How to Get from Heraklion to Matala, Crete (and from Matala to Heraklion) without Getting Lost!

How to Get from Heraklion to Matala

Matala is a famous Cretan village located on the southern coast of Heraklion, on the island of Crete. The trip there is about one hour long and it’s an easy road to make on your own, driving a rental car.

If you’re planning to spend a day (or more) checking the hippie village of Matala, the beach caves, and the nearby naturist Red Beach, then this guide will be of great help to get from Heraklion to Matala without getting lost!

Posts include affiliate links to products or services. I might earn a commission if you make a purchase.

How to Get from Heraklion to Matala Beach in Crete

How to Get from Heraklion to Matala

>> Join our Facebook Group!

Be sure to book ahead of time to ensure availability!

🛎️ Find the best hotels in Crete here

📍 Top tours I recommend on the island:
Boat cruise to Balos Lagoon & Gramvousa
Ticket to Knossos Archaeological Site

🚘 The best way to get around Crete is by car. Check rental car rates for Crete here.

📲 Book a consultation call if you need help planning your trip to Crete!

Many people visiting Crete decide to discover the legendary Matala Beach in the region of Heraklion.

It doesn’t matter if you arrive at Heraklion port or airport. It’s pretty simple to get to Matala from Heraklion with any means of transport you choose.

Matala Caves

You can get there by car (my favorite option) but also by bus, taxi, or private transfer.

While Heraklion is located on the north coast of Crete, Matala is on the opposite side of the island, facing the southern Lybian Sea. Yet, the trip is relatively easy, no matter what travel method you choose.

Let’s see how to get from Heraklion to Matala and all your transport options.

You can visit Matala on this day trip departing from Heraklion.

Arriving at Heraklion

Heraklion’s airport is Nikos Kazantzakis International Airport. It’s about 6 km (less than 10 minutes) from the city center.

If you arrive by boat, instead, you will be reaching the Port of Heraklion, which is no more than 5 minutes from the center of town. 

Some tourists plan to spend some days in the capital since there’s much to see. You can check museums, taste local dishes in some of the best restaurants, discover the imposing Knossos Palace, and more…

Others, decide to make their way to the south as soon as they arrive, and Matala can be a great place to stay if you also want to explore the southern beaches in Heraklion or the Archaeological Site of Phaistos.

No matter what you decide to do or how you prefer to travel, this is the road you need to take to get from Heraklion to Matala (and from Matala to Heraklion on your way back to the capital).

As usual, the length of the trip will mostly depend on how you decide to get there, and how many stops you will make on the road. These are your options…

Are You Ready to Drive on Crete?
Consider the Following…

How to Get from Heraklion to Matala
(Countryside Road – Heraklion).

It’s possible to get to Matala from Heraklion with the local bus or with a private car (either by taxi or driving your rental vehicle), it all depends on how you like to travel, how comfortable you feel when traveling roads you are not familiar with, and how much money you can spend on transport.

You can travel from Heraklion to Matala by taxi, but this is the most expensive way to get there.

You might argue that renting a car can also be expensive, but if you consider all the places you can go at your own pace and timing, it is instead very convenient.

Personally, I believe that renting a car is always a winning idea if you’re interested in visiting places that are hard to reach.

You will not be attached to any inconvenient bus schedule and it’s the best way to make unexpected stops and discover places that you would otherwise miss.

Which car rental service is the best to choose? If you want to rent a car for your trip, consider Discover Cars, a worldwide car rental booking service.

When you plan your trip and itinerary remember that traveling by bus is easy on the north coast of the island while getting to popular places in the south, in our case Matala, things can get more complicated.

Since many small villages lack regular or frequent bus connections, some points that you want to visit can be hard to reach Unless you have an unlimited budget to travel by taxi, which is not common.

Hotel City Life is an ideal place to spend the night near Heraklion Bus Station.

If you’re ready to travel by bus, I can only recommend you travel light, plan your schedules, and allow some extra time for unforeseen situations, like extra traffic (or a herd of goats in the middle of the road!), a driver missing a stop or any other situation that could come up.

And always plan wisely, and keep these tips always in mind to enjoy a worry-free trip around Crete.

If traveling by bus, always check this website for further accurate and updated information, schedules tend to change without previous notice quite often!

How to Get from Heraklion to Matala by Bus


Probably the most convenient way to get to Matala from Heraklion is to travel by bus. The bus departs from Heraklion’s Central Bus A (New building – Efesou Street) with these schedules.

Remember that Heraklion’s new station is just a few meters from the port.

Reach Heraklion Bust Station: If you take the bus to the center from Heraklion’s Airport, it will drop you off right behind the station.

It’s a frequent, convenient service (the bus has ample space for luggage), and the ticket is under €2. Once there, head to Heraklion’s Bus Station ticket office to purchase your ticket to Matala.

It’s always wise to get to the station at least half an hour before the departure, and if you can buy the ticket a day in advance, even better!

There are two daily buses covering the Heraklion-Matala route, and hours can change depending on the day of the week you’re traveling.

Buses from Heraklion to Matala depart:

  • From Monday to Friday: 7:30 – 13:00
  • Saturdays: 7:30 – 11:30
  • Sundays: No service.

A ticket Heraklion-Matala is €6 – €9 and the journey takes 2h 27m

As you can see, you will need to travel by the Heraklion-Moires bus if you travel on Sunday, because there’s no direct bus to Matala on that day of the week.

During weekdays, the first bus from Heraklion to Matala leaves at 7.30 am and the second bus departs at 1 pm.

According to the official website, the trip is 2.30 hours but the travel time can be longer with heavy traffic (especially in summer). Once in Moires, you can grab a taxi or wait for the local bus. Here are more details about bus travel in Crete.

When in Matala, you can also visit the gorgeous Red Beach.

Getting from Moires to Matala by Bus

How to Get from Heraklion to Matala

If you were not able to catch the direct bus from Heraklion to Matala, then get the local bus to Moires and once there, change to another bus bound for Matala.

You can also use this service to visit the Archaeological Site of Faistos, which is on the way to Matala.

Buses from Heraklion to Moires depart:

  • From Monday to Friday: 6:30 – 7:30 – 11:30 – 13:00 – 15:45 – 19:30
  • Saturdays: 7:30 – 11:30 – 15:45 – 19:30
  • Sundays: 7:30 – 11:30 – 14:00 – 19:30

When you get to Moires, get off the bus and wait for the bus to Matala, you will need to reach the small KTEL ticket office (do not expect an actual station!) a few steps from the bus stop. You might need to purchase a ticket or not, depending on what ticket you got back in Heraklion.

If you plan to make a stop and visit the Archaeological Site of Phaistos, do let the driver know as soon as you get on the bus! The ride is about 15 minutes to Faistos (Phaistos). To get to Matala is at least 15 more minutes.

Matala - Festos Map, Crete island
Matala – Faistos map. © 2023 Google Maps.

Remember: Always keep your ticket with you during the whole trip since ticket controls on the bus are common and frequent during the trip.

The bus makes a few stops along the way, during the stop, you’re not allowed to leave the bus for long (always ask the driver first if you need to get off the bus). 

Traveling with a pet: Traveling by bus with your pet, according to the official website of the bus company, the itineraries on which two escort animals are accepted within the passengers’ area are the ones departing at 5:30, 09:30, 11:30, 14:30, 17:30, and 21:30.

beach, sea, caves, Matala, Crete
Matala Beach at Sunset

Luggage restrictions: Passenger luggage must be placed in the luggage compartment of the bus. Each passenger can carry 2 pieces of luggage for free.

There is an extra charge for every extra piece of luggage. Small pieces (hand luggage, backpacks, etc.) can be taken on the bus but must be placed in the special luggage racks inside the bus.

WiFi: All buses offer a free Wi-Fi network service, powered by external GSM antennas and advanced free Wi-Fi routers. There is free Wi-Fi access inside the bus stations as well.

Discounts: Discounted rates are available for students, families with more than 3 children get a 50% discount on all routes. People with disabilities have the same discount. Infants until 6 years old travel free of charge. Credit cards and debit cards are accepted to pay for all tickets.

Refunds: If you pay a ticket and you don’t travel, the company gives the passenger a 70% refund of the ticket price or a refund of 50% in case of a cancellation within 8 hours before departure time.

More info: Information for passengers is available daily from early morning to late at night on the phone at 2810-246530. You can also call to learn about the timetable by calling this number 2810-245020 with an answering machine 24 hours a day.

Bus schedules are published on this website

How to Get from Heraklion to Matala by Taxi

How to Get from Heraklion to Matala

It’s also possible to reach Matala from Heraklion by taxi. You can take a taxi at the airport of Heraklion or the Port of Heraklion as well as in the center of town, for instance, Plateia Eleftherias (Liberty Square) is a good place to catch a taxi.

The 60-km trip can take about 1 hour (always depending on the traffic and the season), and the ride can cost anything from €80 to €100. And about €150 to €180 for a round trip.

It is always advisable to discuss and agree on the price with the driver before accepting the fee.

Taxis are an excellent way to get to Matala when your flight arrives in Heraklion late at night and there’s no bus available.

Taxis can also prove convenient if you are sharing the cost with other travelers. Remember that most taxi drivers usually charge an extra fee for night rides.

How to Travel from Heraklion to Matala with a
Private Pre-Booked Transfer


Private transfers can be booked in advance and can help you save some money when compared to taxis.

Since you will normally be able to discuss and agree on the price before the trip, you are more likely to get a better offer, and you can do so (online) even before getting on the island. 

You can agree on a meeting point or have a driver waiting for you at any hour and at any point, you decide that you can have them pick you up at your hotel too.

This is also great if you have a lot of luggage; if you travel with kids or with a big group of friends.

Since everything will be arranged before the trip, you won’t need to bargain for the price.

Prices usually start from €80 but can be a bit more expensive depending on the transfer company and how many people are sharing the ride.

Please check before hiring the service since the number of passengers inside a car might vary this season due to pandemic restrictions.

This transfer service is a good way to save money for groups of up to 5 travelers. It’s always a good idea to also book the return trip beforehand.

How to Get from Heraklion to Matala by Car

How to Get from Heraklion to Matala
(Click on the link to open the interactive map by Google Maps – Copyright Google 2023 Maps).

Hiring a car and driving yourself is probably the easiest way to get from Heraklion to Matala. Driving gives great opportunities to discover the island. It also gives you the flexibility to stop anywhere on the road.

If you’re doubtful about driving in Crete, check out this helpful guide about car rental and driving in Crete. Don’t forget to bookmark it before your trip.

Driving from Heraklion to Matala is fairly simple, the road is quite ok, to be honest. You will be driving west along the National Road just for a little while, and then straight south.

The road is safe and straightforward, and there’s no real risk of getting lost.

To reach Matala from Heraklion you need to take the road that takes you to the opposite side of the island. The ride is about 66 km.

So, if you depart from the center of Heraklion, you must head to the west to Gazi, and once there, take the national road Heraklio-Faistos (also written as Festos and as Phaistos on the road signs).

The journey is pretty straight for the first 20 minutes or so until you reach the village of Agia Varvara. Once there, keep going for about 15 minutes until you get to Moires (sometimes spelled Mires).

As with the bus, here you can decide to stop and pay a visit to the Archaeological Site of Phaistos. If that’s what you want, stay on the road and follow the signs to the site.

Instead, if you want to go straight to Matala, once in Moires, turn left and take the road Miron – Pompias / Koraka.

After no more than 5 minutes of driving along the Gortinas – Matalon road, turn right and follow the signs. The path goes straight to Matala Beach. 

When planning a road trip to Matala, car rental is one of the first things to consider.

Use a powerful search engine that can compare different companies and get you the best price.

About fuel: In several areas, gas stations close at 7 pm, however, you will be able to find other petrol stations open until later, especially if they are on the highway. Don’t be shy and ask the locals for further information, they’re always happy to help.

Some petrol stations accept credit cards, that being said, do have some cash with you at all times. 

There’s no self-service option in Crete, they will fill your vehicle and you will pay either the employee or inside the shop.

Remember: It’s not possible to buy petrol with a credit card if the gas station is already closed.

Experts say that…

Lead-free petrol can be found everywhere. 
Regular unleaded petrol has an octane rating of 91 or 92 while the octane rating of super is 96 or 98. 
Unleaded super petrol has an octane rating of 95.

🏖️ Please, help us protect the beaches in Crete. Respect the environment and don’t leave any trash behind.

How are you planning to get from Heraklion to Matala this season?

Read more about Crete

>> Join our Facebook Group!

More resources to enhance your Crete adventure

Start by checking out my ultimate guide to planning your trip to Crete, packed with helpful essential information. Explore the articles on prices in Crete, common mistakes to avoid, and insider secrets for an unforgettable experience.

Use this comprehensive Crete packing list to ensure you have everything you need. Explore the best places to visit on Crete Island, discover my tours and activities, be amazed at Crete’s incredible beaches, and check out the best times to experience its beauty.

If you are exploring specific areas like Heraklion or Rethymnon, I’ve got detailed guides to help you make the most of your time.

Suggested accommodation in Heraklion

No time to read all my accommodation guides? Check out these hotels in the city:

More useful travel resources

  • Check out all the digital travel guides I’ve specifically written about Crete. They are affordable and practical to check from your mobile.
  • Find convenient ferry tickets with Ferryhopper.
  • Welcome Pickups offers a convenient pre-paid airport transfer service, while Discover Cars is the engine I use to find a rental car on the island.
  • To book adventures, tours, and cultural experiences, I recommend Get Your Guide.

This Belongs to a Board! Pin This Guide to Remember How to Get from Heraklion to Matala For Your Trip!

How to Get from Heraklion to Matala

About me:

Gabi Ancarola | The Tiny Book

Gabi Ancarola

I have lived in Chania, Crete, since 2016. As a local, I have an intimate knowledge of the Crete. I host culinary and concierge tours and experiences in Crete and write about the island for several travel media. During the last five years, I have helped many travelers plan the perfect holiday in Crete. I co-authored DK Eyewitness Top 10 Crete and had more glasses of frappe than any regular person could ever handle.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *