Brimming with beaches
Malia is home to five kilometres of sandy coast, which is divided into roughly six beaches. Each has a unique personality and offers different beach vibes to its sun-seeking visitors. The main beach begins at the bottom of Beach Road – Malia’s main strip – and is lined with beach bars, sun loungers and umbrellas, so your afternoon on the sea is sound-tracked by music drifting in from town.
There’s also Sun Beach and Tropical Beach, which are middle of the road in terms of activity, plus Potamos, where leisurely lounging is to be had. It still has umbrellas and a couple of tavernas nearby, but mostly it’ll just be you, the waves and mountains towering in the distance.
The more populated beaches are where you’ll find a great range of water sports. The Aeolos Beach Water Park & Water Sports centre offers a huge range of activities, from jet skiing to windsurfing and hopping aboard a speedy banana boat. It also has a small water park for kids with a few slides and a children’s pool.
Look out Ibiza and Magaluf – Malia prides itself on rubbing elbows with even the most sought-out nightlife destinations. The town’s neon-lit main strip is packed with bars and clubs that pull out all the stops for those in search of Crete party holidays, so you’re sure to have a wild night when drinking here.
There are cool cocktail bars and clubs boasting paint nights and foam parties, not to mention some seriously hype-worthy DJ sets, plus quiet wine bars if you need a break.
The main strip is closed to traffic at night, so most of the drinking takes place in this area. It’s also dotted with takeaway spots to grab a 2am bite after drinking and dancing. If you’re looking for more solemn nights out, head away from the beach and into the old town, where you’ll find authentic tavernas that are happy to serve you a drink, best enjoyed on outdoor terraces in the warm Mediterranean climate.
An ancient civilisation
Malia has a lot more to offer than a great assortment of clubs. It’s home to the island’s third largest Minoan Palace, which was destroyed in the same earthquake that ruined other ancient island towns. It was rumoured to be ruled by Zeus’s son Sarpedon, and is now open for touring. You can see the ruined remnants of workshops and palace walls, as well as scraps of ancient pottery.
Beach Road is shopping central in Malia, should you find yourself in need of retail therapy – there, you’ll find everything from accessories to souvenirs, clothing to beach bits. There are even a few shops selling handcrafted wares, including pottery and jewellery.
If you’re looking to see Malia on a full scale, there’s no shortage of sightseeing opportunities. You can embark on a boat cruise and explore the coast or set out on a guided nature drive aimed at checking out the mountain terrain. Other options are getting around by bike or via the Happy Train, which stops at locales giving expert insight into Malia life, past and present.
Around the world dining
Dining in Malia isn’t limited to just classic Greek cuisine, though you’ll certainly find a huge array of quaint tavernas with live music pouring from their windows. It’s easy to identify which spots serve international cuisine, with everything from full English breakfasts to casual pizzas. These are usually located closer to the coast while the tavernas are further inland, and offer a quieter ambiance than the busy main strip.
Though Malia holds its weight in terms of activity and culture, it meets its match with big brother Heraklion, the capital city of Crete. It’s only a 45-minute drive away, and makes for excellent day trips or a second half to your Greek holiday.
The main attraction here is undoubtedly the incredible ruins of the Palace of Knossos, the centre of ancient Minoan life. You can wander past the crumbling stone walls or learn more about this fascinating civilisation at the Heraklion Archaeology Museum. Heraklion is also home to a huge number of wineries, where you can taste the local Cretan flavours alongside the people that make the island’s famed vino.