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Matala Holidays Travel Guide

Located on the south east part of Crete, Matala is famed for it’s beaches in Crete.  Matala is located in the prefecture of Heraklion but offers something different away from the big tourist packed resorts on the east coast of Crete.

Matala was the ancient port of Phaistos and Gortys and a former fishing community which has developed into a modern holiday Mecca. It is located 4 km south west of the village of Pitsidia and 75 km from Heraklion.

Its famed for its caves and its ancient city under the sea near Matala which will be explained in more detail below.  So for a relaxing holiday with quiet nightlife choose Matala.

Matala - General Information

There is 1 main beach in Matala which is always busy but not overcrowded.  The beach is the site of the caves of Matala.  This is what Matala is known for and rightly famous within Crete for.  The caves are actually artificial, carved out in neolithic times.  There is evidence of tombs found inside the caves dating back to Minoan, Roman and early Christian times.  It was once said that Brutas himself stayed in the caves.  More recently the caves were occupied in the late 60's and 70's by a hippy commune.

The hippy commune was not totally welcome by the locals and in the end they were moved on and the caves are now protected by the Government.  During this time many famous musicians of the time visited the cave from Cat Stevens, Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell, all who composed songs about the beauty of Matala.

Nowadays you are free to enter the caves during the daytime, but no longer permitted to stay in them overnight.  Camping is still permitted in Matala but now only on certain area’s and is strictly controlled.  More information on the Matala campsite can be found here.

It’s recommended if you want to enter the caves that you were suitable footwear as the limestone is very slippy and quite dangerous.  The caves themselves aren’t too deep so no torch is required.  Camera’s are of course permitted.

Nearby, the archaeological site of Kommos offers Minoan ruins on a small scale, and also further out in the bay you can dive down to the ancient city of Gortys, from roman times where the of Roman capital of Crete has sunk into the sea.  Its was the Roman capital around 220 B.C.  When diving around this area you need to bring your own scuba diving equipment as there are no scuba dive centres around this area, the closest lies in Heraklion City.

Explore Matala

There is a local market in Matala offering all manner of local produce and goods, take your time to wander round this and you can find some great bargains lower than the store prices.  As well as the market you will find most stores offering a wealth of ceramics and potteries as well as other locally produced tourist driven items, but seek out the gallery of Matala for gifts carved out of olive wood, local honeys and some of the smoothest Raki on the island.  Raki is available all over Crete but the locals of Matala claim its the best on the island.  

If you want a free all over body mud pack then you can hike up about 40 minutes from Red beach to find a pleasant Oasis “Clothes optional” where you can use the clay on the cliffs mixed with some seawater and rub it all over your body and lie in the sun until its suitably dry before washing it off.  You will come away with softer skin and feeling suitably refreshed.

Restaurants of Matala

You will find an assortment of beach Taverna's but some of the most highly recommended restaurants of Matala have to be the Lions Taverna, offering excellent Greek food.  The Hotel Zafiria has an outstanding Taverna with well priced food.  Also try out the adeptly named  “Beyond the Sunset” near the cliffs beyond the rest of the bars in Matala.  Also in Matala you must try Minos Pallas for a very Greek welcome and some excellent dining.

Along the beachfront of Matala next to the steps onto the beach you will find some excellent little Tavernas offering freshly caught fish dishes, ranging from bream, grouper, squid and hand caught octopus.  The best of these are Taverna Eleni, Maria's Taverna and Taverna Sirtaki.

Most Tavernas in Matala double up as bars as well and you can sit and enjoy a Raki or 2 watching the sunset of the bay of Matala.  But for those who want a bit of extra nightlife then find Matala’s “Disco Row” try out Captain Hooks for a wonderful night.  Just remember to avoid drinking too much and being the near steep cliffs of Matala - Its a long drop into the bay!

Matala Matala Hotels

Matala                       Matala Hotels > Guides to Crete > Matala

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Useful resort details

Useful resort details

Nearest Airport : Heraklion (HER)
ATM/Cash Machines: Yes
Post Office: Yes
Card/Coin Phones: Yes
Mini-Markets: Yes

The resort is best suited to:

Couples, Families and Independent Travellers.

South East Crete

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Matala Matala beach Matala Matala Welcome to Matala Matala caves Inside Matala caves Matala caves Inside Matala caves View from Matala caves Matala waterfront Tavernas Beach Taverna Matala Taverna View from Matala Taverna Beach Taverna

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