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The island of Spinalonga (Σπιναλόγκα, officially Kalydon) was once part of the main island of Crete before being separated by the Venetians, who built an important fortress on its rocky hill in 1579. The fortress was used by the Ottomans before falling into disrepair, and in the 20th century, the island was also home to a leper colony. Take a guided tour to the island to discover its secrets and enjoy its beaches and shallow waters.
Maurizio MassaroBy Maurizio Massaro
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Day Tours and Excursions

Book guided day tours to Spinalonga including boat trip in advance.
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Spinalonga Boat Trip from Elounda Port
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From Agios Nikolaos: Guided Boat Cruise to Spinalonga
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Day Tour of Spinalonga, Agios Nikolaos, Elounda & Plaka
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Cruise to Spinalonga & BBQ at Kolokytha From Agios Nikolaos
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2 Tips for Visiting the Spinalonga

Fishing boat near Spinalonga | Ulmon: CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0
Plan your visit in advanceYour trip to Spinalonga should be well planned as the small island is one of the most visited places in Crete. It is highly recommended to pre-book a guided tour with transfer by boat in advance. An alternative to pre-buying tickets is to take a boat as early as possible in the morning from Elounda, Plaka or Agios Nikolaos.
Old Building at Spinaloga | Pixabay
Food and DrinksOn the island only small overpriced snacks are offered, we therefore recommend that you bring your own drinks and food to Spinalonga, or eat on the main island in one of the countless taverns before or after your visit to Spinalago. Make sure to pack enough water too!
View through the ruins of the Venetian fortress | Ulmon: CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0

Spinalonga: A Small Island with an Eventful History

The island was given the name Spinalonga by the Venetian rulers in the late 16th century. Although the island has been officially called Kalydon in Greek again since 1954, the old name remains more common.

Origins of the Fortress

Antique archaeological finds show that the island served to protect the port of Olous until Arab rule from the 9th century. The Venetians, who were powerful in the Mediterranean from the late Middle Ages, built Spinalonga into a fortress to defend Crete against the Ottomans. The bastion finally fell into the hands of the Ottoman Empire in 1718 under which the small island was settled.

Leprosy Colony

At the beginning of the 20th century, after the Cretan state had been detached from the Ottoman Empire the island became a leper colony. During that time the former inhabitants left the island. After the unification of Crete with Greece in 1913, people suffering from leprosy were also brought here from the mainland. In the 1950s, thanks to medical advances, some people were able to leave Spinalonga cured of leprosy and the colony was abandoned.
Boat Trip to Spinalonga | Flickr: Dmitry Kirillov CC-BY 2.0

Visiting the Uninhabited Usland

Spinalonga has been developed for tourism since the 70s and guided tours are offered around the island.
Ruins of the fortress | Unsplash: Egor Myznik

Visiting the Ruins of the Fortress

Even though the island of about eight hectares is only 750 meters away from the village of Plaka in Crete, you you need to take a short (up to one-hour from Agios Nikolaos) boat ride to reach the islet. The season for visits to the archaeological site of Spinalonga begins with April and lasts until October. The island is among the most popular attractions of Crete. Especially the ruins of the fortress complex in front of the blue sea are the highlight of every day trip to Spinalonga.

Day Trips to Spinalonga

Organized day trips often include several of the highlights of Eastern Crete: In addition to Spinalonga, these are mostly the picturesque village Agios Nikolaos and the Gulf of Elounda. The tours usually start from Rethymno, Heraklion, Plaka, or Agios Nikolaos and are led by competent guides. We recommend to book in advance due to the high number of visitors to these places.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a visit to the island of Spinalonga recommended for families with small children?

So far tours that cater specifically to the needs of children have not been offered. Especially the subject of the leper colony in particular should be explained to parents accordingly. It should be also considered that Spinalonga is equipped with only a few toilets. However, since the small island is quickly visited, it is also suitable for a short excursion, in which especially older children also get their money's worth. Read more.

Can the island be visited with a wheelchair?

Most of the paths on the island are quite wide and therefore passable with wheelchairs. However, it is necessary to clarify in advance whether the fishing boat or the ferry, which is used for crossing, can transport wheelchairs. Read more.

General Information

Opening Hours

The archaeological site is open from April 1st to October 31st from 8 am to 6 pm. The site is closed in winter but will open on request for groups. The site is also closed on May 1 and Easter Sunday.


Spinalonga (Prefecture of Lasithi)


Entry to the archaeological site on Spinalonga costs €8 for adults and €4 for EU citizens aged 65 or older or non-EU students. Entrance is free for EU students, children under the age of 18, the unemployed, and disabled visitors.

How to get there

In summer there are regularly scheduled boat trips to the island from Agios Nikolaos, Elounda, or Plaka. In winter there are no scheduled boat trips, but you may be able to find a local boat owner to take you across to the island.
Maurizio Massaro
Written byMaurizio MassaroMaurizio is a cosmopolitan, a musician and comes around. In his role as a content manager at TicketLens, he is always striving to find new offers as well as writing about sights all over the world.
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