Last updated on March 31st, 2021 at 09:46 am
Before visiting Elafonisos Greece for the first time, we didn’t think much of it, to be honest. You see, when we think of summer vacation in Greece, our minds drift to some small island in the Aegean Sea. One of those windswept rock formations with whitewashed houses perched on cliff sides. The kind of island you need to spend a minimum of six long hours on board a ferry before you can swim into its deep blue waters.
This is why we were always sceptical about Elafonisos, the tiny island overlooking the southern tip of the Peloponnese. It ticked none of our boxes. Given its proximity to the mainland, we didn’t even know if it qualified as an island to begin with.
But the truth is that we kept hearing nothing but praise for Elafonisos and its beaches. So, we went. And, in an instant, we threw our doubts and idiotic unticked boxes out of the window. Because Elafonisos Island is exactly what it promises to be: the ideal destination for a relaxing summer vacation literally on the beach.
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DID YOU KNOW?
Elafonisos translates to Deer Island, as there used to be many deer on the island in the past.
Elafonisos Greece Travel Guide
Where Is Elafonisos
Elafonisos (also spelled Elafonissos) is a super tiny island of about 22 square kilometres. It’s located between the Peloponnese peninsula and Kythira Island, just off the coast of Lakonia, one of the most authentic regions in Southern Greece.
How Many Days in Elafonisos Greece
Don’t expect any major sightseeing, must-sees, or special activities in Elafonisos. This is a tiny island, ideal for spending endless hours on the beach, tasting fresh Greek food, and relaxing. Therefore, how long you stay depends entirely on the type of trip you have in mind.
If Elafonisos Greece is just another stop on your Peloponnese road trip, spending two or three days there will do. If, on the other hand, you desperately need a long and stress-relieving break, you should seriously consider spending your entire summer holidays in Elafonisos.
Best Time To Visit Elafonisos Greece
The title of this article is quite self-explanatory: Elafonisos Island is the perfect summer destination. However, summer in Southern Greece doesn’t last for three months alone and Elafonisos weather is lovely almost all year long.
You can visit Elafonisos from early May to late October and enjoy all the sunshine and warm waters you could ever dream of. Keep in mind that some bars or restaurants may not be open outside high season (June, July, August), though.
If possible, avoid August because that’s the notorious peak season for all Greek Islands. That said, Elafonisos feels way less crowded than other islands even then.
How To Get To Elafonisos
Driving is the best way to get to Elafonisos Island, as part of a fantastic road trip to explore the beautiful Lakonia region and the Peloponnese peninsula. It takes about four and a half to five hours to drive from Athens to Pounta Port in Southern Lakonia. From there, the ferry will take you to Elafonisos in less than seven minutes. The Pounta Elafonisos ferry tickets cost 1€/person and 11€/vehicle (2020 prices). Check this website for ferry schedules.
TOP TIP ALERT! If you decide to drive from Athens to Elafonisos, make sure you choose the best route. Unfortunately, neither road signs nor Google Maps will help you figure that out. But that’s what we’re here for. There’s a new coastal road that connects Monemvasia to Elafonisos which, although a tiny bit longer, is in a much better condition than the old one and, most importantly, offers breathtaking views along the way.
After Molaoi, you have the option to continue on the road that leads to Monemvasia or turn right for Elafonisos. Don’t turn right. Once in Monemvasia, keep driving along the coastal road. You will come across a couple of road signs pointing to Neapoli. Don’t follow them. At some point, you will see a road sign that shows the way to Neapoli via New Road. That’s the one! After about half an hour, you’ll start seeing road signs leading to Pounta Port.
If driving isn’t an option, you can take the bus from Athens to Neapoli. From there, you’ll take a different bus to Pounta Port before catching the ferry to the island. Elafonisos is also ideal for those entering Greece from Italy by ferry via Patras Port.
What To Do in Elafonisos Greece
The number one reason to visit Elafonisos Greece is the island’s beaches. No matter its small size, Elafonisos is home to some of the most pristine beaches in Greece, with transparent waters and wonderful scenery.
Moreover, one of the best things to do in Elafonisos is to drive (or cycle or walk) the island’s ring road. The latter connects all villages and beaches, offering breathtaking views at every turn. It takes less than half an hour to drive the full circle.
We know you won’t want to leave the beach, but you should also hang out at Elafonisos Town. This is where most of the island’s hotels, restaurants, and bars are located. Don’t miss the chance to enjoy a sunset or evening stroll along the vibrant promenade and the causeway that leads to the Church of Agios Spiridonas before having dinner or drinks at the quaint seafront.
If you’re getting itchy feet, there are many amazing places near Elafonisos to explore, including the stunning castle town of Monemvasia and the countless hidden gems of Southern Lakonia, such as Kastania Cave and Cape Maleas. A trip to Elafonisos can also be combined with Kythira, an off-the-beaten-path island off Southern Peloponnese’s coast.
Best Elafonisos Beaches
There are two beaches in the southern part of the island divided by a narrow piece of land. The larger is called Sarakiniko, while the smaller is called Fragos. However, everyone calls them Megalos (Large) Simos and Mikros (Small) Simos, respectively, or simply Simos.
Simos is one of the best places to visit in Elafonisos and one of the most spectacular beaches we’ve ever been to in Greece. And, mind you, we’ve been to a lot. Although super popular, Simos is so huge that it seldom feels crowded, if ever. Complete with crystal clear turquoise waters, sand dunes close to 10m high, golden and pink sand, and a cedar forest, Simos Beach in Elafonisos is nothing but a slice of heaven on earth.
There are sunbeds and umbrellas available for a fee in some parts of the beach, or you can bring your own umbrella. Sitting directly under the sun is not an option as it’s literally burning. You can grab food and drinks from the camping at Megalos Simos or from snack bars at Mikros Simos.
Just as you think that there can’t possibly be another heavenly beach on this tiny island, Lefki Beach awaits with a sarcastic laugh. Lefki Beach is on the road that leads to Mikros Simos, but you can hardly see there’s actually a beach there while driving due to the low vegetation that blocks your view.
Yet, once you decide to head towards the sea anyway, you’ll be rewarded with a gorgeous beach of dazzlingly white sand (the word lefki means white after all) and beautiful turquoise waters. Swimming in its calm waters feels as if you’re swimming in a giant pool. Only a billion times better.
Keep in mind that there are no facilities or natural shade in Lefki and this Elafonisos beach is quite small; therefore, it can get crowded during peak season.
Ta Nisia Tis Panagias Beach
This beach boasts endless stretches of golden sand and a sunset to remember. The scenery is very similar to Simos. There are sand dunes, cedars, and turquoise waters, with the bonus of a cluster of islets sitting lazily off the coast. The islets are also called Ta Nisia Tis Panagias (Greek for Virgin Mary Islands), and it’s them that gave the beach its name rather than the other way round.
A lot less crowded than Simos, Ta Nisia Tis Panagias Beach offers a few sunbeds and umbrellas for hire. There are also some restaurants and snack bars nearby.
Situated in the heart of Elafonisos Town, Kontogoni is the most overlooked of all Elafonisos beaches, as it is near the port and very close to the main road. However, it’s perfect for the first and/or last swim of the day or while you’re waiting for the ferry.
Dining and café options near Kontogoni are endless. Many bars and cafés offer sunbeds and umbrellas for free, provided that you have a little something to eat or drink.
Pavlopetri Beach is on the coast of Lakonia facing Elafonisos rather than on the island itself. Located a stone’s throw from Pounta Port, it’s super easy to visit either before taking the ferry to Elafonisos or on your way back from the island. Apart from crystal clear waters and endless stretches of golden sand, this beach offers visitors the unique opportunity to swim among the ancient ruins of the oldest submerged city in the world.
The seabed between Pavlopetri Islet and the homonymous beach is dotted with an ancient settlement’s ruins dating back to 2800 BC. The remains of this ancient city are visible with basic snorkelling gear.
The only thing that should keep you from marvelling at this underwater archaeological site is the weather. You should always consult the locals about when it’s safe to swim all the way to Pavlopetri Islet, as there are strong currents in the area. However, you don’t necessarily have to swim that far; you can always safely swim a few metres off the beach and still get a glimpse of some of the ancient remains.
Where To Stay in Elafonisos
As soon as you get off the ferry, Elafonisos Town stretches to your right. Most hotels in Elafonisos Greece are located in the town. There are hardly any large hotels. Most rooms in Elafonisos are housed in guesthouses and B&Bs.
The number of Elafonisos hotels is inversely proportional to the popularity the island has gained recently. This is why, especially in July and August, don’t even think of going without booking a room in advance. Also, keep in mind that, for the same reason, most rooms aren’t exactly value-for-money, especially in August.
If you are into camping or just don’t want to let Simos Beach out of your sight, you can stay at Simos Camping Elafonisos instead. Located right on the beach, it provides all the necessary facilities, including restaurants and bars.
Where To Eat in Elafonisos
Most of Elafonisos restaurants are located in the town. There are traditional Greek restaurants, souvlaki places, pizzerias, and snack bars. Alternatively, you can enjoy a pizza or Greek dishes at Simos Camping. Last but not least, there is a traditional restaurant on a low hill overlooking Ta Nisia Tis Panagias Beach, offering unique panoramic views, delicious seafood dishes, and a gorgeous sunset.
Why Visit Elafonisos Greece
If there’s one destination in Greece that deserves to be called exotic, it’s Elafonisos. This tiny island is home to incredibly pristine beaches and has a laid-back feeling that’s hard to resist. Spending your summer holidays in Elafonisos means that you have no choice but genuinely relax. Honestly, you can’t feel stressed in Elafonisos Greece. That’s a promise!
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