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You might have heard about holidays in Malia or Hersonissos, in the Heraklion region of Crete, because of the white-sanded beaches (of which there are plenty to choose from) and for all the attractions that are magnets for young, fun-loving tourists.
You’ll adore the long sandy beach at Anissaras (just next to Hersonissos) as well as the beaches of Limanakia, Creta Maris, Sarantaris and Analipsi. But there are other attractions here you shouldn’t overlook.
On the Hersonissos waterfront, you’ll find the 17th-18th century church of Agios Nikolaos, and to the north, where you reach Megalo Horio, a forest of 3,000 bear-berry, oak and carob trees, and the settlements of Koutouloufari and Piskopiano, where a former olive oil refinery houses an Agricultural Museum.
Malia boasts the third-largest Minoan palace in Crete. Originally 7,500m2 in area, it was built in 1900 BC and, after a turbulent history, permanently destroyed by a fire in 1450 BC.
You’ll learn about Crete’s folk traditions and culture at the Lychnostatis Open Air Museum in Limani Hersonissos. Traditional Cretan farmers’ houses, a distillery, windmill, church, wine and olive presses, weaving workshops, a garden with medicinal plants and a folk art gallery – everything you need to get to know the real Crete.
Luxurious hotels, sprawling resorts and rooms-to-let: Hersonissos and Malia cater to every style and budget, whether on the beach, right in the middle of the lively town, or quiet and secluded.
Hersonissos and Malia are lively holiday resorts on the north coast of Crete, around 25 km east of Heraklion and west of Agios Nikolaos. They have small permanent populations of around 3,000 residents each, but do get busy in the summer months between mid-June and mid-September.
The closest airport for international and domestic flights (45mins flight from Athens, 1hr30min from Thessaloniki) is in Heraklion, where you can easily pick up a hire car or catch a bus. Alternatively, there are daily ferries from Piraeus and seasonal ferry connections to some Cyclades and Dodecanese islands to the ports of Heraklion. The journey time from Piraeus is approximately 8.5-10hrs.
Malia is known for its party atmosphere with plenty of choices of bars and clubs that stay open until early in the morning and attract a younger crowd. Hersonissos is quieter but is also known for its nightlife. Malia is not known as a romantic or family destination in Greece.
There are very popular, sandy beaches in both Malia and Hersonissos, with plenty of facilities and water sports and a choice of places to eat.
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