Holidays in Matala

If you come to Matala on holiday, remember that it is one of the most centrally-placed resorts in southern Crete. This allows you to visit many different places, archaeological sites, sights and beaches in the wider Matala area.

The main thing is that your holidays in Matala can be as peaceful or as active as you wish. Few other places offer so many choices in such a small area.

Practical information for your holidays in Matala

Matala is a small village, but it has known dramatic tourist development and offers all you could possibly need on your holidays.

When you arrive in Matala there is plenty of room to park at the side of the road. Leave your car here, as the streets of Matala are narrow and you will have trouble finding a space. If you want to leave your car as close to the beach as possible, there is a municipal car park which costs 4 euros a day (2009 prices).

tourist market at matala

On entering Matala you will find:

  • two cashpoints and a bank
  • a pharmacy and a post office
  • a bookshop selling Greek and foreign newspapers
  • small shops selling cigarettes, batteries and newspapers
  • a currency exchange
  • Inside Matala there are tourist shops, a bakery and many restaurants and cafeterias facing the beach.

The covered tourist market in Matala is a picturesque sight. Here you will find souvenirs for yourself or gifts for your friends, jewellery, clothing, embroidery and traditional Cretan products.

Of course Matala also has car rental shops and two tourist bureaux with information on the local excursions available.

Hotels in Matala

Υou can no longer live in a cave in Matala, so it’s advisable to book a room or apartment quite early, particularly if you’re coming here on holiday in July or August.

hotels in matala

There are many hotels and apartments for rent both in Matala itself and outside it. The ones on the hill offer a view of the sea, which is a good reason to choose them.

Not all the hotels are in Matala itself; there are several in a valley before the village (photo –>).

If you would rather not have to walk 500 metres or more to the beach, make sure you find out exactly where the hotel is located before you book – not that the walk is tiring, as there are no steep hills here, unlike other parts of Crete.

Apart from hotels, there are also campsites in Matala, as well as one at Kommos, 3 km from Matala.

Restaurants and tavernas in Matala

restaurant at matala

On arriving in Matala you will see the beach and caves on your right and a long row of restaurants and tavernas on your left and along the beach and the bay.

You can walk along the beach to reach the tavernas and restaurants from the seaside, or wander though Matala, where you will find a few more choices for eating out.

You can walk along the beach to reach the tavernas and restaurants from the seaside, or wander though Matala, where you will find a few more choices for eating out.

Cafés and Bars in Matala

bar at matala

The cafeterias and bars in Matala open around 11 a.m. That’s when you’ll see the first tourists, eyes barely open, heading for the beach and cafeterias.

If you want to enjoy your coffee while gazing out to sea, there are many options at your disposal.

There is at least one internet café in Matala, while many of the cafeterias offer their customers free Wi-Fi.

Most of the bars in Matala are on the left (south) side of the beach. They stay open till dawn and offer good music, good prices and happy hour offers starting in the early evening.

What to do in Matala

church of the virgin at matala

Forget your work and problems and make yourself relax and enjoy the sun and sea on the lovely beach of Matala.

As you are in Matala, you absolutely must explore the caves.
Climbing the cliffside is easy and you can take great photos of both the village and the sea, especially the Paximadia islets out in the middle of the great Bay of Messara. From Matala they look like a single island, but there are actually two.

Visit the small church of the Virgin built in the recess of a great rock (photo –>). This may the church referred to in Venetian documents as the “Madonna di Matala”.

You can wander round Kastri Hill above the village and search for the ruins of the Koules fortress which once towered above Matala.
NOTE. This information is taken from other websites and is reported here with some reserve. I have often been to Matala but never heard of a Turkish fortress.

kayiak matala

If you like sea activities, Matala is the place for you. Apart from the classic watersports on the beach, you can also try kayaking along the bay and visit the neighbouring beaches.

You can rent a kayak for an hour or half a day, or explore the bay with the help of experienced guides and take sea kayaking lessons.

If you are a romantic soul, you can go rowing with a companion at sunrise or on moonlit nights.

There are many interesting villages and sites to explore around Matala. Kalamaki with its lovely beach, Kamilari, Pitsidia and Kommos beach are a few of the neighbouring areas which are well worth visiting if you’re staying in Matala.

From the traditional village of Sivas you can visit Odigitria Monastery, at the western end of the Asterousia Mountains, at an altitude of 250 m. The monastery is surrounded by a high wall, only part of which is visible today. The monastery is dedicated to the Virgin Hodegetria (“She Who Shows the Way”) and the Holy Apostles. On the West Gate is an inscription dated 1568, while impressive wall paintings and icon screens are preserved inside the monastery church.

Phaistos, the second most important Minoan archaeological site after Knossos, is 10 km from Matala. Driving through ancient olive groves, you will come to the place where the second largest Minoan palace was discovered, along with the famous Phaistos Disc, covered in Linear A writing, as yet undeciphered.

Four km from Phaistos is the Agia Triada archaeological site, where a Minoan royal villa has come to light.

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