From a small fishing village, Agios Nikolaos has become in recent years one of the most famous tourist resorts in Crete thanks to its beautiful beaches and its thousand-year history. Located in the eastern part of the island, the town was already considered a strategic port in Hellenistic times, and over the years, thanks to Genoese and Venetian rule, it developed into a famous commercial center especially for salt exports.
Its town center, characterized by small stores and boutiques, winds around beautiful Lake Voulismeni, which connects directly to the sea by a narrow canal. Not far from the center are also several beaches famous for their crystal-clear waters, such as Ammoudi and Kitroplatia. Lovers of Greek culinary traditions will be able to find here several taverns and small restaurants where they can eat typical dishes, while those looking for nightlife will enjoy the pubs or discos that are open late into the night.
Agios Nikolaos is a town nestled in a unique natural setting that knows how to captivate with its charm as a typical Greek resort, where neoclassical-style houses alternate with small churches. Indeed, although the town has become a well-known tourist destination, it has managed to preserve its historical and cultural identity.
Its town center features stores where you can buy local products, and restaurants along the harbor offer excellent local cuisine, while its beautiful beaches welcome tourists seeking relaxation.
There are many Cretan towns that have sprung up around a harbor that is a testament to their thousand-year history, and Agios Nikolaos is no different. Like Chania and Heraklion, this town was also formed around the port area, which has grown from a strategic commercial area to a truly picturesque one. The harbor of Agios Nikolaos has a magical atmosphere: you can spend your evenings dining in one of the excellent taverns, having the sound of the waves in the background, or take a simple walk by the sea.
The Archaeological Museum of Agios Nikolaos was founded in 1970 and is the second archaeological museum in Crete, after the one in Heraklion. Inside the museum we can find archaeological finds from the Neolithic, Minoan, and Greco-Roman periods from all over eastern Crete.
In addition to storing more than 1,500 vases here is a large collection of objects from the necropolis of Agia Fotía, near the town of Sitía, and it is possible to admire the Goddess of Myrtos, a vase in the shape of a woman that comes from the locality of Mirtò.
Currently closed for renovation, it is scheduled to reopen in 2020.
Lake Agios Nikolaos, also known as Lake Voulismeni, is a small lagoon in the center of the city and is linked to legends concerning its waters. According to some beliefs, the lake has no bottom and it is said that it was here that the goddess Artemis and the goddess Athena used to bathe.
At the bottom of the lake, moreover, it seems that the Germans deposited some of their military equipment before leaving the island of Crete in 1944 although no trace of this war equipment has ever been found.
Renovation work has changed some of the original shape of this picturesque lake, but a walk around it is a truly picturesque experience since it is now used as a small harbor by fishing boats.
Situated near a beautiful bay the small church of St. Nicholas, the patron saint of Greek sailors, has given its name to the whole town: Agios Nikolaos actually means St. Nicholas in Greek. It is one of the oldest churches in Crete and is a single-nave building with a dome, and inside there are two layers of decoration.
Originally, in fact, the church had no iconic frescoes because it was built in the iconoclastic period and was decorated with beautiful geometric patterns. Only around 1300 was the church restored after an earthquake and decorated with frescoes and icons of St. Nicholas.
Not far from Agios Nikolaos, north of Mirabello Bay, is also the small fortified island of Spinalonga, which is easily reached by a short boat ride from Agios Nikolaos, Elounda, or Plaka.
The Venetians built this fortress within the lagoon of Elounda to protect the salt pans in the area from Turkish incursions.
An imposing complex was erected over the ruins of the ancient Olous fortress and over the years served not only for defensive purposes but, after the Turkish invasion, was a place of exile and isolation while in the twentieth century it became a place of confinement for all leprosy patients.
Currently, two-story houses, courtyards and stores surrounded by high walls can still be seen, all of which are evidence of the period when Spinalonga was a famous, yet mysterious, fortified town.
Agios Nikolaos is also worth a visit for its beautiful beaches that are easily accessible from the town center and famous for their beautiful waters. The closest beach to the town is Ammoudi6, which is located 1 km from the center in a well-protected bay with a sandy beach and clear, shallow waters.
Not far from picturesque Lake Voulismeni, in the heart of the town of Agios Nikolaos, is Kitroplateia Beach7. A perfect choice for families with children, Kitroplatia offers a well-equipped sandy beach with umbrella and sunbed rentals and nearby features several restaurants as well as well-organized hotels.
Next to the main port of Agios is the small Limanaki Beach8, made of pebbles and fine gravel is very nice for a quick swim a short walk from the center. From this place you have a beautiful view of the small island of Agii Pantes, which is just opposite the town.
Just 12km from town is also the beautiful Voulisma Beach9, which has white sand and turquoise waters: its colors are unique, the sea waters are calm, the seabed is shallow, and it is an equipped beach with all kinds of services.
In the following map you can see the location of the main places of interest mentioned in this article
Agios Nikolaos is a town with a wide choice of accommodations, from luxury hotel to mini apartments. The port area of Agios Nikolaos along with the area near Lake Voulismeni are two of the most characteristic areas of the town where there are also numerous restaurants and taverns serving typical dishes.
The town of Agios Nikolaos is located about 60 km from Heraklion where the nearest international airport is located, which is connected by direct flights to many European airports especially in summer, while flights to and from Athens operate year-round.
Another opportunity is to make use of the small airport in Sitia, which is an hour and a half from Agios Nikolaos and is operational in the summer with domestic flights and connections to some European cities.
If you have rented a car you can easily reach the town from anywhere on the island, alternatively you can take the regular buses (KTEL) that offer frequent runs from Agios Nikolaos to other Cretan localities.
What's the weather at Agios Nikolaos? Below are the temperatures and the weather forecast at Agios Nikolaos for the next few days.
Agios Nikolaos is located in the eastern part of the island of Crete, in the province of Lassathi. The town is 60 km from Heraklion, capital of the island of Crete, 35 km from Ierapetra, and 70 km from Sitia.