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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 good 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.
Whether you choose to stay inside the village or just outside it, there are many good quality accommodation options here.
Within the village is Cretan House Antonis - a lovingly renovated village home with all modern comforts and style, allowing the history to express itself in the home. This one bedroom home welcomes 4 guests with 2 double beds and 2 sofa beds. Perfect for self-catering, with a full kitchen and terrace.
Close to everything in the village, and to the sea.
"Magnificent traditional house with a large lemon yard in the middle, renovated with care and attention to detail. Extra comfortable mattresses, all clear in the house! The bathroom's big, even has a laundry, which makes the house ideal for long holidays. Also huge, separate kitchen, fully equipped."
Within the village is the restored manor house Oasis, 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.
"Lovely village vibe. Easy location for beach and mountain drives whilst being just off the major tourist route."
Just outside the village is Koronio Natural Stone House which is a beautifully constructed new home with traditional style, yet modern opulence and great views to the sea.
Choose 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.
Villa Lemoni - This detached villa is surrounded by countryside, sleeps 6 guests with a pool and plenty of space, and views to the mountains. Relax on the private terrace, patios and balcony. Set on the edge of the village, you will need a car to enjoy this location.
"Villa Lemoni radiates peace, care and comfort and that is exactly what you get. Beautiful swimming pool, dreamy view, wonderful beds, comfortable bathrooms, manicured garden and planting. The host leaves nothing to chance and ensures a relaxing and carefree stay. A gem and a place to return to."
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 you are driving from Heraklion, take the road south through the market town of Moires, then drive towards Tymbaki 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 you are driving from Chania, first drive to Rethymnon on the national road then turn south to the village of Spili. Keep driving south-east to Agia Galini and then to Tymbaki. Drive through Tymbaki 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.
Or take a 9.5 hour overnight ferry from Pireaus port of Athens to Heraklion port.
More on flights and ferries below.
Car hire in Crete is a really good idea as it is a large island 60 km by 260 km. There is so much to explore.
When you book with our car rental partners - Rental Centre Crete - you are supporting a local company with excellent service and an easy online booking procedure. We are sure you will be well looked after by the team. Choose from hybrid or non-hybrid vehicles.
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