The GreeceMonkey resort Guide to Malia
Malia is situated on the North Coast of Crete, just 25 minutes from the airport in an area of great natural beauty; it is surrounded by olive groves and the slopes of Mt. Selena. Malia is best known for its lively atmosphere; however Malia is not only for young people, it has a lot to offer everyone. The beach is the one of the best in Crete, 3 miles of fine, golden sand, which gradually slopes into the warm, clear blue sea. Malia gives you the best of both worlds since it consists of two parts; the new town and the old town which are separated by the main road; in the new town there are lots of bars, clubs and restaurants to suit everyones taste. In the picturesque old town there are many winding narrow streets where you will find lots of traditional Greek tavernas and small coffee shops. Malia is situated in an ideal location to be used as base whilst you explore the rest of Crete: Agios Nikolaos - 18 miles (30km) Heraklion - 20 miles (32km) Hersonissos - 5 miles (6km) Sissi - 5 miles (6km) Stalis -1 mile (1.6km)
Malia's beach is over 3 miles long with fine golden sand that gradually slopes into the warm, clear blue sea. The beach is split up into areas each offering something different; loud or chilled music, water sports and some, if you dont like the sand and sea, have a pool and grassed area. Each area has its own bar and café/restaurant where you can get food delivered to your sun bed or you can sit in the shade and relax out of the sun. Some of the beaches are run by hotels; the majority are open to the public and will welcome your custom.
Malia is made up of six beaches; walk along the sand away from Malia town, first you will come to Glozanie Beach (Malias main beach) then Pyrgos, follow the beach around you will come to Agia Pneuma (Holy Spirit) named after the tiny church that sits on the rocky outcrop just before Malia Marina. The marina which is still in the process of being built has a lovely fish restaurant where you can sit and watch the boats, then Sun Beach, which not only has the sea, sun beds umbrellas, but also has trampolines, two swimming pools, one of which is for children with slides and inflatables then you come to Tropical Beach, which is a large expanse of sand, with a few sun beds and umbrellas and a couple of cafes where you can get refreshments from, this leads onto Potamos Beach which is used a lot by the local people, it is lined with trees along the road which gives natural shade and one small Greek Taverna where you can relax and enjoy the local cuisine. Potamos Beach is renowned for its cleanliness and was voted the cleanest beach in Europe in 1997.
All kinds of water sports are available from the water sports centre situated on the beach, which include: Jet Skis, Banana Boat, Flying Fish, Ringos, Water Skiing, Pedaloes and Parasailing. It is also possible to do some of the water sports from the hotel beaches.
There are many diving centres around Malia all of which offer the full range of PADI diving courses whether you are a novice or experienced diver, all equipment you will need is provided.
There are many boat trips available from Malia and the surrounding area, if you want to get away from the beach for a day cruise, to go fishing or to visit one of the smaller islands, there is something to suit everyones taste.
Fishing - This trip goes from Agios Nikolaos and is a nice day out whether you want to fish or not, the staff are professional fishermen and will take you out to the fishing areas for you to try and catch your own fish.
Daily Boat Cruise - This day trip leaves from Malia Port and is a day cruising around the bay of Malia where you will see Stalis, Hersonissos and Sissi from a totally different perspective. This trip also includes BBQ lunch on board, swimming, snorkelling and shopping (when you stop at Sissi).
Boat Hire - If you want to cruise in luxury, it is possible to hire a lovely boat from Malia Port, either for a day or two or even a week and cruise where ever you would like to go. The boat comes with its own captain, so all you have to do is relax.
Spinalonga - For this boat trip you will first need to travel to Agios Nikolaos or Elounda to pick up one of the larger boats or to Plaka which is opposite Spinalonga where you will be able to get on one of the little local boats to cross over to this historical little island.
Spinalonga dates back to the 17th Century when the Venetians built the fortress, in later years it became a leper colony where all the people who had contracted the disease were sent, in 1957 when a cure was found the island became uninhabited, it was taken over by the National Greek Tourism Organisation in 1963.
If you have read the book "The Island" by Victoria Hislop which is based on Spinalonga and the little village of Plaka it is well worth a visit, although most of the island is now in ruins, you can still see the little shops, the houses and the hospital and it brings the book to life.
Chrissie Island - For this boat trip you will first need to travel to Ierapetra on the south side of Crete, the Island is one hour away across the Libyan sea; this small uninhabited island is almost flat and has beautiful golden sand covered with millions of colourful sea shells, sand dunes and a forest. The island has been declared a National Park, so visitors are restricted to designated paths to ensure that the island stays as it is.
Santorini - Is the only volcanic island in Europe, and has the most spectacular landscapes, the traditional villages are built on the tall cliffs which offer breathtaking panoramic views. This little island is one of the most popular destinations in Greece and the blue and white houses are the most photographed. The boats for Santorini leave from Heraklion Port.
There are four water parks close to Malia; Water City which is set in the mountains above Anopolis, Acqua Plus is between Kastelli and Hersonissos, Star Beach on the borders of Stalis and Hersonissos and there is also a smaller water park in Malia called Malia Slides.
Water City - set into the side of the mountain above Anopolis is approximately 20 minutes from Malia, open from 10.30am until 6pm, there are pools and slides to suit everyone. The water games include: Tarzan, Jacuzzi, Hydro Tubes, Free Fall, Body Slide Cyclone, Lazy River, Multi race, Kamikaze, Black and Red holes, Turbo guns, Hyper race, Crazy river, Sidewinder, Turbo cyclone and a Giant park pool. There are also 2 childrens pools and five slides specifically designed for children. Dotted throughout the park are lots of places for your to eat and drink, these include a restaurant, bars, cafes and fast food stands.
Acqua Plus - is set into the side of a hill surrounded by the most beautiful gardens, with panoramic views over the local area, the slides are set in amongst the weeping willows, palm trees and bougainvillaea. The park has a large pool and many slides, they include; Aqua slalom, Black holes, Crazy river, Hydro massage pool, Kamikaze Hydro tube, Lazy river, Octapus space bowl, Super hydro tube and a Space bowl. There is also a play area where you will find Pool, Air hockey and Table tennis tables and plenty of places to get food and drink from.
Star Beach - is as its name suggests, is situated on the beach on the outskirts of Hersonissos, spread over quite a large beach front area. Apart from the sand and the sea, you will also find many other activities; there are 4 large slides, a lazy river, a family area with a childrens pool, mini slides and an adventure playground. Water sports including Banana boat, Flying Fish, Parasailing, Tubes, Jet skies and water Skiing. There is also a party area where they hold competitions, foam parties and other games, you will also find plenty of places to get refreshments from, there are four bars, a restaurant and snack bars situated throughout the park. Alternatively if you want to go shopping, have your hair or nails done or have a piercing or get a tattoo - these can all be achieved in Star Beach.
Malia Slides - is set just outside Malia about 10 minutes walk away, it is a lovely place to relax in the sun around a pool. There are 3 pools, the main pool is surrounded by grass with sun beds and umbrellas; The slide pool has a triple multi race slide and a tube for you to use as many times as you like and a childrens pool with a slide for them to use as well. There is also a restaurant and bar for you to get refreshments. Although smaller than Water City and Acqua Plus, this water park is Free to enter and is an ideal place to go when you have had enough of the beach. Malia Slides is the home of the famious Sundance Party
There are a few horse riding stables in Crete, the nearest one to Malia is the Amarillis Stables, situated in Stalis, from here you have the opportunity to go for a short trek or a full day one. This is the ideal relaxing way to see a different side of Crete, trekking through olive groves up into the mountains on rarely used trails, into small traditional villages and seeing the amazing scenery and fantastic views.
Bicycles, Mopeds & Quads
It is possible to hire bicycles, mopeds and quads in Malia to get around the town and to visit other places. You will need a full driving licence to hire a moped or a quad, it is the law that you have to wear helmets and abide by the road signs, the local police give out heavy fines if you are caught not adhering to the law.
There is a Go Kart track in Malia, which you will find on the road behind the Malia strip, it is open daily from 10am until 8pm.
The only golf course in Crete is close to Malia, just 15 minutes away in Hersonissos, this new spectacular 18-hole par 71, golf course which has been hewn out of the mountains is surrounded by the most beautiful views. There is also a driving range and practice putting greens. All equipment that you might need can be hired.
There is a Crazy Golf Course right in the middle of Malia on the strip, open from 10am until 10pm. If you want to have a bit of fun during the day away from the sun or in the evening this is the place to go as most of it is in the shade.
Like the town of Malia, which is split in two the old and the new, the places to get food are also split, on the Main Road you will find lots of Cretan fast food places, which sell the local giros and souvlaki, move into the old town and you will find numerous Greek Tavernas scattered around the maze of small narrow streets, which serve traditional Cretan food along with some European dishes.
In the new town you will find something to suit everyones taste from the cheap fast food outlets selling burgers and pizzas to restaurants that serve Chinese, Indian, Mexican, Italian, Steak Houses and of course English food including the famous English Breakfast which you can get at all times of the day or night.
Every type of accommodation is available in Malia, from single rooms right through to all inclusive resorts, from reasonable prices to the more expensive and even to the luxury.
There are many hotels, studios and apartments situated in the middle of the night life, in the old town and in the surrounding streets. The further away from the centre of town the quieter it is. Most of them have their own pools which are open to everyone to use whether you are staying there or not.The majority of the hotels used to be exclusive to several tour operators but gradually it is becoming easier to book them direct through the internet.
There is an abundance of shops in Malia, selling clothes, shoes, local crafts, leather goods, T-shirts, jewellery and souvenirs. For the self caterers, there are many small and three large supermarkets were you will find everything you could possibly need. Also look out for the little local shops and street stands that sell their own locally produced fruit and vegetables; like potatoes, tomatoes, melons and bananas.
For the more serious shopper, Heraklion is only 30 minutes away on the bus (which leaves Malia every half and hour), here you will find many International Stores.
There is a local market in different streets every day in Heraklion ; the main one is in Patelles Laiki Street on a Saturday; it starts at 8am and finishes around 2pm so you need to get there early, the stalls consist of local freshly grown produce which sell fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices, Olive oil, cheese and fish, there are also stalls which sell clothes, shoes, textiles, rugs, carpets and household items all of these interspersed with fast food stalls selling souvlaki, giros and drinks, it is so colourful and busy that is worth just going to soak up the atmosphere.
Malia is a lively, atmospheric resort especially at night when the town comes to life; the bars open at 8pm and continue right through until the early hours of the morning. The majority of the bars and clubs are situated on the Y shape in the centre of Malias new town, there are two roads leading from the main road that join half way through the resort and continue on down to the beach. There is a bar or club to suit everyones taste whether you are young or old, from 60s music and karaoke right up to the latest tunes which can be heard every night of the week during the summer season.
There is a twenty four hour bar which is situated just outside the town about 10 mins walk from the centre where if you want to carry on partying after the clubs have shut you can. There is also a Gay bar (the only one in Crete) five minutes further out of town.
Malia and the surrounding area have many places of interest, from beautiful country side, to ancient archaeological sites, museums, churches and many idyllic traditional villages. Situated towards the end of the Heraklion prefecture, Malia is an ideal place to stay to use as a base to see the many wonderful sites.
Malia Old Town - this small traditional town, situated slightly up in the hills from the new town is a maze of narrow streets, with old traditional houses, pansions, hotels and Greek tavernas. Within the twisting labyrinth of streets there are 4 churches all which are beautifully decorated with Byzantine Icons and sacred heirlooms. Next to the church Panagia Galatiani is the only surviving well in the old town, where in days gone by the local people used to draw their water from.
Minoan Palace of Malia - this famous archaeological site is situated just 3 km outside of the town; it is the 3rd largest Minoan Palace in Crete, the excavations have proved that the original palace was built around 1900 BC with a second palace being built on top of it around 1600 BC Open 8.30 till 15.00 Tuesday to Sunday. It was the Minoan Kings summer palace, so Malia was a cosmopolitan place even in ancient years.
Lychnostatis - This open air museum is located between Stalis and Hersonissos and close to Star Beach, this amazing little place shows how the Cretan people used to live in days gone by. With recreated houses, gardens, orchards and businesses all set in a village theme, showing how they decorated their homes and the equipment they used on their land.
Milatos Caves - The caves are situated in the mountains along a narrow winding footpath above the tiny village of Milatos, just 20 minutes away from Malia. Upon entering the caves you will find a tiny little church built in 1935 to commemorate the historic event that happened there in 1823 when the local people hid in the caves to avoid the invasion of the Turks. After 15 days of starvation and thirst the people tried to escape but were captured, the men were killed and the women and children sold into slavery.
Heraklion - The capital of Crete is 30 minutes away from Malia, this is where the airport and the port are situated. It has many places of interest; the Venetian Castle, Knossos, Museums and an abundance of churches and monasteries.
Fortress of Koules - This two storey Venetian Castle is very impressive and surrounds the harbour, constructed by the Venetians in the 13th Century it has been restored twice in its history once in 1303 after a devastating earth quake and again in the mid 1500s. The architecture is typical Venetian style the walls are very thick and are constructed of stones.
Knossos - This Minoan Palace, built on a hill, lies just 5km from the centre of Heraklion, inhabited since 6000 BC, this huge palace was discovered in 1878 and excavations stared in 1900 by Arthur Evans who restored parts of it. There are many frescos still in place today that you can see as you walk around this archaeological site. Guided tours are available which bring the ruins to life.
Museums: - There are many museums situated in Heraklion, each covering a different aspect of Crete, all depending on your inclinations are worth seeing if you have the time.
Archaeological Museum - this wonderful museum which consists of over 20 rooms, houses all the items that have been excavated in Crete right from the Minoan period; the sculptures, jewels and frescos from all the archaeological sites including the Palace of Knossos can be seen here.
The Historical Museum - gives a comprehensive view of Cretan history from early Christian times to the present day, all the exhibits are organised in chronological order. The Library contains rare editions, periodicals and the local newspaper archive and historical photographs.
The Natural History Museum - is located near the port and has five different areas that it covers; Zoological, Botanical, Anthropological, Paleontological, Geological & Mineralogical. A lot of the exhibits are designed to involve children with interactive display.
El Greco Museum - Situated in the village of Fodele, just outside Heraklion, is the (disputed) house in which he was born, is dedicated to the famous Cretan painter Domenicos Theotokopoulos also known as El Greco.
Monasteries and Churches - There are over 20 monasteries and numerous churches scattered around the Heraklion prefecture.
The Cathedral and church of St Minas in Heraklion town.
The Church of St Catherine in Heraklion town.
The Church of St Mark in Heraklion town.
The Church of St Titus in Heraklion town.
The Monastery of Vrondissi on the slopes of Mt. Psiloritis.
The Church of Michael the Archangel just out side the town of Arkalochori.
The Church of Profitis Ilias in the town of Arkalochori.
The Church of Panagia Kera in the village of Kroussonas
The Monastery of Valsamonerou in the village of Vorizia
Aquariums - There are two aquariums in Crete, both close to Malia, the Aqua World Aquarium in Hersonissos and the CretAquarium in Gouves.
Aqua World - situated in Hersonissos, is 20 mins away from Malia, and is open from April until October from 10am to 6pm daily. Aqua World was one mans dream and started from a small glass box at home, it has now developed into a public aquarium whose mission is to encourage interest in Marine life and reptiles.
The CretAquarium - is situated in Gouves, just 30 mins away from Malia. This purpose built modern Aquarium is open all year round, gives the visitor an insight into the under water world of the Mediterranean Sea and all its creatures.
Lassithi Plateau - is unique, it is an area of stunning beauty; with small roads and trails meandering through the patchwork of fields, dotted with little white churches, set within this lush, fertile area are many small traditional villages, all surrounded by the Diktean Mountains.
Dikti Cave - Dikteon Andron, the cave where Zeus was born. A steep path leads up to the entrance of the cave, where the views over the surrounding area are amazing, once inside there are steps which you descend into its heart, with subdued lighting the stalactites and stalagmites are extremely impressive.
Homosapien Museum- this amazing museum shows the type of places people have lived in through the centuries, from the cave to bricks and explains how the land has been worked in days gone by. There is also a lovely café and a great little souvenir shop.
Matala Caves - which are now protected are very impressive, they were carved from the rocks by the Cretan people in the early stone age, you will find little passages, stone beds and fireplaces, during the 70s the caves became the homes of the international hippie community.
Samaria Gorge - situated on the far side of Chania, approx 6 hours from Malia, you will find the Samaria Gorge; in 1962 it was declared a National Park to protect the endangered Kri Kri wild goats which only live in the gorge. Open from the beginning of May until October this breath taking 16km walk down hill from the Omalos Plateau to the village of Agia Roumeli on the Libyan Sea is an amazing site to see, parts of the gorge are only 3 metres wide. There is an abandoned village in the centre where you will also find the small church of Santa Maria.
Imbros Gorge - runs parallel to Samaria and at 7km, it is shorter and easier, but is an equally beautiful walk, starting from the last house in the village of Imbros and ending in the village of Komitades. The route through the gorge follows the river bed; there are places that are only 2 m wide, with the walls of the gorge reaching up to 300m. The scenery is beautiful and because of short length is ideal for families.
Vai Beach - is on the eastern tip of Crete, over 3 hours from Malia, this crescent shaped beach is beautiful, it is famous for having the only natural palm tree forest in Europe, the water is calm and a lovely turquoise colour, at one end of the beach it is possible to climb up steps past the restaurant to the top of the cliff to a viewing platform, giving amazing views over Vai beach and the surrounding area.
Other villages and towns close to Malia: