Maleme, Crete – sightseeing and things to do

Maleme beach, Crete

The small town of Maleme is situated on the North West coast of Crete, Greece.  Maleme is perhaps best remembered for the role it played in the Battle of Crete during World War 2.  This small coastal town was subjected to weeks of bombardment by the Luftwaffe before over 7000 paratroops of the Falschmirger were launched over the area on the 20 May 1941.

Nowadays the only invaders are the tourists who come to Maleme to enjoy the peace and quiet of one of the more traditional Cretan towns.  Situated around 25km from Chanias airport it takes a tour bus around 45 minutes to 1 hour to arrive in the town.  There are hotels and apartments to suit all budgets, from all inclusive hotels such as the ‘Louis Creta Princess’ or the ‘Maleme Imperial’ to the more simpler room only apartments.  The visitor to Maleme, if booking room only, can find wonderful apartments right on the beach front like ‘Mikes Apartments’, ‘The Hippokrates’and the ‘Stavros Suites’ amongst others.  A little further back from the beach by about 100m you will find ‘The Ledra’ and a few others.  If you are a single traveller looking to avoid the dreaded ‘single room supplement’ then ‘The Mistral’ offers a great package deal during the summer months.

Maleme beach, Crete
Maleme beach, Crete

A trip to Maleme is all about relaxation.  Unlike the town of Platanias around 5km East it has no raucous nightlife or streets of bars and restaraunts.  The main street through Maleme has a few restaraunts, ‘The Black Lantern’ is the first you will come to if you are travelling from Chania into Maleme.  This is open all year round and serves freshly cooked food every day.  You know the food is good as the owner, Graeme, used to host a Crete cookery TV show!  Travelling along the road further will bring you to ‘The Albatross Hotel’ which also has a good restaraunt for all to eat at.

If you just fancy a snack during your stay there is a bakers, a gyros taverna and a pizza bar all situated close together in the center of the town.

The beach front at Maleme has views to the West of the Rodopou peninsular and as you cast your eyes Eastwards along the horizon you will take in the island of Agia Theadorou, the Akrotiri peninsula (where Zorba the Greek was filmed) and finally onto the coastal towns of Platanias and Agia Marina.  The beach itself is mostly pebble with some sand interspersed.  The sandier areas are mainly towards the East of Maleme and if you are prepared to walk that way for 5 minutes you will find yourself on a sandy beach with hardly anyone to bother you.  There is a promemenade that makes its way along the beach front which makes the walk even easier.  This promenade is also a lovely way to spend a few moments strolling in the evening, listening to the waves and watching the sun drop down behind the mountains of the Rodopou.  You can walk to the beach front bars from your hotel or apartments, enjoy a cool drink watching the sunset and walk back along the well lit promenade.  It certainly brings out the romantic side of life!

Maleme beach

Maleme is a year round, working town but it must be advised that most hotels and apartments will close in October for the winter period.  They will open again around April/May but if travelling off season there will not be many places open.

There are many places of interest to visit within a short drive of Maleme.  The list that follows provides destinations less than 1 hours drive from the centre of the town.

The German WWII war cemetary

Souda bay allied WWII war cemetary

Falassarna Beach and ancient ruins

Aptera Turkish fortress and Ancient city with Roman Amphitheatre

Gramvousa Fortress and pirate cove (Boat trip is the best way to see this. Sails from Kissamos port.)

Georgoupoli and the church in the sea

Chania City and its Venetian, Roman and Turkish architecture

The ancient tomb of Tholos

Kandanos Village which was razed to the ground by the occupying German army in WWII

Limnopoulis water park and Go Kart Track

Kolymbari fishing village with its wonderfull tavernas along the beach front

The 3000 year old olive tree of Vouves, branches from which were used at the Athens olympics

This list is by no means exhaustive.  There are literally hundreds of churches and monastaries to explore all with stunning artwork of the icons.  There are churches built into rock faces, such as that of St. John the Hermit at Spilia, about 5km to the West of Maleme.  Depending on what time of year you choose to holiday there are village parties where anyone can attend with food, wine, live musicand dancing.  There is also the Maleme beach party, usually in August, where a free party is held on the beach front and you can dance until the sun rises to traditional and more modern Greek music.

A trip to Maleme offers a glimpse of Crete that cannot be found in many other areas.  It offers you a holiday that you can truly make your own.  It offers you a chance to go back to more simpler times and leave your cares and worries at the airport departure lounge.

Maleme offers the traveller a unique opportunity to relax and unwind yet still be a short taxi or bus ride away from the partying and the nightlife of the more high tempo holiday resort of Platanias.

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