AGIOS NIKOLAOS - VIP BASE
Agios Nikolaos is built around Lake Voulismeni which creates an unforgettable experience for travelers. If one finds Easter in Agios Nikolaos, one should not miss the unique spectacle of the celebration of the Resurrection with Judas burning in the waters of the lake. The city is built in the location of Mandraki, on the west side of the great Gulf of Mirabello, while in the area of Ammoudi is the commercial port that is an important reference point of Eastern Crete as it was protected from invaders and strong winds. The two islands of Agioi Pantes and Faros, functioned as natural breakwaters of the port, while today they host the few Cretan Aegagrus that are threatened with extinction.
The environment is structured for visitors of all ages who want to explore areas and get to know the authentic and traditional Crete. Not suitable for those who want to enjoy intense entertainment and nightlife. The largest Archaeological Museum operates in Agios Nikolaos, which includes exhibits from the Minoan, Geometric and Archaic eras, as well as from the ancient Greek and Roman eras. In the northern part of the city of Agios Nikolaos, the small church of the same name is an excellent example of Byzantine architecture. Toplou Monastery is one of the most important monasteries in Crete, famous for its impressive architecture that houses a small museum with Byzantine icons and engravings.
It is worth visiting Elounda which is one of the most famous tourist resorts with unique natural beauty 10km. north of Ag. Nikolao. In Elounda one can enjoy the beautiful beaches that characterize it as a cosmopolitan destination since many celebrities choose it for their holidays. At 1km. are the ruins of Olos in which is the Basilica of Poros with its invaluable mosaic and the Basilica of Kolokytha. Spinalonga is a small rocky islet north of Elounda, which should be visited for its Venetian castle, which was a fortress and was used as a leprosarium.
On the northern slope of Mount Dikti is the cave of Zeus which has caves with impressive stalactites and stalagmites, which once served as laboratories for the ancient cultures of the region. Zakros is one of the largest and most well-preserved Minoan palaces of 1,600 BC. which covers an area of 800sq.m., and has apartments, banquet halls, baths, treasures etc. It is an impressive gorge, surrounded by rocks and caves, in a lush landscape with wild vegetation and many rare species of animals.
The largest palm forest in Europe, Vai, is one of the most popular attractions in Crete and one of the most beautiful and unique areas in the Mediterranean, which was discovered only in the 1970s. The palm forest was declared a protected area, and today has a crystal clear organized beach. distinguished by the blue flag. At the eastern end of the island, 64 km from Agios Nikolaos, in a stunning natural environment, which includes caves, gorges and clean beaches, many of which have been distinguished by the blue flag is Sitia. Sitia was the homeland of Vitsenzo Kornaros, one of the most important representatives of Cretan literature and author of "Erotokritos'', in whose honor the "Kornaria" are held every year.
If you want to swim in the Libyan Sea, you can visit the beach of Ierapetra, in the southernmost part of Europe. Gaidouronisi is also a small desert island, a few miles south of Ierapetra and is one of the most impressive places you can visit. In addition to swimming in the crystal clear waters, sunbathing, sand, walking in the forest, the visitor can also dive to admire its enchanting seabed. Ammoudi beach 1km. from Agios Nikolaos in a creek offers shallow, clear waters overlooking the islands of Agios Pantos and Mikronisi with the lighthouse.
Next to the port you will find the beach Europe with the cliffs of Kavousi and the sculpture of Nikos Koundouros "The rapture of Europe". West of Agios Nikolaos lake is Kitroplatia with its paved and organized beach friendly to families with children. At the westernmost point of the road, in a small square, has been placed the modern sculpture of the Sotiriadis brothers that represents the Horn of Innocence which is a global symbol of abundance. South of Agios Nikolaos is the most popular beach of the city Almyros which is formed by the exit of the river with characteristic cold, shallow waters due to the river.
Restaurants and taverns in Agios Nikolaos are quite concentrated around the picturesque lake while almost all the bars are in the heart of the city around the port. Every visitor will have the opportunity to taste Cretan delicacies, drink wine or raki, listening to traditional Cretan music. Some shops host orchestras where you can listen live to Cretan instruments and traditional music. In the city of Agios Nikolaos are the most popular tourist resorts such as Elounda, Sitia and Ierapetra with the most popular restaurants and bars. From the cosmopolitan Agios Nikolaos, to the picturesque Sitia and the "family" Ierapetra, there are shops to have fun,drinking raki with local delicacies and gourmet dishes while fresh fish and seafood are abundant in all coastal areas of the prefecture.
Local characteristic flavors are the kaltsouni of Ierapetra with fresh mizithra and neratzia leaves, the "koumpanakia" which are donuts with sourdough and sesame, the oumaties sausage with rice, herbs and chopped liver, the rafiolia and cheese pies. The rakadika of Ierapetra are famous, in which the carafe is accompanied by snacks. Cretan olive oil is world famous, a product that is cultivated in the fertile land rich in olive trees and its unique climate. Olive oil is considered one of the best in the world and has won international awards and distinctions. Raki is the traditional drink, produced, and has become known in Crete. Apart from the final drink, the process of distillation and its creation is remarkable. A wide variety of herbs, plants, herbs, flowers and rare trees stand out in the flora of the island. Crete from the Minoan period is classified as one of the most important wine-producing regions with exceptional quality wines.