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|The town of Agios Nikolaos on the island of Crete|
Some people like it and some people don't, like with most places. And although Agios Nikolaos is rather a big place compared to other villages on Crete (it has close to 20.000 inhabitants, and many more if you count the tourists that are visiting), I, as a person that likes the peaceful and quiet spots, still think this place is okay. For me that means that it's a nice place to visit and look around for an afternoon. The landscape and it's position are unique: surrounded by the blue water of the Mirabello Gulf, with the islands of San Antonio and Spinalonga in front of it. It has a long promenade, a beautiful lake, nice shops (a crystal shop I found was really amazing), plenty of taverns and hotels.
Agios Nikolaos has become a very popular tourist desination, so it can become crowded. On a hill at San Nicolo Bay, where the Venetian ships made their stops, you can find the well preserved Agios Nicolaos Church that dates from the 10th century (next to Hotel Minos Palace - supposedly with special, bright and beautiful fresco's of saints, but it was closed when we were there). The town of Agios Nikolaos got its name from this little church. Here the Venetians had their fortress Mirabello. Now this has been covered with hotels. The seaside of Agios Nikolaos was covered by the fortress island of Spinalonga. Agios Nikolaos is the capital of the nomos Lassithi. Most life you will find around the Voulismeni Lake and the harbour. The former sweetwater lake was connected to the sea by a canal between 1867 and 1871 (the main reason being that the water in the lake was pretty smelly). It was said to be bottomless, but in fact it is around 60 meters deep.
Agios Nikolaos is a very nice town for making walks along the very long promenade with interesting shops, while in the meanwhile have a look over te sea and the island in front of the town. There are nice shopping streets with something for everybody (gold, furs, clothes, spices, precious stones, special sponge shops, the usual tourist shops). Many people just like to wonder around and make a stop every now and then to have a coffee or a drink on one of the many terraces. Popular are also the day trips the the nearby island of Spinalonga with its Venetian fortress and the trip with the aquarium boat, which has a glass bottom so you can see the sealife.
In ancient times the city was called Kamara. I can't find much about it on the internet, but in the street that runs parallel to the "main" tourist street with shops that goes upwards next to Lake Voulismeni, you can still see some remnants of this old city (most of it covered by grass) and near Lake Voulismeni there is still an old column in the harbour.
Kamara was a port on the spot of Agios Nikolaos which belonged to the ancient city of Lato, which ultimately ran into decline. At the beginning of the thirteenth century, the Venetians made a castle here and named it Mirabello (= nice view). Eventually this also became the name of the whole bay. During the Turkish occupation the castle was complete destroyed and now no traces of it can be found. Today Agios Nikolaos has about 20,000 inhabitants and it is a lively tourist center. In the region of Agios Nikolaos plenty of nice hotels and apartment complexes were built.
The Voulismeni Lake was closed in earlier days and together with the Kournas Lake it formed the two freshwater lakes in Crete. In the middle of the nineteenth century, the lake was linked to the sea by a channel. Since then is is used as a berth for the fishing boats. The bottom of the lake is 64 meters deep and the banks are very steep. At the lake there is a church that is carved out in a rock. It has an old door with decorations (with winged lions).
Beaches are scarse in Agios Nikolaos: they are small and crowded. The most attractive one would be Ammoudi beach 300 meters from the harbour. It's small and sandy, with turquoise water, and it has two tavernas. It's also very busy ;). There are people that sunbathe on a couple of concrete platforms and there are a few other patches of sand with sunbeds and parasols. If you like good beaches than Elounda beach is not far away, and it's easy to get to with the bus. The nearby beaches of Ammoudara or Istro are also a good option.
|Kanali Cafe Snackbar - Agios Nikolaos|
Snackbar at the Voulismeni Lake, the last in the row towards the sea (it's actually at the canal that leads to the sea). They serve toast, omelettes, hot dogs, crepes, club sandwiches, salads, hamburgers and all kinds of snacks, extensive menu and fast service. The French fries are crunchy and taste good and so does all the rest that we order. Large portions, cheap and good for what it is. The toilets are very clean.
Our verdict: a 8,5 out of 10
|Moritz Cafe Bar - Agios Nikolaos|
Café bar on the boulevard that runs along the sea. they serve a good Buondi coffee. The cappuccino comes with a glass of cold water. Nice and comfortable seats, nice music and beautiful toilets.
Our verdict: an 8 out of 10
|Palazzo Hotel Apartments - Agios Nikolaos - best reviews|
Situated on Kitroplateia Beach and just a few minutes walk from the twon centre of Agios Nikolaos, these apartments offer a panoramic view of the Mirabello Gulf and Sitia Mountains. Staying at Palazzo Hotel allows you to enjoy a prime location with modern comforts and tasteful surroundings. Relax in stylish surroundings, with marble floors and elegantly appointed rooms complimenting the classical architecture. Palazzo Hotel offers a variety of dining options to suit your mood. Enjoy traditional Cretan cuisine in a relaxed tavern environment. Meet with friends at the cosy café bar. For your entertainment and convenience Palazzo Hotel provides free internet in the lobby, as well as a library and book corner. Enjoy a stroll along the organised beach opposite the hotel or head into town for a wander around the shops. All the attractions of Agios Nikolaos are just steps away from your doorstep. For more pictures - click here.
Check availability and prices & book the Palazzo Hotel Apartments - click here.
FOR ALL HOTELS, APARTMENTS AND STUDIOS IN AGIOS NIKOLAOS - CLICK HERE.
|Creta Hotel - Agios Nikolaos - good reviews|
Studios and apartments in the centre of Agios Nikolaos in Crete. Facing the small island of Agii Pantes, this hotel is conveniently located down a quiet street, 150 metres from the beach and a 5 minute walk from the town centre. During the last five years, the hotel has undergone major renovation work and now can offer its guests contemporary self-catering accommodation with fully-equipped facilities at a reasonable price. Each room includes a balcony, a number of which feature sea views. Such accommodation represents the new trend in holidays, as apartments are fast becoming the modern alternative to hotel living. The hotel's simple facade creates a homely feeling before you have even entered the building. The interiors are smartly decorated with a clean design, comfortable furnishings and a sense of elegance. For more pictures - click here.
Check availabilities and prices & book the Creta Hotel - click here.
|The Elpida Hotel in Istro near Agios Nikolaos|
Boasting stunning views of Istron and the sea, Elpida Hotel is set amidst lush gardens and featuring a charming courtyard and outdoor pool, just 800 metres from the sandy beach. Elpida Hotel & Apartments offers a variety of accommodation to suit your holiday needs. Each one is fully air-conditioned for your comfort and you can enjoy a buffet breakfast every morning throughout your stay. With beautiful views of the surrounding area and towards the sea, the terrace of Elipda is an ideal place to relax with a drink and soak up the sun. Cool down with a refreshing swim in the pool or challenge friends and family to a game of pool or table football in the games room. A short walk from Elpida Hotel will take you to plenty of great bars and taverns for your evening entertainment. You can also enjoy a leisurely 15-minute stroll to the nearby sandy beach.
Check availabilities and prices & book the Elpida Hotel in Istro click here.
FOR STUDIOS, APARTMENTS AND HOTELS IN ISTRON - CLICK HERE.
|Anny Sea & Sun Apartments in Istro near Agios Nikolaos|
Spend your days soaking up the sun by the pool, taking part in water sports on the beach, scuba diving or simply wandering through the olive groves and mountain paths. Sea & Sun Apartments, are situated in the village of Kalo Chorio at Istron Bay, only 7 km from the bustling town of Agios Nikolaos. Half of the complex's public areas are placed in a natural cove, offering a unique atmosphere. All rooms have a spacious balcony or patio with view over the sea, the mountains and the pool area. Another great place to relax is the roof garden, which is especially atmospheric as the sun is setting and the buzz of the night is approaching.
Check availabilities and prices & book Anny Sea & Sun Apartments in Istro - click here.
|Cretan Village Hotel in Ammoudara|
We have stayed a few days in this lovely hotel. Cretan Village is situated on the outskirts of the village / beach Ammoudara just around the corner. It is clearly marked with a sign on the side of the road. In front of the complex you can find another (pebble) beach, and a little further another one. Cretan Village is built like a Cretan village, with whitewashed houses that are stuck on a mountain and with narrow Greek streets, squares, gardens, flowers and palmtrees. Downstairs is the gate and therefore it's possible to park your car there. If you drive through the gate you will first get to the reception where there is some more parking space. Parking for the guests is over a steep road at the top of the complex. From this parking you can enter the "village" and go to your accommodation. It consists of a number of villas with apartments (with one or two bedrooms, 80 or 120 m2). Also from the reception and the large pool you can access a staircase that leads up to the villas of Cretan Village. The views over the sea, the mountains and Agios Nikolaos are very beautiful. There is a restaurant where you can enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner.