Over the years, Spinalonga island has gained the reputation as one of all time favourite ones - it is a dear classic from the 'must see' repertoire on Crete that never fails to meet the expectations. You get it all - a rich and exciting history, turquoise waters and a stunning landscape. Besides, it is not only the island but the whole journey to and from it.
The fact that Spinalonga island is one of the most frequently visited sites on Crete is not a secret. In fact the island has been named as one of the Greece's Top 10 Archeological Sites. Despite the hot, baking sun in summer and prospects of crossing paths with quite few other people, it is still one of the most popular places to be. Here are 3 main reasons why:
Wouldn't your imagination unleash and your phantasy unfold seeing this awe-inspiring view? This is one of those rare sights in every travellers portfolio that makes the trip worth it. Yet like an elegant beauty against a backdrop of the blue Mirabello bay an dominant sky, Spinalonga island is not as delicate as it seems afar. The barren plot of land as small as 0.085 km2, powerful walls of Spinalonga fortress and ruins of former life that has now become the island's ghost town conceal the history of powerful Venetian and Ottoman times and the touching story of suffering, love and advancement of the outcasts at the beginning of 20th century. You've got to get closer!
Crete has amazingly rich and diverse history and here, on Spinalonga you can find it all - layer upon layer of centuries, stormy events, the suffering and victories of its inhabitants, all of it are witnessed by and sealed in pathways and alleys of the island. Spinalonga is often associated with its most recent history and tagged exclusively as the 'leper island' which would be somewhat limiting and unfair to its rich past. The little plot of land has experienced it all - ancient times, 400 hundred years of Venetian siege, Ottoman rule that lasted almost 200 years - all of it that all have left its footprints on the island. Spinalonga is like a Cretan version of thousand and one night tales, except that those are true stories - collected over centuries, most of them not as romantic but hardly less exciting and, shall we be a bit more humble, - there are about hundred and one of them. All you have to do is to choose a good story teller to make history alive.
Spinalonga's atmospheric, winding streets are now abandoned, but still seem full of history. The island has inspired artists and writers through the centuries, and was the setting for Victoria Hislop's international bestseller book, The Island, is a moving account of what life for the lepers of Spinalonga must have been like.
A boat trip to the island makes one truly feel what it means to visit an island, as most of us come to Crete by plane. If you are visiting Heraklion a day trip to Spinalonga is a great opportunity to see the Cretan landscape and experience the vibe of the island.
The boats to Spinalonga island depart from Agios Nikolas, Elounda and Plaka. Spinalonga island is 75 km from Heraklion that takes about 1 hour and half by car or minivan.
Having traveled for over 30 years, since 6 years now, I have found the whole world in one of the most fascinating and unique places on earth – Crete. It is a diverse, rich and inspiring island which even after so many years does not stop surprising me - its rich history and unique traditions, its people, the delicacies of Cretan cuisine, its landspace and its stunning nature. Here I reveal some of its secrets.
I see Crete through turquoise - pink glasses.
Skip the group tours, leave your rental car at your hotel and ask Joseph to accompany you on a private tour to these great spots on Crete. We did "Mystic & Rustic Crete" and "Birth of Europe". If you are a first-time visitor he will suggest an itinerary and if you have special requests he will include those. Without Joseph we would not have known about the local culture or the history of the area nor would we have met and chatted with the local people... Read more
"A great tour and experience"We spent a full day with Joseph visiting Chania, Rethymnon and an olive oil farm and we had a great time. Crete is huge so you have to make choices unless you spend a week there. We arranged this tour with Joseph discussing our options and time. Joseph was very flexible with the itinerary allowing us to customize our tour and experience the highlights of some very nice towns. Joseph was very knowledgeable and answered every question. We would definitely use Joseph again to visit the other parts of Crete that we could not get to in this visit.
"Crete showed by Joseph is unique"The experience with Joseph showing us around Crete was absolutely unique. He is Greek and speak very good Hebrew. I don't think we would had seen and experienced half of what we did with him if we'd be on our own. He told us a lot of interesting stories about the Lassithi plateau and the area. His effortless ability to chat up with locals and involve us into conversation (with some translation, of course) was amazing. Funny enough these encounters led to further invitations (for a coffee and local drink - raki). Later on, he took us to an absolutely authentic tavern in a mountain village...
"The secrets never die" Das erste Mal haben wir Joseph Batis mit einer kleinen Gruppe in Chania in einer Fischtaverne kennengelernt. Er sprach Deutsch, Hebräisch, Englisch, Griechisch und soweit ich es richtig vernommen habe auch Spanisch. Ich habe die Gelegenheit genutzt ihn über unsere Ausflugsziele zu befragen. Seine Hinweise und seine Kenntnis haben uns in die Welt von Kreta innerhalb kurzer Zeit eingewiesen. Wir haben Joseph für einen Tag engagieren können um uns zu begleiten. Joseph hat über 30 Jahre in Deutschland gelebt. Seit Jahren führt er private Reisetouren auf Kreta...
יוסי מסיורים בכרתים ויוון, הוא מדריך.... מקצוען, בעל יידע נרחב איש לבבי וסימפטי, טיילנו בשנה שעברה... היה פשוט מדהים כיף... כיף... כיף... ממליץ בחום למי שמגיע לכרתים ויוון להשתמש בשרותיו המעולים. תודה יוסי על הסיורים ,האוכל, הטברנות, היה תענוג גדול ! ! ! מאתנו: אורי אילש, אלי גנט, יגאל גרינשטיין, נטלי גרינשטיין, אור גרינשטיין
כל מי שעתיד לנסוע לכרתים או ליוון, אני חייב להמליץ על חבר יקר, מדריך מעולה, אדם חביב ונעים הליכות שידריך אתכם בכרתים בעברית, אנגלית וגרמנית, מה שתבחרו.... ל- Joseph Batis אתר בו תוכלו להציץ במה שיש לו להציע לכם כולל תכנון הטיול ומלונות וכו' הציון שנתנו לו 10+ שווה מאוד... ביקרנו במקומות שבחיים לא הגענו אליהם בכרתים ! לחצו על השם וכנסו לאתר ! בהצלחה.