Malia on the Greek island of Crete has soared in popularity in recent years, perhaps helped in part by the The Inbetweeners movie (interesting fact: a lot of that film was actually filmed in Magaluf, Majorca), which followed friends Will, Simon, Neil and Jay on a blow-out holiday after they finished school. While their Malia holidays were mixed and caricatured for comic effect, the resort’s beaches and bars do offer an ideal, lively holiday escape. Unlike the boys, though, if you’re willing to curb your partying instinct once or twice on your holiday then there are some surprising things to see and do nearby.
Plenty tour operators offer flights to Crete that land at Heraklion Airport on the island, which is about a 40-minute transfer from Malia and there’s a great range of accommodation in the town itself and neighbouring resorts. Once you’ve settled into the town, why not try one of these activities, most of which are best done in the morning while others are sleeping off the night before!
Go on safari
You might not immediately think of going on a safari when you book Malia holidays but Safari Club Crete offers just that experience. They will pick you up from the town around 9 am (we did say take it easy the night before!) and take you on a full day out around the areas of central Crete that you probably wouldn’t otherwise see. After visiting a Roman aqueduct, you’ll stop for traditional coffee in a tiny village before continuing along goat tracks to one of the highest points of the island for some stunning views. A barbecue lunch with unlimited wine follows before a visit to Zeus’s Cave and a stop at a 2,000-year-old tree and natural spring. If you’re willing to get out of bed, this is a great way to do a week’s worth of sightseeing in one fun-packed day.
The Minoan palace
OK, so the Minoan palace at Malia is no Buckingham Palace. Don’t expect to see the Greek Royal Family and a gift shop selling souvenir tea towels. What you can expect is a fascinating look back at the times of the ancient Minoan civilisation. The palace is perfectly located between the mountains and the sea. Some would say it’s walkable from the town but a better idea is probably to rent a cheap quad bike, which means you can be there within 10 minutes. After looking round the ruins and imagining what life was like nearly 4,000 years ago, you can always stop at one of the fantastic beaches on the way back into town and pat yourself on the back for having made the most of the day before heading out in the evening.
Malia Old Town
Drag yourself away from the main strip when you’re on holiday in Malia and you’ll discover a beautiful, sleepy, traditional Cretian old town. The central church of Agios Nektarios is stunning inside, with almost every inch of wall and ceiling covered in colourful paintings. Elsewhere in the town, you can wander down quaint little streets and find something a bit more authentic to eat and drink in one of the little tavernas than you may find in the main part of the town. The town also has a well, testament to the fact that there was no running water here until the 1960s, so residents would at one point have relied on the wells dotted around the village.
Malia is a party town, no doubt about it. But if you fancy taking a break from the beaches and the bars, there’s loads to see and do nearby. The Inbetweeners may not have made it far out of town but there’s no reason why you can’t have it the best of both ways in Malia – if you’re willing to get out of bed before noon!
Image credits: Lionsgate Publicity, jackx, skuds, palestrina55, used under creative commons licence.