The central part of Crete hosts the most fertile planes on the island, with vast olive groves and vineyards, watered by the massifs of Psiloritis and Dikti. This fertile land was the main growth driver for the development of the greatest cities since the ancient times and still feeds the main population of the island. If you stay in Heraklion or Rethymnon area, consider visiting the following places.
The archaeological site of Gortys (or Gortyna) is located 45km south of Heraklion, near the village of Agii Deka and next to the road connecting Agii Deka with Mires. The town covered a large area along the river Mitropolianos (or Litheos) with vast olive groves.
Ancient Eleftherna is located 25km southeast of Rethymno, close to the Monastery of Arkadi. The town is the most important archaeological site in the prefecture of Rethymno, which has not fully been excavated and it is expected to give archaeologists many more discoveries. The first organized excavations here started in 1985 by the University of Crete.
Phaestus (Phestos or Festos) was a Minoan city on Crete, the ruins of which are located 55km south of Heraklion. The city was already inhabited since 6000BC and prospered concurrently with the city of Knossos, till the 1st century BC.