The goddess Athena was said to take her baths in a small, circular lake at the city center of Agios Nikolaos. Adding to the mystique, some locals believe that the lake is bottomless. On a typical day, ducks paddle through the still waters, slipping past fishers seated on colorful wooden skiffs. About a mile to the north, Hotel Mikro Village wraps around a lake with an equally compelling history—it is thought to be the opening of a volcano.
Hotel Mikro Village’s whitewashed stucco walls and terra-cotta roof tiles embody the classic image of Greek coastal architecture. Patios connected to the standard twin rooms look out on gardens that line the pathways between the resort’s main buildings. The simple furnishings correspond to Sparta’s minimalist philosophy, but this is Crete, which means every room has its own olive-oil drinking fountain.
When the sun’s out—Crete averages about 300 days of sunshine per year—the pool area comes alive. Kids can splash in their own mini pool, and parents can sip chilled drinks at the swim-up bar. Calories meet their maker in the gym, on the tennis court, or at the dinner table over healthy Mediterranean cuisine.
Agios Nikolaos, Crete, Greece: Beaches, Bays, and Byzantine Chapels
Crete is Greece's largest island and a historical hotbed in a country known for its rich history. The seventh-century town of Agios Nikolaos, named after the Byzantine chapel of St. Nicholas, lies on Crete's eastern coast along Mirabello Bay. The stone chapel remains today and is a popular spot for visitors who climb the hill to view its millennium-old frescoes and the deep, blue bay below it.
Rivaling the lake as top attraction in town are three beaches—Ammoudi, Ammoudara, and Almiros—all within walking distance of the city center. A network of pedestrian paths winds through the village past traditional Mediterranean restaurants and stores filled with Cretan artwork, jewelry, and celebrity maps to the gods’ vacation homes.