Sitting on the crescent of Mirabello Bay, Ag Nick is a buzzy and contemporary seaside resort nestled around Lake Voulismeni, which links to the town’s massive harbour via a narrow channel lined with seafood restaurants under brightly colored awnings. The town has a couple of appealing museums but the real joy of a visit is the chance to scour its goldsmiths for hand-crafted jewelry at decent prices, enjoy the open-air market on Wednesday and stroll around the vibrant marina, with its bobbing yachts and traditional, brightly painted wooden fishing boats.
The best beach in Agios Nikolaos is at Almyros, just south of town and easily accessible on foot along the coastal boulevard. Popular day trips include the traditional whitewashed village of Kritsa, famous for its location in the foothills of the Dikti Mountains; and the deserted Venetian fortress at Spinalonga, which was a leper colony until 1957.
After dark, Ag Nick goes decidedly jet set, with young and stylish Cretans taking to the streets in their designer finery. There are restaurants and tavernas to suit every pocket and bars stay open late into the night.
Agios Nikolaos is connected to Piraeus in Athens by daily ferry service and is just an hour from Heraklion on the north coast of Crete. The main tourist office is at 21A S Koundourou Street near the harbour bridge and is open daily from 8am–9.30pm.