Lake Voulismeni (Agios Nikolaos, Crete)





The lake Voulismeni is a beautiful lake in the centre of Agios Nikolaos, the fourth largest municipality on the island of Crete (Greece). The water is the landmark of Agios Nikolaos, almost all holidaymakers walk once around the Voulismeni Lake.

The lake is almost circular and has a diameter of about 130 meters. On the front there are more than 10 restaurants and cafes on a beautiful promenade. At the back is a steep coast.

You have to walk on steps about 20 meters high to circle the lake. On a circular path, one walks in approximately 15 minutes around the Voulismeni Lake. It is the most popular walk in Agios Nikolaos. From above, on the back side of the Voulismeni, one has the best panorama from above for eyes and camera. One goes up on steps that are secured by a wooden railing. It reminds of a short hiking trail.

The Limni Voulismeni, as the water is called in Greek, has been connected to the sea by a short and narrow channel for about 150 years. Since then it has not been fresh water, but salt water in the lake. Before the construction of the canal, the lake is said to have stunk a lot. Today the water looks clear and fresh.

The exit allows small fishing boats to enter the Voulismeni. Mostly you can see 20 to 30 parked colourful boats. Also the water birds (ducks) are interesting. Above the steep bank there is a small park with benches. Below at the sea is a chapel, which was unfortunately closed during our visit in Apil 2017. A bridge runs over the canal that connects the Voulismeni lake with the sea. It connects the districts of Agios Nikolaos.

Legends around the lake Voulismeni

The lake has been the stuff of legends since ancient times. According to legend, Athina, the goddess of wisdom and struggle, went swimming here. Today this story is remembered every year around Easter with a big festival with fireworks and so on. The lake name Voulismeni means "bottomless". For a long time there was the idea that the water was infinitely deep. Today we know that Lake Voulismeni has a depth of about 65 metres. This is a lot for such a small lake. Shortly before the end of the Second World War, the Nazis are said to have sunk large quantities of war equipment and ammunition in the deep Voulismeni Lake in Crete. As far as we know, nothing was ever found. Unfortunately, we do not know whether this is the truth or another legend. There have also been rumours for a long time that the waters of Agios Nikolaos on Crete are connected underground to the island of Santorini, about 100 kilometres away. This, too, cannot be conclusively clarified.

Hotel, taverns and cafés

The beautiful Hotel Du Lac is enthroned at the front of the lake. It is our favourite hotel in Agios Nikolaos. In the low season you can get a single room in the well-equipped Hotel Du Lac for less than 40 Euro, bookable at Booking.com. There are rooms with lake view and without lake view (a bit cheaper).

The taverns around the lake are usually a few euros more expensive than other restaurants in Agios Nikolaos. But you have a great view of the lake and a great atmosphere. The waiters in some tavernas and cafes around the Voulismeni Lake are annoying and want to attract walkers to their restaurant. The best place to go is another restaurant.

In Restarurant Ntakos you can order good dishes from Crete. For example, there are Suzukakia (meatballs in tomato sauce), fried squid or chicken fillet as main dishes, all under 10 euros in 2016. The tavern To Karnagio (large portions) also has a good price-performance ratio. La Casa also serves good Cretan cuisine.

You can also sit on the terrace of Café Du Lac on the first floor with a beautiful view of the lake. The entrance of the Café Du Lac is at the back of the building in a small pedestrian zone, seen from the lake. You can also enjoy an ice-cream sundae on the shore of the lake. In the evening, several bars around Lake Voulismeni invite you for a cocktail under romantic lighting.

Lakes in Crete: The largest lake on Crete is the new Potamon reservoir in the district of Rethymno, more than 100 km west of Agios Nikolaos. There is also a lake near Georgioupolis (only big freshwater swimming place in Crete) and Lake Zaros. So we know only 4 bigger lakes on the whole island.


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