If you haven’t visited the summer playground of Crete, Greece’s largest and southern-most island, you’re missing out.
Once home to the mighty Minoan empire – rulers of the waves, keepers of the mysterious minotaur and perhaps the culture that gave birth to the myth of Atlantis – Crete has morphed into a thoroughly modern tourist mecca with all the charm of Greek island life.
While popular attractions, such as the ancient Minoan city of Knossos, and the stunning pink sands and turquoise waters of Elafonisi beach, are must-sees as part of any Cretan adventure, the island also boasts a wealth of beautiful towns, stunning vistas, unique culture and cuisine, and of course miles of pristine Aegean coastline to explore.
The boutique charm of Agios Nikolaos
Situated to the east of Crete’s capital, Heraklion, and strewn along the sparkling bay of Mirabello, Agios Nikolaos is perhaps the poster-child of Crete’s rise as a world-class travel destination. Tumbling down three hills to the shore, the town plays host to a wide cast of international visitors from Europe and beyond, yet Agios Nikolaos handles the attention with consummate ease.
Take a walk through the streets by day and get a taste for the best in European design and fashion. Boutique shops sell high-end fashion and jewellery with a focus on originality, and you’ll often see Europe’s fashionably cool lounging and laughing at one of the many bars and upmarket restaurants which fill up the facades.
The town’s upmarket feel is balanced by the seemingly irrepressible institutions that make up daily Cretan life. It’s not unusual to find a world-class fine dining venue wedged in between a Kafeneia, a traditional coffeehouse, and a bare-bones taverna serving Cretan staples like Askordoulakous (Mountain Bulbs) and Sfakia pies – a specialty of the area.
Agios Nikolaos has in recent years made its pitch as Crete’s cultural playground. A series of artistic events including theatre productions, contemporary dance, traditional music and even a jazz festival play on throughout the year (though mainly in spring and the summer months) under an all-encompassing moniker of Mirabello. So why Chania to the west may capture the rowdy(ish) beach club crowd, those seeking a classically refined cultural calendar should head east.
After a day of listening to a jazz-fusion trio while sampling robust Greek fare, you may feel the need for a quiet nap on a beach. Here also Agios Nikolaos doesn’t disappoint. The area’s beaches are easily accessible and can easily boast of being world-class.
Introducing Karma Minoan
Located only 5 kilometres from the boutique chic of Agios Nikolaos, Karma’s stunning new address – Karma Minoan – rests between rugged mountains and the sea. Karma Minoan will be comprised of a selection of hotel apartments and one and two bedroom suites along with pool, bar, restaurant, library, spa and kids club. Each of the property’s 26 holiday apartments offer panoramic views of Mirabello Bay, Agios Nikolaos and the surrounding mountains. Guests will be able to spend their days lounging by the large swimming pool, or strolling down to Amoudara Beach to dive into the waters of the Aegean Sea. The resort is undergoing a full refurbishment and will open its doors to members and guests in 2018.