Why choose Agios Nikolaos for your spring vacations?
Crete is a well known holiday destination, especially in summer. However, the island’s varied landscape makes it an exceptionally charming winter destination which provides an array of options to suit all your needs. The area of Agios Nikolaos is full of sharp contrasts. At a stone’s throw from the renowned seaside resorts and luxurious hotels we find unspoilt mountainous villages and archaeological sites waiting to be discovered.
Direct flights all year long
A big advantage of travelling out of the busiest season is that prices can be significantly lower. However, saving money is not the only reason. The climate of Crete is fairly mild even in winter and provides an attractive alternative to the low winter temperatures of the rest of Europe. The sunshine allows for a stress-free exploration of the Cretan landscape away from summer crowds. Swimming is of course a must, given that temperatures are relatively high. The numerous beaches of Agios Nikolaos and of the broader area welcome swimmers even in the heart of winter.
In winter, those who visit Crete are more explorers than tourists. The charming hinterland is full of hidden gems, such as the Plateau of Katharo, located at a short distance from Agios Nikolaos. The picturesque villages are ideal for relaxation combined with warm hospitality and the exquisite local cuisine.
From December to February you have the unique opportunity to witness the olive harvest and the production of the world famous Cretan extra virgin olive oil.
Winter is also the season of centuries-old traditions and customs. Christmas is without a doubt the most important holiday season in winter. The towns and villages of the area are bustling with people and the locals practice various customs and rituals that date back to the Antiquity. Beautifully-lit Christmas trees and traditional fishing boats are seen everywhere. On New Year’s Day you’ll witness numerous customs believed to bring good luck, such as the smashing of the pomegranate. The Greek Orthodox feast of the Epiphany and the Blessing of Waters are celebrated on January 6th and men and women dive for the cross, a truly remarkable event. Carnival is yet another exciting period in Crete with numerous events held in the nearby villages and the city of Agios Nikolaos. On Clean Monday (Greek: Καθαρά Δευτέρα), also known as Pure Monday, Ash Monday, Monday of Lent or Green Monday (the first day of Great Lent in Orthodox Christianity), locals practice the widespread custom of flying kites.
Apart from holiday periods, numerous musical and other events are organised throughout winter. Each year, some of the best artists of the Greek music scene participate in “Mikro Festival”. You can download Mirabello app to receive information (updated daily) on all events.
Although most of the dancing clubs and discotheques are closed during winter, there are still quite a few options available such as bars with loud music and others with a more relaxed vibe which host live gigs. Gastronomy is a vital part of the entertainment and thus, the area proposes many restaurants that pay tribute to the renowned Cretan diet and small traditional cafés (καφενείο in Greek) where you can have a sip of raki (traditionally distilled local spirit) with the locals in a friendly atmosphere. Don’t forget that Cretans are known for their hospitality.
Culture enthusiasts won’t be disappointed. There are archaeological and folklore museums in Agios Nikolaos, Neapoli and Kritsa as well as numerous monuments all over the area such as fountains in nearby villages and imposing windmills in Elounda salt marsh, centuries-old churches and monasteries and of course important archaeological sites (Spinalonga island, the ancient cities of Lato and Driros). An in-depth glimpse of local tradition and history, of the Cretan way of life and local flora.
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Hiking – Cycling
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Agios Nikolaos is true dreamland for sports enthusiasts with numerous and varied outdoor activities available to all. The best way to explore the area is to walk beyond the places reached by car, follow ancient paths by the shore, cross one of the numerous canyons, climb on the mountaintops and enjoy stunning views over the Cretan and the Libyan Sea. The E4 European Long Distance Path comprises a large network of trails of significant cultural, environmental and historical value covering a broad spectrum of varied landscapes. Moreover, there are many mapped routes and thus, various trekking, hiking and mountaineering associations operate in the area. In addition, there are many bicycle routes available (most of them clearly marked) which cover almost the entire area of the Municipality.
The harsh Cretan landscape is the ideal place for off-road explorations. Driving on dirt tracks next to steep slopes with breathtaking sea views is a remarkable experience and a chance to observe nature and the landscape. Forests, imposing mountain ranges, magnificent caves, canyons, secluded habitats and ecosystems of rare beauty are waiting to be discovered.
Those in search of relaxation enjoy exclusive Spa therapies and treatments by highly qualified professionals in the luxurious hotels located in the broader area of Agios Nikolaos. The picturesque city of Agios Nikolaos has an extraordinary small lake located next to the port which is ideal for romantic walks even in winter. Moreover, Agios Nikolaos and the nearby villages provide the perfect scenery for a traditional wedding ceremony.
Thus, Agios Nikolaos is a lot more than a world famous summer destination. There are many things to enjoy in winter as well: entertainment, nightlife and leisure. Comfortable luxurious accommodation and outdoors activities, tradition, a long history and contemporary culture; small villages and big cities, imposing mountains and the untamed sea; wildlife and a truly unique landscape. Winter in Agios Nikolaos is all about living as the locals do.
Why not give a try?