A charming village with traditional stone houses and many gardens with colorful flowers, which is located on a hill surrounding olive groves and offers a breathtaking sea view.
The name of the place derives from the Byzantine word Kamilaris (camel rider, camel driver). Many of the old houses have been renovated and remodeled into holiday houses or shops, whereby the old architectural style has been preserved. You can walk through the old, small streets in Kamilari and discover many corners interesting shops, fantastic restaurants, and small cafes.
For me, Kamilari is one of the most beautiful villages on the south coast of Crete, it has a good mix of traditional Cretan, peppered with the ex-pats and dropouts who have settled here. Much of the business is run by couples who are half Cretan and half from somewhere in the world – that’s what makes life in Kamilari so charming!
Despite the beautiful mix, it is usually very tranquil, only in the main season, especially in the evening, there are many visitors cavorting in the alleys who are on their way to one of the many and mostly very good restaurants.
In winter it is less busy here, but it is not like in Kalamaki or Matala, where almost nobody lives. Despite the many holiday houses, Kamilari has a lot of inhabitants and so most of the shops are also open in winter (2020/2021 of course not).
Unfortunately in Kamilari, but also in other villages, a very modern architectural style has mixed with the beautiful old stone houses in recent years – I don’t like it, but it’s always in the eye of the beholder 😉
Holidays in Kamilari
As a holiday village, it is a TOP location, because Kamilari actually offers everything a Crete traveler could want: A cozy village with a village square where the church, a small playground, kafenion, and supermarket are located, small shops, a pharmacy, and many taverns and cafes. In addition, it is only 3.5 km from the beach of Kalamaki (which continues at the Komos stand), near Tymbaki and Mires, where you can do all sorts of shopping and there are also the weekly markets and there are beautiful paths to the surrounding villages such as Pitsidia or Sivas.
You have a lot of choices in Kamilari, but our favorite is the Kipos Taverna, a beautiful garden tavern located in the area Metoxi, with a varied menu offering Greek and European cuisine plus daily specials, which include vegetarian dishes. At Metoxi you find also the famous Pizzaria Ariadni, with romantic candle lights, and in 2020 opened a new tavern on the same road direction Tympaki, where you “eat like a Minoan”. I had tried it 2 times last summer, it was ok, but I expected something more individual. Well, it just opened so let’s give it a try 😉
The Chrisopigi Ouzeria on the outskirts of Kamilari at the crossing to Kalamaki offers a charming garden atmosphere and a playground – perfect for families with children!
In the center of the village, you will find the Acropolis and the Loggia Taverna, where you can choose between delicious Cretan dishes by looking into the pots in the kitchen. Both are popular with locals and tourists. And Kostas Kafenion, where you can enjoy typical Cretan mezes with wine or raki.
The Milonas, Kelari, and the tavern at the intersection near the cemetery also have delicious food – Kamilari really has something for everyone and I hope you have enough time to not just spend one evening here.
Kamilari has nice little shops, especially if you look for presents (make yourself one) or accessories. “To Magazaki” in the center and “Soul made” are Greek concept stores selling the best in Greek designs. It is difficult to leave the shops without at least buying a little something, I am warning you!
Kamilari is a good starting point for small and large tours in the region, such as short hikes, Phaistos & Agia Triada, or the villages Sivas, Pitsidia, and Kalamaki.
My tip is to combine an afternoon walk to one of the oldest olive trees of Crete and the tombs of Kamilari. The path starts in Metoxi (sign: Mana Olive Tree) and guides you for about 20 minutes through the olive groves to this special place.
On the way back, turn right at the first crossing and continue your way up to the small hill on the left to the tombs. Great place for a sunset!