The quiet life
When we say Maleme takes life at a slower pace, we mean it. But even though Maleme is on the smaller scale, it still features a beach of big proportions. The shores here extend for three kilometres, reaching all the way to Chania and passing a few other resorts on the way.
There are two distinct beaches to choose from in Maleme. One is the more popular, sandy beach, which is decked with sunloungers and backed by waterfront tavernas. The other is a pebble beach, which is a little more secluded. But wherever you go, you won't be bothered by loud music seeping in from town or bordering restaurants – the only noises here are the waves crashing onshore.
Maleme is treated to a handful of tavernas, most of which are scattered along the coast. Some of them are even right on the shore, so you won't have to ditch your swimsuit when lunchtime rolls around. The vast majority of the cuisine is traditional Greek food, though you'll find the occasional hint of Italian, plus some seriously great beach-side milkshakes.
Nightlife in Maleme is limited to a few small music bars or quiet glasses of wine at local tavernas. But if you're looking for a more boisterous night out, nearby Platanias is at the ready with late-night dance clubs and cocktail bars.
The battle of Crete
Unassuming and relaxed though it may be, Maleme is a town with much historical significance. It's the site where German paratroopers first touched down in the infamous Battle of Crete during World War Two.
Nowadays, the locals still commemorate the big battle with air shows and memorials every year. You can also hark back to these times of turmoil at the town's German War Cemetery – it's a sombre spot overlooking the sea.
Your shopping options in Maleme are largely limited to a few souvenir-type shops in town. There are also a few supermarkets, plus a deli and bakery to grab fresh ingredients and meals if you've opted for a self-catering holiday. The real shopping opportunities lie in the nearby town of Chania, where you'll find everything from high end boutiques to high street stores, as well as markets selling homemade wares and locally-grown produce. The stalls are packed with leather goods, jewellery and shoes, but you'd be wise to try the olive oil and raki, which are specialities of the island.
Chania and Platanias
The popular town of Chania is only a 25-minute drive from Maleme, though you can walk between the two if you travel east along Maleme's beach. Chania is the second largest city in Crete, and its amenities show it.
When you arrive on Chania's historic shores, you'll be treated to a beautiful Venetian harbour, lighthouse and fortress. There are a number of museums detailing things like the town's archaeological and football history, plus an assortment of waterfront restaurants and nightlife. Chania is also the site of the ancient city of Aptera, whose now-ruined walls were rumoured to once host mythological figures.
The town of Platanias is even closer to Maleme, just a 15-minute drive away. Platanias is a happy middle ground between Maleme and Chania, with a set of peaceful beaches, boat cruises and luxurious spas. But the nightlife here takes the energy up a notch, with themed bars and dance clubs that get everyone moving until the early hours of the morning.