Spinalonga is an island located off the north-east coast of Crete. It is known for having been used as a place of confinement for people with leprosy between 1903 and 1957. Today, the island has become a popular tourist site, attracting many visitors curious about its history. The island is also mentioned in Victoria Hislop’s novel, “The Island,” which has contributed to its popularity with the general public.
How to get to Spinalonga?
To get to Spinalonga, several options exist. First of all, whether you live in Elounda or not, Crete Autrement will direct you to these superb excursions departing from major Cretan cities and with a very attractive program!
If not, how can we do it? Spinalonga is located on the northern side of the island. North-northeast.
But how to get to Spinalonga?
First of all, it is likely that you will arrive by plane from Paris or another EU airport in the Cretan capital, Heraklion. The city is located 75km from Spinalonga and 1h10 by car.
To go to Spinalonga, you can :
- Rent a car when you arrive at the airport and drive a little more than 1 hour to Elounda
- Take the bus from Heraklion and the Archaeological Museum to Elounda (also passing through Agios Nikolaos). It will cost you from 8 to 11€, for a 2h30 transfer.
- Take a cab from Heraklion to Elounda, for about 75€.
Once you arrive in Elounda, you will have to cross the narrow inlet that separates the Cretan village from the historic islet that lies just offshore. The first boats from Elounda to Spinalonga leave around 9:30-10:00 am. ATTENTION: the departure times of the boats and the opening of the sites on Spinalonga can vary during the year and according to the weather!
Spinalonga: discover the history of the leper island!
Today, Spinalonga is a curiosity for the eyes. A fortress rising in the middle of the sea, a few fathoms from a fishing village. But beyond its unusual appearance, why do we visit the island of Spinalonga? What is its history?
Located at the western entrance to the Gulf of Mirabello, the fortress of Spinalonga was built in 1579 by the Venetians, that people of seafaring explorers, on the ruins of an ancient fortress built between 3000 and 900 BC. The first goal of Spinalonga is then to protect Elounda.
In the 18th century, the Turks took possession of the islet following an assault in 1715. But it was during the first half of the 20th century that Spinalonga experienced one of its most singular destinies, becoming an open-air leprosarium. Hence its name of “fortress of lepers”. All infected Cretans were deported there, driving out the “Turkish-Cretans” who still lived there.
Abandoned on the spot, the inhabitants took possession of the place to recreate their village: school, shops, etc.
The leprosarium ended in 1957.
Today, the island of Spinalonga is a remnant of all these tragic times and events.
What to do in Spinalonga?
1. Immerse yourself in the history of the island
Whether you climb the island’s fortifications, visit the Museum of the History of Spinalonga, climb the tower at the top of Spinalonga to admire the turquoise waters or walk through the abandoned village of the island: everything on the island is history and the theater of the past.
2. Anchor by boat
The beach of Spinalonga is not the most extraordinary in Crete. But the waters around the islet are of great beauty.
If you find yourself in the middle of a cruise in Greece or Crete, do not hesitate to anchor and spend the night off the island.
3. Sleep in the hotel in front of Spinalonga
Book your hotel in Elounda
Elounda remains the ideal place to sleep with a view of the Mediterranean and Spinalonga. Treat yourself to this exceptional moment by booking your luxury hotel in Crete here:
Book a room at Domes of Elounda, Autograph Collection, in Elounda
In front of the island was built the village of Elounda. It remains a place full of history, for having welcomed lepers when the leprosarium was closed in 1957.
On site, you will find a 5 star hotel :
A magnificent establishment, with, as you can imagine, a breathtaking view of the sea and Spinalonga!
Elounda is best known as the (very beautiful) Cretan coastal village looking the mythical island of Spinalonga in the eye.
A few hundred meters from the island of Lepers, Elounda has the advantage of being a vacation spot offering primarily luxury hotels and resorts. Among the most beautiful of the island of Greece.
A luxury hotel in Crete and Elounda, from 2400€ per week.
Weather Spinalonga: what is the climate like all year round ?
Before we tell you more about the incredible island of Spinalonga, Crete, let’s have a look at the local weather. Located in the north of the island, off the coast of Elounda, the island of Spinalonga has a very favorable climate during the year.
Moreover, from October to March, you will have (on average) no more than 5 days of rain in a month. Finally, note that from April to the end of August, the days have 12 hours of sunshine on the island of Spinalonga!
Opinions on Spinalonga: what do you think?
It is true that with the health crisis we have been experiencing since 2020, it is sometimes difficult to know what remains open and accessible to the public. Rest assured, in June 2021, just before the summer vacations, the island of Spinalonga is open to tourists and visitors.
Here is a valuable opinion to consider:
From Plaka, the trip lasts only a few minutes, followed by an hour tour of the island, with many explanations given by tables on the history of the island, Venetian fortress fallen to the Ottomans, then used in the twentieth century as a leper colony. Until 1957, the island hosted lepers who were confined there.Tripadvisor, June 4, 2021