When pulling into the town of Matala Crete you may be shocked by how busy it is in comparison to the rest of the island. We certainly weren’t ready for it! Yet once you turn down onto Matala Beach and get your first glimpse of the hippie caves, you’ll see why it’s such a popular destination. The Matala Caves were one of the most interesting and beautiful things we saw in all of Greece. They also have a history that dates past Joni Mitchell and the hippies of the 1960’s. Let’s dive in!
Crete Travel Inspiration
- Planning a Trip to Greece: 10 Step Easy to Follow Travel Guide
- The Ultimate Greek Cyclades Island Hopping Itinerary
- 30 Fun Facts About Greece and its Incredible Ancient History
- Greek Island Ferries: The 12 Most Important Questions Answered!
- Crete Greece: The Ultimate Island Travel Guide
Getting to Matala Greece
Location: Far Right Side of Matala Beach (Crete, Greece)
Cost: 4 Euros
Hours: 8am- 3pm
Visit Time: 1 hour
History of the Matala Caves
Matala Crete is located in the Southern part of the Greek island and has a long history dating back to the Neolithic times. It is believed that the Matala Caves were originally used as tombs during Roman occupation over 2,000 years ago.
However, some of the caves show evidence of humans living there, with beds and makeshift windows carved into the walls. Whatever the case, Matala Greece was nothing but a small fishing village up until the last century.
→ Looking for more interesting history about Crete? Check out our guide on the famous Palace of Knossos.
The Hippie Era in Matala Greece
That was until… the hippies arrived! It’s unclear how the movement actually started, but the free love culture descended upon Matala Crete in the early 1960’s.
Hippie backpackers came from all over the globe to dwell in what was once a quiet Greek island town. Since places to live were scarce, the flower children took refuge in the caves above Matala Beach.
It must have been the clear blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea and starry moonlight sky that drew them in. It was truly a place where they could disconnect and express themselves without judgment from the outside world.
The hippie caves most famous resident was singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell who immortalized the Matala Caves with her 1971 song “Carey.”
According to Joni Mitchell, when they arrived in Matala Greece there was nothing more than two grocery stores and a bakery. Can you imagine being a local fisherman here as this is going on?
Going from never seeing a tourist before in your life to hundreds of hippies living in caves and taking over Matala Beach? Well, all good things must come to an end, and eventually the local church and military kicked them out of the hippie caves.
Matala Crete Today
These days if you’re going to see the Matala Caves you won’t be the only one with the same idea! There’s literally one road in and out of town, which makes it a bit overwhelming with all the tourists.
Nonetheless, the scenery is incredibly beautiful and the beach is worth a visit in itself.
The town still holds true to the hippie days of the 1960’s, with plenty of funky beach bars and restaurants overlooking the water.
You can enter the Matala Caves for 4 Euros, but sorry… No one is allowed to spend the night in them! Here you’ll be able to hike and explore, while also taking in the view of Matala Beach from above. Enjoy!
Want to share your own experience, or have any questions about the hippie caves of Matala Crete? Leave us a comment below!
Brigitte & Jake
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Where To Stay In Matala Greece
Ultra Luxury (High End) – Villa Dream – If you’re looking for ultra-luxury, then you’ll probably have to search in the surrounding towns to find it. However, this modern villa in the hills above the beach should have everything you need for your trip to the Matala Caves!
Fun Vacation (Mid Range) – Plazza – This old-style apartment features one of the only places with a view of the former hippie caves. It’s perfect for couples and anyone that wants to be close to Matala Beach.
Hostel Life (Budget) – Filia Rooms – Even with its backpacker spirit still alive, we didn’t find any hostels in Matala Crete. For this reason, we chose to stay at Filia Rooms as it was one of the cheapest options available. It ended up being nice, clean, and a reasonable 20 min walk from the beach.
For more places to stay in Matala Greece you can explore the latest prices here!
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Greece Travel Planning
When island hopping use FerriesinGreece to compare different routes, prices, and companies.
Rental Car: You can book a rental car for around $20 a day in Greece! We use Discover Cars to explore the larger islands with a vehicle.
Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without protection. We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years on the road and they are there when we need them.
Rhodes: Planning a Trip – Renting a Car – 1 Week Itinerary – 23 Things to Do – Old Town – Elli Beach – Kallithea Springs – Lindos Guide – Lindos Acropolis – Monolithos – Melenos Art Boutique Hotel – 11 Best Beaches – Anthony Quinn Bay
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