Agios Nikolaos

Built on the gulf of Mirabello, Venetian for ‘beautiful view’, you will see why Agios Nikolaos more than merits its name. Sandy beaches, vibrant town-life, stunning 360° panoramic views, all imbued with the heritage of a two-thousand year old empire, Ag Nik, as the Brits fondly know it, is an all-rounder of holiday destinations.


Ag Nik is famous for its legendary 'bottomless lake', Voulismeni. According to Ancient mythology the goddess of beauty Athena used to bathe here. Located at the foot of the cliffs in the centre of the city, it embraces a cluster of al fresco cafés and bars and even an open air theatre. A definite must see.

Agios Nikoloas also boasts one of the finest Archeological museums in Crete, with a unique collection of Minoan artefacts as old as the 3rd Century BC. A particularly incredible piece is the skull of a young Roman athlete crowned with a golden olive branch, dating back to 1st Century AD.

During the summer take a boat over to the historic Venetian island of Spinalonga, a former leper community that has been deserted for about forty years.

Visit the quaint Byzantine Church from which the town takes its name (Saint Nicholas, patron saint of seamen). You’ll be amazed by the stunning frescoes painted around the 8th, 9th and 10th Centuries.

Greece is the original site of the Olympic Games, and Agios Nikolaos has some fantastic sports facilities. Tennis, mini-golf, basketball, volleyball and football are all played here, along with a multitude of water sports.

There’s a few good swimming pools, and while most prefer to enjoy the bath-warm waters of the Cretan coast, beware of strong undercurrents. The beach at Kalo Chorio is one of the best, and while you’re there you can take in the ancient fort at Vrokastro that dates back 1,000 years BC.


Agios Nikolaos has some sophisticated boutiques and a few well-stocked supermarkets, but is particularly famous for local handcrafted goods. Most shops are located on the harbour front and are open till late in the evening.

Go to Ceramica, a workshop selling Cretan vases, and watch the artists at work. Xeiropoito is a must-go if you want to take home a beautiful handmade rug, and in most local shops you’ll find a smorgasbord of beautifully crafted ceramics, icons, jewellery and candlesticks and other trinkets, as well as Cretan honey and wine which make great presents and souvenirs.

For a shopping trip unlike any other, head up to the mountains to the village of Kritsa, where you’ll find gorgeous woven carpets, tapestries and wooden handicrafts.

Nightlife and Eating Out

During the package holiday boom of the 60’s, Ag Nik became a hugely popular tourist destination, which has gradually cultivated a buzzing nightlife. All sorts of tastes and pockets are catered for; if you want an insight into real Greek nightlife there are several venues hosting traditional Greek 'dances' which are accompanied by the bouzouki.

For those seeking a quiet relaxing sundowner, stroll along to the Hotel Alexandros rooftop cocktail bar, with views overlooking the Lake Voulismeni.

The livelier venues are situated around the harbour and down 25-Martiou Street, which the locals have aptly nicknamed 'Soho' for its abundance of fashionable drinking holes. For pure gimmick value climb aboard The Armida, a converted wooden ship in the harbour, for a cocktail. Night owls should hit Lipstick, Rule and The Studio, some of the town’s most popular nightclubs.

Remember as with everywhere in the Med, things happen a lot later in Agios Nikolaos, with most clubs only getting busy around two or three o’clock.

Cretan food is delicious and healthy. As a port Agios Nikolaos specialises in fish and seafood, but all sorts of exotic delicacies can be found on the menu of a traditional taverna. For the full Cretan gastronomical experience try a plate of mesedes, a variety of typical sweetmeats, and enjoy it with some of the local wine or Ouzo, which is similar to Pastis. Be warned when drinking the traditional Greek spirit Raki – it’s surprisingly alcoholic.

Tourist Information

Tourist Information Office21A S. Koundourou Str. beside the bridge, Agios Nikolaos,Crete.(Just by the bridge between the harbour and Voulismeni Lake)Tel. +30 28410 22357 Fax. +30 28410


Fly into Iraklion and get a cab to Ag Nik; it’ll take you about an hour and will cost around €35. If you’re hiring a car just get on the highway and turn left towards signs for Agios Nikolaos. Alternatively take advantage of the frequent bus service from Iraklion. There’s also a boat connection from Piraeus.

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