at 0km (N) from Matala village
Matala (GR: Μάταλα) was the ancient port of Phaistos and Gortys and a former fishing community which has developed into a modern holiday center. It is located 4 km south-west of the village of Pitsidia and 75 km from Iraklion. It is built on the coast line of the Messara bay inside a small and picturesque inlet. During the 60's the caves of Matala were hosting a hippie commune.
at 0.7km (S) from Matala village
The Red beach is located around 700m south from Matala. It is a beautiful secluded beach with fine reddish sand originating from the rocks of the area. The name "Red Beach" is given by the visitors due to its reddish color while its original name is Ammoúdia (GR: Αμμούδια). The sea gets a lovely blue-green color, making the landscape really unique. The only way to access Red Beach is on foot or by boat from Matala. The walk from Matala takes about 20 minutes and it can't be considered as an easy one. Red Beach however can get pretty crowded in the high season. There is a small stone-wall canteen offering snacks and drinks and a few umbrellas and sun-beds. Nudism is tolerated at the two ends of the beach.
at 2.2km (N) from Matala village
One of the most beautiful sandy beaches of Crete, extends from a clump of rocks riveted in the shallow waters in the south to the Kalamaki settlement in the North. In Minoan times there used to be the ancient port of Phaistos. The antiquities lie just a few meters away from the sea.
at 3.7km (NE) from Matala village
The village of Pitsidia is located 65 km southwest of Iraklion at an altitude of 80 m a.s.l, just before the magnificent bay of Messara. The village with aproximately 700 inhabitants is the oldest village of the area and is refered (by S. Spanakis) that it was the place where the soldiers of Nikiforos Fokas, commander of the Byzantine army, settled. The army, famous for its bravery, came from Pisidia of the south Asia Minor, and this is probably the origin of the name Pitsidia.
at 4km (N) from Matala village
A small coastal village with a long sandy beach is becoming very popular with tourists due both its natural beauty and its proximity to Phaistos, Gortys and other important sites. There are quite few hotels, apartments etc and taverns, cafes by the beach.
at 4.9km (SE) from Matala village
The monastery of Odigitria is a monastery of great importance and historical value and one of the oldest in Crete. It is located at the west edge of the Asterousia mountains at an altitude of 250 m. The monastery was surrounded by walls, part of them still stands. The temple of the monastery is dedicated to the assumption of Holly-Mother and to the Saint Apostles (Peter & Paul). Inside the temple there are valuable frescoes, icons of famous painters and iconostasis. The monastery is connected with the legendary freedom fighter 'Ksopateras' (1788 - 1828) In the area of the monastery at Agioi Eftihianoi was found an ancient (Early Minoan) cemetery.
at 5.8km (NE) from Matala village
Kamilari is a quiet, traditional village, with a panoramic view to the endless olive groves of the Messara valley on the one side, and to the Libyan sea on the other side. It has been inhabited since the Minoan period. One of the seven wise men of the ancient world, Epimenidis, a great wise man and a soothsayer, lived in a small community outside Kamilari, called Metohi.
at 5.9km (NE) from Matala village
Its 1000 years history comes to life for the visitor, who has the chance to admire its monuments, and old houses, perfectly preserved through the centuries. In the village square , you can sit and enjoy your coffee in the traditional coffee shop, while children can play in the playground next to the school. You can also visit the church of Agios Ioannis in the same square. There are quite few rooms for rent in the village and tavernas serving traditional Cretan dishes.
at 7.7km (S) from Matala village
Agiofaraggo (GR: Αγιοφάραγγο the gorge of Saints) is a small gorge at the southern shores of Heraklion close to the village and the beach of Kaloi Limenes and 6 kilometers south of the Monastery of Odigitria.
at 8.2km (NE) from Matala village
The "Royal Villa" at Ayia Triada which is situated very close to Phaistos, was built in about 1550 BC. i.e. just before the new palace at Phaistos, and was destroyed by fire in l450 BC, like all other important Minoan centres. It succeeded the first palace at Phaistos as the economic and administrative centre of the regions depriving the new palace there of this role, and appears to have had connections with Knossos. The two wings, with an open-air space between them, consisted of groups of interconnecting rooms (polythyra), storerooms and stairways. On the site of the ruins, a Mycenaean megaron, the so-called "Agora" and an open - air shrine were subsequently built. In the villa's disaster layer from the fire in 1450 BC, excavation revealed a valuable group of exceptional works of art, precious materials, records in Minoan script and seals. The famous black serpentine vessels, the "Harvesters' Vase", the "Boxers' Vase" and the "Chieftain ‘ s Cup", the wall paintings depicting the natural landscape, the sarcophagus, the bronze and clay figurines of worshipers and the copper ingots from the Treasury are among the most noteworthy findings.