The village of Istron is situated on a large scenic bay about 16 kilometres east of the town of Aghios Nikolaos. Istron makes a great base to explore the eastern region of Crete with a selection of beaches and many cultural and natural sites to visit when you want to try a bit of local life. It’s a relaxed place for a villa holiday where you can take your time over lunch by your private pool or spend a few hours unwinding on the beach.
Local markets and shopping
Istron has a selection of mini markets for your daily needs. For more variety, larger supermarkets can be found on the outskirts of Aghios Nikolaos. The Wednesday market in Aghios Nikolaos sells local fruit, vegetables and cheeses as well as linens and some clothes. A 25 minute drive inland will bring you to Kritsa, a village where women sell their handmade lace sitting outside their houses whilst they work.
Bars and restaurants
You can take your pick from the tavernas in the centre of Istron serving traditional dishes. There is also more international cuisine for those who may like a change from moussaka and souvlaki. The bars are varied and are wonderful places for people watching over a glass of raki or a coffee. Aghios Nikolaos has plenty of restaurants and tavernas set around the attractive Lake Voulismeni, approximately 20 minutes' drive from Istron.
For beach lovers there are 2 Blue Flag beaches in the area, Voulisma and Aghios Panteleimonas. Stroll through the olive groves to Agios Panteleimonas with the church on the headland. The sand and shingle beach here has sunbeds and umbrellas available to hire, or just along the main road is the beach of Voulisma. Alternatively, Golden Beach with its fine white sand, sun beds and umbrellas and small cafe is worth a visit. You can snorkel at the beach of Karovostasi which is a mix of sand and pebble, or you can also learn to dive at the centre on the beach at Istron Bay Hotel.
What family holiday would be complete without a trip to the waterpark? The Acqua Plus Water Park is about 45 minutes’ drive and has a wonderful choice of slides and pools. Horse riding is available in Hersonissos, which is around an hour's drive away. The aquarium in Gouves, 50 minutes’ drive from Istron, has many marine animals that are local to the surrounding seas but there are also more exotic examples of sea life. Little ones might enjoy the Dinosauria Park, also in Gouves, with its realistic models and ‘hatching’ dinosaurs.
Places of interest
Culture fans can explore the Dikteon Cave on the Lassithi Plateau that plays an important part in Greek mythology as the place where Zeus was hidden by his mother from his father. To give a sense of its size, it is a 250 metre walk passing stalactites and stalagmites from the mouth to the centre. Another option is the island of Spinalonga which you can reach by boat from Aghios Nikolaos. It is being restored and makes for a fascinating visit. Aghios Nikolaos is worth spending time in to see the saltwater lake and visit the museums.