A town bursting with life, lights, colour and the Cretan heartbeat, welcome its visitors throughout the year in a cosy warm atmosphere. Build on the ruins of the ancient city "Lato pros Kamara" and through the centuries it developed from an independent trade center in the 3rd AD century, into today's town, a place full of interest, throbbing with motion and life. Agios Nikolaos changes its faces according to your mood. Since it is loaded with memories and customs from the past, it is a traditional place for those who have a longing for the good old days, at the same time it is a cosmopolitan meeting point for those who love fun, a paradise of peace and quiet for those who want to relax, a center of European standards for the demanding, and an ideal summer resort to spend your holidays.
The lake of Agios Nikolaos is obviously the most beautiful ornament of the town. It is linked to the sea by a narrow canal, which adds to the beauty of the lake, while its natural surrounding red rocks between the trees turn it into a site of great attraction as one can enjoy a wonderful view while sitting comfortably at any of the coffee shops next to the multi colored fishing boats. Legend has it that Athena and Artemis Vritomartis were washing their hair at the deep blue waters of the lake.
The natives, unable to see the bottom, called it "bottomless" or "sunk", meaning that it had been created by a landslide, until the Christian commissioner Costas Adossidis Passa connected the lake to the sea in 1867 and its stagnant waters became clear. The English naval traveller Spratt, who was mapping the island, found its depth to be 210 feet (64 meters) and said that this might be the opening of an underground river.
The small, especially well attended port of Agios Nikolaos, has its own charm, as it is surrounded by the picturesque tile-roofed houses and it is illuminated in the evenings by the lights of the shops and those of the kaikis and the boats moored at the big dock. This is the starting point of the kaikis doing their day trips to Spinalonga, Elounda and the picturesque Merabello Bay. There is a scheduled ferry boat from Piraeus to Agios Nikolaos 3 times a week while the ferry to Sitia, Karpathos and Rhodos stops here once a week.
At the extension of the coastal road within a naturally "gifted" landscape, a calm ancient anchorage still exists, while at the heart of the town one of the best marinas of the Aegean Sea was inaugurated in 1994.
Two lovely islands, at the entrance of the port, complement the beautiful landscape. The little plays host to the town light house, while the big island's main attraction is the Agion Panton ( All Saints) chapels and the famous Kri -Kri goat a protected species to which the island serves as a refuge.
The town of Agios Nikolaos was named after the charming Byzantine chapel built on the spot called "Nissi" during the 7th AD century. The chapel has interesting old frescoes and rewards the visitor with a breathtaking view of the town and the bay.
Situated in K Paleologou st, the museum of Agios Nikolaos is the second finest Archaeological collection in Crete. Splendid archaeological finds from the prefecture of Lassithi are displayed in its eight galleries. A unique "idol" from the Pheleketo Cave of Zakros, grave goods from Agia Fotia Sitias, early Minoan vessels, Vases from Vasiliki, the "goddess of Myrtos", items from Ierapetra, Mohlos, Myrsini, Tourloti etc etc are to be found in the eight rooms of this very interesting museum.
Every summer, the Municipal Cultural Center schedules a series of events under the general title "LATO". These events feature Cretan, Greek and foreign groups with traditional or contemporary repertoire. Drama performances, art exhibitions, swimming competitions and other events also take place.
Every two years the "Nautical Week" is celebrated with swimming competitions, water sports events and a fireworks display. The night of "Anastassi" (Christ's Resurrection) is the most impressive celebration as thousands of people, holding candles lit with the Holy Light, gather around the lake for the "burning of Judas". scores of crackers pierce the night's silence, creating a unique, emotionally charged atmosphere.
Another lively feast - with an open air market and authentic traditional Cretan style festivities - takes place at Analipsi of Almyros on the 50th day after Easter.
Particularly important is the celebration of the name day of the city's patron St Nikolas, on December 6.
The celebration of the New Year's Day is another impressive event in Agios Nikolaos. Two kaikis (local fishing boats) are at the port, one leaving ( standing for the year ending) and the other coming in (for the beginning year). Santa Claus disembarks triumphantly, welcomed by the town officials, the municipal band and the cheering crowds and then proceeds to the main town square to distribute presents to jubilant children.
The Municipal Tourism Company has its own organized beaches (Municipal, Almyros, Havania) where the swimmers can enjoy swimming. The exemplary beaches of Agios Nikolaos are always among the the candidates for the prize of purity and cleanliness by the respective European Committee, earning more and more "blue flags" each year.
Ideal place for all sorts of water sports. For the athlete and the sports fan and those who want to combine vacations and sports there are several organized gyms, the national stadium, the national swimming pool, basket and volley ball courts, tennis courts and a well equipped riding school.
Major administrative, cultural and communications center, Agios Nikolaos is one of the most developed tourist areas not only in Crete, but in Greece in general. Having a valuable experience of 30 years of organized tourism, its infrastructure matches that of any other European resort, for the ideal and interesting vacation together with the traditional Cretan hospitality and an excellent climate. Thanks to the beautiful coasts, the great sights and the cosmopolitan life, this lively city hosts every year thousands of visitors without losing one bit of its tranquility and traditional hospitality.