There are so many amazing places to explore in Crete that it can become challenging to choose a destination, with each having its own authentic charm. One small village that could provide the perfect Cretan holiday is Maleme, located on the northwestern part of the island, just 16 km west of the city of Chania. With its long stretch of excellent beaches, the gulf of Chania is one of the most enchanting destinations in Crete, offering a beautiful natural setting and unique cultural sights. The village of Maleme is a developing resort, with a wonderful beach and plenty of services along the seaside, making it perfect if you wish to have everything within walking distance.
For nightlife, the nearby resort of Platanias is just a few kilometers to the east and features everything you could imagine, but it is also a lot louder and more crowded. Although most people come to Maleme to swim and sunbathe, there are few interesting places to see and things to do in and around the village. Below you can find a complete guide with information about the village of Maleme and what you can see or do while visiting.
Where is Maleme
The small seaside village of Maleme is located on the coast of northwestern Crete, about 16 km west of Chania and 157 km west of the capital Heraklion. It makes for a pleasant destination in Crete, given its easy access along the northern coastal road, as well as the many services you can find inside and close to the village. You can get to Chania is just about 20 minutes and there are many interesting attractions in the city. You can reach Maleme easily with a car rental from Chania, the trip offering a wonderful experience of driving along the coast. Situated inside the larger gulf of Chania, the beach of Maleme has extremely calm waters, perfect for family holidays.
How to Get to Maleme
Getting to Maleme by Car
You can easy get to Maleme by driving. While the capital of Crete is located about 160 km to the east and you will have to drive for over two hours to reach Maleme, the trip is extremely pleasant along the northern coastal road.
Hiring a car in Crete is always a good idea and if you arrive at Chania airport or port of Chania, you can get to Maleme in less than 30 minutes. There are plenty of tourist services in the village within walking distance, but if you wish to visit other beaches and destinations of Crete, you will definitely need a rental car.
Getting to Maleme by Bus
You can reach Maleme by bus, but if you come from Heraklion, you will have to change buses in Chania and it will take a long time. There are plenty of buses from Chania, especially during the summer when they run late into the evening, but nevertheless renting a car is a much better option.
Best Things to Do in Maleme
If you are looking for a pleasant and quite location in Crete where you can basically walk onto the beach each day and have everything within reach, then Maleme is perfect. Although quite small and without many interesting things to see, the village of Maleme has an enchanting beach and a more laidback atmosphere than other resorts along the Chania gulf coast. The beach of Maleme is exceptional, sandy and wide, with some trees to use for shade.
The only organized parts of the beach are in front of hotels or taverns, with sunbeds and umbrellas, yet most of it is still wild. At the west end of the beach begins the military airport and the access is blocked, but you can walk for miles to the east towards Chania, with a long strip of beach that ends into the city, 15 km away. The beach of Maleme is also known for the sea turtles that spawn every few years.
The other sights of Maleme can be found to the west, just outside the village and south of the airport. There you can find the German cemetery, dating from World War II when thousands of German soldiers that parachuted to occupy the airport were killed. Near the cemetery, there is also the Vaulted Tomb of Maleme, an ancient site that impresses with its size, although already looted when discovered and then damaged during the war bombings. The area is surrounded by enchanting olive groves that provide shade during the hot summer days. Just a few km to the west of Maleme, you can find the vibrant village of Platanias, with a lot of resorts, restaurants, shops and even nightlife.
Visit the City of Chania
The picturesque town of Chania is the capital of Western Crete and features some amazing sights that are definitely worth a day trip. The old historical buildings with beautiful architecture, the atmospheric old Venetian port with its promenade, the fascinating maritime and archaeological museums, the splendid Venetian sea walls and lighthouse and many other sights make Chania truly breathtaking.
Apart from these, Chania is also an excellent destination for shopping and dining opportunities. Further afield into the nearby peninsula, you can find several old monasteries, including the impressive Triada Tzagaroli Byzantine Monastery.
Discover the sights of Kolymvari
Just 8 km to the west of Maleme along the coast, you can visit the splendid village of Kolymvari, offering several fascinating attractions, apart from the beautiful beach located at the foot of the rocky Rodopou Peninsula.
First, there are two amazing museums in the village that you should find extremely insightful, including the Fisheries Museum celebrating the tradition and heritage of fishing in the area, as well as the Museum of Cretan Wild Plants with thousands of interesting wild plants from the island. There are also impressive churches and monasteries in Kolymvari, including the Monastery of Odigitria Gonia (Lady of Angels), founded during the 17th century and featuring strong walls that resemble a Venetian fortress and other buildings, including a museum that holds old and valuable icons.
From this newer monastery, you can climb uphill to visit the older Saint George Monastery, dating from the 14th century and still preserving impressive frescoes.
Visit the Vouves Ancient Olive Tree and Museum
Just 10 km to the southwest of Maleme, you can visit the small village of Vouves, a place that still preserves its authentic charm and is surrounded by charming olive groves. South of the village, you can visit the Ancient Olive Tree, declared a natural monument and one of the oldest olive trees in the world.
A branch was used to crown the winner of the marathon race at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. Next to the ancient tree, you can also visit the Olive Museum, with interesting exhibits that provide insight into the cultivation of olives and its long history on these lands.
Discover the Beaches Nearby
There are superb beaches to the west and the east of Maleme Beach, mostly with small fine pebbles and sand. Many of these beaches are perfectly equipped, while some are still wild and unorganized, offering a more authentic experience. While they do tend to get quite crowded during the peak season, you will certainly find a free area. Among the most popular and beautiful beaches of the Chania Gulf, you can visit the Gerani, Platanias, Agia Marina, Kato Stalos, Nea Chora, Rapaniana or Kolymvari.
Where to Stay in Maleme, Crete
All along the coast of Chania Gulf, including the village of Maleme, there are countless accommodation options, including large exquisite resorts with swimming pools, as well as small family run villas and apartments, perfect for more private holidays. In Maleme you will find excellent hotels and guesthouses right next to the beach, although you should book in advance as the area tends to get overbooked during summer.
Creta Princess Aqua Park & Spa 4*
Located at the western edge of the beautiful Maleme Beach, this exclusive resort features exceptional accommodation in spacious modern rooms, 4 outdoor swimming pools, an aqua park, several restaurants and bars, as well as a wellness center.
☏ +30 28210 62702
Maleme Mare Beachside Hotel
Located right on the beach of Maleme, this excellent hotel perfectly blends affordable luxury with a laid-back atmosphere, offering excellent fully-equipped rooms, two swimming pools and a delightful restaurant.
☏ +30 2821 062121
Located right on the main road in the village of Maleme, this accommodation is just minutes from the beach, offering affordable apartments that feature private bathrooms and balconies, as well as a swimming pool.
☏ +30 698 006 5657
Where to Eat in Maleme
Maleme Bar and Restaurant
Located right in the center of the Maleme Beach, this enchanting restaurant has tables right on the beach and offers delicious Greek and international dishes, including fresh fish and seafood.
☏ +30 2821 029770
The Wave Restaurant
Located right on the beach of Maleme, this extremely well appreciated restaurant features incredible hospitality and delightful dishes inspired from traditional Cretan cuisine, but also Mediterranean recipes.
☏ +30 2821 062555
The Black Lantern Tavern
Situated in the heart of the Maleme Village, just a few steps from the beach, this traditional tavern features an authentic atmosphere and offers an extensive menu that include favorite Greek dishes, including meat and fish specialties.
☏ +30 697 572 8345
Best Time to Visit Maleme
The northern coast of Crete has sunshine for most of the year, maybe except several months of winter when it is too cold for most travel activities. During the summer, it can get quite hot in all of Crete, especially during the midday hours. Considering the crowded beaches during the summer months, the best time to visit Maleme are probably April to June and September to October.