Agios Nikolaos was once a small, unimportant agricultural
backwater on the north coast of Crete. Today, it’s been transformed into one of
the biggest and most well-known holiday destinations of Greece. With just over
10,000 inhabitants it is also the capital of the east of Crete. Despite the
heavy tourism, Agios Nikolaos has retained its Cretan country-town charm.
Historic buildings and beautiful beaches are in healthy evidence around, whilst
the busy centre attracts locals and tourists alike for shopping.
The centre of Agios Nikolaos is around a small lake, called Voulismeni.
Clustered around the lake are the usual bars and restaurants. The museums are
worth a visit, particularly the Archaeological Museum, which is second only to
the museum in Iraklio in its importance. Particularly famous is its collection
of pre-Minoan artefacts, which provide a glimpse into the life of the first
settlers on Crete. The smaller Ethnological Museum has interesting artefacts
from the 17th to 19th centuries, including an exceptional collection of Cretan
musical instruments and machines used in the textile industry.
Eating in Agios Nikolaos: You can find plenty of cheap restaurants around the
main Square (Plateia Venizelou), but NOT near the lake or the port. Fast food
can also be found on the main square.
The De Molen is the only German restaurant on Crete that I know of. The Dutch
owner advertises it as having Dutch cuisine, but it is actually German food,
such as Vienna Schnitzel with chips for €7.50. There is also a very good
Indonesian Nasi Goreng. De Molen can be found behind the lake, on top of the
Restaurant Pelagos is set in a villa with a big garden only 50m from the port
and lake, and is the best of all the top restaurants in Agios Nikolaos. As their
name suggests (‘Pelagos’ is one Greek word for sea), their specialities centre
around fish and seafood dishes.
Accommodation in Agios Nikolaos: The cheapest place to sleep in Agios Nikolaos
is the Green House. It is a meeting point for backpackers from around the world.
I love the small and simple pension. Out of season you can bargain with the
friendly and informative owner about the price. Even during high season a single
room is not more than €15 and a double €20/25. Phone 28410 22025
Unfortunately I could not find her in 2008. The place looked closed, and nobody
answered the phone. So I looked for another cheap place in Agios Nikolaos
My new favourite is Pension Mary. A nice elderly woman has en-suite rooms. In
high season singles are €20, doubles €35. Out of season you can expect much
cheaper rates. Pension Mary is in the centre, on Evans Street. Phone: 28410
There are also at least fifty hotels in Agios Nikolaos in the mid-to
upper-price range which can be booked over the internet.
Buses Agios Nikolaos: The new air-conditioned bus station is about 1.5km from the town centre.
Buses run every 30 minutes to Iraklio, 5-8 buses a day to
There are at least ten buses a day to
Kritsa, and half of those
buses go on further to Plaka. Those who wish to travel on to the rest of Crete
must go to Iraklio and take buses from there.
Ferries Agios Nikolaos: There is a ferry every other day between Agios Nikolaos and Athens.
Trips from Agios Nikolaos: You can take a glass-bottomed catamaran to look at
the marine waterworld, but at €18.50 it’s not particularly cheap for 75 minutes.
There are discounts for children, and toddlers get a free ride.
You can also take an interesting day trip to
Spinalonga, a former leper colony
from Agios Nikolaos. There are at least ten boats a day in the summer. Thanks to
the price war between competing companies, these trips are quite cheap.