Malia

Crete

Malia is the place for which the cliche was coined: it really is ‘a town of contrasts’. It is the busy beach resort above all others, probably the loudest and brashest on Crete. At the same time it has one of the most evocative and least-visited Minoan sites on the island, containing the remains of a palace, and in addition is one of the best coastal spots on Crete for seeing migrating birds in spring and autumn.

Site of Malia on CreteMalia

The summer wildlife is found in the town centre, where strips of bars and discos blare out music until the early hours of the morning, and during the day its splendid long sandy beach has holidaymakers packed onto it like sardines… or like sardines that are slowly frying in oil. Ironically, while the main beach, despite its size, is packed with bodies, there is also an excellent beach near the Minoan remains which is frequently empty as so few people make the short 2.5 mile (4km) journey to visit it.

Site of Malia on CreteMalia

Malia Palace

On one side of the palace remains is the sea, and on the other side still largely hidden under agricultural land are the remains of what was evidently a big settlement. French archaeologists have been working on the site for some time, and the slow painstaking work continues, but visitors can still wander over much of the site where information boards have been placed to help you make sense of the ruins. There is also a burial site known as Chrysolakkos, with treasures found in the tombs now on display in the Archaeological Museum in Irakleio.

The main area of the site is the former palace itself, which was originally built in 1900 BC but then destroyed in 1700 BC, rebuilt, and then destroyed again in about 1450 BC in the final catacylismic destruction of the Minoan civilisation on Crete. The central courtyard is a focal point from which to try and understand the sumptuous buildings that would have surrounded you, and a prior visit to Knosos will give you some idea of what Malia would have looked like. The remains of storage areas and pits, as well as a huge administration block, indicate that the palace was as well-populated and well-stocked with provisions as any large modern town.

The Milatos Cave

A few kilometers east of the site is the village of Milatos, from where signs direct you along a path to the Milatos Cave: not the usual show cave but a memorial to a massacre that took place here in 1823 during the War of Independence against the Turks. To gaze at the bones in the casket inside the cave is to understand that memories here are long. The Cretans are proud and independent people, and for them to be ruled by a foreign power is the greatest indignity of all.

Google Map showing site of Malia on Crete(c) Google Maps

Where to Stay in Malia

Some other Crete pages

  • Crete

    Crete (Kriti) is the largest Greek island and its main attractions include the Minoan Palace of Knossos, the Samarian Gorge, Chania and Rethymnon.

  • Zacharioudakis Winery

    Greece Travel Secrets visits the Zacharioudakis Winery near Ancient Gortina in southern Crete, and does a vineyard tour arranged by our guide from Go Crete.

  • Touring the Lyrarakis Winery on Crete

    Greece Travel Secrets tours the Lyrarakis Winery on Crete and learns about Crete grape varieties such as plyto, dafni, vidiano, vilana, mandilari and kotsifali.

  • The Icon Painter

    Icon painting is a centuries-old tradition in Crete and the rest of Greece, and Greece Travel Secrets meets a modern-day icon painter in Elounda on Crete.

  • The Herb Man of Kouses

    Greece Travel Secrets visits the Cretan Botano herbs and spices shop near Matala in southern Crete in search of the herb man of Kouses.

  • The Cretan Diet

    Studies have shown the Cretan Diet as one of the healthiest in the world, involving lots of fresh fruit, vegetables, fresh fish, and moderate amounts of wine.

  • Stilianou Winery near Knossos

    The Stilianou Winery near Knossos on Crete uses only Cretan grape varieties, with every bottle numbered, and aims for quality rather than quantity.

  • The Snails House on Crete

    The Snails House in Plouti near Phaistos in southern Crete serves the Cretan delicacy of snails, cooked in several different ways.

  • Sir Arthur Evans, archaeologist at Knossos on Crete

    Sir Arthur Evans is the archaeologist famous for the excavations he made at the royal palace of Knossos on Crete.

  • Samaria Gorge

    The Samaria Gorge is one the longest gorges in Europe and doing the hike is one of the best and most popular things to do on Crete.

  • Rethymnon in Western Crete

    Rethymnon is the third-largest city in Crete and has a Venetian fortress, Archaeological Museum, Old Town area and Venetian harbour,

  • Phaistos Minoan Palace on Crete

    Greece Travel Secrets page on Phaistos or Faistos, the site of one of the finest Minoan palaces on Crete and is where the mysterious Phaistos Disc was found.

  • Paleohora and the South-West Coast

    The area east from Paleohora along the south-west coast of Crete includes resorts like Agia Galini, gorges like the Imbros Gorge and quieter towns like Sfakia.

  • Our Hire Car in Crete

    The travel tale Our Hire Car in Crete describes what it’s like when you go driving in Greece and get off the beaten track, resulting in kindnesses.

  • Matala Beach

    Matala Beach on Crete is a guest blog for Greece Travel Secrets from the We Love Crete website, inviting you to Awaken Your Inner Hippy in Matala, Crete.

  • Margarites

    Margarites is known on Crete for its pottery, with ceramics shops and workshops lining the streets of this charming small town not far from Rethymnon.

  • Manousakis Wine Tasting

    We visit and tour the Manousakis Winery on Crete with a wine-tasting and a chance to buy their tsikoudia, sea salt, olive oil and other goodies.

  • Maleme and the German War Cemetery on Crete

    Maleme near Chania is where the people who died during the battle of Crete are buried, in the German War Cemetery with the Commonwealth War Cemetery nearby.

  • Making Rakomelo on Crete

    Greece Travel Secrets visits Crete and learns about making rakomelo from Jorgos Kourmoulis in Agouseliana.

  • Lonely Planet Crete

    Lonely Planet Crete is an excellent and thorough guide of almost 300 pages to the largest of the Greek islands.

  • Knossos

    Visiting Knossos near Iraklion is one of the best things to do on Crete, and this page has a history of the site with visitor information.

  • Irakleio

    Crete's capital and largest city is Irakleio, also called Iraklion or Heraklion, a large and busy place with good restaurants, museums and historical buildings.

  • How to Make Petimezi

    How to make Petimezi, the sweet Cretan syrup made from wine must, is explained to Greece Travel Secrets.

  • Hiking the Samaria Gorge

    Hiking the Samaria Gorge on Crete, one of the best things to do on Crete, by Greece Travel Secrets.

  • Hiking in Southwest Crete

    Greece Travel Secrets goes hiking in southwest Crete with Ramblers Walking Holidays based in Paleohora and hiking the E4 footpath and to Anidri and Azogires.

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