshly caught red snapper washed down with the house rose (which is heavier than the typical blush but still dry and delicious.) The owner was a funny kind Greek man who gave us extra rose to help wash lunch down followed by a surprise pudding and ouzo – great fun and I reckon would have been even more banter and fun in the evening.
The main area – where everywhere is called after it, so many hotels start with this name – very confusing! It’s more touristy and bustling that Plaka but not tacky so good to try both. You can walk but we asked the hotel to get us a cab down – only took 10 mins (though google maps implied was longer)
I obviously did a rooftop while I was where – Atika – open all day and non residents welcome – rooftop pool with a bar attached that’s covered so daytime you won’t burn!
Also stopped at a snack bar for some bubbles – Del Mar – amazing how the water is right up to the sides, I could have sat there all day.
Then we went to the Ferryman for dinner – one of the most famous tavernas in Elounda – even the BBC has made a documentary about it. They hadn’t received my reservation request but happily accommodated us and more amazing fresh fish – this time sea bass. But it’s the setting. Again right on the water. Such a treat.
Also in Elounda are some big fancy hotels with some equally fancy places to eat in their complexes – we tried the Yacht Club at Elounda Mare. A real family feel with a singer and more views to get lost in. Scallops for starters were insane followed more sea bass – I chose a pudding that I can only describe as like a giant ferrero rocher.
The last place we went to was Agios Nicolas (further down the coast – a good 20/25 mins taxi) and again a very different feel. It was even bigger than Elounda – more shops, more bars and even a rooftop disco (I will come back to that!) In true where’s the rooftop style I had planned 3 bars to have pre dinner drinks in.
All can be found here: Rooftops in Crete
My favourite was the Ikaros Art Hotel’s rooftop. Part inside/ part terrace and small but the views rival that of much of Greece.
Dinner was another hotel – the Minos Beach Art Hotel and its Bouillabisse Restaurant – right on the water. Only a handful of covers so book in advance (I emailed before we went) – we savoured as the sun set over the water another incredible meal (and the surprise discovery of frozen tomatoes and basil sorbet with bread to start – I asked for a second!) Very romantic setting.
Now I come back to the rooftop disco. Being the rooftop seeker this one didn’t open till 8pm so wasn’t possible before dinner (always check opening times at the time as so variable) planned to pop in for one drink for the road but woah! were we in for a surprise… this really was a rooftop disco. Not a club as you’ve think now, but disco lights, fun 80s/90s music and drinks with sparklers! We didn’t leave for many hours and I think burnt all our dinner off!
The extra bonus we did was a boat trip … Captained by Gianni and booked through the hotel, we opted for a few quality hours on our own boat. Not cheap at €85 per hour but worth every single penny (if you are as much of a sea lover as me). Plus it was the day of my birthday so highly justifiable expense. We ticked off a bit of history as he took us to Spinalonga – a little island opposite Plaka famously known as the leper colony and the setting for novel ‘The Island’ by Victoria Hislop.
We could pick what else we did and he provided the wine (sounded fair to me!). He also had a life jacket on board for my friend who’s not a confident swimmer when out in the middle of nowhere! Best feeling ever.
So really I have no idea why I didn’t try and blag a job out there and stay … it was incredible!!
Message me Feebee@wherestherooftop.com if there’s anything specific you want to know.
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Ps…. What I didn’t get to do (this time)…
In Plaka, Taverna Gorgona which would have been a cute harbour view lunch or dinner option
Elounda Gulf Villas & Suites – the celeb haunt – wanted to check out for a drink.