Malia is located 37 kilometers east of Heraklion, on the way to Agios Nikolaos. The main road seems to divide the town in two, the old Malia at the foothill of Mount Selena and the newer part towards the shoreline.
Malia is an unusual small town, unlike any other in Crete. It used to be known for its delicious potatoes. But times changed, the tourists started coming to Crete and the potato fields of Malia were replaced by hotels large and small, tavernas and bars.
Tourism eventually created a town with two different faces, like the famous split personality described by Robert Louis Stevenson in 1886:
- On the one hand is Dr Jekyll, the old Malia with its narrow streets, houses with bougainvilleas and little tavernas with live Greek music.
- On the other is Mr Hyde, the coastal resort with its bars, nightclubs and frenzied nightlife of young tourists from 11 at night into the early hours.