Malia, Crete: A great family holiday destination?

sea stones malia crete beach

The thing about Malia town in Crete is that it’s totally two-faced, so I decided to write two entries about it. Let’s begin with the conventional one. 

The spring was really delayed in Lithuania this year. We had a white Christmas, white New Year, white Easter in the end of April, and I had enough. After waking up one more day and seeing it was frosty during the night in the end of April, I checked our low-cost travel website, found an charter suitable for Mark (not too hot, EU = good health insurance, preferably sandy beach) and suitable for my budget (340 euro all in, with breakfast and dinners), we pack our bags and off we go to Malia, Crete. I also wrote more about our hotel Meropi here.

We have been to Crete once already last April, but that time it was Ryanair, finding a hotel on, renting a car and driving into the wild. With my husband it’s fun. Without him and with Mark in the heist of separation anxiety I actually very much preferred a boring charter holiday. Which also I have tried exactly once exactly 10 years ago. So let’s give it another chance.

Window into jungle

A check list of Malia Crete

1. Malia is a popular destination for young Scandinavians and Brits, who enjoy clubbing (meaning getting pissed).

TRUE, but the we stay away from the clubs and bars, plus it is just the very beginning of the season, so most of them are closed anyway


2. It has one of the very few sandy beaches in Crete.

TRUE. The sand is not very smooth nor is it very white, but it’s a very pleasant sand. Meaning you can lie on it, play with it and not wear the shoes all the time.


3. It also has A LOT of mosquitoes.

TRUE. Somehow most children avoided getting bitten, but several (including little Mark) got so many bites all over the face that it looks like chicken pox. I don’t know if it’s the sweet blood, or do the others know some secret. Luckily it doesn’t seem to annoy him, and with this scary look we will for sure get some extra room on the plane, as the people sitting next to us will run away in fear of getting smitten.


4. Malia doesn’t have any old town.

SOMEWHAT TRUE. There is a thing called “Malia Old Village”, which looks oldish-traditional-Crete, very renovated and tourist-oriented. It’s nice for an evening walk though. It also has a Minoan palace ruins, which you can visit, if you are 1. into it 2. don’t have a toddler clinging to you 3. like to walk along busy roads in +28 C.

What does Malia look like?

Anyway, it looks like that: a long road along the sea with no sidewalk and many restaurants, hotels and souvenir shops lining it. There are no private beaches, which means you can pretty much go through any hotel and to the sea. You would need to pay for the set of umbrella and sunbed, and the prices vary. If you do take it, it’s worth checking whether the price will be better for a week (or whatever is the duration of your stay). Near us it is for example 5 eur/day, but 20 eur for a week.

Beginning of May is also just the beginning of the season. The hotels are not yet packed (some of them are not even open yet) and the weather is not too hot. This time, the sea is +19 C and the air ranges between 20 C in the evening and up to 28 C during the midday. One day was cloudy and very windy (Basically, when you are at the beach, it feels as if someone is throwing sand in your face. Which many parents will find completely ok).

All in all I find it too hot and bathe Mark and myself in SPF50 and keep to the shade. But I heard there is another species of humans, who prefer to come here in August and (wait for it!) lie on the beach in the sun. Hello, if you are one of them, I’d like to know more about you!

The beach

Where to go from Malia Crete

Santorini – it will take you all day, including taking a bus to Heraklion for over an hour, then a boat to Santorini island for over two hours one way and then a short trip around the island before making the same journey back. Do it only if you really enjoy buses and boats.
– All different parts of Crete, like Balos (Western point) and Vai (Eastern point). Same as with Santorini, might be worth travelling there directly and exploring the area for a bit longer time.
– Cities of Agios Nikolaos and Hersonissos are around 1 hour by bus or rented car.
Sissi cruise: Starting around 10 am with 1 hour bus to Hersonissos, then by boat around visiting some caves, stopping at the beach for lunch and swim, seeing Malia coast from the sea, and coming  back around 17.
Historical/archeological ones, visiting excavation sites and ruins: could be really worth doing when it’s less hot. It tends to be very hot and dry around those sites in summer.
– More extreme ones, like jeep safaris – on demand.

Malia Crete Motorcycles

Why you should go to Malia Crete

– The beach. It’s really great to have sand instead of stones.
– Exploring the central part of Crete. It is a big island with rather bad roads and rather many of them in the mountains, so you end up driving rather slowly. If you want to spend a week, having time both for exploring, swimming and relaxation, I would suggest to make several trips: to the East, to the West and to the Centre.
Clubbing. Haven’t tried it, but let’s trust TripAdvisor 😉
Cat lovers: cats everywhere.
Running. Running along the coast is doable and running along the road is very doable, as it’s not busy. And it’s not too hilly, but you can also go towards the mountains, and get really steep hills very close to Malia. Suited for many tastes.
Good food (which includes a lot of bread and oil) – like anywhere else in Crete.

Which is what I am basically doing, when I can get away from being a parent: swimming, eating, running and writing. At this particular moment these are all components of a good holiday.

nike freerun shoes and holes

An additional perk

You will not need to constantly wipe the floor after Mark’s eating. He just started eating himself, which means that there is a lot of food bits under his chair after the meal. At home it’s a bit annoying. And here there are usually around 4 cats sitting under his high chair waiting for the pieces to fall and eat them. Maybe I could bring them home and wouldn’t need to clean then?

Extra little tip for parents of toddlers

Instead of bringing an inflatable pool or digging one near the sea yourself for your child to sit and play in without being washed out to the open sea, you can also look around for some small rocks like this: 
baby playing in the sea

They retain water, and it stays there all day getting warm like a bath. Mark spent a lot of time in them playing with both sand and water, making it look like a big warm dirty puddle – which is (based on the little I know about kids) is the best thing to spend time in.

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8 thoughts on “Malia, Crete: A great family holiday destination?

  1. Victor says:

    Everything was written nice, except one thing where you explain about one hour by bus from Malia to Hersonissos, there are around 6-7 kilometers that separate those two regions. So even walking from Malia to Hersonissos it can be in less than one hour, you need about 10-15 minutes by bus, depending on the stations.

  2. Paul Mears says:

    THE GRATE PLACE FOR FAMILY HAS TO BE STALIDA OR SUM MIGHT SAY STALIS thares only a few taverner and a few bars in the old town of malia so not really a interesting place to visit , a must visit is the villages of kutalafari piscapiono and old assonissos at night when the narrow cobbled streets all light up from the meny taverner small quaint bars and restaurants and lovely small shops and the views down the mountain to new assonissos town and harbour is just breathtaking. Walking through all three villages and getting to the end at old assonissos village entering the square with all the open tables of the meny taverners spread around the square whare you can finish the night off and sit and eat the local cuisine and drink then ask the waiter to call you a taxi witch he will do with pleasure of course provided you payed the bill(lougarismo)parakalou. 29/6/19

  3. penelope morris says:

    well written i’m going to malia this coming june with my 19 year old granddaughter i’m hoping for a relaxing holiday

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