A coastal resort on the northern coast of Crete, Malia has become hugely popular in recent years, yet at its heart still remains the charming little village it once was.

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The secret of its success is that it the old town is peaceful and traditional enough to appeal to the more mature traveller, whereas the vibrant, newer areas near the shore have plenty to offer the party-oriented younger generation. Here are five of the best things to do in Malia.

Bronze Age ruins

The fascinating remains of the third most important Minoan site of the Prefecture can be found just outside of Malia, some dating back to 1900 B.C. The palace was discovered by a Greek architect in 1915, but the town which surrounds it was only relatively recently discovered and excavations are continuing, so there is the opportunity to visit a live archaeological dig site and wander amid the ancient workshops and residences.

Partying and clubbing

In Malia, Crete has its very own party capital, with a great array of bars, pubs, clubs and fast food outlets lining the strip. There are plenty to choose from, but some are especially worthy of mention. The Candy Club has two bars and two stages and a brilliant light show. Brits Bar lines up the top DJs and is always heaving. On a themed note, the Reflex 80s bar has a huge collection of 80s memorabilia on the walls, and the Flares 70s bar serves special cocktails from the era that taste forgot.

Hotel Sunset

Hiking

Malia stands at the foot of the 1599 metre high Mount Selena. Beyond the olive groves growing at its base, the mountain offers a distinctly off the beaten track experience as there are not many hiking paths. However, the ones there are lead to some spectacular views across the countryside and the Cretan Sea.

Water parks

Ideal for cooling down on a family holiday, Malia offers three water parks in the vicinity. Just 10 minutes walk from the town is the small Malia Slides. This free admission park offers slide pools and tubes, plus a pool bar serving snacks. A little further afield are Aqua Splash and Star Beach, which have white knuckle slides and river rides.

Old Town

By the lovely old church of Agios Nektarios can be found the picturesque older part of Malia. Here winding streets are lined by bougainvillea-decked houses, coffee shops and small traditional taverns ring with the sounds of live Greek folk music. This friendly and welcoming quarter is where the traveller can connect with the true heart of old Crete.

Images by Simon L Kozhin and Sergey Stoma, used under Creative Comms license

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