Matala in South Crete


Matala is a seaside village in south Crete, near Phaistos, the second-largest Minoan Palace in Crete.

matala map

Matala became famous in the Sixties, when hippies came here from all over the world to live in the celebrated caves of Matala, next to the beach.

matala beach

The night is a starry dome
and they’re playin’ that scratchy rock and roll
beneath the Matala Moon

joni mitchell sings for matala

This is how the Matala sky is described in Joni Mitchell’s song “Carey”.

That was the time when a large group of artists, including Janice Joplin, Joan Baez and Bob Dylan, spent their days and nights under the Cretan sky, in the pretty fishing village of Matala.

When the slogan was “Peace, Man”, accompanied by the peace sign.

Today Matala is no longer what was in the Sixties and early Seventies. It’s nothing like the little village that attracted hippies who had been partying at Woodstock before coming here.

Today the Flower Children live in Matala no more, having given their place to thousands of tourists from all over the world, who come here to see a legendary place and get a taste of past glamour.

Matala on the map

satellite image of matala

Matala is ideal for…

Matala panorama

Matala is ideal for those who want to spend their holidays near lovely beaches, large archaeological sites and many villages which retain their traditional atmosphere.

Matala itself has lost most of its traditional colour, but traditional villages such as Sivas and Kamilari are nearby, with many more waiting to be discovered within a 20-kilometre radius.

Matala is not the place for wild nightlife and fun, but there are several bars where you can have a drink and listen to music by the sea.

For those who are interested in Cretan history, Phaistos (Minoan Palace), Agia Triada (Minoan Villa) and the ancient city of Gortys are very close to Matala.

Matala has a wonderful beach, while nearby are the beaches of Kokkini Ammos and Kommos.

How to get to Matala

Matala is 71 km south of Heraklion, located in a very pretty and picturesque spot in the Bay of Messara.

There are two ways of getting to Matala from Heraklion:

  1. Take the road to Mires, a market town in the centre of the Messara Plain. The Heraklion-Mires road has been constantly improved in recent years, and the route to southern Crete is appreciably faster and easier than it used to be..

    At Mires, you need to take the exit towards Pitsidia and Matala. You will need about an hour to drive from Heraklion to Matala.

  2. Alternatively, you can go through Mires and continue in the direction of Tymbaki. A few kilometres after Mires you will see the signpost to Phaistos. You can either stop at Phaistos to visit the Minoan Palace that once dominated the whole area, or continue on to Pitsidia and Matala.

The road to Matala is extremely good, with a tarmac surface and decent signposting. You are, after all, heading to one of the major tourist resorts of Crete.

From Chania and Rethymno to Matala::

From Chania, drive to Rethymno and then take the road to Spili. Continue past Spili to Agia Galini and Tymbaki. After Tymbaki, go on to Phaistos and Matala.

From Rethymno to Matala is about an hour’s drive, while from Chania you will need another 45 minutes, i.e. almost two hours to get to Matala.

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