Agios Nikolaos, the capital of the Lassithi prefecture in Crete, is a vibrant town with plenty to do all year. Summer visitors know it for the many beaches, lakeside cafes, seaside tavernas, boat trips and the Little Train.
We love living in the village of Kritsa, and one reason is its proximity to Agios Nikolaos. Visits to the town include shopping in the farmer’s market on a Wednesday, coffee by the lake or sea, snacks/meals in a huge choice of different restaurants, summer visits to the outdoor cinema and a variety of coastal strolls.
Even if we are just in town to visit the bank, we park up above the marina and walk around the headland into town so it feels like a treat, not a chore.
In the cooler months a favourite destination is Agios Nikolaos bay, home of the small church that gives the town its name.
We last enjoyed this 6 km flat stroll in January and set off from the car park near the port. Locals and visitors alike enjoy the huge statue of Zeus in the guise of a bull carrying Europa that has pride of place at the edge of the parking area.
Zeus, the father of all gods, fell in love with a beautiful Phoenician princess named Europa. He took the form of a white bull, as only gods can, and approached her while she was playing with her friends. Europa caressed the friendly animal and for some strange reason climbed on his back. With his trick complete, Zeus the bull rushed into the sea. He carried her away to Crete, where he regained his human form and fathered Minos, the first king of Crete.
After leaving the car park we turned right, and walked past the port and along the waters edge, keeping right until we were on the junction at the small bridge by the lake. Here we turned right again to continue on the pavement towards Ammoudi.
NOTE: People who want buses to Elounda must now go uphill to the main bus station, although this may change at some point. Cars can no longer turn right here as a one way system is operating. Vehicles enter the one way system on the coastal road from Ammoudi. Vehicles leaving the port/town centre drive up the steep road that exits by the hospital. Here is a film clip courtesy of Anatolh on line to clarify the road change.
We walked the length of this path to Ammoudi beach and were pleased to find kafenions open for a coffee en route.
As these two photos show, it is a good path no matter the weather but perhaps a sunny day is the better option.
On reaching Ammoudi turn right – this means walking behind the beach and you need to take care on the road.
Keep following the road, there is a path on the left, until you see Agios Nikolaos bay on your right.
Cross the beach with the children’s playground and turn right to continue on the far side of the bay.
Soon after you join this road look out for steps rising beside a bar called Spilia. At the top of these steps is the small church dedicated to Agios Nikolaos.
I’ve yet to be in Crete on this church’s name day, 6th December, when it’s a local holiday for the town.
Continue to walk along the footpath.
To your left is a popular hotel complex, so I imagine this is a very busy path during the season. In winter it is a tranquil spot and the sheltered bay gives safe mooring to the boats that ferry people to Spinalonga during the summer.
Here we clambered down to a small sheltered beach to enjoy our picnic and a look back at Agios Nikolaos. We looked around the corner, towards Elounda, but couldn’t walk further as the hotel had shut off the footpath. Never mind, we’d had our stroll in fine weather, but dark clouds building over the mountains gave us reason to step it out back to the town.
There is so much to Agios Nikolaos – I’ll feature more aspects in future posts.