Matala is located in southern Crete, right on the Lybian Sea. In the background you can see the Ida mountains with the highest mountain of Crete, the Psiloritis. There is often still snow on the mountain tops until mid-June, so you can enjoy a very special and unique panorama while swimming in the warm sea. Furthermore, the picturesque, authentic and Mediterranean-style villages of Pitsidia, Sivas and Kalamaki are nearby, as well as the Kommos beach. Forbes magazine says it´s one of the most beautiful beaches in the world due to its indescribable nature and vastness.
Also, one of Crete´s most famous archaeological sites is just ten Minutes by car away. The Palast of Phaistos, where the Brother of the Minoan King Minos is said to live. By the way, Matala counted in 2017 just 67 permanent residents, which shows you the rural character of the village in winter Times. During the summer, from April to October, you will find large number of nice cafes, bars, restaurants and shops.
If you have ever been to Crete you will already know Matala, which is worldwide famous for it´s Hippie Lifestyle, that is still remaining. The reason for this very big Hippie Hype is found in the 1960, when Hippies from all over the world very settling in the neolithic Caves nearby the beach. Many of them where jung people from the USA, who rejected to take part of the Vietnam War. They founded a big commune and one of the inhabitants was the famous singer Joni Mitchell. During this time there was just one little Tavern in Matala and the Hippie Hype was a main reason why Matala was starting to grow and made Matala to what we know today.
As a reminder of this time every year in June, a big festival takes place, which is really worth seeing. The streets are painted by artists, children and creative people with wondrous, colorful images, there are numerous stalls selling food and local art as well as a large stage on the beach. There occur over several days bands of different music styles.
Matala is very popular in the summer months, young and old alike. Not least because of the wide range of colorful shops, various restaurants, bars and cafes. Especially popular are bars like the Mermaid, which is still a popular meeting spot of real hippies and cave dwellers. But also the Hakuna Matata Bar, reminiscent of the movie "Pirates in the Caribbean". It looks like a big wooden ship and you can experience unforgettable evenings with authentic live music. From indipendent to rock or the 80´s. There is something for everyone.
If you love the individual kitchen, you should definitely visit the restaurant "Zwei Brüder" in the heart of Matala. For the Greek cuisine with the certain something, we recommend the restaurant Georges Yard. The house once belonged to a well-known inhabitant of Matala – Hippie George. His picture adorns the wall of the restaurant, which gives a special character. The cook of Georges Yard definitely understands his craft. Especially popular is the Greek lamb Kleftiko, but also all other dishes are worth a try. If you love fresh fish in combination with magical sunsets, the restaurant Scala above the Hakuna Matatat Bar is an absolute insider tip. For delicious cocktails you should visit the Café Sunset.
There are plenty more bars, cafes, shops and restaurants which you can experience. Both the fun factor and the culinary concerning, everybody will find his favorite place in Matala. Experience it yourself and be enchanted by the unique charm of Matala.
But there is much more about Matala you should know. Not just the Hippies left their footprint, also a very interesting Greek myth about godfather Zeus is said to be happened there. Maybe you know about the legend, that Zeus felt in Love with the Phoenician princess Europa. He transformed into a bull and when she started to feed him, he abducted her from Phoenicia and went ashore with her in Matala. There he transformed again, but into an Eagle and brought her finally to Gortyn.
Crete was conquered throughout its history by many Nations, including the Romans. They founded their capital in Gortyn and ruled the island from there. Matala was an important port of the Romans, as probably even in Minoan times. The famous caves were used at this time as tombs. Incidentally, it is believed that the sandstone caves originated already in the Neolithic period. The soft and porous rock was easy to work with and was ideal for forming living caves.
As you can see, the famous caves of Matala look back on a long history and already had many inhabitants. Both, living and dead. Today they are one of the main attractions of Matala and you should not miss visiting them from the inside. Also, because of the unique view, you will have from there on Matala and the Libyan sea.