Coming from Heraklion
Heraklion International Airport:
As you are getting out of the airport, you follow E75 highway to Agios Nikolaos. After 60 km you will reach Agios Nikolaos town. When you are at the traffic lights you turn right & you follow the old road to Ierapetra. While approaching next intersection – slide right and after go straight (don’t go under the ramp). After crossing the intersection go straight for 5km – you will pass BLUE MARINE RESORT (on your right-hand side) after this hotel – slide right and you will reach KARMA MINOAN.
Our top picks of restaurants in the region
Piato restaurant is located in Agios Nikolaos, Crete. Its aim is to offer Homemade Creative Cuisine with a Cretan twist. It was back in 1980 when our family decided to enter the restaurant business. In 2006, the next generation took over from the parents by creating PIATO, in an effort to uphold and honour their legacy.
Address: Minoos 5, Ag. Nikolaos 721 00. Opening hours: Monday-Sunday 13:00 – 23:00
Different to all other towns in Crete, Agios Nikolaos manages to mix – upon the three hills which support its girth – an arty, leisurely, sleepy and yet also bustling place. Built partly atop ancient remains of bygone residents’ homes. Also known as Agios Nik or Ag Nik (but the whole name is pronounced eye-yoss nikor-lowse).
Agios Nikolaos is a medium-size town with a small-town feel, one that has lots to offer. You can walk and enjoy walking here, you have several distinct waterfronts – you can get to know it quickly and feel familiar with the place, like an old friend.
Family owned taverna serving you traditional Greek food/meze from recipes handed down through generations of home cooking. If you are in a Greek mood, then you will feel the authentic atmosphere.
Address: Pera Gialos, Agios Nikolaos, Crete 721 00 Greece
Opening hours: Monday – Sunday 13:00 – 23:00
Heraklion or Iraklion the birthplace of El Greco and Nikos Kazantzakis can at first seem a nightmare, particularly if you arrive expecting to see a picturesque little island town.
You find yourself instead in the fifth largest city in Greece, it’s ugly and modern, a maelstrom of traffic, concrete and dust. But behind this facade and – as with Athens – you can discover a vibrant working small metropolis with a great number of attractive features which do much to temper initial impressions.
Stay long enough and you can even begin to like the place; the sea, as well as the area’s antiquites, excellent food and friendly, welcoming people make this place a delightful place to visit.
Migomis piano restaurant has been the favorite spot for locals, celebrities and visitors, with a breathtaking vista of the lake. Constructed in a historical 1890’s building, the restaurant is located on the edge of the cliff directly above the cosmopolitan town of Agios Nikolaos. Key ingredients to the success of Migomis are the elegantly timeless and classy decoration, efficient service, top quality international cuisine and an endless list of wines from all over the world.
Open from early April until late October.
Location Address: 20, Nikou Plastira str. Agios Nikolaos, 72100, Crete, Greece
+30 28410 24353 | www.migomis.gr
(35-minute drive by car. Then a boat trip to the island.)
The Chrissi ‘’Golden Beach’’ is one of the 81 uninhabited islands of Crete and is approximately 8 nautical miles south of Ierapetra. No cars allowed! Locals call it “Gaidouronisi” (donkey island) or simply “Island”. The length of the island is 5 km and a width of 1 km the highest point is called Kefalas and with a height of 31 meters. This is an earthly paradise of golden beaches and white sands, crystal waters, olive cedar and countless small shells in many places on the coast! Throughout the length of the island, mainly in the center, there is a cedar forest with trees that exist there for over 200 years! West of the island there is the chapel of St. Nicholas was probably built
in the 13th century, the salt lake that still has salt, the tombs of the Roman years, the lighthouse and the sleeve of the ancient harbor.
Spinalonga is a small island north of the gulf of Elounda in Lassithi. The ancients called Kalydon when the Venetians occupied called Spinalonga. The fortified and made sure to highlight the beauty of the island and the surrounding area. This is an excellent cosmetic fort that held up very well till today! In 1574 began the fortification of the Venetians because of the beginning of Turks raid. So they wanted to protect the island from invaders but they were also interesting in taking the salt of Elounda. In 1649 Crete was conquered by the Turks but Spinalonga remained in Venetian for 65 years, during which many rebels Cretans used the island as a refuge.
A very important historical period for Spinalonga was the 50 years which used as a leper colony.
Located in the centre of Agios Nikolaos, next to the picturesque lake The Greek tavern Karnagio and Pita tou Riga. Both have managed to win only positive reviews from every visitor. The food is excellent, the staff is very friendly and the atmosphere idyllic. Appetisers over the lake, local Raki, appropriate music and incredibly smart t-shirt for the staff.
Address: By the lake at the heart of Agios Nikolaos, Konstantinou Paleologou 1
Agios Nikolaos, 72100, Lasithi, Crete
+30 28410 25968 | +30 695 7706 227 | www.karnagioagiosnikolaos.com
Enjoy a full day trip up to the Lassithi Plateau with majestic views and off-roading thrown in. Keep your eyes open for eagles & vultures. Explore Greek mythology and visit the birthplace of the Greek god Zeus. Also visit a 2000 year old plane tree at Krassi. Dikti Range of mountains to the Plateau of Lassithi (850 metres above sea level).
At the Lassithi Plateau you may well see Eagles and Vultures as both nest around this area. You will begin to circle the plateau, soaking up the scenery until we reach the base of Mount Spathi (2,140 metres above sea level) second highest on the island. On the north face of Spathi is the Psychro Cave, the birth place of the greek god Zeus.
Matala is situated in southern Crete in Heraklion, about 70 km from the city. This is a small fishing village with the famous, beautiful, sandy beach. The clear, blue waters combined with the small artificial caves are carved into the rocks are the elements that make the unique beach of Matala! Matala has no infrastructure such as apartments, hotels, restaurants, bars, cafes. The beach is organized and easy access! Really worth to visit the beach of Matala! The landscape that you will see will amaze you! It is known around the world that there’s the 70 insurgents fled the new era, so-called hippies. Among the famous artists and some of the time from the scene of rock music like Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, and Cat Stevens. Some years later, when the ’’xounda’’ ruling Greece, by order of Bishop Gortyna, the hippies were removed from Matala.
With large excavations made in Heraklion Crete at the late 19th century and later came to the surface of the ground the remains of a phenomenal civilization, The Minoan civilization which is the first high civilization in Europe in about the years 2800 to 1000 BC. The Arthur Evans, the English archeologist of Knossos, named this culture Minoans, the name comes from the famous King Minos. After the excavations have exposed in the middle of the site of Minoan the actual palace of King Minos rich deposits, the royal apartments to religious sites, the huge central courtyard and finally the throne room where they discovered the “throne Minos, “The throne of King Minoas is the oldest in Europe”. In the third millennium (somewhere between 2800 and 2600 BC) in Crete starts a new era, the Bronze Age, characterized by the manufacture of copper and widespread use of metals.
Farmyard is not the only attraction; the best surprise awaits for you inside! Our old olive press, built in 1882 at the village of Vrouha, was carried intact onto our farm’s premises, together with different objects of that period and our factory’s wooden, handmade door can be found ‘nailed’ onto the wall.
Open Daily 10:00 – 18:30, Sundays* 10:00 – 14:00
*our activities are not available on Sundays. Except for a guided tour at 12:00
Creta’s Happy Divers has been operating since 1989 and is located in Agios Nikolaos with 5 offices in different corners of Lasithi.
Open from April to November with tideless, calm, clear, warm water, you can rest assure none of your dives here will be spoilt by currents, dangerous marine life or bad visibility. For those wishing to try diving for the first time, you can do so on our unique “House reef”. The small bay right in front of our dive centre provides swimming pool conditions and aquarium like marine life.
+30 28410 82546 | www.happydivers.gr
ACQUA PLUS is by far the most popular water park on the island of Crete, for twenty years now it offers great fun and good service to more than 100000 satisfied clients per year, is situated 5km from Hersonissos and only 30km from the city of Heraklion. It’s next to the Crete Golf Club. The water park is split in to two section connected to each other. The one section is for adults and includes a large number of extreme slides with high adrenaline and the other section for children.
Location: 5th km Hersonissos to Kasteli, 71200, Hersonissos Crete
+30 6944000044 | www.acquaplus.gr
Patron saint of the island, the Monastery of Panagia Faneromeni is located on a hill above the town, within a 3 km distance from it. Its story takes us back to 63 AD when Apostle Paul sent his three assistants (Aquila, Sosiona and Herodio) to Lefkada to preach the teachings of Jesus. Later, the church of Panagia was built –at the site of an ancient temple dedicated to Artemis- the first one created on the island, with Sosiona being ordained by Apostle Paul as the first bishop of Lefkada. After the First Ecumenical Council (325 AD), Agatharchos, the bishop of Lefkada at that time, and two other fathers settled in the monastery and built the first cells, setting thus the basis for monastic life on the island.
Seasonality Open all year round Working Days/Hours Open: from sunrise until sunset.
Summer, closed 14.00-16.00
Rethymno combines rarely united features: the old town’s charm and history, with proximity to a long sandy beach. Although it is the third largest town in Crete, Rethimnon never feels like a city as Chania and Heraklion do. Instead, it has a provincial air; it’s a place that moves slowly, a very romantic plade and the most important preserves much of its Venetian and Turkish appearance.
Explore one of the best preserved medieval cities in Greece, and search for your fairy-tale romance in Rethymno.
Always the first thing you hear about Chania – the Venetian Harbour, the old port, the narrow shopping streets and waterfront restaurants.
Chania is also one of the two places you are most likely to see on arriving in Crete. It is beautiful – that is to say much of the Chania you will want to see is clustered close to the harbour – old buildings, museums, churches and crafts shops (some with genuinely interesting and sometimes local, products on offer).
Food is offered in great variety and sometimes great similarity – there are many restaurants and also cafes, at which to reflect upon the experiences of places you have just explored together with the enjoyment of some tasty food – we have suggestions for restaurants further on.
To the southwest coast of Crete lies one of the most magical beaches. Elafonisi is one of the most exotic beaches of Crete, situated about 80 km from Chania, is characterized by dunes of white sand, crystal clear shallow waters, tranquility and peace that it offers. The landscape refers to exotic beaches and shallow waters often continue for several meters into the sea. The landscape in Elafonissi riveting as it is rare to meet in Greece beach with its own characteristics. To get to Elafonissi you can take the bus or better by renting a car. Surely your visit to the beautiful beach Elafonissi will be unforgettable! After a few minutes’ walk to the west you can easily reach the beach and the Cedar forest.
To the northwest of Crete is Gramvoùsa. It is a peninsula in the west of which lies the beautiful beach of Balos. In the peninsula of Gramvousa is a castle which was built by the Venetians and was used as a fortress against the conquerors who occasionally want to trespass. Eventually the Turks managed to conquer the castle bribing the Venetian commander! Balos beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in the Mediterranean. Very fine white and red sand, shallow waters and at some point a lagoon with crystal clear turquoise waters. To reach this Gramvousa and Balos beach, you can get one of the boats that starting every day from the port of Kissamos (Kastelli). Balos beach is accessible by land. Following a hard drive dirt road until you reach a specific point, and from there will begins the descent on foot, a chance to see many of the beauty of the Cretan Island.
The Samaria Gorge Farranga or as the locals call it, is located 43 km south of Chania. The entrance of the gorge is situated at an altitude Xyloskalo 1227 meters. H Xyloskalo position took its name from a wooden ladder that was there again and facilitated the descent into the canyon. Also in this area (just before Xyloskalo) is a small road which leads to the ski resort in Kallergis 1680 meters in altitude. The descent of the gorge begins Xyloskalo, with steps at the beginning and then a small path. The descent is quite difficult and takes 6 to 8 hours. Those who intend to cross the gorge should wear athletic shoes and hat. Water does not need it during the journey there taps. The gorge was declared a National Park to protect the rare flora and fauna and especially the Cretan wild goat (kri – kri, as the locals call it) who lives here.
The monastery of Arcady is located about 70 kilometers from Rethymnon city and has a great history related to the Cretan revolution in 1866. When the monastery was build was just not accurate. It is said that according to tradition founded by Heraclitus and rebuilt by the Byzantine emperor Arcadius in the 5th century from whom it took its name. The monastery was founded by a monk Arcadius so it took the name “Arkadi monastery”. The Remains, however, are kept in the northwestern part of the enclosure. There is a story, which certifies that the original temple was dedicated to Saint Constantine. What is said by some travelers that the name of the monastery comes from the ancient city of Arcadia in Crete is wrong. Because this city was too far away from the area that the monastery of Arkadi builded. At the end of the 16th century (1587) was a renovation of the monastery and was built in the same position as in today.
To the southwest of Crete, in Chania, is the Loutro. This is a small, traditional fishing village where you can reach only by boat from Sfakia and Agia Roumeli, or walk Anopoli Sfakia and Agia Roumeli. The history in this place is very strong, the old city of Phoenix a significant port at roman and Hellenic periods. The beaches are clean in Loutro with crystal waters and accessible either by foot or by boat. Some of these are also available for nudism. If you need relaxation, we recommend you to visit Loutro. It is definitely a destination not to have touched the ugly side of tourism development. There you will find a few rooms and a few taverns and cafes. Some of the rental rooms don’t have electricity and use only oil lamp which makes it for a more romantic atmosphere!