There are many hotels, rooms for rent and guest houses both in the village and a little farther into the valley.
The picturesque local taverns on the beach of Mátala (GR: Μάταλα) are ideal for romantic and carefree nights. Enjoy the local wine and snaps (raki) with a traditional meal or fresh fish from the Libyan sea.
There are also music bars and cafés around the beach front.
The local market with its bazaar atmosphere is also very interesting and has something for everyone to buy, from local produce to various artifacts - like olive wood curved items and official museum reproductions.
There is a post office, card/coin telephone, ATMs, book store, bakery and super - market.
Regular public bus service links Matala with Timbaki, Moires and Iraklion.
Taxi service is also available.
Matala was the port of Phaistos during the Minoan period, following the destruction of Kommos, and the port of Gortys during the Roman period when Gortys was proclaimed capital of Crete by the Romans. The Gortynians occupied Matala at 220 B.C.
Ruins of the ancient city are still visible on the sea bed as the ancient city was sunk in the sea. The archaeological pick has unearthed some traces of the palaces built by the nobles from the ancient cities of Phaistos and Gortys.
There is also a cave known as "Brutospeliana" and legend has it that it was frequented by the Roman general Brutus.
Owing to its exceptional natural beauty, Matala became the meeting place of the "Flower Children" in 1.968. Although their conference failed to realize, yet they were compensated by the incomparable beauty of the area, which so much contrasts with the concept of destruction and war.
Video by Julian Davies, about Joni Mitchell's Matala
The wind is in from Africa
Last night I couldn't sleep
Oh, you know it sure is hard to leave here Carey
But it's really not my home
My fingernails are filthy, I got beach tar on my feet
And I miss my clean white linen and my fancy French cologne
Oh Carey get out your cane
And I'll put on some silver
Oh you're a mean old Daddy
But I like you fine...
The magnificent inlet of Matala features one of the best beaches in Crete.
The artificial caves, carved into the north face of the coast, have been probably used as prehistoric dwellings and places of worship, while during the 1st-2nd century were used as tombs.
These caves, in combination with the sandy beach, form a semicircle on both sides of which jut up towering rocks; they act as a magnet for many people. During the 60's the caves were hosting a hippie commune
. Today, the tomb-caves of Matala are protected by the Archaeological Service.
There is also a hewn-in-the-rock church dedicated to the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary. It is more like a catacomb and was used by the early-Christians during the years of persecutions.
South of Matala there is a huge rock formation known as the rock of "Theosyni" that offers a panoramic view of the Messara Bay. The rock rises from the sea while at sea level it caves in deep to form a natural marine cave, named "Kouroupi". This cave provides shelter to wild pigeons and to the Mediterranean seal.
The beauty of the coast continues south of "Kouroupi", where following a path along the rock, you reach the enchanting "red sand" beach, a place for those who are young and daring. The spectacular red sand beach is known as "Ammoudia". To get there take the sandy trail from "Kouroupi" that leads south. This location is ideal for camping.