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Eastern Crete Guide

The Prefecture of Lassithi is the easternmost of the island. Its west land border is the prefecture of Heraklion, while to the east it broaches the Carpathian Sea and the Libyan Sea, to the north the Cretan Sea and to the south the Libyan sea. It is fairly mountainous.  Famous because of the beautiful lacy coasts, either to the east or south, Lassithi is another district with popular and scenic resorts, such as in Elounda area. 

Lasithi Prefecture

The Lasithi prefecture is located in the eastern region of Crete and covers an area of 1.800 sq.miles. It is an area that perfectly combines the mountain with the sea and the prosperous valley that is surrounded by tall mountains. The Lassithi plateau is one of the most prosperous and famous in Europe and is something that every visitor to this part of Crete should try and see.

Lassithi, besides its capital town Agios Nikolaos, has many beautiful and picturesque villages and hamlets that are ideal holiday and accommodation destinations such as the famous Malia, the cosmopolitan Elounda, Sitia town, and the famous palm tree forest Vai.

Lassithi is of the most fertile regions in Crete and the Lasithi plateau is one of the most well known in Europe. The products cultivated here are of the highest quality and the potatoes, apples, and bananas grown here are very famous.

Since 1904 the capital town of Lassithi has been Agios Nikolaos, a very picturesque and modern town that is very lively and friendly. Although it is a cosmopolitan town, it still preserves its traditional and authentic beauty. There are plenty of restaurants and café bars, where you can enjoy a lovely meal or a drink, soaking up the lovely atmosphere of this delightful town.

In the center of the town is the lake Voulismeni, which, according to the mythology was the bath of the goddess Athena. It is 60 meters deep and when the modern city of Agios Nikolaos was constructed, the lake connected with the sea through a small canal. At this point, you will see many fishing boats and cruise boats that organize various cruises and trips around the area.

Above the lake, covered by pine trees, stands a tall hill, that offers a panoramic view, and a lovely setting for relaxing. Take a stroll up here in the evening and enjoy the town’s lights below reflecting off the lake – a wonderful photo opportunity.

Agios Nikolaos is very well organized in tourism and caters for all types of holidays. It has many accommodation facilities in all categories, and of course restaurants and traditional taverns with local tastes and cuisine.

At the south of Agios Nikolaos, is situated the resort of Elounda, a modern tourist resort with a very cosmopolitan and luxurious atmosphere, which is the favorite destination in Crete of many VIPs, film stars and celebrities.

Elounda has magnificent sandy beaches, as well as hotel complexes and villas that offer luxurious accommodation and facilities. It is a very popular resort and attracts visitors from all over the world.

Opposite Elounda is the historic islet of Spinalonga. This islet was fortified by the Venetians in order to protect the bay and the area by the Ottoman attacks. From 1903 until 1975 it was used as an exile and place for lepers. Although it was renamed to Caledonia, it is still known by its older name Spinalonga.

Recently it became again famous after the best-seller “The Island” by Victoria Hislop which was also made into TV serial, which had great success in Greece. This book is about the life and ways of the lepers in that era. Today the islet is a cruise destination and organized cruises with boats from Elounda head here on a daily basis.

The region of Lasithi has many beautiful and majestic beaches, with the most famous beach of Vai with the palm trees. According to the myth, it was Arab pirates or Phoenician traders behind this exotic forest, as they were disposing of the pips of the dates that they were eating.

The forest of Vai has been declared a national park and is protected. It is a site of exceptional beauty and a place that you must visit and experience whilst in Crete.

One other impressive site in Lassithi, is Dikteon Andron, the cave where, according to the mythology Zeus was born. The cave is full of impressive stalagmites and stalactites and the temperature of its interior is very low, even during the hot summer months. It can also be described as an ancient air conditioner.

The stunning Lassithi plateau consists of 12 small communities that are very picturesque and beautiful. Driving through the quiet roads in the area, you can see the old wind and water mills, which in the older years were used to pump water. In previous years they were hundreds of them, creating a magical scenery, though sadly today only a few of them are still standing and still turning in the wind, as they insist to be part of the beautiful scenery.

During your holidays in Crete, Lassithi a destination that you must try and visit. The landscapes here are really beautiful and magical. Driving up the mountains you will see images of the traditional life and exceptional natural beauty. The people who reside here are very welcoming and hospitable.

How to get to Heraklion

Sitia has an airport but doesn’t have a direct flight to Athens, so it’s connected with Athens, through flights from Heraklion.

Flights to Heraklion Crete

Flying to Heraklion is the fastest way to ensure that you will start your holiday as soon as possible. During the summer, thousands of visitors arrive in Heraklion from Greece and abroad. Heraklion has an airport that caters for domestic and international flights and is the busiest airport in Crete. Many arrivals and busy schedules also take place at the port of Heraklion, where large cruise ships and ferry boats arrive and depart on a frequent basis.

There are many scheduled flights daily from Athens to Heraklion and even more in summer (50′). The airport is 3,5 km from the city and you can reach it via O.A.’s local buses. For more information, contact O.A. (Olympic Airways) in Athens tel. (01) 961.6161

From Heraklion are scheduled flights to:

Thessaloniki (duration 1,15 h)
Rodos ( >> 40′)
Santorini ( >> 40′)
Mykonos ( >> 1,10 h)
Paros ( >> 1 h)

For more information contact O.A. in Heraklion tel. (081) 225.171-4 or the airport tel. (081) 282.025

Sitia has an airport but doesn’t have a direct flight to Athens, so it’s connected with Athens, through flights from Heraklion.

By Ship

From Piraeus to Heraklion (175 nautical miles) there are two to three boats a day in the summer and two in the winter (every 12 hours). From Piraeus to Sitia there is one boat a week.

Useful Information

Sitia: Good shelter; Fuel & water on the quay; Nightlife

Grandes: Poor shelter; No fuel or water; Taverns

Ierapetra: Good shelter; Fuel & water in town; Nightlife

Kaloi limenes: Good shelter; Anchored off; Fuel & water in town; Taverns

Matala: Poor shelter; Anchored off; Fuel & water in town; Taverns

Agia Galini: Good shelter; Fuel & water in town; Nightlife

Loutro: Good shelter; Anchored off; No fuel; Water in town; Taverns

Paleohora: Poor shelter; Fuel & water in town; Taverns

Gramvoussa: Good shelter; No fuel; Water in town; Taverns

Kissamos: Good shelter; Fuel & water in town; Taverns

Agios Nikolaos

Agios Nikolaos (Saint Nicholas) is a beautiful town and capital of the prefecture, also known as “Mandraki”, built in the same location of the ancient town of Lato in Merambellos bay. It is a cosmopolitan town with vivid nightlife and many beautiful and popular beaches in the vicinity.

Agios Nikolaos, often affectionately referred to by tourists and expats alike as Ag Nik, can be found on the northern coastline of Crete, towards the eastern end, where it suddenly dives south before continuing eastwards again, creating spectacular views across the Mirabello Bay. The name translates as ‘Saint Nicholas’ and the town is approximately one hour from Heraklion airport by taxi. It is set against the dramatic backdrop of the unspoiled Dikti Mountains with its foreground in the blue waters of the beautiful bay. The major town in the region it is also the administrative center of the Lassithi prefecture. As one would expect to accompany such importance it has a large hospital, numerous local government, or demos, buildings, as well as being a port of entry; the limenarxeio, or port police, the building is located close to the Voulismeni lake bridge and handily enough is above the Tourist Information Office. The town also boasts a modern marina, weekly market, archaeological museum plus offices for major domestic and business services such as telecoms and electricity.

Agios Nikolaos might be described as a busy, modern, lively tourist resort but it is one which still remains inherently Cretan in character and remains attractive. It has grown up around the bridge spanning the narrow channel connecting the small, deepwater Voulismeni Lake to the outer harbor. The present harbor of Agios is relatively new, growing in importance from the middle of the 19th century. Although there were an ancient harbor and port only a short distance away, dating back to Venetian and Turkish times, there is little remaining evidence to be seen. The visitor interested in antiquities will find the archaeological museum at the end of a pleasant walk on the northern slope of the town.

It is a town of mixed buildings from the modern and functional through to balconied, pastel-colored dwellings tumbling down to the narrow harbor with its many fishing boats, ferries and leisure craft of all descriptions. Agios itself is the ideal center from which to explore the surrounding areas. There are excursions by bus or boat to all the major places of interest in the area that the visitor might wish to see. From Agios, one can take a trip boat to Spinalonga, the melancholy island that was a leper colony until the mid 20th century, but also has a long and turbulent history of Venetian and Turkish occupation in the years before. Alternatively, you can drive North to Elounda or Plaka for a shorter boat journey out to the island.

A short bus-ride and approx 9kms to the west of Agios Nikolaos is the mountain village of Kritsa, renowned for its intricately woven traditional fabrics and embroidered goods. Further inland is the Lassithi Plateau, famous for the thousands of windmills with their distinctive white, cloth sails, and surrounded by the majestic Dikti Mountains. On the western edge of the plateau, near to the village of Psychro, is another must-see attraction, the Dikteon Cave. Although not for the faint-hearted, the scramble up to the entrance and the plunging descent into the darkness below is well worth the effort. Psychro is reputedly the birthplace of Zeus and the cave has played its part in religious worship for thousands of years. A side chamber of the cave is held to be the actual hiding place where Rhea gave birth to Zeus in order to protect him from her husband, Kronos, who had devoured his previous 5 children.

Traveling south from Agios take the road through Kato Horio to visit Ierapetra, the largest town on the southern coast of the island. Ierapetra enjoys the reputation of being the most southern town in Europe. It is a thriving commercial center, but the old Turkish Quarter lends it more varied and different characteristics from the many other towns on the island. A place of wonderful mountain scenery, and a long sandy beach from which to watch the rolling seas, it enjoys long hours of sunshine even by Cretan standards.

Voulismeni or Vromolimni is a lake, once a freshwater lake, in the center of the town very close to the sea. Now the lake is connected with the sea by a channel and it also serves as a boat marina, while it constitutes one of the main attractions of the town. By the lake is a small open-air theatre used during summer for drama and music performances. In the town is also an open-air cinema. The town is very busy and lively, offering many opportunities for entertainment in the numerous restaurants, cafes, bars, and nightclubs, while due to its popularity, there is a wide market for shopping souvenirs and memorabilia, items of local art and crafts, jewelry and clothing, as well as Cretan food products. The archaeological museum of Agios Nikolaos is very good and rich in a collection of finds mainly from Mallia and Zakros. However, there are also two folklore art and traditional museums and one botanical museum called “IRIS”, housed in a beautiful “neo-classical” 19th-century building, showing the wide variety of flora on the island, as well as the various uses of this natural wealth by the Cretans.

The municipality of Agios Nikolaos includes charming, traditional and touristic villages, namely Pines, Plaka (a pictorial fishing village with beautiful beaches just across to the small isle of Spinalonga), Vrouhas, Skinias, Zenia, Limnes, Lenika, Potami (mountainous villages with many freshwater springs), Katharo (in this mountainous village with a stunning view to the valley have been discovered fossilized dwarf elephants and hippopotamuses, Tapes, Kroustas, Messa and Exo Lakonia and Prina.

Lasithi Beaches

Boulisma, Elounda, and Plaka are some of the most beautiful beaches on Agios Nikolaos.


Windsurfing, Basket, Volley, Tennis, and Horseback Riding.

Night Life

In Agios Nikolaos, there are many night clubs, bars, discos, and a cinema. You can also find taverns with traditional music and buzukia in Agios Nikolaos and Elounda.


The second important town of Lassithi prefecture is Sitia (population 8,900 – Coordinates: 35o 12’ 39’’ N / 26o 06’ 27’’ E) to the east of the Prefecture.  Named after the ancient town of Itia or Sitea, it was a very important port during Byzantine and Venetian rules and a town which suffered a lot by pirate raids.  For this reason, the Venetians built a series of castles and fortresses – the fortress and barracks of Kazarma – which today make up the most popular sightseeing of the town and is also used during summer for events and performances. Though not so touristic as Agios Nikolaos, in Sitia there are one archaeological (with rare exhibits) and one folklore museums, as well as a museum of local traditional Cretan products. There is an airport in Sitia serving mostly domestic and small aircraft flights.


The third and very well known and the significant town is Ierapetra (population: 23,707 – Coordinates: 35o 00’ 14’’ N / 25o 44’ 14’’ E) in the south coast of the Libyan Sea, the southernmost town of Europe and the fourth largest city in Crete. Ierapetra, built at the same location of ancient Greek and Roman town of “Ierapytna”, is a very touristic and a popular destination with the warmest climate and more sunshine days than any other place in Greece. Like almost all large towns of Crete, Ierapetra has a Venetian Castle.

Ierapetra is an active tourist center. It is located only 14 km from the north coast and 36 km from Agios Nikolaos. The area has a reputation for its resplendent sand beaches, its mild climate, and unhampered sunshine, for its early fruits and vegetables. It also has a small Archaeological Museum which contains finds from the Early Minoan to the Roman period.

Kapsas Monastery

A turn-off left to the Monastery of Kapsas next to the Pervolakia ravine, in front of a sandy shore. The monastery was probably built in the 15th century.

You return to the main route. Before it returns to Ierapetra the road passes along the endless sandy beaches on the Libyan Sea with lovely settlements such as Analipsi, Makrys Yialos, Koutsouras, Achlia, Agia fotia, and Ayioi Saranta.

Toplou Monastery

It is a historic monastery on the northeast end of Crete, known for the struggle it waged against pirates and Turks. It was built in the 15th century, most probably on the ruins of an older monastery. It was a true fortress and even had a cannon. It has notable relics and wonderful icons.


A verdant village with alluring lanes. From here the road descends to the sea passing alongside the Ravine of the Dead.

Kato Zakros has a coastal settlement on a bay with pebbles and a crystal-clear sea. This area became known for the famous Minoan palace, which was discovered here by Professor N. Platon in 1961.

The Palace of Zakros, the fourth of the great Minoan palaces is very similar to the other three. The difference is that the Palace of Zakros lay before a harbor which played an important role in the commercial exchanges with Egypt and other countries in the East. The palace was destroyed the same year as the other palaces, that is around 1500 B.C.


The renowned palm forest with a great sand beach. It is a tropical landscape which is an exception in Greece. It receives a large number of visitors who come to see the rare landscape and enjoy its marvelous sea.


One of the largest traditional villages on the Crete with heightened tourist activity, known for its embroideries, knitwear, and woven articles. In August there is a re-enactment of the famed Cretan wedding. From Kritsa ancient Lato is 3,5 km away. Lato e Etera, as it is called to distinguish it from Lato pros Kamara, which was on the site of Ayios Nikolaos, was once a powerful town, built around the 7th century B.C.

Mesa Lasithi

It is a lovely village on the plateau which you can reach at an altitude of 870 m.

From Mesa Lasithi a turnoff right leads to the Kroustallenios Monastery, which was founded in 1540. At a distance of 3 km from the monastery is Tzermiado, the largest village in the Province of Lasithi and its capital. Near the village, there are two notable archaeological sites. These are the Trapeza Cave and Kastellos Hill. Both of them have furnished finds from the Neolithic, Early Minoan and Middle Minoan periods.

North of Tzermiado, there was a Late Minoan settlement at the rocky height Karfi (1,100 m.).

Diktaean Andron Cave

The road ends below the entrance to the cave. According to mythology, the cave is the place where Rhea gave birth to Zeus. The cave was a place of worship from the end of the Middle Minoan to the end of the Late Minoan period.


On the right side of the road, on the slopes of a hill, there are the ruins of a Minoan town. The American archaeologist Boyd Hawes, who conducted the excavation, uncovered the foundations of an entire provincial Minoan town which flourished during the Late Minoan period (1600-1400 B.C.).


If you’re looking for a more seaside adventure, visit the small islands or islets off the coast, such as Spinalonga. The latter was once a leper colony with a sad history, yet today forms a major attraction for visitors with historical buildings and stunning beaches. Catch the boat to Spinalonga from the picturesque traditional village of Plaka, or head to the cosmopolitan beachside town of Hersonissos, famous for its nightlife, younger crowds, and party atmosphere. For a more hidden side of old Crete, above Hersonissos lies the traditional village of Koutouloufari, full of lovely stone houses and narrow paved streets. In the same area, you can also go to the charming seaside town of Elounda that’s also famous for its beaches. Even more to the east lies Limanaki a quieter beach spot that’s ideal for scuba diving.

The Isle of Spinalonga – meaning “long thorn” in Italian (official name Kalidon) – is located in the eastern part of Crete, near to the town of Elounda.  In 1579, the Venetians built a fortress on Spinalonga over the ruins of an acropolis and kept control until the Ottoman Empire took possession of it in 1715. The island is notable for being one of the last active leper colonies in Europe, being used as leprosarium from 1903 until 1957.

One of the most famous and rare Byzantine monument in Crete (13th-14th A.D.), is located in Logari one kilometer east of Kritsa, is the triple-nave Byzantine church called “Panaghia Kera” (Our Lady Virgin Mary) dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, to Saint Anthony and Saint Anna.  Adorned with superb frescoes and it is strongly recommended for a visit.

The history of the name ‘Spinalonga’ is in itself subject to conjecture, but it is widely accepted that its roots lie somewhere in the Olous, Orlando, Elounda location and the word meaning long and thorny. Spinalonga is actually the name of the sizeable but slender peninsula and on maps, the small island is identifiable by the name Kalidon.

Acquired from the Byzantine Empire at the start of the thirteenth century Spinalonga was to become a crucial part of the Venetian Powerbase on Crete for the next four centuries. Huge fortifications still dominate this tiny but strategically important dot on the map.

Such was the natural isolation and man-made defenses of this tiny island that it managed to hold out against the Ottoman Empire for almost fifty years (from 1669 to 1715) after the fall of the rest of Crete into Turkish hands. From 1715 until the turn of the twentieth century it was held by the occupying Ottomans and populated by civilians.

The island is probably best known to the wider world for its twentieth-century role as an isolated community of leprosy sufferers, a function that it fulfilled from 1903 up until 1957. This, however, is only one phase of a lengthy and varied history. Many of Spinalonga’s most striking features, the massive fortifications, date back five centuries or more to the Venetian occupation. Beginning to understand the past and the significance of Spinalonga at times, it is important to appreciate its geographic position in relation to the rest of Crete’s north east coastline.

If you use the Spinalonga satellite map and zoom out you can easily tell how crucial a strategic position the island occupies. Its location guards the entrance to the shallow and relatively sheltered bay on which Plaka and Schisma (Elounda ‘town center’) sit. Along with ‘Big’ Spinalonga, or Spinalonga peninsula, it marks the edge of a shelf where the land falls away into the deep waters of the north Mirabello bay. With major walls, fortifications, cannon emplacements, and battlements the Venetians were able to command naval control over any ships passing to the north or south of Spinalonga into these shallow waters. The bay it protects has two main residential settlements on its shores. Plaka sits directly opposite Spinalonga and Elounda, a far more populous area, is at the southern end of the bay. At the far southern end of the bay, the small causeway is bisected by a narrow canal suitable only for open fishing boats. All large commercial and trip boats must enter and exit the bay at the northern entrance, past Spinalonga. Mirabello Bay, into which the canal gives access, is a large bay on the northeast coast of Crete. Its sweeping curved coastline almost forms two-thirds of a circle and Mirabello itself offers a safe haven for large ships in extreme weather even today.

Crete’s earliest cities date back over four thousand years to the early Minoans and it is impossible that they wouldn’t have utilized the parts of Spinalona peninsula and the island that were above the waves back then to their greatest advantage. Constant seismic activity in the Aegean has ensured that the features visible today would not have been familiar to the first inhabitants of Crete

Although there is no visible Minoan or Dorian remains on the island, the wider Spinalonga area would have been of great strategic importance to even the earliest settlers on Crete. By the third century BC the city of Olous, now buried under the silt and seas south of the causeway, had become a regional powerhouse with militaristic tendencies akin to those of its near neighbors Lato and Oxa, all three been frequently involved in local struggles, alliances, and entities. Ruins of an ancient acropolis from this period are purported to lie under the huge Venetian fortifications.

The earliest major structures visible on the island today are still its most striking and substantial. During the lengthy Venetian occupation of Crete, huge fortifications were built at different levels on Spinalonga. Huge stone battlements and gun emplacements ensured total control of the waters, giving access to the tiny bay. High walls and natural features turned the island into an impenetrable fortress, home to the troops that defended it.

The next wave of inhabitants came during the Ottoman occupation and it is the shops and residences from this period that form the majority of the buildings on the west coast which is somewhat sheltered, facing across to Plaka. The east side of the island has few structures except fortifications and a chapel and is open to the winds of the Aegean sea.

By the twentieth century, many of the old Ottoman buildings had been reopened to house the region’s inhabitants suffering from leprosy. Houses and structures that were hundreds of years old had an arrest placed on their decline as those exiled to the island forged a dignified community out of shared affliction in a decaying place. Although none would have chosen to be confined in such a tiny place village life did continue and the twentieth century’s technology reached across the water. Modern dormitories were built during this period; these are the large concrete buildings to the north of the church and Ottoman period buildings. For the first time visitor probably one of the most poignant sections of a circuit of the island is right at the very end. Just before descending from the walls back down to the landing stage the visitor has to pass the twentieth-century cemetery, the final resting place of many sufferers of the disease. Its views to the open sea may be glorious on a summer afternoon, but only if you are free to leave.

The island of Spinalonga has been uninhabited since 1962 when the last priest had remembered the fifth anniversary of the last resident death and burial on the island in 1957.

Spinalonga Boat Trips and tours

Both the Elounda boat cooperative and Plaka boats offer regular trips to and from the island. From Plaka, the crossing takes a matter of a few minutes and from the Elounda boat station around fifteen minutes. Tickets may be purchased from the booking desk in each location. Boats also depart from close to the Voulismeni Bridge in Agios Nikolaos, offering day trips, including onboard lunch and return trip to the island. Trips from further afield normally see visitors transported by coach to either Agios Nikolaos or Elounda for embarkation. There is also a small charge to go onto the island which is a national historic site.

Visitors should note that the regular boats only operate during the summer tourist season. The island is extremely compact and in parts the path around it is uneven.


Elounda is a bustling tourist resort on the North East coast of Crete. Within the prefecture of Lassithi, it has a population of over 2000, although this greatly swells by the peak of the season to include temporary workers, holidaymakers and day visitors.

Its nearest major town is Agios Nikolaos, less than a 10km drive away to the south which sits on Mirabello Bay. Elounda is popular with both expat residents and holidaymakers of a variety of ages, although mainly couples and families. Good quality beaches and a variety of water sports are available within easy walking distance of the center and one of the resort’s most popular sights is the island of Spinalonga which is serviced by numerous trip boats in the season.

A true resort with the accompanying shops, restaurants, facilities, and entertainment.

The wider Elounda area is made up a number of small villages that spread from the bay up into the hills and also along the shoreline towards the north coast. The main street and harbor plus many of the surrounding streets constitute what is known as Schisma. Following the road along the bay takes you past the areas of Mavrikiano (set higher up, but less than 1/2km from the center, next is Tsifliki, a small hamlet and finally the road reaches the northern point of the bay at Plaka which sits immediately opposite the island of Kalidon (Spinalonga). If you were to leave the village by heading up into the hills you would reach the areas of Kato (Low) Elounda, Pano (High) Elounda and then Kato Pines and Pano Pines before it heads off in the direction of Neapoli.

Getting / Parking there: Take the National road (E75) from the airport, past Neapoli traveling eastbound. At the first major junction and set of traffic lights (before entering Agios Nikolaos) turn left (ahead goes into Agios, right is for Sitia continuing along the main road). Follow the road for 150m and turn right at the next set of traffic lights. Follow the road, which will pass a BP garage on your right-hand side; the road will eventually take you straight into Elounda after passing through Lenika. Follow the road into the center and enter the car park opposite the newsstand and post office. You should exit the car park next to the church tower or at the far end near Porto Rino and the children’s playground.

If you wish to park the car in the downtown, past Kalypso Hotel, Babel and Porto Rino (except on market day!) and there are further free parking spaces down near the beach on the road out towards Plaka. One hour from the airport by car, although both KTEL buses (changing at Agios bus terminus) and holiday coaches (with many drops off points) may take nearer to two and a half A taxi from the airport costs approx 65 Euros Orientation : Standing at the bus stop on the square (entrance to car park and taxi rank) just off the main street in the town centre you can see the harbour, church and most amenities such as the Post Office, Bank as well as many restaurants, bars, tourist shops and minimarkets. Tourist Information is at the far end of the Car Park underneath the Church tower. Popular Local Interest, History, and Sights: Most visitors will cross to the tiny island of Spinalonga (officially renamed Kalidon) a place with a spectacularly varied history. From almost 50 years fortified resistance to the Turks (1669-1715) up to its final incarnation as Europe’s last leper colony, its remaining inhabitants only left in the 1950s. Boat trips depart from the quayside every half hour during the season. An absolutely essential trip for any visitor although often quite busy as it is also a popular day trip from many neighboring resorts. Many boats make it part of a day trip including a cruise round Kolokitha, barbeque and time to go swimming. For those wanting an excursion on foot, following the causeway past the Venetian salt pans and the sunken Dorian city of Olous leads to the canal (southern end of the bay) cutting through the isthmus. Located near to the canal are Byzantine ruins (mosaic floor) and a small chapel. Following the track over the top (northeasterly towards Kolikitha) and walking down through the undergrowth brings you above the small beach opposite Kolakitha island and to a small chapel (Ag. Fokas), yet it is still only an hour’s walk from the town. This beach can get very busy at times with many boat trips arriving but it just seems to add to the fun for most people. There is also the third chapel on ‘large’ Spinalonga, further north called Ag. Ioannis.