Agios Nikolaos – Cosmopolitan with Lake, Harbour and Stunning Beaches
Agios Nikolaos, the capital of Lassithi in Crete, is a beautiful city situated on the northernmost point of Mirabello Bay, overlooking the stunning bay from its hilly terrain. With its cosmopolitan port Agios Nikolaos is a modern town and the commercial centre of Lassithi region. For many years it has been one of the most popular holiday resorts in Crete with all kinds of accommodation, facilities, and hip shops.
Walking the streets of Agios Nikolaos you will find the traditional houses blending harmoniously with neoclassical mansions. You will discover that the port of Agios Nikolaos is perfect for relaxing and romantic strolls, specially at night. In the daytime you can relax at one of the tiny city beaches and go for a dip in the sea before going shopping in the pedestrian street above the circular Voulismeni Lake. A narrow channel connects the small harbour with the lake where the shore is lined up with restaurants and cafés.
Facts about Agios Nikolaos
Agios Nikolaos, a coastal town in northeastern Crete, is situated north of Ierapetra and west of Sitia. The Municipality of Agios Nikolaos, which takes in part of the surrounding villages, has around 19,000 inhabitants. The town sits partially upon the ruins of the ancient city of Lato pros Kamara.
Map of Lassithi region in eastern Crete
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Ancient Lato pros Kamara
Lato pros Kamara or simply Kamara, was an ancient city of Crete. Lato pros Kamara was settled in the late Bronze Age as the population of Dorian Lato realised greater security and its expanding population settled the coastal area, which had been subject to greater likelihood of marine attack during the earlier Bronze Age.
Agios Nikolaos was settled in the late Bronze Age by Dorian occupants of Lato, at a time when the security of the Lato hillfort became a lesser concern and access to the harbour at Agios Nikolaos became sufficiently attractive.
Lake Voulismeni is a former sweetwater small lake, later connected to the sea, located at the centre of the town of Agios Nikolaos. It has a circular shape of a diameter of 137 m and depth 64 m. The locals refer to it as just “the lake”. The lake connects to the harbour of the town by a channel dug in 1870. A panoramic view of the lake can be seen from a small park situated above it.Read more
According to legend, the goddess Athena bathed in it. Every year at midnight turning to Orthodox Christian Easter day, the majority of the population of the town gathers around the lake to celebrate with fireworks, and firecrackers thrown by the people attending that highlight event.
It was reported that the German army during their withdrawal from the area at WW2, disposed parts of their weaponry and/or vehicles into the deep lake.
A local urban legend has it that the lake is bottomless. That notion is potentially based on its impressively disproportional high depth compared to its width (64m depth on only 134m width) or/and on locals noticing disturbances at the surface or also the level of the water during the Santorini earthquake of 1956. Because of the latter, many assume a possible geological relation of the two locations, but this claim has not been substantiated by known scientific surveys to date.
Where to stay in Agios Nikolaos?
The picturesque port of Agios Nikolaos with its cosmopolitan atmosphere, beautiful beaches and the good quality hotels and accommodation are the reasons of the high popularity of the town.
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Agios Nikolaos – What to see?
Agios Nikolaos is probably best known as a tourist town that serves as a hub to the twenty or so small villages and farms that make up that part of Lassithi. Tourist attractions include the small lagoon Lake Voulismeni, small beaches in the town, the tiny island Agioi Pantes, the archaeological museum, the local flora exhibition “Iris” and numerous fairs. Tourism is mainly West European with Greek tourism concentrating in mid August. The lagoon features a small park with a trail, traditional fishing boats, ducks, pigeons, an amphitheatre and many cafès.
Spinalonga & Milatos Cave
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Museums in Agios Nikolaos
Odos Paleologou 74, Agios Nikolaos, Crete, Greece
The town is home to one of the finest archaeological museums in Crete consisting of eight rooms. The collection contains recent finds, mostly from eastern Crete. The finds are in chronological order beginning with the Neolithic era, Minoan remains, and ending with Greco-Roman finds. One of the museum’s most famous exhibits is the Goddess of Mirtos. This libation vessel is in the form of a female figure and was discovered at the Bronze Age settlement at Fournos, near Mirtos.
Folklore Museum of Agios Nikolaos
The more recent past of Crete is presented to the visitor at the Folklore Museum of Agios Nikolaos. It is housed on the ground floor of the Port Authority building, one of the oldest buildings in town, which is located by the lake.
There are many displays of traditional Cretan handcrafts, unique to the region such as textiles, woven goods and embroidery of intricate detail and imaginative designs.
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Get to know the Cretan cuisine
The Cretan cuisine is the traditional cuisine of the Mediterranean island of Crete. The core of the cuisine consists of food derived from natural sources, whereas food of animal origin was more peripheral in nature. In general, people consumed seasonal products, available in the wider local area, which underwent minimal processing or none at all.
The traditional cuisine was widespread on the island until the ’60s, when with improving living standards, alimentary patterns changed towards more meat and other animal-derived produce.Read more
Fresh and dried fruits, pulses, endemic wild herbs and aromatic plants, and rough cereals, whose cultivation was favored by the regional climate, were consumed in great amounts and constituted the base of the Cretan cuisine during that period.
Cretan Olive Oil Farm, Agios Nikolaos
The Cretan Olive Oil Farm is a place where you can explore the unknown side of Crete and its products.
You will experience the way traditional Cretan products such as olive oil, wine, raki, pottery and traditional textiles are produced in a unique environment. Come to see, taste, smell, and touch. Sarakinou Kefali, Agios Nikolaos, Crete 72100, Greece
Agios Nikolaos – What to do?
In one of the most wonderful bays of Crete you can discover a peaceful, silent underwater world. In Crete you can find many certified dive centers providing a great variety of services and equipment. Mirabello Gulf has a wide range of marine life and many interesting diving spots.
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Rock climbing at Kalo Choris
Climbing field “Pezas” at Kalo Chorio with trails for all levels. The location field is ideally climbing even at the peak of the summer. Because of their position, the rocks Talos and Minos have shade all day. Arriving in the field over the beautiful landscape, you will be impressed by the steep and high cliffs around you.
Climbing at an altitude of 300 meters you will have a stunning view of Mirabello Bay. It is for all levels. At every level climbers get excellent training opportunities and countless, exquisitely crafted routes to explore.
The field can be accessed by car and the distance from the car to the bottom of each rock is less than 5 minutes walk.
Names of Rocks: 1. Talos 2. Minoas 3. Istronas 4. Panas
Birdwatching, bicycling or hiking
Either of these activities will give you the opportunity to find more than 6000 species of plants and flowers, all of which are thriving in Crete, and of these the 170 species are endemic to Crete.
Along the coast at the beginning of autumn, one can spot the “Sea Lily” which is represented in Minoan and Thiraean wall paintings. In the mountains, partridges, blackbirds, badgers, weasels and hares provide company. At great heights one can spot one of the rarest species of eagle. At Almyros Beach, turtles, herons, eels and waterfowl can be observed. The preservation of this wildlife diversity is dependant upon our environmental awareness and sensitivity.
Katharo Route 4×4
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Sailing from Agios Nikolaos
The Marina of Agios Nikolaos is a well protected marina in all weather conditions, it is built to European standards and is capable of accommodating up to 255 boats all year round. The Marina of Agios Nikolaos is located in the heart of the town and provides easy access to the centre of town, the main archaeological sites and other places of interest.
Agios Nikolaos beach guide
Most of the magnificent beaches found at Mirabello Bay near Agios Nikolaos are awarded the Blue Flag Status. The coasts are full of enchanting coves and idyllic beaches with crystalline waters. The beaches inside Agios Nikolaos are Kitroplatia, EOT, Ammos, Ammoudi, and Havania
- Almyros beach – non-organized beach, located 2 km south of Agios Nikolaos. Beautiful, pebbled beach surrounded by rocks, perfect for snorkeling with rocks.
- Ammoudara beach – Beautiful, sandy beach, partly organized with sunbeds and umbrellas with no fee, taverns, and cafes behind the beach. Located 4 km south of Agios Nikolaos.
- Gargadoros beach – Small, picturesque city beach at the edge of Agios Nikolaos surrounded by restaurants and cafés. The beach is non-organized, but you can enjoy a coffee at the café Votsala. Pebbled with crystal-clear waters. Located 1.5 km from the city centre.
- Ammos beach – this small, sandy beach is located in the middle of Agios Nikolaos town. It is organized with umbrellas and sunbeds, restaurants, and cafes. Family-friendly with shallow, clean waters, no waves and soft sand.
- Kitroplatia beach – another city beach, located near the harbour of Agios Nikolaos. It is organized, a bit expensive and tends to become crowdy. Organized with umbrellas, sunbeds, restaurants, and cafes. Otherwise, sandy, clean, and beautiful. Located 0.5 km from the city centre.
- Agiou Panteleimonos beach – non-organized beach, mixed pebbled/sandy beach. Quiet, isolated beach located 13 km south of Agios Nikolaos.
- Voulisma beach –partly organized beach in beautiful bay. You can rent umbrella and sunbed for the day on part of the beach. Located 13 km south of Agios Nikolaos.
- Istro Municipal beach – Partly organized beach with umbrellas, sunbeds, self-service cafeteria, and trees. The beach is perfect for snorkeling with rocks and small caves. The beach is mixed pebbled/sandy, and the sea is cobalt blue. Located 22 km south of Agios Nikolaos.
- Istron Bay beach – Partly organized bounty beach with umbrellas, sunbeds, showers. Turquoise colored waves and sandy beach. Located 21 km south of Agios Nikolaos.
- Frouzis beach – Pebbled, non-organized beach. Remote, isolated beach with big stones, located 19 km south of Agios Nikolaos.
- Kamini beach – big waves and a rocky coast. Sandy mixed pebbled beach, located 30 km south of Agios Nikolaos.
Agios Nikolaos – Weather and climate
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In Agios Nikolaos you will enjoy a unique vacation with visits to pristine beaches nearby, sightseeing at ancient Lato and day trips to gorges, villages, and the mountain plateau of Lassithi.