Different to all other towns in Crete, Aghios Nikolaos is an arty, leisurely, sleepy and yet also bustling place, a medium-size town with a small-town feel, one that has lots to offer.
Whether you’re a beach lover or a night owl, you’re sure to find something for you in the vibrant resort. This charming, activity-packed town caters to the needs of all who visit. From the resort, you can go on many day trips, such as visiting an olive farm or the Monastery of Faneromeni, meaning you’re sure to come away with some great memories. And with so many tavernas and nightclubs in Aghios Nikolaos itself, you’ll have plenty to do when the sun goes down too.
Shopping is fun in Agios Nikolaos - there are shops with original items on offer, from woven fabrics, to cups, mugs and china wear and a miscellany of clothes, house decor and local food products and delicacies. Agios Nikolaos - apart from being a summer draw for visitors - is for the most part open in winter. Yes, people live, love and learn here, grow up, function and work year round.
The town faces the sea on three different angles, overlooking the Lake and port, Kitroplatia beach and the Marina.
As the lake joins the sea with a strip of water under the tiny bridge and becomes one with it, the tiny island of Agii Pandes (All Saints) is in view - adding another facet to the three sides of the town. Ferries come and go from the open port area just beyond.
Blessed with five long, golden beaches, you’ll never be short of somewhere to lay back and relax in Aghios Nikolaos. Just a short taxi boat ride puts all five of these stunning, family-friendly spots well within your grasp. They’re all great for paddling with the kids or just sitting back and topping up your tan. Ammos Beach: Sandy public beach by the marina.
The beach at Kitroplatia is one of the few in Crete to provide that town-centre-by-the-sea beach location, together with its own original restaurant and cafes and a handful of hotels and apartments.
Ammoudi and Havania beaches, on the way to Elounda.
If you’re into your water sport competitions, then check the dates of Aghios Nikolaos’ famous Naval Week. This is when such events as artistic swimming, water skiing and windsurfing contests take place all along the resort’s waterfront.
Things to Do
With so many things to in Aghios Nikolaos, we’ve put together a few of the highlights so you can make the most of your holiday. Let’s take a closer look, and you can pick your favourite.
Right in the heart of the resort, you’ll discover magical Lake Voulismeni. According to mythology, this is where the goddess Athena used to bathe, and today you can do the same in this truly magnificent setting. The picturesque saltwater lake is lined with pastel-coloured tavernas and stylish boutiques, so it’s easy to while away a whole day and evening here. You won’t want to miss this.
On a Wednesday in town be sure to head down to the street market. It starts at 7am and runs until 12pm, you’ll be able to find clothes, handmade crafts and unique souvenirs. There’s loads of lovely local produce to get your hands on, too, including fresh fruit and veg, and delicious local honey.
If you’re heading to Aghios Nikolaos with the family in tow, there’s one place you absolutely shouldn’t miss: Acqua Plus. This is one of Crete’s best waterparks, and luckily for you it’s only a 40-minute drive from the resort. There’s also a bus if you don’t have a car. Here you’ll find speedy slides, swimming pools, and lazy rivers galore. And there are some sunloungers when you’re ready to take a break.
Island of Spinalonga
There’s no doubt that a boat trip to the famous island of Spinalonga should be right up near the top of your list of places to visit.
The keen readers among you may recognise the island’s name from the Victoria Hislop novel, ‘The Island’, a tale of mystery and suspense. In real life, you’ll find Spinalonga just as captivating with its rich and deeply interesting history, including a fortress built by the Turkish.
If you’re wanting to get some memorable holiday snaps, Spinalonga is the perfect place to do just that. There are daily excursions by boat to the island, making a trip here easy and stress-free. Whilst on the island, take in the beautiful scenery and make sure you visit the deserted village which was last used as a leper colony from 1903 to 1957.
Cretan Oil Farm
To satisfy both your taste buds and your curiosity, take a guided tour around the small, family-run Cretan Olive Oil Farm to learn the history and processes of oil pressing and see exactly how olive oil is produced.
If you’re looking to take home a memorable souvenir, you could also try a pottery lesson whilst here. Or if you like getting your hands dirty but only in the name of food, try the cooking class, which gives you the opportunity to learn what makes Mediterranean cooking so tasty and special. There’s also a chance to show off your best moves and give folk dancing a try too.
Monastery of Faneromeni
The monastery is built into a hillside 450 metres over the Minoan city of Gournia, with a church inside a cave, providing staggering and breathtaking views from the top.
Upon arrival, a monk welcomes visitors to the church. And with its tranquil air and numerous fascinating paintings, you’ll be able to live and breathe the culture that surrounds you.
The route to the monastery is via a steep, winding road, but it’s all made worthwhile once you see the beautiful mountain views and the impressive vistas over the Mirabello Bay below. The whole experience is both spiritual and enriching, leaving you longing to delve deeper into Greece’s ancient history.