Holidays in Kamilari

Practical Information for your Holidays in Kamilari

Kamilari is a small village which offers the bare necessities to those who select it for their holidays in Crete.

village square in kamilari
the village square in Kamilari

In the village you will find a cashpoint and the basic shops including a bakery, a butcher’s and a minimarket.

If you need a bank or other services, you will have to head to neighbouring Matala or, even better, the market towns of Tymbaki or Mires, which are sure to have everything you need.

Hotels in Kamilari

There are several small hotels in Kamilari, mainly apartment and studio complexes for 1-4 people, offering quiet, relaxing Cretan holidays.

Tavernas and restaurants in Kamilari

There are two kafeneia in Kamilari, a more modern cafeteria, and tavernas mainly offering traditional Cretan cooking. If you decide to come here to eat, don’t miss the local Messaritikos Tzoulamas, a delicious meat pie containing liver, rice and currants.

There is no nightlife in Kamilari as it’s a rather quiet village, so if you want a drink or a tour of the local bars try Kalamaki or Matala.

Beaches near Kamilari

Kamilari, as an inland village, has no beach, but there are splendid beaches only a short distance away:

The main beach is Matala, with its large sandy beach and imposing cliffside full of caves. Matala Beach is fully organised and the tourist resort offers all the services and comforts you may need, just 6 kilometres away.

Neighbouring Kalamaki is also a very good choice, with a sandy beach, intense tourist development and crowds of people during the summer months. It is the nearest beach to Kamilari, about 3 kilometres away.

Of particular interest is Kommos Beach, stretching over two kilometres along the coast. It is a large sandy beach with tamarisks running down to the sea in places.

Kokkinos Pyrgos also has an impressively-large beach, essentially extending as far as Kalamaki and Kommos. It is a Loggerhead Turtle nesting site protected by the Sea Turtle Protection Society ARCHELON.

Sightseeing in Kamilari

kamilari village

Kamilari preserves its traditional atmosphere, making it a lovely place to stroll around and explore. Start from the main square with its little church in the centre of the village and wander round the narrow streets to discover all the pretty corners the village has to offer.

Kamilari is on several major walking routes linked by a major Minoan path running from Agia Triada through Kamilari and Agios Ioannis to Phaistos. The landscape is particularly beautiful and ideal for nature-lovers, with a magnificent view of the interior of the Messara and the Libyan Sea.

You can visit the village of Agios Ioannis near ancient Phaistos. In the village is the church of St Paul with its 14th-century dome. The wall-paintings inside are very well-preserved and fascinating. During the Turkish occupation, Agios Ioannis was notorious as the birthplace of the Janissary Agriolidis. Agriolidis’s Tower in the village is one of the local sights, with architectural elements dating to the 17th century.

If you are staying in Kamilari you absolutely must visit Phaistos, the second-largest Minoan palace in Crete after Knossos. Together with Knossos and Cydonia, Phaistos was one of the most important cities of Crete, powerful and independent, with its own coinage.

The Phaistos archaeological site is extremely interesting, as large parts of the Minoan New Palace have been discovered, together with other Minoan, Geometric and Hellenistic buildings. It is here that the famous Phaistos Disk was found, bearing the as-yet-undeciphered Linear A writing which remains one of the great archaeological mysteries.

Agia Triada archaeological site
the archaeological site in Agia Triada

At the foot of the hill of Phaistos is the Gerontomylos, a traditional local watermill.

A traditional village well worth visiting if you are in the area is Sivas, a small, listed inland village with traditional stone houses decorated with carved coats of arms and arched doorways.

Eight kilometres south of Sivas, on the way to Cape Lithino, is the Monastery of Panagia Odigitria (“Our Lady Who Shows the Way”). It is a 15th-century fortress-type monastery which was a major intellectual and religious centre during the Venetian period.

Phaistos is not the only major archaeological site in the area. Agia Triada, 3 km from Phaistos, is equally interesting. Excavations carried out in 1902-1904 brought tholos tombs and a Minoan palace to light here.

The view of Messara bay, Kommos
View of the Bay of Messara and Kommos Beach

Another of the most important archaeological sites in Heraklion Prefecture is that of Kommos, on the beach of the same name. Kommos was the main seaport of Phaistos and Agia Triada in 1650-1250 BC. Excavations at Kommos have brought to light a Minoan coastal town with large public buildings.

The area around Kamilari, i.e. the Messara Plain and the southern foothills of Mount Psiloritis, is full of fascinating villages and market towns. You can visit Kokkinos Pyrgos and its beach, Tymbaki, the capital of Tymbaki Municipality, or Mires, a fast-growing market town.

The market towns preserve few traditional features, but if you visit them on market day for the pazari (“bazaar”, laiki market), you can enjoy typical images of daily farming life in Crete and shop for locally-grown fruit and vegetables.

Don’t miss the villages in the southern foothills of Psiloritis, such as Zaros with its lake, Gergeri, Kamares with the famous Minoan cave of Kamares, or Magarikari with its lovely old houses. Another pretty village is Vori, now known for its Museum of Cretan Ethnology.

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