Aghios Nikolaos, the administrative centre of the prefecture of Lasithi, is a modern town built on the north western point of Mirabello bay, on the Northeast coast of Crete. It is the islands most established tourist resort, with life centred around a working port and busy yachting marina. Aghios Nikolaos is a cosmopolitan resort with a busy nightlife and an abundance of restaurants, bars. and shops.
Aghios Nikolaos once had the deserved reputation as a party town, but things have quieted down a little since then and these days the town is just as likely to attract couples, both young and a little older. Despite the crowds and the still very busy nightclubs, the town has managed to retain a charm which is a far cry from the image of its recent past.
The Voulismeni lake in the middle, of Aghios Nikolaos is a particularly attractive part of the town. At one time the waters of the lake were stagnant, then in 1867 a channel was cut connecting it to the sea. Locally the lake is often described as "bottomless" but one measurement estimated it to be 64 meters or 210 feet deep. It is said that nearing the end of World War II, the German army, on leaving the island dumped a number of tanks into the lake never to be seen again. Due to its picturesque location, expect to pay a little more for your refreshments in the coffee shops, restaurants and bars that line its edge.
For those who like to keep fit during their holiday, Aghios Nickolaos has a wide variety of water sports on offer, there are also a number of basketball, volleyball and tennis courts. If you enjoy horse riding, there is a well equipped riding school, and the area around Aghios Nikoiaos is ideal for walking. Summers on Crete can be very hot, so when taking any exercise, always have a bottle of water with you to avoid dehydration, and remember that an excess of alcohol can also have a dehydrating effect on the body.
In Hellenistic times Aghios Nikolaos was the port for Lato, then a powerful city. The harbour was still in use during Roman times and in the first Byzantine period, although its importance had greatly diminished. After this period there are few records of the towns history until 1206 when the Genoans built the fortress of Mirabelo. The fortress was destroyed during an earthquake and all traces of the fortress has since disappeared. The town is now named Aghios Nikolaos after the old domed church with a single nave, dedicated to Saint Nicholas, which stood on the small peninsula in the harbour.