Agios Nikolaos in Crete
Agios Nikolaos is 65 kilometres east of Heraklion.
Agios Nikolaos, or just Agios as the locals call it, dominates the beautiful Merabello Bay, on the northeast coast of Lassithi Prefecture in East Crete.
Agios Nikolaos has a population of 10,000. Though small, it is the second largest town in Lassithi Prefecture, the easternmost prefecture of Crete.
Agios Nikolaos was one of the first towns in Crete to feel the effects of tourist development, and the famous lake of Agios Nikolaos, around which the town centre is built, continues to impress visitors.
Agios Nikolaos, the town with the beautiful view
Agios Nikolaos is set on the largest natural bay in Crete, Mirabello or Merabello Bay, named for the beautiful view (mira bella) of the sea from the town.
Agios Nikolaos harbour
The history of Agios Nikolaos is marked by its harbour in the Ammoudi area, which is still the commercial port of the town.
This site was chosen for a major harbour in East Crete, because the islets of Agioi Pantes before it offered better defences against possible attackers and good shelter from the northwesterlies, which can blow quite strongly.
In the Venetian period, the harbour of Agios Nikolaos had a capacity of 25 galleys, a fairly significant number for the time, and served the needs of East Crete. Today, you can travel from here to Piraeus and various islands.
The two islets of Agioi Pantes (All Saints), the natural breakwaters of the harbour, now shelter a few Cretan Wild Goats (agrimia), a species at risk of extinction.
Agios Nikolaos is ideal for…
Agios Nikolaos is ideal for everyone, young and old, singles, couples and families, explorers and those who would rather spend their holidays on the beaches of Agios Nikolaos and other places nearby, such as Elounda to the north or Ammoudara and Istron to the south.
Tourist development almost disappears away from the coast, with the exception of Kritsa, a village whose traditional atmosphere draws large numbers of visitors.
This means that there are many opportunities for people who come to Agios Nikolaos on holiday wanting to explore non-touristy areas of East Crete, either by rented car or on organised daytrips.
Every visitor should bear in mind that Agios Nikolaos is a small town. If you don’t like the fact that you will get to see everything there is to see quite quickly, avoid planning a long stay here.
You should also avoid Agios Nikolaos if you’re looking for the wild nightlife of Hersonissos, Malia or Platanias. There is some nightlife in Agios Nikolaos and you’ll certainly have a good time here, but you won’t have the unlimited options of the other resorts.
How to get to Agios Nikolaos
By ferry from Piraeus to Agios Nikolaos. Agios Nikolaos has boasted a large harbour since ancient times. The local LANE ferry company offers trips from Piraeus to Agios Nikolaos every Monday, and from Agios Nikolaos to Piraeus every Thursday and Sunday.
However, Heraklion is quite close to Agios Nikolaos, so you can take the plane or ferry to Heraklion and then continue on to Agios Nikolaos by bus, taxi, hire car or in your own vehicle.
From Heraklion port or airport to Agios Nikolaos. Agios Nikolaos is only an hour’s drive away along the north road axis of the island. You can enjoy the changing landscape en route.
From Heraklion to Agios Nikolaos by bus. There are frequent intercity buses to Agios Nikolaos, departing from the main bus station in Heraklion port.
From Chania to Agios Nikolaos. Agios Nikolaos is about 3-3.5 hours’ drive from Chania and about 2.5 hours from Rethymno.