at 12.9km (NE) from Vreli (Agios Antonios) village
Agia Varvára (GR: Αγία Βαρβάρα) is a town built along the road between the Messara plain and the Malevizi region at the highest point (580 m). The town enjoys a unique location with a splendid view into the Malevizi region, and a cool climate, particularly pleasant during the hot summer months. It produces first-rate fruit and vegetables. Because of its strategic location on the main north-south axis, the town was often exposed to fierce battles. A famous warrior, Mathiou Kapitakis or Mathioudakis was born here: he fought side to side with Karaiskakis and was killed at Faliro. His comrade-in-arms, Logios, was the hero of Aghios Thomas. As you reach the village, on the north side there is a rock with a chapel dedicated to Profitis Ilias. On this rock -which used to be twice as large but part of it fell off at the beginning of the 19th century- there used to be an ancient temple. Nowadays, the visitor can find every kind of commodity and facility on hand at the modern town of Aghia Varvara. In summer a special 'tsikoudia' feast, and in early spring a carnival feast are organized by the Cultural Association of the town. At the centre of the town, there are two churches - one old and one new - both dedicated to the patron saint, Aghia Varvara. Three Byzantine churches are also well worth a visit: Profitis Ilias, Aghios Giorgos and Aghios Ioannis, and of course the old monastery of Aghia Pelagia by the cemetery.
at 13.2km (SW) from Vreli (Agios Antonios) 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 13.5km (SW) from Vreli (Agios Antonios) 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 13.7km (W) from Vreli (Agios Antonios) village
Kokkinos Pirgos is a small coastal community, 2km away from Timbaki, with a fantastic beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in Crete, and a clear transparent sea. At Kokkinos Pirgos, there are docking facilities for sailing and fishing boats, hotels, restaurants, bars, etc. Kokkinos Pirgos (meaning red tower) , took its name by a castle that was there during the Middle Ages built from red clay earth.
at 13.7km (NE) from Vreli (Agios Antonios) village
Megali Vrissi (GR: Μεγάλη Βρύση) lies 32km south of Heraklion, at 620 m above sea level. In the Barozzi document of 1577, it is mentioned as forming part of the province of Monofatsi and, in the Archives of Megalo Kastro (Heraklion), it is quoted in 1583 as having 71 inhabitants; there is also a reference to the village in the Basilicata document of 1630. The Turkish census records it with 47 families in 1671, and in the Egyptian one in 1834, it figures with 27 families. In the censi of 1881 and 1900 it is mentioned as a municipality in its own right with, respectively, 240 inhabitants and 307 inhabitants. As of 1928, it becomes a commune and today it counts over 900 inhabitants. Saint Constantine is the patron saint of the village. The churches of Aghia Anna and of the Panagia Almiri are worth visiting. The Aeolian Park, one of the islands pioneering projects, has been installed in Megali Vrisi and produces electricity of 5MW.
at 13.7km (NE) from Vreli (Agios Antonios) village
Priniás (GR: Πρινιάς) is a small village located 35km southwest of Iraklion town and 4km from Agia Varvara, at a height of 610 m above sea level. The village of Prinias lies on the border of three regions: Malevizi, Kenouriou and Monofatsi, and is recorded as forming part of all three regions in the censi.
at 14.5km (NE) from Vreli (Agios Antonios) village
Prinos refuge at Prinos on Psiloritis mountain (Ida), is at 1100 metres. It can sleep 25 people, it has cooking facilities, two wood burning stoves for heating and a rainwater tank. Access is through the village of Ano Assites in Malevizi around 22km from Iraklion. From there a two kilometres of dirt road leads to a place called Melisses and then a one-and-a-half hour walk along a footpath signed with red marks, to the refuge. Prinos hut was built in 1962 and was renovated around 1992. It is run by the mountaineering club of Heraklion. The view from Prinos to the north and east is great.
at 15.1km (SW) from Vreli (Agios Antonios) village
Matala 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 15.5km (N) from Vreli (Agios Antonios) village
Located at the top (1750m) of Skinakas mountain of Idi (Ida) mounatin range, 60km from Heraklion. There are two telescopes and modern equipment and facilities both for research and educational activities in astronomy. It is a department of the University of Crete. Skinakas observatory offers a number of open days each year. This gives the opportunity to visitors to be introduced to the operation of the observatory, to get informed about the latest achievements in Astrophysics and to observe through the telescope. Open days for the year 2012: August 26 September 23
During the open days the Observatory facilities can be visited from 17:00 to 23:00. Due to low temperatures at the Skinakas altitude, warm clothes are highly recommended. The visitors will have the opportunity to be guided through the Observatory's infrastructure and follow a related presentation. The road to Skinakas Observatory is very narrow. Accident may occur and the space is limited on the top. For the reasons above, buses are not allowed (advised) to visit the Observatory during open days. Website : http://skinakas.physics.uoc.gr/
at 15.6km (SW) from Vreli (Agios Antonios) 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.