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The famous Matala Beach

by / Juhani

Updated 18.03.2014

   Matala beach is one of the most famous in Crete, at least for its name. Matala is situated at the western end of the Messara Plains, and the beach opens to the west. The natural caves of Matala are
a sight to see on their own. The dwellings and storages carved
in rock are easily seen and mostly reachable, and a well known
hippie haunt with many stories and events dating back to the late
sixties and early seventies adding to the popularity of the place.
The caves were originally used in the pre-historic era as places to
live in and during the beginning of the first centuries AD as graves.
Panoramic image

The water around Matala is clean and clear

There is a concentration of taverns and shops with a bazaar like atmosphere at the southern side of the beach. The taverns serve traditional Cretan food. Matala is a favourite for many visitors in Crete, perhaps because there are no large hotel complexes and the southern location and atmosphere is in clear contrast with the atmosphere and crowds of the resorts on the north coast. There are many small hotels and apartments and a variety of services available for the traveller. Matala is sheltered by the mountains and thus quite a comfortable place for most of the year. The beach is both gravel and fine sand and steepens quite rapidly from the waterfront. The atmosphere is relaxed and uniquely local.

Matala used to be the harbour for Gortys and Festos

   During the Roman period Gortys was the capital city of Crete. Gortys and Festos are only a half an hour drive from Matala, making them and Agia Triada an excellent destination for a visit if you decide to stay in Matala. In Matala you can thus spend the day in well known Cretan destinations, go for a late swim in the clearest waters, have a traditional Cretan supper at a beachside tavern and catch a stunning sunset to make the day as perfect as it can be anywhere. Matala caves are an official archaeological site. There are some ancient structures under the water. The caves in the picture are somewhat difficult to reach.

In some caves there are many rooms. As the rock is soft each room has been carved for different purposes and uses.

Additional Information:

in Matala map of the area

Beach coordinates: 34°59’41.01”N 24°44’58.64”E

Have you visited Matala beach? Tell us about your experience in the comments!