Matala Crete - The former Hippie Destination that maintains its low-key atmosphere

Matala is a village located 75 km south-west of Heraklion. It is part of the municipality of Tympaki, and the Heraklion Prefecture. Famous since ancient times for its magnificent cave-pocked cliffs, Matala was a prime hippie destination in the 1960's.

Matala Bay

Today it attracts beach lovers who enjoy its lively nightlife and low-key atmosphere.

The artificial caves in the cliff of the Matala bay were created in the Neolithic Age.

Ancient Matala was the port of Phaistos during the Minoan period. In the year 220 BC, Matala was occupied by the Gortynians and during the Roman period it became the port of Gortys.

In the 1st and 2nd century the caves were used as tombs.

One of the caves is called "Brutospeliana" because according to the legend it was frequented by the Roman general Brutus.

Matala was then a fishing village. In the 1960s the caves were occupied by hippies who were later driven out.

Road Sign To MatalaRoad To The BeachMatalaMatala Beach TavernsTable With A View
Matala Caves Cave EntranceCave CarvingsTurtle Hatchling
Matala CliffsMatala Red BeachRed Beach Stone Carving

It is built on the coast line of the Messara bay inside a small and picturesque inlet.

This magnificent inlet with its turquoise blue sea features one of the best beaches in Crete.

The caves, in combination with the sandy beach, form a semicircle on both sides of which jut up towering rocks; they act as a magnet for many people.

Today, the tomb-caves of Matala are protected by the Archaeological Service.

The "Koule" fortress on the Kastri hill is an attraction that should not be missed.

Boat On The BeachStep ArtPottery
Red Beach - FootstepsView From CaveCliffs Near Matala Matala Sky
Matala Old HouseBaklava And CoffeeView From PitsidaWaves At MatalaMatala Sunset

There is also a hewn-in-the-rock church dedicated to the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary. It is more like a catacomb and was used by the early-Christians during the years of persecutions.

South of Matala there is a huge rock formation known as the rock of "Theosyni" that offers a panoramic view of the Messara Bay.

The rock rises from the sea while at sea level it caves in deep to form a natural marine cave, named "Kouroupi".

This cave provides shelter to wild pigeons and to the Mediterranean seal.

The beauty of the coast continues south of "Kouroupi", where following a path along the rock, you reach the enchanting "red sand" beach, a place for those who are young and daring.

The spectacular red sand beach is known as "Ammoudia".To get there take the sandy trail from "Kouroupi" that leads south.

It’s an ideal location for camping.

Matala Map
[gmap markers=big blue::35.24971263792647,23.8098406791687 + 35.24971263792647,23.8098406791687 + 34.839675103607874,24.082889556884766 + 34.839675103607874,24.082889556884766 + 35.352299049572245,24.29572820663452 + 35.19995402052137,24.078871607780457 + 35.19995402052137,24.078871607780457 + 35.40653419435222,25.020010471343994 + 35.3379678879887,25.075231790542603 + 35.23583300533749,25.1596999168396 + 35.402952300485175,24.953888654708862 + 35.31777953251713,25.393502712249756 + 35.292093892951414,25.460225343704224 + 34.99352562418994,24.749675989151 |zoom=16 |center=34.99389828720422,24.74895715713501 |width=420px |height=300px |control=Small |type=Satellite]

How to get there:
There are regular public buses from Heraklion