Agios Nikolaos(updated August 4, 2007)
Agios Nikolaos is a coastal town on the Gulf of Marabello at little over 60 kilometers east of Heraklion. Agios Nikolaos is the capital of the district Lashiti. There are approximately 20,000 people living in the town. Agios Nikolaos, in English is St. Nicholas. It was the first place in Crete where the mass took place.
There is not much to do in Agios Nikolaos. However, the good accessibility of the town makes it a good base for visiting other places, such as the island Spinalonga and the village of Elounda. You can find many shops and restaurants for tourists in Agios Nikolaos. There is a beach and there are some old buildings worth visiting. The fourteenth-century Panagia Church and the Agia Triada Cathedral for example. Both can be found in the center of the town. In summer a number of festivals are organized, such as Lato cultural festival, and there are theater and dance. In winter, almost all shops are closed.
The biggest attraction of the town is the Voulismeni (drowned) lake. This lake was originally filled with fresh water until the period between 1867 and 1971 in which they used it as an inland port for the local fishing boats. In the past it was claimed that this lake, with a diameter of 137 meters, would be bottomless. There are several stories circulating on the lake. For example, the famous French researcher Jacques Cousteau dived in there. He reached the bottom. Also, the Germans sank down their weapons before they surrendered at the end of the Second World War. In the last century, an English skipper found out that the depth of the lake is 64 meters. The local population calls the lake Vromolimni, which means 'stinking lake'.
Agios Nikolaos is easily reached by bus. There is a direct connection from Heraklion and from the tourist places like Malia and Chersonissos. The ride from Heraklion lasts a bit longer than an hour. With a rental car you can simply follow main road on the island in a westerly direction. However, it is worth mentioning the old road "Old National Road". From this path you have a magnificent view over the island. This route is more adventurous.