Off of the main road that winds along the southern coast, the small village of Agia Galini (meaning 'Saint Serenity') with a population of 1,000 people will be a lovely discovery for those who happen to come across it. Standing on a cliff 37 miles from Rethymnon and Heraklion, it is a very picturesque site with its white façades facing the sea. The village is not very touristy but there are a few cheap hotels with a nice view where you will be met with a warm welcome. Not to mention some restaurants standing in the pretty, shaded little alleys that can be reached via the steep steps found between the souvenir shops. The view from the top is magnificent. Known under the name of Soulia in the era of Antiquity, fishing is still practised in this port.
An absolute must-see: Daedalus' cavern. Follow the trail that winds around the foot of the hill and an opening in the rock will indicate that you have reached the entrance to the cave (which is closed by a door). This is where the architect Daedalus was locked up with his son Icarus by King Minos, for whom he created his inextricable labyrinth. The rest of the story is part of Greek mythology, which tells that in order to escape from the tower they were imprisoned in, Daedalus built artificial wings for him and his son but the wax could not resist the heat of the sun, which Icarus flew too close to, and melted, leaving Icarus to fall into the sea and drown. Two statues standing on the rocky point where they took flight pay tribute to this tragic event.
Agia Galini is a good starting point for discovering the region. The most interesting site for history buffs is undeniably Phaistos. In Antiquity, this city was the centre of southern Crete and the second largest Minoan site in Crete. This is where the famous disk of Phaistos was discovered, a piece of fired clay engraved with numerous symbols that archaeologists have still not been able to decipher. Along the way you can also stop at the site of Agia Triada, where tourists come to visit its small Minoan palace. Preveli Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches on the island and a welcome stopping point after visiting the monastery towering above the coast. Incidentally, as you head towards the sea, you can also visit the necropolises of Matala (the ancient port of Phaistos), cavities carved into the rock that served as vaults for the Romans until the hippies took them over in the 1960s. Today, visitors come here for the beach and the relatively preserved site.