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About Aghios Nikolaos, Crete

Where better than Aghios Nikolaos to arrive by sea? This pretty, traditional fishing port was named after St Nicholas, patron saint of sailors. Set in beautiful Mirabello Bay, Crete's largest natural bay, it was supposedly 'discovered' by some famous movie directors in the 60s. They were a little slow. About 4,000 years too slow, as it happens. Ag Nik - as it's affectionately known - actually dates back to the Bronze Age.

It manages to seem small, sleepy and familiar but cosmopolitan, arty and vibrant all at once. (Maybe that's why Daphne du Maurier set Not After Midnight in the town?).

Aghios Nikolaos has three seafronts for you to explore - the lake and port, Kitroplatia beach and the Marina. Each different. Each providing plenty of places to relax and refresh. Simply shop until you're ready to drop into a pavement café, taverna or fine-dining restaurant. And nothing beats a Cretan Meze! Enjoy olive paté, sun dried tomatoes, cheeses, fish, seafood and yoghurt with local honey. All washed down with Cretan wine or traditional raki.

Now, ready to stroll it off? Try ancient Priniatikos Pyrgos, the 7th century Byzantine chapel of St Nicholas or on the island of Spinalonga, a former Venetian fortress.

 

Shore excursions in Aghios Nikolaos

Please note: The shore excursions listed are typical for this port. The full programme of shore excursions available for your cruise will be displayed on Cruise Personaliser at least 12 weeks prior to departure.

Leisurely Lassithi

Activity mediumRefreshments included

Duration: 4½ hours

Travel the rugged backbone of Crete. Admire 14th century frescoes and view the myriad of windmills on the Lassithi plateau, with their sail-trimmed arms.

Embark on a scenic drive through Crete’s fertile valleys, where impeccably cultivated land supports potato, grain, apple and pear crops, all irrigated by the windmills of Crete.

With your guide, you’ll visit the 17th century Monastery of Kera, renowned for its Byzantine icons, 14th century frescoes and carved altar screens. Have your camera at the ready, as the monestary offers sweeping views of Mount Dikte, the Pediada Valley and the sea.

Continuing on through woods and small villages you’ll reach the Plateau of Lassithi, where a breathtaking panorama awaits. Located approximately 2,700 feet above sea level and surrounded by mountains, the plateau is home to ancient monasteries, traditional small villages and over 10,000 magnificent, self-driven windmills, which dot the landscape.

Your final stop is at a traditional tavern in the village of Seli at a, where you’ll sample a true taste of Crete.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by coach and on foot.There are a few hairpin bends on the journey to the plateau and approximately 15 steps at the entrance to the monastery. The monastery does not allow flash photography and passengers are advised to dress conservatively. Shorts are not permitted and women must cover their shoulders.

Minoan Palace of Knossos

Activity highShopping

Duration: 5 hours

This popular tour visits the amazing Knossos archaeological site, proving the existence of the Minoan civilisation.

The original Palace of Knossos was raised around 1900 BC, but was destroyed by an earthquake 200 years later. It was rebuilt on a grander scale, only to be severely damaged by the eruption of Santorini in 1600 BC and ravaged by fire in 1400 BC.

Your guided tour will take you through the marvellous ruins of this ancient complex, restored by Sir Arthur Evans. His work has been criticised by some for its modernity, but it does help you visualise the Palace as it was, when it served as the administrative centre for the region.

Finally, enjoy a little free time to stroll at leisure in the town of Heraklion. Perhaps visit the Fountain of Morosini, near the colourful fruit and vegetable market, or shop for some Cretan souvenirs.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by coach and o foot. The archaeological site, which will be explored on foot, has uneven pathways and rough ground and there are 15 steps to be negotiated in various places. Flash photography is not permitted at the archaeological site. Heraklion will be explored on foot during the free time.

Spinalonga and Elounda

Activity medium

Duration: 4½ hours

Explore the intriguing island of Spinalonga and meander through the narrow streets of the pretty town of Elounda.

Discover the dramatic coastal vistas that Crete offers in abundance, during a scenic drive to the bustling seaside resort of Elounda.

Then it’s a short island hop by boat to the intriguing island of Spinalonga, or as it is more commonly referred to, as the ‘island of tears’. Housed within the formidable Venetian fortress walls are the remains of the last leper colony in Europe. Entering the island through Dante’s Gate, your guide will host you on a walking tour along the main street. This abandoned quaint village with its shops, houses and small church portrays a normal Cretan village, until its haunting past is revealed.

Sailing across Mirabello Bay, you’ll return to the old fishing harbour of Elounda. The charm and elegance of Elounda has been carefully preserved, despite its growing popularity as an upmarket holiday resort. Enjoy some free time to explore this famous resort, lined with interesting boutiques and souvenir shops. Chill out on its award-winning blue flag beach or relax in the village square and sample a glass of raki and some meze morsels.

Essential information

This tour involves approximately 1 hour of walking over uneven terrain, with some steps to negotiate when embarking the boat. Passengers are advised to take a hat, sun protection and wear closed toe shoes. Those prone to seasickness should take the necessary precautions as the sea can get rough at times. The operation of this tour is weather dependent. Before you book this excursion, you must refer to the ‘Beach / Water Related’ paragraphs under the Guide to Symbols in this brochure.

The Best of Crete

Activity highMeal includedShopping

Duration: 8 hours

Discover the real Crete on this full day tour, including Knossos, the traditional village of Arolithos and a typical Greek lunch.

Knossos, capital of Minoan Crete was home to the largest and most sophisticated palace on the island. The Palace contained over 1,000 rooms and enjoyed the comforts of an elaborate drainage system, flushing toilets and paved roads. In legend, Knossos was believed to be the setting of an underground labyrinth, designed to imprison the mythical Minotaur. This half-man, half-bull was born of King Minos’ wife and slain by Theseus. Your guided tour will take you through the ruins of the ancient capital of Minoan Crete.

In sharp contrast to the cosmopolitan buzz of Aghios Nikolaos, you’ll visit the traditional and rustic village of Arolithos. Built on the mountain slopes, this Cretan village transports you back to a simplistic bygone era. Enjoy demonstrations of wheat threshing by hand, raki production and honey farming. You'll also visit the local sheep bell craftsman. Then it’s time to tuck into a traditional lunch, served at the village taverna.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by coach and on foot. The journey to Knossos takes approximately 1 hour. Knossos will be explored on foot, over uneven and rough ground and there are around 15 steps to be negotiated in various places. Flash photography is not permitted at the archaeological site.

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