The Bella Elena residence is in the centre of Malia. A seaside resort with magnificent beaches and a charming little village, with night clubs, bars, tavernas and water sports, as well as the archaeological site of the Palace of Malia (one several Minoan palaces in Crete with a central courtyard, royal apartments, storage rooms and staterooms).
Worth seeing in and around Malia: the best beaches are Sfinari (west), Falassarna (north-west), Balos Beach on the Gramvousa peninsula (north-west), Elafonissi (south-west), Vai (north-east) and Red Beach to the south in Matala.
Worth seeing in the surrounding area:
- Heraklion, the capital: the town is encircled by Venetian ramparts, an ideal place for a walk and with a view that's well worth seeing.
Places to visit: the Venetian fort on the port provides a wonderful view over the bay; the archaeological museum offers a chance to explore the Minoan civilisation and Crete through the ages; the museum of icons and sacred objects is housed in a Byzantine church, and includes in particular the works of Damaskinos, who was the teacher of the great Cretan artist, El Greco. El Greco Park is a peaceful spot, and just a step or two away you'll find the Morosini fountain in a picturesque neighbourhood, and lastly, the Agios Minas Cathedral.
Finally, there are plenty of bars and restaurants where you can relax and enjoy the Cretan nightlife... as well as the main market, where you will find local produce, arts and crafts.
- Knossos Palace: this is the biggest of the four Minoan palaces and above all a major archaeological site, bearing witness to the grandeur and refinement of the Minoan and Mycenaean civilisations.
- The village of Zaros with its lake nestling in the mountains (54 km): a guaranteed change of scene and an easy-going lifestyle are the hallmarks of this small town surrounded by the mountains, located in the Heraklion area. Zaros is perfect for hikers and fans of trekking. Lake Votomos is the perfect place to enjoy a stroll, while the little bars and tavernas will delight anyone wanting to embrace the gentle pace of life, with a chance to taste the delicious trout from the local fish farms.
Also well worth a visit: the monastery of Vrondissi and the Rouvas gorges.
- Phaistos Palace: the second biggest Minoan site on the island of Crete after Knossos.
- The archaeological site of Gortyn with its Roman ruins, where you can also see the remains of the Agios Titos church, and the "Gortyn Code" on family law, engraved on a wall.
- The town and old port of Hersonissos.
- Matala: in the 1960s and ‘70s, the village was a mecca for hippies, who found refuge in the caves and caverns (open to visits during the day), as well as by the coast and bay.