Crete: Plaka & Spinalonga

The second part of our short-but-sweet Crete holiday (the first part is here) involved travelling to the town of Plaka, and from there to the Island of Spinalonga, which is a former leper colony…

Our third day in Crete called for another fabulous hotel breakfast; a bowl with Greek yogurt (of course), cereal and nuts, a dried fig and some of those cute biscuits with a hole in the middle, and a separate plate with tomato, cucumber, feta, bread and fruit.

Hotel breakfast - Greek yogurt with fruits, cheeses, bread, salad and fruits

In the local shop, they had a very good Greek yogurt selection! (and Fage, my favourite brand available in the UK, with its Greek logo).

Greek yogurt selection in local supermarket

I am such a child – this made me laugh. A lot. Scandal Chocolate Orgy!

Scandal Chocolate Orgy ice cream


We used our hire car to drive to Plaka, where we would be able to get a boat over to the Island of Spinalonga. It was such a gorgeous day and we stopped a few times to look at the scenery.

Road from Sissi to Plaka Road from Sissi to Plaka Driving to Plaka with view of Spinalonga

When we arrived at Plaka, it was very very windy! It has a white stony beach and beautiful clear blue waters.

Stony beach at Plaka

Spinalonga isn’t very far from the coast of Plaka, it’s pretty visible from the beach.

Beach with clear blue sea at Plaka

While waiting for our ferry time slot, we stopped at a cafĂ© for a drink. I had a ‘Greek coffee‘ which had the taste and texture of mud, but it did come in a very cute cup.

Greek coffee at Plaka

It was time to get on the boat, so we headed down and the boat crossed over to Spinalonga. Again, much wind!

Clear blue sea and boats at Plaka Pier and boats at Plaka Boat heading towards Spinalonga


Spinalonga island has had a very interesting past, having been under Venetian and Ottoman rule, before becoming a leper colony in the first half of the 20th century. There are fortress buildings still in existence today which were built by the Venetians.

There is also apparently a book and TV series called ‘The Island‘ based in Plaka and Spinalonga which I’ll have to check out myself.

View of Spinalonga from boat View of Spinalonga fortifications from boat View of boats from Spinalonga

Map of Spinalonga showing locations of all the buildings on the island:

Map of Spinalonga

We had a bit of an explore of the fortress buildings, climbing up and down among the ruins.

Spinalonga fortifications View from fortifications on Spinalonga island Michelle looking out of fortifications on Spinalonga island

I loved exploring the ruins. Nothing was particularly off limits and we could wander pretty freely among the dilapidated buildings and through what would have been doors and windows of rooms.

Ruins on Spinalonga island Ruins on Spinalonga island Ruins on Spinalonga island

Quite a few of these handmade ‘games’ were found on the island, which were apparently made by inhabitants of the leper colony as a way of entertaining themselves.

Handmade game found on Spinalonga island Ruins and church on Spinalonga island

Cisterns and the church, which looks like a much newer building:

Ruins of cisterns on Spinalonga island Ruins and church on Spinalonga island Ruins on Spinalonga island

This, I think is a newer building which was used as a hospital for leprosy patients. It had a strange vibe about it and I didn’t want to look through the one remaining unboarded window just in case…

Hospital on Spinalonga island

We finished wandering the perimeter of the island (it’s pretty small), before heading back to Plaka on the boat.

Fortifications on Spinalonga island and blue sea Spinalonga fortifications

Back to Plaka

We popped into a cute looking place called ‘Maria’s Taverna‘ where we ordered some well-needed late lunch. To start, some tzatziki and complimentary bread with olive paste

Bread, tzatsiki and olive paste at Maria's Taverna in Plaka

…and a delicious fresh Greek salad with a huge slab of feta cheese and some meatballs. The lady in the restaurant also gave us a small portion of proper full-fat Greek yogurt to try afterwards. It was heavenly.

Greek salad, tzatsiki, olive paste and meatballs from Maria's Taverna at Plaka

Of course, I made another friend in the restaurant. I introduce to you… ‘lunch cat‘!

Lunch cat

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