In the south of Crete in the Messara region is the village of Kamilari Καμηλάρι. It is 67 km from the island's capital, Heraklion.
The local people make the joke of it being the village on a camel's back. Indeed the name could come from the fact that it sits on several hills which give it beautiful views. You can look to the Libyan Sea on one side and the Psiloritis Mountain range (2456m) and Asterousia Mountain range on the other.
The first thing you notice about this village are the lovely gardens everywhere. The people here take pride in their village and it is great to walk around and discover this place of winding streets and typical architecture. Your first visit to Kamilari won't be your last.
Thank you to Mark Latter for the great photos of the village and surrounding areas.
There are nice restaurants and cafes and a great pizzeria in the village, as well as a traditional kafenion where the locals feel as comfortable as if they were in their own living room. After a hot day on the beach in summer, it is nice to sit and cool down in the evening in the plateia.
You can stay in the village or just outside it, there are many good quality accommodation options here.
Within the village is the newly-restored manor house Oasis (above), which sleeps 2-8 people, in beautiful comfortable surroundings and all the handy services of the village on your doorstep. The quality of the restoration, the private garden and the swimming pool make this a true secluded oasis.
Just outside the village is Koronio Natural Stone House which is a beautifully constructed new home (left) with traditional style, yet modern opulence and great views to the sea...
Choosa from three villas welcoming 5, 7 or 5 guests each, or perhaps take all three for your next family reunion.
Just 1 km from the beach and 4 km from Phaistos, these stylish villas are 1.5 km from the village. It is best to visit with a vehicle, to enable your exploration of this region and nearby beaches.
Looking around the region and the village you can only trip over significant history at every turn. Due to the fertile nature of the Messara Valley, this region has been inhabited for thousands of years. The earliest notation of this village in Venetian records dates from 1370. In the centre of the village is the old fountain dating from 1929.
In the village you will find the old olive factory now restored and housing a museum of local folk culture and history 'Fabrika' is a proud community cultural achievement celebrating the village and its roots.
Discover archaeological sites nearby like the famous Phaistos, the Roman ruins at Gortyna (above), and the sites at Agia Triada, Komos and the lesser known but equally important Minoan site at the Kamilari Tomb (pictured below).
The village is located just inland from the beach. This beach is perfect for families with cafes and fish restaurants by the sea. It is nice to leave the beach and head inland where up on the hills it is a little cooler in summer.
You can base yourself in this hospitable village and visit Kalamaki Beach, Sivas, Pitsidia, Komos Beach, Kokkinos Pirgos, Matala Beach and Red Beach. The town of Tymbaki is a short drive away.
Matala Crete is famous as the playground of hippies in the 60s, and its unusual rock formations creating a beautiful beach. The roman burial tombs became free accommodation for free spirits, an era which is celebrated at Matala annual music festivals on the beach.
Nearby is the Gorge of Agiofarago with its tiny cove beach. To walk to this beach along the gorge, drive from Kamilari to Sivas then to Odigitria Monastery, then take the road south on the dirt track. Do not take the road to the right to Vathi. Park at the end of the road. The walk is under an hour and this spectacular cove is your reward.
If driving from Heraklion, take the road south through the market town of Mires, then drive towards Timbaki for 10 km. Here you will see the turn off to the left marked 'Kamilari', drive a further 5 km and you will find the village. Total drive is 67 km.
If driving from Chania, first drive to Rethymnon on the national road then turn south to Spili. Keep driving south-east to Agia Galini and then to Tymbaki. Drive through Timbaki for 1.7 km, and past the airport until, you see the Nissan car dealership on your left and then turn right to Kamilari. Drive a further 7 km to the village. For this route you could consider an overnight stay at Aoritis Villas near Spili. Total drive around 130 km.