Spinalonga island, located in the Gulf of Mirambello, is considered a symbol for the people of Crete. At a point between the Mediterranean Sea and the Aegean lies a small uninhabited island where its steep streets, abandoned houses and fortress ooze ancient stories of battle, sacrifice and disease. Originally joined to the larger island of Greece to form a peninsula, it served as a retaining wall from the 7th century against the Arab pirates who sailed the Mediterranean. Check here my entire itinerary.
Spinalonga is an island located in the Gulf of Elounda in north-eastern Crete, in Lasithi, next to the town of Plaka. The official Greek name of the island today is Kalydon.
During Venetian rule, salt was harvested from salt pans around the island. The island has also been used as a leper colony. Because of its position the island was fortified from its earliest years in order to protect the entranceway of the port of Ancient Olous.
In 1578 the Venetians charged the engineer Genese Bressani to plan the island’s fortifications. He created blockhouses at the highest points of the northern and southern side of the island, as well as a fortification ring along the coast that closed out any hostile disembarkation.
In 1715, the Ottoman Turks captured Spinalonga taking over the last remaining Venetian fortress and removing the last trace of Venetian military presence from the island of Crete.
HOW TO GET THERE
Today, the uninhabited island is a popular tourist attraction in Crete. In addition to the abandoned leper colony and the fortress, Spinalonga is known for its small pebble beaches and shallow waters.
The island can easily be accessed from Plaka, Elounda and Agios Nikolaos. Tourist boats depart from all three towns on a daily basis. Since there is no accommodation on Spinalonga, the tours last only a few hours.
- From Plaka: ferry every 40 minutes, price 10€, duration 20min to arrive to the island.
- From Elounda: ferry every 30 minutes, price 12€, duration more than 1h.
- From Agios: ferry every 2hours, price 24€, duration 3h.
I took the first option, Plaka is just 20min by car from Agios, and there are a lot of beautiful restaurants and stores so don’t worry if you miss one ferry.
The island of Spinalonga operates as an archaeological site with opening hours from April to October from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm. During the winter months, it is closed to the public. Entrance fee: €8. There are private guided tours if you prefer. Bar and WC are present in the island.
Beaches are all around the island, here you can find rock beaches really beautiful and with a great view of Spinalonga. Id you prefer sandy beaches you ca go back toward Agios and you will find a lot of them.