4 days in crete, greece

Where to even start about this magical place. It's one of the most beautiful places I've ever been. Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek Islands and the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. It's actually about the size of Florida, to give you some perspective. Joe (@pistolpeters) and I traveled to Greece in May of 2014 with our favorite travel buddies, my cousin Lisa (@lisaaann1) and her boyfriend Brian (@brianklee). If you want to see more photos from our trip to Athens, Santorini, Crete and Berlin, you can check out our hashtag: #JMBLadventures.

* Download this city guide (with GPS maps) on your smartphone here to have it handy for your trip! *

We went to three spots within Greece while we were there -- Athens, Santorini and Crete. Athens is great for the history and Santorini is the most picturesque place you can ever dream up, but Crete was one of those places that just had it all. For that reason, we all were able to agree that it was our favorite of the islands and didn't have the chance to spend enough time there. I'd love to go back some day! We took a ferry at sunset to Crete from Santorini, which took about 2 hours. We arrived at the perfect time for this amazing view below.

Crete has everything you would want to do on an island vacation. It has gorgeous beaches, ancient civilazation to explore, and amazing food and culture, but also has beautiful mountains, and steep gorges if you want to hike. A popular hike that Lisa and Brian did one day is the Samaria Gorge.

There are two main areas that people typically visit, which are about an hour and a half apart: Chania and Heraklion. You can find the cutest villas to stay in both Chania and Heraklion on Cretico (click the links to the cities to see for yourself!), one of my favorite travel sites for Crete. We decided to stay in Chania and rented a car to get around the island. You can check out Rental Center Crete to get you sorted with a rental, because you'll definitely need to do some driving to get to the best spots! This post is entirely focused on Chania since we stayed there all 4 days of the trip to Crete. As you can see in the picture above, the water is blue as can be and the central town of Chania looks similar to Venice, Italy as it was initially conquered by the Venetians in 1205. With it's bright colored buildings and blue waters, Chania truly has one of the most picturesque views. It has both a "new" and "old city." The Old City is built around the Venetian Port, which is pictured above and below. The New City is not as noteworthy of a place for tourism, but you can check out more information here.

Crete is a food-lovers paradise. Most of the restaurants sit on the water looking at the view above. I highly recommend eating in the Venetian port, as all of the food is extremely fresh and delicious. Greece has the best tomatoes and freshest fish I've ever had in my life. The prices are very reasonable too -- not to mention every restaurant gives you complimentary ouzo or rocky (both greek liqours) and often dessert after dinner. The wait staff was always so friendly too. Crete had one of the most warm and welcoming cultures I've experienced. Everyone was more than willing to go far out of their way to help you find something or give you advice.