Agios Nikolaos (alternative spellings Aghios Nikolaos, Ayios Nikolaos) is the capital town of the prefecture of Lassithi on the Greek Island of Crete.
This lovely town retains a traditional, quaint and tranquil fishing town lifestyle, which hasn't lost any of its charm despite the vibrant tourist industry. The pretty town lies east of the island's capital Heraklion, north of the town of Ierapetra and west of the town of Sitia.
A famous central landmark of the town is Agios Nikolaos lake, known as "Voulismeni". According to Greek Mythology, the goddesses Athena and Artemis bathed in the lake that is supposedly bottomless.
It is an especially charming location with many open-air cafes and restaurants along the bank. Small fishing boats bob gently alongside ducks and geese on the lake and add character and atmosphere to this relaxing location.
Try an ice-cold café frappe here at one of the comfy cocktail - coffee bars as you sit watching the world go by.
The town of Agios Nikolaos is named after the charming 7th century Byzantine chapel of St. Nicholas, erected on the spot called "Nissi" during the 7th century AD, with its bell tower, drum and dome.
The chapel has a number of well-preserved frescoes of the 9th, 10th and 11th centuries and is a great place to visit. It also rewards its visitors with a breathtaking view of the town and bay.
The town has a wonderful international marina and port with many large yachts mooring here. There are lots of luxury yachts as well as the functional small fishing boats.
You'll often see large cruise liners at the harbour, unloading their cargo of tourists and day trippers, to fill the bars and restaurants around the lake and the bay.
You can enjoy a gentle stroll around this beautiful marina and harbour, enjoying the sights and sounds of a busy port.
There are a number of brilliant beaches around the town including Aghios Nikolaos Beach which is included in our Best Beaches Guide.
Shopping is also a lot of fun in Aghios Nikolaos with many quaint shops selling local ethnic products like honey, herbs and spices and olive oil.
Of particular note are the gold and silver jewellery shops. Many of which have their own goldsmiths busily crafting in their workshops at the rear creating beautiful designs that glisten and glitter in the front showrooms.
The weekly market in Agios Nikolaos on Wednesdays is vibrant and bright and very busy. It's a great atmosphere. There are lots of bargains to be had too.
Popularised by the brilliant best selling novel ‘The Island’ written by the very talented Victoria Hislop, Spinanlonga Island is definitely the island to visit from Agios Nikoloas.
Daily boat trips take you to the small island of Spinanlonga that was a leper colony until as late as the 1950’s.
Click here to learn about this intriguing Spinalonga Island.
Two museums of note are found in Agios Nikoloas. The Folk Museum of Aghios Nikolaos is where you can see some fine examples of Folk Art And Creative Crafts including lace making, Cretan embroidery and weaving. The small Folk Museum of Agios Nikolaos can be found at the Port Authority’s building next to the Tourist Information Office beside the bridge of the canal connecting the Voulismeni Lake with the sea.
An Agios Nikolaos museum to visit is the Archaeological Museum. It is a light and airy building housing tastefully exhibited collections of Minoan artefacts from the eastern side of Crete.
The Museum houses archaeological findings from the cemetery of Aghia Photia, dating back to 2300 BC. The collection includes more than 1500 vases. Together with the Minoan treasures, the Museum also exhibits the skull of a young Roman athlete, adorned with a gold olive-leaf wreath dated to the 1st century AD.
The excellent and varied choice of accomodation in and around Aghios Nikolaos makes this beautiful town the perfect place to stay for a holiday in Crete.
There is a wide and varied range of Agios Nikolaos accommodation including luxury Agios Nikolaos hotels, smaller hotels in Agios Nikolaos and Agios Nikolaos apartments, studios and rooms to rent.
Click Agios Nikolaos Accommodation to find your perfect place to stay in Agios Nikolaos.
A brilliant and cheap bus service KTEL connects Agios Nikolaos with many of the villages of eastern Crete including Istron, Kalo Horio, Kritsa, Sissi, Amoudara and Elounda.
But to really enjoy freedom to travel car rental is ideal.
It’s a good idea to book your hire car in advance. During the height of the season in July and August, when demand is at its peak, booking is essential. There are many online services available for getting around in Crete by hire car. One that stands out is holidayautos.co.uk
We really do recommend hiring a car to get around Crete, to enjoy your stay fully. If you're staying in Agios Nikolaos you can easily get to many of the attractions like the Lassithi plain, Sitia, Vai Beach and the Minoan settlements of Malia and Knossos plus the archaeological museum at Heraklion by car.
There are many companies that offer car hire on Crete, but we think it's a good idea to book in advance with nationally recognised companies who offer the right insurance.
Visit our sister site of Simply Santorini for all you'll need to know about Santorini.
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