With three days in Heraklion (aka Iraklio), you can discover the area’s 4,000 years of history, savor the local cuisine, wander landscapes like the Samaria Gorge—and even visit another island.
Spinalonga is a popular tourist attraction, known for its archaeological site and fortress (once used as a Turkish bastion and leper colony), shallow pools formerly used to harvest sea salt, and pretty pebble beaches along clear waters. You can reach the island by boat trip from Plaka, Elounda, and Agios Nikolaos, but by far the best way to visit the island’s archeological site is with an expert tour guide. Many full-day Spinalonga tours include other nearby highlights like the so-called “bottomless lake” in Agios Nikolaos and the beautiful beaches on Kolokytha, and some offer a BBQ lunch. If you’re a more adventurous visitor, choose a tour that pairs a ride through the countryside on a 4x4 with a private speedboat trip to the island.
Recent reviews from experiences in Heraklion
Great and relaxing day on Crete
Evelyn, Aug 2021
Spinalonga and Milatos Cave (Safari Adventure Excursion & private Speedboat)
Great tour guide and small group. The visit to Spinalonga was nive as we had speed boat and did not have to wait in the heat. Cretan lunch in the small local tavern was very tasty.
Great day out
RAJC, Aug 2021
Spinalonga, full day professional guided coach & boat & lunch included
Overall the day was excellent. Some points that aren't mentioned above are that you also get to spend around 2 hours in Elounda after the trip to Spinalonga and then around an hour in Agios Nikolaos and a short time in a olive oil factory in Malia. There was no BBQ lunch as stated but they handed out sandwiches, snacks and drinks and even a cheeky shot of ouzo on the boat back from Spinalonga. Oi oi. It was great how they just let you do your own thing and wasn't hearded around like cattle by some shepherd with a clipboard. Overall the day was fantastic value for money and we would definitely recommend it. ****
I loved the whole day, so nice, wel...
3gaby12, Jun 2018
Spinalonga - Agios Nikolaos From Heraklion
I loved the whole day, so nice, wel done, the BBQ too!. Spinalonga, very, very interesting, you have to listen to the story of this island, super profesional lady. You have free time to walk around of Island, back to the boat. Beautiful vieuws over the sea!. Higly recommended.
First class service from the driver...
H M LAMB L, Sep 2017
Full-Day Guided Spinalonga Island Tour
First class service from the driver and knowledgable and experienced tour guide Fantastic day Helen and Duncan
Things to Know Before You Go
Spinalonga is for day-trippers only: There are beaches for taking a dip and a small snack bar on the island, but no accommodations.
Don’t forget a hat, sunblock, and plenty of water to stave off Crete’s summer heat.
Tours do not include the entrance fee for the Spinalonga archaeological site and fortress.
The fortress and archaeological site have stairs and uneven ground, and are not suitable for wheelchair users.
Older children enjoy touring the abandoned fortress, but infants must be carried as the site is difficult to visit with a stroller.
How to Get There
The island of Spinalonga lies 50 miles (80 kilometers) east of Heraklion in Greece’s Mirabello Bay. To access the fort, you need to take a ferry or boat tour from Plaka or Elounda.
When to Get There
Spinalonga is most crowded in summer, which is also when the heat can be hard to manage. Plan your day around visiting the archaeological site in the early morning or late afternoon, and staying cool at the beach during the hottest time of day.
Spinalonga in Books and Movies
Spinalonga has been the setting for a number of books and movies—most famously the 2005 novelThe Island by Victoria Hislop, which was adapted into a Greek television series.