Are you looking for a long weekend on the island of Crete? Ágios Nikólaos, easily accessed via airport transfer from Heraklion, is an ideal destination for this type of break. A medium and manageable town, boasting stunning beaches and natural scenery, this is a site of mythical legends and ancient history.
Day 1: Exploring Nature
There are more than a hundred routes in the area for hikers to experience gorges, coastal vistas, mountain peaks and pine forests, so whether you want a gentle or challenging walk, there will be something to suit your level.
If you’re only doing one hike, then I’d recommend the Ágios Nikólaos trail (approx 5.37km or 3.34 miles). Set out in the morning along this circular coastal route that snakes through olive groves, past beehives and into the lower Rigklia village. Depending on the season you’ll spot a riot of different wildflowers and enjoy the views along the way.
On your return to Ágios Nikólaos you’ll be ready for lunch – make sure you try some of the local dishes that are readily available in the tavernas. My favourite is dakos, a barley rusk soaked in olive oil and topped with fresh tomato and myzithra (a local cheese made from sheep or goat’s milk).
The afternoon can be spent browsing the delightful shops of the town centre, where you can choose from a range of artisanal Cretan artefacts and souvenirs.
A stroll along the shores of Lake Voulismeni as the sun is setting is the perfect aperitif to a dinner at one of the excellent restaurants, where you can continue to soak up the picturesque view while you eat.
Day Two: Take to the Seas
Everyone who comes to Ágios Nikólaos should visit Spinalonga, the island where lepers were sent to quarantine. This shunned community built their own houses, a church and various shops – a testament to the self sufficiency and perseverance of the human spirit.
Afterwards, you can extend your boat trip with a tour of the secluded and hidden beaches of Crete. Feel the thrill of the sea spray on your face as you cruise the open seas, and you’ll even get a chance for a private beach experience so you can swim in the azure, crystalline waters.
Day 3: Sand and Culture
Your final day can be divided into two halves of culture vulturing and beach bumming.
The Cathedral of Aigia Triada is in the centre of the town. It’s a wonderful, surviving traditional Byzantine church built on a cruciform plan with three aisles and a dome. Decorated with frescoes and mosaics, the interior is a feast for the eyes.
Moving on to the older part of the town, you can visit Panagia Vrefotrofos, an early fourteenth-century church boasting original frescoes of scenes from the life of Christ and the Virgin Mary.
If you’re fascinated by Byzantine history, then you should finish off your tour with the best: one of the few examples of early-Byzantine architecture in Crete sits nestled in one of the small bays of Ágios Nikólaos. This church, for which the town is named, is a single aisle edifice with a dome. It was probably built before the Arabs conquered the island in the ninth century, as the surviving frescoes appear to have been painted during the Iconoclastic period.
After you’ve had your fill of history, you should spend your final hours unwinding on one of Ágios Nikólaos’ spectacular beaches.
There are several within walking distance of the town so you’ll have plenty of choice:
- Minos Beach
- Ammoudi Beach
- Paralia Kitroplakia
- Paralia Gargadoros
- Almiros Beach
Ágios Nikólaos is a destination that suits a three-day visit. You’ll get a good balance of nature, history and local culture, with enough to do to keep you busy but not so much that you feel you’ve missed anything.
Visiting in June?
Ágios Nikólaos Cliff Diving – if you’re planning to spend your long weekend here in June then you should try to come for the cliff diving competition, which attracts professional athletes from around the world. After watching the phenomenal performance of the competitors as they dive from a board 20 m above sea level, the town hosts fireworks, lights and laser shows in the evenings.
Where to Stay
Palazzo Arhontiko Apartments: Situated on the beachfront, and only a few minutes’ walk from the town centre, these spacious apartments include a kitchenette and dining area. Be sure to ask for one with a panoramic view of the Mirabello Gulf and Sitia mountains. Enjoy a continental breakfast each morning on the terrace that overlooks the sea, and when the sun reaches its midday peak, retreat to the delightful library and reading corner for your afternoon siesta.
Hotel Port 7 – Boutique Collection: The superb location of this hotel at the entrance to the port and only 100m from Kitroplatia Beach, will put you in the heart of the bars, restaurants and tavernas. You’ll have a view of Mirabello Bay or Voulismeni Lake, and some rooms come with private outdoor hot tubs. Breakfast is served on their verandah so you can drink in the view along with your coffee.
Hotel Victoria: Located only 60m from the Blue Flag award-winning Ammoudi Beach, this hotel offers comfortably furnished and air conditioned rooms. Some even have balconies providing views across the bay. For those looking for value for money, Hotel Victoria is a superb option.
How to Get There
The closest airport to Ágios Nikólaos is Heraklion in Crete. With a flight time of around four hours from the UK, you have a choice of carriers including Jet2, easyJet, TUI, British Airways, BA Euroflyer, Wizz Air UK and Avion Express. Before you leave you should book a Shuttle Direct transfer from Heraklion Airport to Ágios Nikólaos so that you reach your destination feeling relaxed and ready to holiday.
Types of Transfer
Shuttle Direct offers a range of Heraklion airport transfer services to suit your budget and agenda. From couples or families to groups, and luxury to economical, we have an Ágios Nikólaos transfer option that will fit the bill.
Taxi: Pre-book your Heraklion airport taxi to Ágios Nikólaos and steer clear of avoidable queues. Opting for a pre-arranged taxi ensures you won’t fall prey to unnecessary detours or inflated fares.
Shuttle Bus: For a reliable airport transfer from Heraklion to Ágios Nikólaos, we offer a cost-effective alternative to taxis. You can pre-book seats on our Shuttle buses from the airport to your destination.
Private Transfer: Private transfers from Heraklion to Ágios Nikólaos are the most convenient way to start your trip. With dependable drivers and comfortable vehicles, you’ll enjoy a seamless, stress-free journey to your accommodation.
Minibus Transfer: If you’re going to Ágios Nikólaos with a group, you should consider a minibus airport transfer from Heraklion. Reduce your costs, travel together and enjoy the convenience of being dropped off at your hotel as a group.
Choosing the Right Transfer
There are many factors that determine which type of airport transfer will work best for you. Our clients choose Shuttle Direct because we offer solutions to the most common considerations for travellers who need a transfer from Heraklion airport to Ágios Nikólaos.
Cost: For most people the cost of reaching their destination looms large. If you want to save your pennies for souvenirs and tasty treats we can help you get to Ágios Nikólaos from Heraklion as cost-effectively as possible. Our most budget-friendly options are the Shuttle buses for individuals and families and minibus airport transfers for larger groups.
Convenience: Set your holiday mood from the moment your plane touches down by opting for maximum convenience with a private airport transfer from Heraklion to Ágios Nikólaos, or by pre-booking a Shuttle Direct taxi to meet you at the Arrivals lounge.
About Shuttle Direct
Shuttle Direct offers a seasoned shuttle service dedicated to ensuring convenient transportation to and from your hotel or apartment throughout your vacation. Our amiable team is at your service to assist you in organising transfers from the airport, train station, port or any other destination on your itinerary.