Agios Nikolaos, Crete is a cozy and very colorful town located at the eastern tip of the island. Thanks to the unique Mediterranean atmosphere, wonderful views and many attractions, tourists have come to love it. We will join them, having made a short virtual tour of one of the most famous resorts in Greece.
Agios Nikolaos is the administrative center of the Lassithi region, located 62 km from Heraklion in the picturesque bay of Mirabello. Due to the bustle of the resort and the abundance of buildings not characteristic of Greece, it is often compared with the French Saint-Tropez. However, Agios Nikolaos was not always a popular resort area. Its history began with an unremarkable fortress, which over the long years of its existence was destroyed several times and rebuilt again. Moreover, in a certain period, the ancient settlement that arose near the fort finally fell into decay, and over time it was completely abandoned by local residents. The only place in which at least some life was preserved was the seaport.
Many years have passed since then, during which the ancient settlement was gradually restored and turned into one of the most important settlements of the island of Crete. Despite the fact that in 1881 its population was a little more than 90 people, by the end of the 20th century it had become not only the capital of Nom Lassithi, but also a luxury resort, where life boils around the clock.
What to see in Agios Nikolaos?
Attractions Agios Nikolaos on about. Crete in Greece includes a fairly large number of natural and architectural objects. Today we will consider only a few of them.
Vulizmeni Lake, located right in the heart of the city, can be called a landmark not only of Agios Nikolaos, but of the whole of Crete. Having a volcanic nature of origin, it has a rather large depth and an almost perfect round shape. The immediate surroundings of the reservoir are huge cliffs, fishing houses and Greek taverns offering national dishes. Seafood and fresh fish purchased from local merchants are in particular demand.
Along the entire coastline of Voulizmeni you can see beautiful wooden boats, designed for romantic walks. In the evening, numerous lights are lit on them, thanks to which the lake seems to glow from the inside. Currently, a narrow canal is laid between the sea and Vulizmeni, so the water in it mixes and remains fresh only at great depths. A beautiful bridge is thrown across it, on which tourists who come here like to take pictures.
And many legends are associated with this attraction. According to one of them, the supreme goddesses of Greek mythology, Athena and Aphrodite, once bathed in its waters. In the second, the reservoir has no bottom at all. That’s just the veracity of the last statement, one has to doubt, because during the Second World War a lot of German technology sank in its depths. They say it still lies at a depth of 64 meters.
If you carefully look at the photos of Agios Nikolaos in Greece, adorning the tourist avenues, you will notice another important attraction of this resort. We are talking about the “Abduction of Europe”, an unusual sculpture, towering in the middle of the city promenade.
The appearance of this statue is fully consistent with a long legend telling about how the supreme god Zeus turned into a white bull, stole the beautiful Europe and took her to the island of Crete, where they had three sons. However, not all so simple! Nikos Kunduros, the famous Greek director and author of this ten-meter sculpture, claims that he endowed it with a completely different meaning. He not only imagined one of the largest parts of the world in the form of a young woman, but also put a rod of heralds in her hands, capable of reconciling the warring parties and being a kind of threshold between good and evil, light and darkness, life and death.
No less popular attraction Agios Nikolaos on about. Crete is the island of Spinalonga – most tourist routes lead here.
The main highlight of this place is a massive defensive fortress, built in the middle of the 16th century and preserved to this day.
An excursion to Spinalonga takes about 10 hours. It includes not only an inspection of the fort, but also a walk around the reserve. Numerous myths and legends related to the history of this fortress serve as a bonus. You can find them in this article .
A tour of Agios Nikolaos in Greece (Crete) involves visiting another memorable place – the ruins of the Dorian village of Lato, which can be found 15 km from the resort area near the village of Kritsa. It was once one of the most important island settlements. Built back in the 7th century BC. e., Lato issued his own money and had a large trading port. Here was born Nearch, a friend and battle sister of A. of Macedon.
Despite the fact that in 200 BC. e. the settlement was almost completely destroyed, at first the Romans continued to actively use its harbor, and after them the Byzantines and the Venetians. As a result, a modern city appeared in this place – Agios Nikolaos.
The first excavations of Lato began in 1898. Then the French archaeologists managed to find the ruins of the main gate, the stairs leading to the sanctuary, and the remains of the stone foundations by which scientists were able to restore the plan of the ancient city. To date, it has been possible to establish the location of residential buildings, the main temple, workshops and the ancient theater.
- Entrance to the territory of the historical object is open from 08.30 to 14.30.
- The entry price is about 2 €.
Advertising photos of Agios Nikolaos in Crete (Greece) are often decorated with images of another local attraction – the church of Panagea Kera, considered the most famous monument of Byzantine architecture on the island. Three-nave Cathedral, built in 13 century in honor of the Assumption of the Virgin and surrounded by an olive grove, is located 20 km from the city.
The main value of this object is considered to be genuine frescoes of the 13-14th centuries, depicting religious scenes, and the icon of the Virgin, capable of healing from a variety of ailments. It is to her that many pilgrims come together who wish to pray for the health of God to themselves and their loved ones.
- Panagia Kera is open from 08.30 to 15.00.
- Entrance ticket price is 2 €.
- You can get here by bus, which runs between Agios Nikolaos and Kritsa every 2 hours. The last flight in the opposite direction – at 20.15.
A list of the main attractions of Agios Nikolaos on the island of Crete (Greece) is completed by an olive oil farm located near the Mirabello Hotel. Here you can see an unusual press developed over 130 years ago, learn all about the manufacturing technology of the main Greek product and buy any goods produced by the farm. In addition, the farm has a pottery workshop where every tourist who has reached the age of five can make his own pot and take it with him.
Agios Nikolaos resort in Greece has several state beaches, equipped with everything necessary for a good rest – restaurants, cafes, water rental shops, as well as separate areas with playgrounds and small pools. You do not have to pay for entry – money is only charged for renting sun loungers and umbrellas. It should also be noted that all beaches are crowded, so if you are looking for a quieter place, go to one of the neighboring villages.
The beaches themselves are clean and in most cases are surrounded by hotels where you can play tennis, minigolf, basketball or football. In addition, some of them grow tall trees, providing a natural shadow.
Now we give an overview of the most popular beaches of Agios Nikolaos.
A beautiful place characterized by a winding coastline and picturesque landscape. The water here is clean and clear, and the sea is warm and calm. In the distance you can see the outlines of urban buildings, combining elements of antiquity and modern life. And on the beaches of the bay there are not as many people as on others.
Almyros Beach, located 2 km north of the center, is a favorite vacation spot not only for visitors but also for local residents. The beach is large and crowded. Due to the proximity to the cold mountain river, the water here is quite cool, but in the heat it is not so bad. A tropical forest grows next to the beach, in the shade of which you can also hide from the sun.
Another feature of the Almiros is the long coastline covered with fine sand. Entry into the water is gentle, and the infrastructure is quite developed. You can get here on foot or by car. To do this, you should move along a road running parallel to the rocky coast.
List of the best beaches of Agios Nikolaos on about. Crete in Greece continues Voulisma Beach, located 12 km from the city (eastern part of the resort). The azure sea, a wide coastline, golden sand and the presence of basic infrastructure have made it a good place for a beach holiday. Vulisma is well equipped – in addition to sunbeds, umbrellas, changing rooms, toilets and showers, there is a tavern, a small bar and a private parking.
Ammoudi is located within the city limits in a small and quiet bay with bright green water. The shore on the beach is sandy, and the entry into the sea is gentle, there are areas with shallow water. Ammoudi Beach infrastructure includes all the basic elements, the most important of which is the diving center. Thanks to the rocky bottom, this area is perfect for snorkeling, diving and other water sports.
Those wishing to eat and hide from the hot sun of Greece are waiting for tall Tamar trees and numerous cafes offering Mediterranean cuisine. Through the alley leading to the neighboring hotel, you can get to the most ancient attraction of the island of Crete – the chapel of St. Nicholas, in whose honor, in fact, Agios Nikolaos was named.
Kitroplatia, whose name comes from the Greek word “citrus”, is considered the most important urban beach resort Agios Nikolaos on about. Crete in Greece. It is a 10-minute walk from the main square on the site of former citrus plantations, cut down due to low productivity. Municipal Beach Kitroplatia is famous not only for its well-developed infrastructure, but also for exciting night parties.
The coverage of Kitroplatia is small pebbles. The entrance to the water is convenient, but the depth grows quickly enough. On the territory there are umbrellas, sunbeds, a sports equipment rental, a locker room, a free shower, several cafes and bars. He himself is not too big, and there are a lot of people on it, so it’s better to come here in the morning.
On a note! For the cleanliness and good quality of the services provided, all the beaches of Agios Nikolaos in Greece have been repeatedly awarded the Blue Flag of Europe.
Being one of the most visited resorts in Greece, the city of Agios Nikolaos in Crete offers a large selection of accommodation for every taste and budget. The most booked hotels are:
- Minos Palace Hotel & Suites – Adults Only 5 * is a popular resort hotel located 2 km from the city center. It offers a salt-water pool, spa, landscaped garden, and a private beach area where you can engage in various sports. Booking.com score is 8.9. The cost of daily living in a double room is 330 €;
- Palazzo Arhontiko Apartments Crete 3 * – a comfortable hotel, located in the immediate vicinity of Kitroplatei. The room fund consists of spacious apartments and cozy studios, from whose windows you can see the Sitia Mountains and the Mirabello Bay. The rating on booking.com is 9.3. The cost of daily living in a double room is 120 €;
- Minos Beach Art Hotel 5 * – a luxury hotel, built right on the edge of the sea. On site there is free parking, a private park, an outdoor pool, a health and beauty center. But the main attraction of the hotel are the art gallery and the promenade located nearby. The rating on booking.com is 9.2. The cost of daily living in a double room is 280 €.
On a note! The oldest Agios Nikolaos hotels are located on Elefteria Square, while the newer and more modern ones are located in the central part of the resort and along the coast. Almost all buildings are decorated in the Greek style (blue and white palette and low walls), so that they can be recognized without much difficulty.
Weather and climate – when is it better to come?
Thanks to the mild Mediterranean climate and high mountains that protect the city from the northern winds, Agios Nikolaos always has warm weather. In this case, the hottest days (+ 30 ° С) fall in August, and the coldest (+ 12-15 ° С – during the day and + 9 ° С – at night) – in the winter months.
Already in early May, the water temperature in the resort is + 22 ° C and gradually increases to + 25-28 ° C.
The only unfavorable period for a holiday at the resort is December. At this time, the rainy season begins, immersing the city in a state of rest and not allowing you to enjoy sightseeing.
How to get from Heraklion airport?
There are several ways to get to Agios Nikolaos in Crete from the airport in Heraklion. Let’s consider each of them.
Comfortable air-conditioned buses regularly run between the airport and the resort area from 13.00 to 23.15. The trip takes about 1.5 hours. One way ticket costs 7.7 €. The dispatch interval is from 15 minutes to half an hour.
The departure point and a detailed bus schedule can be found on the official website of the carrier – www.ktelherlas.gr/en.
Ordering a taxi will cost about 100 €, but some taxi drivers are willing to bargain. The car can be caught right on the spot or booked in advance on the Internet. You will have to pay approximately the same amount for ordering a transfer to the hotel.
Having decided to get acquainted with the sights of Agios Nikolaos resort in Greece, take note of the recommendations of experienced travelers:
- Many streets of the resort have the same name. To understand them, a map or navigator will help.
- Do not refuse the treats offered by the locals – this will offend them.
- The accident rate on the roads is quite high, so tourists who decide to rent a car should be careful.
- The bulk of boutiques, jewelry stores, as well as souvenir and antique shops are located on the 28th of October Street.
- Do not delay your shopping until Sunday. On this day, most outlets do not work.
- When going to the store, you should take cash with you – so you can bargain and lower the price a bit. When paying for goods by credit card, you will not have such an opportunity.
- The best night clubs and discos of the city are located on the streets of March 25th and Joseph Kunduros. The fun here does not subside until the mornings.
- Sea urchins are often found on the shores of Mirabella Bay – do not forget to bring along special beach shoes.
- In the summer, Agios Nikolaos hosts the Lato festival, which brings together singers, actors and artists from around the world.
- In no case do not criticize Greece in the presence of the Greeks themselves – this can lead to scandal.
- Taxi drivers and employees of local establishments are usually left to tip. Their size is 10-15% of the invoice amount.
- In Greek temples you can not go in beach shoes and open clothes. And women should also cover their heads with a scarf.
Agios Nikolaos, Crete – this is truly an amazing place that can give an unforgettable vacation. Enjoy your experience!
A short video about a trip to Agios Nikolaos.