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Category: Town-Village
Prefecture: Heraclion
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A safe natural harbour on the Bay of Messara, blessed with a gently sweeping sand and pebble beach, the place in legend where Zeus swam ashore in the guise of a bull with Europa on his back. Many people make this village their base for Cretan holidays, as it is so central on the south coast, and away from the over-development of the north coast. The beach is 250m long and 45m wide.

Matala has something for everyone. Although it has become a popular tourist destination it still retains the charm and character of the quiet fishing village it started as at the beginning of the 20th-century, and the laid-back lifestyle of the hippies of the 60’s and 70's lives on. Half the beach is fringed by tamarisk trees, leading the eye on to impressive formations of sandstone rock cliffs with their famous caves sliding into the sea at an odd angle, creating one of the most unusual beachscapes on the island.

There have been many pages of history here. Nobody knows quite who started caves but it seems likely that they were first hollowed out as Roman or early Christian tombs. There are other ruins at the eastern end of the village and if you go snorkelling in the clear waters of Messara Bay there are ancient ruins to be seen in the depths. 
Matala it is one of just over 400 beaches in Greece that have been awarded a Blue Flag. This exclusive eco-label is given to beaches that offer cleanliness and safe bathing areas and has strict criteria dealing with water quality, environmental management and safety. There is a lifeguard and first aid facilities, as well as toilets and  showers.

Near the beach are opportunities for learning about environmental projects, such as with Archelon, the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece.
The beaches of Matala, Kommos and Red Beach come under Natura 2000, a European Union network of nature protection areas established to assure the long-term survival of Europe's most valuable and threatened species and habitats. 

At the beach there are sport facilities as well as activities for children, and if you would like to go further afield you can also rent a car, bicycles and motorbikes. Yet all this is only 65 km from Iraklion.

Places near Matala

Kommos 2717 hits
It is a lengthy stretch - over 2km long and up to 40m wide - of deep golden sand backed by natural dunes and cliffs topped with tamarisk trees, which is also a paradise for naturists and most likely will become an official naturist beach. At the southern end is the Kommos taverna, a short walk away from the famous archaeological site. The lifeguard is to be found here, near the umbrellas and sunbeds, as well as toilets and a shower. Towards the northern end of the beach the sea bed is rock shelf, but at the taverna end it is sandy. The sand quality is good and the beach is very clean; if you enjoy snorkelling there are many fish to be seen.
The excavation of a major Bronze Age site has been ongoing at Kommos since 1976. Kommos first attracted the attention of archaeologists in 1924, when the famous excavator of Knossos, Arthur Evans, heard of large storage vessels being found there. Kommos was in fact a major port, with monumental Minoan palatial buildings, massive stone storage complexes, and a Minoan town (ca. 1800-1200 B.C.). Post-Minoan remains include a Greek Sanctuary that was active until the Early Roman period, when the site was abandoned (ca. A.D. 200). The artefacts discovered there come from as far away as Cyprus, Egypt, and Sardinia. 
Kommos is also widely considered to be the best nudist beach on Crete; Captain Barefoot thought it was wonderful and gives it a rating of 96%. The naturist section of this beach starts just north of the archaeological ruins and is more than half a kilometre long. There is some shade under trees at the back of the beach. There is plenty of room for everyone, even at weekends, and for your further enjoyment, “The Cakeman” can bring you delicious homemade cakes and coffee while you sit in the sand and watch the waves.

One other point about Komo Beach.
Those visiting the beach should be aware that the beach is not only for them but it is also a nesting beach for the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) and is monitored each year by Archelon, the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece. Any nests should not be disturbed, and hatchling turtles should not be "assisted" to the sea (it is essential to their development that they find their own way), though it would help to provide them with shade as they walk to the sea if they accidentally emerge during the day. In particular, the beach should not be visited at night during the nesting season. And as with all beaches, litter should not be left - considerate tourists leave only footprints in the sand.
How to get there
From the main road in Pitsidia turn right at the supermarket with the sign "Rent Rooms 'Nikos'" and then immediately to the left on an asphalt track marked "Komos Beach". Follow this track to the crossroads with the sign "Horse and pony riding Pitsidia". At this point you can either follow the tarmac road to a large car park near the archaeological site. From here it is a short walk north along the beach to the naturist section. Alternatively turn right on a dirt road. After 500 m you come to a place where you can park in shade under trees very close to the centre of the beach; however parking space here may be limited.

An alternative access is when going from Matala (N34 59' 37.1" E24 45' 03.5") to Pitsidia (N35 00' 57.4" E24 46' 46.3"): take the dirt road to the left, opposite the white-washed wall of the Archontissa Taverna, which starts on the corner with a youth camping at N35 00' 33.2" E24 46' 10.0". At the first crossraod, turn right downhill, which brings you to the archaeological site as mentioned above. The (textile) beach near the car park and the archaeological site is at N35 00' 47.2" E24 45' 36.1", whereas the central, clothing optional part is at: N35 00' 51.2" E24 45' 37.0". Toilets and a shower are provided near the car park. 

One of the few official camping sites in Crete is nearby, near Pitsidia on the road to Matala (it's just 10 minute walk from Kommos). 
Kommos 2653 hits

At Kommos, above the famous beach in the south of the prefecture of Heraklion, there is the archaeological site of the Minoan city of Komos. Kommos in Minoan Crete was one of the two ports of the Minoan palace of Phaistos. Matala was the other one.


Excavations of the archaeological site began for the first time in 1976 by a group of Canadian archaeologists, but the existence of Kommos and its connection to the palace of Phaistos was known by Sir Arthur Evans. The finds include the harbor settlement, and public buildings such as shipyards, warehouses, prytaneion, temple and an amphitheater building. One of the most important finds are the ancient olive oil presses, which reveal how developed was the cultivation of olive trees in Minoan Crete.

The archaeological site is not accessible but you can admire the building findings outside the fenced area which is accessible from the road leading to Kommos beach.

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Acropol 2650 hits

The apartments "Acropol" are located in Pitsidia, one of the most beautiful villages of south Crete.

Pitsidia finds itself a couple of kilometres from Matala and Phaistos archaeological site, and about 75 kilometres from Heraklion town.


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Kalamaki 2625 hits
Kalamaki Beach is located on the southern side of Crete, very close to Matala and Agia Galini and few hundreds meters north from Kommos or Commos Beach. It is know for its extremely long beach of 2 kilometres as well as its protected areas for the Kareta Kareta turtles.

The islands Paksimadia and Gavdos can be seen in the horizon. The uninhabited Paksimadia (or Paximadia) is around 10 kilometres away from the shore and owe their name to the dryness that dominates on the island. 

The inhabited island of Gavdos is the southernmost point of Europe, and is about 17 kilometres away from the shore and is visible when the weather is clear.

For those who love to walk, the neighbouring beach of Kommo offers the perfect setting with the waves ending right at your feet. The ancient port of the Minoan era brings the visitor closer to the history and culture of the Cretan civilisation.During the summer months, the area bursts with life due to its constantly growing tourist population, which it has been enjoyng over the last years. This is no surprise considering its crystal clear beach and breathtaking sunset. There is an abundance of taverns and bars in which you can enjoy a drink and delicious traditional dishes with fresh seadfood.The village of Kalamaki is 60 km far from Heraklion City and 72 from Rethimno. Close to Kalamaki are located the traditional villages Sivas, Kamilari, Pitsidia, Petrokefali and many more.12 kilometres further inland is Mires, a town with many shops, services, such as a post office, banks, a hospital, pharmacies, large supermarkets for economic purchases including LIDL and Marinopoulos-Carrefour. Mires is also known for its well-known Pazari (flee market) every Saturday. It is the largest one in Southern Crete, where you can find anything from women’s and men’s undergarments and children’s games to vegetables, fruit, kitchenware, carpets and delicatessen’s such as feta cheese and honey. Something similar but on a smaller scale is held every Friday in Timbaki, a nearby village, west of Mires.
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Kamilari 2603 hits

Kamilari, a typical Cretan village, away from mass tourism, has managed to preserve its traditional character. The village is located on a hill offering panoramic views of the Psiloritis mountain range, the fertile Messara plain and last not least the Mediterranean Sea.

The warm and peaceful atmosphere and the hospitality of the village people make you feel   welcome and home right away. Plenty of places in and around the village are worth a visit, either on foot or by rented car or bike. Important Minoan sights like the Palace of Phaistos and Agia Triada are in a distance of 3-4 km. Matala, a little fishing village, with its famous caves and history as domicile of the hippies is only 6 km away. You can take long walks in the countryside or visit some of the monasteries and gorges of the area.Extensive sandy beaches invite you for a swim, Kommos beach (2,5 km) with its Minoan excavations or Kalamaki beach (3 km). The village has several taverns and little supermarkets as well as traditional kafeneia where the locals are enjoying their Greek coffee chatting away.

Red Sand Beach
Red Sand Beach 2584 hits
This is the picturesque secluded beach just 20 minutes walk from Matala. On the way, you pass more caves, some of which are inhabited through the summer, but the exact whereabouts of the better ones away from the village are a closely guarded secret. It has dark reddish brown sand and wonderfully clear water. It is a quiet intimate beach, only 300m long, but well worth visiting.

How to get there

There are two routes to Red Beach depending on how energetic you are feeling! The first involves a steep climb followed by a steep descent. If you are starting from the centre of Matala, follow the road directly opposite the Zafiria bar until the paved road finishes, then keep going along the dirt track and follow the route up onto the top of the plateau. The walk is very pleasant, and there are certainly some good views from 80m above sea level!

There is a less steep approach if you continue through the town until you reach the sign on the left for the "Marinero" bar. To the left is a path signposted to George's bar and the Mythos bar. Turn on to this path, but instead of turning immediately right towards the two bars, turn left past the front of an old house. This leads to the path over the hill.

Both routes join by a fence, then keep going to the right until you reach a gate opening onto the path which leads down to the beach.
Be sure to carry refreshments for the walk and for your supplies for your day at the beach. Red Beach is superb for nudists and was the only Greek location featured on "The World's Best Nude Beaches" on the Sky Travel TV channel. Captain Barefoot gives it a rating of 90% - it would be more if access was less demanding.
Matala 2581 hits

Matala beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Crete, renowned all over the world due to its uniqueness and beauty. Matala (and Kommos beach) used to be the port of Gortys and Phaistos. It was a tiny fishing town near Pitsidia, that developed to be one of the most modern and scenic holiday resorts in the island. 

Matala became known to the entire world during the 60s when hippies from every corner of the world were gathering there enjoying the lovely sea and the freedom offered grandly by this gorgeous inlet.

Artificial caves carved in the north part of the shores, sapphire blue waters and endless sandy beach is what you can expect when visiting Matala. The towering rocks, formed by the caves, are overlooking the waters and attract numerous tourists who choose to dive in the sea or simply lay and enjoy the sun.

Joni Mitchell wrote a song for her experience in Matala Beach along with the Hippie commune; the name of the song is Carey. The Flower Children, as they were called, didn’t manage to realise their conference as intended, however they managed to enjoy the beauty of the area and the breathtaking views to the Bay.

Today Matala Beach is a lovely tourist destination featuring resorts, hotels and numerous restaurants featuring the infamous Cretan and Greek Cuisine. It is situated approximately 70km from the city of Heraklion at the Messara Bay.

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Pitsidia village 2581 hits

The village of Pitsidia is located 65 km southwest of Iraklion at an altitude of 80 m a.s.l, just before the magnificent bay of Messara and 2km far from the famous Kommo beach. The village with aproximately 700 inhabitants is the seat of the Pitsidia-Matala community. Pitsidia is the oldest village of the area and is refered (by S. Spanakis) that it was the place where the s oldiers of Nikiforos Fokas, commander of the Byzantine army, settled. The army, famous for its bravery, came from Pisidia of the south Asia Minor, and this is probably the origin of the name Pitsidia. The road from Iraklion is fairly good and passes through the Messara valley. Regular public transportation is available for visiting Pitsidia-Matala. The climate is temperate and it promotes longevity and well-being, as the inhabitants of the village are famous for their longevity.Pitsidia is a quiet village, with a long tradition of hospitality. The spotlessly clean accommodation units, the taverns with their traditional cuisine, the cafes with their aroma of Greek coffee, as well as the cosmopolitan ambiance of the area during the summer months, warranty a memorable stay to all visitors. Visitors are always welcomed at Pitsidia.For more information about Pitsidia, you are invited to visit , or call, the offices of the Community Enterprise of Pitsidia (tel:+30-2892-45340/45720). Pitsidia Pitsidia: Kommo Beach Pitsidia The surrounding landscape is of exceptional natural beauty with archaeological and historical sites which attract a large number of tourists each year. Within the Pitsidia community, 4 km to the southwest, lies the renowned resort of Matala. At a distance of 1500 m. lies the long sandy beach of Kommos and the antiquities of Kommos. Pitsidia Pitsidia Also, the village of Pitsidia can be the starting point for outing and excursions to the archaeological sites in the broader area. Some of the most interesting sites are the ancient mansion of Pitsidia, the archaeological sites of Laggou, Phaistos, Agia Triada and Gortys, the monastery of Odigitria, the gorge of "Agiofarago".