Here is your guide to the island of Zakynthos. We’ve covered all the things to do on Zakynthos Island, Greece – as well as what to eat and where to stay.
Zakynthos is an exotic island belonging to the Ionian cluster of Greek islands not far from Corfu. The island, also known as Zante, is a popular summer destination in Europe, receiving thousands of visitors from late May well into September.
The island is often counted among the most visited Greek destinations, with its unique turquoise waters and breathtaking beaches. You most certainly have seen a picture of Zakynthos best-known beach. Navagio (or Shipwreck) beach has been portrayed in endless travel books, Greek Islands guides, and travel websites, which often feature it as one of the most beautiful beaches in Greece.
But Zakynthos has many other stunning beaches other than Navagio, many of them with whitish superfine sand, deep blue waters, and exotic vegetation too. The island is also known for its wild nightlife that young tourists, mainly from the UK, but not exclusively, love.
The island features fantastic entertainment, great hotels, tasty food, and a unique coastline, all ingredients that often place Zakynthos among the top ten Greek Islands you should see at least once. This travel guide to Zakynthos can be your perfect companion to plan the most unforgettable summer holiday, so get ready and read on!
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How To Get To Zakynthos
Since the island is quite popular, it’s not as complex as you might think to get there.
How To Travel To Zakynthos By Plane
The island of Zakynthos has its airport (ZTH – International Airport Dionysios Solomos), which receives domestic flights from the capital of Greece, Athens, and from the nearby island of Kefalonia.
The airport is easy to reach, no more than 5 km from Zakynthos Town, but also quite close to other famous villages and coastal areas. Getting from and to the airport with a local taxi is both easy and quite convenient too.
Mainly during summer, the airport receives numerous charter and regular flights from several European countries. If you’re flying from Athens to Zakynthos, consider that your flying time will be from 35 to 45 minutes.
How To Travel To Zakynthos By Ferry
The most comfortable way to get to Zakynthos by ferry is to jump on a Greek ferry boat departing from the port of Killini, located on the western coast of the Peloponnese. The trip does not take more than an hour, and it’s the easiest way to reach Zakynthos from mainland Greece.
If you’re traveling from Kefalonia, another famous Greek Island in the Ionian, the trip lasts one hour and a half, with boats departing from the port of Pessada, with Schinari as your port of arrival.
Both ferry itineraries run daily, at least twice a day, from May to the beginning of October.
What To Do In Zakynthos
Looking at any postcard picture of Zante, you’ll see the famous Shipwreck and impossibly blue waters. It’s not hard to understand why Zante is considered beautiful, but there’s more to it than that.
Called Fiore di Levante (Flower of the East) by the Venetians who focused on Zante and centered their empire around it. From massive cliffs to plunging caves and incredible sunsets to the best food around, Zante is more than parties and hangovers; it’s about having the best of all the worlds.
The landscape on the island of Zakynthos can be divided into the hilly northern and western areas that contrast with the southern and eastern coasts, flat and home to the island’s best beaches.
On the north of Zakynthos, you’ll find imposing limestone cliffs, such as the famous Navagio Beach, which are better reached by boat. Below, we have gathered a few of the best things you can do and see in Zakynthos.
Spend A Day At The Beautiful Navagio (Shipwreck Cove) Beach
Located on the northeastern coast of Zakynthos, the Shipwreck Cove features a unique backdrop of white limestone cliffs that plummet into the deep turquoise sea.
On the sand, discover the remains of the MV Panagiotis, the shipwreck of a container ship dating back to the 80s.
Alternatively, board a cruise from Porto Vromi or Zakynthos Town and experience a half-day at this beach. It’s a good idea to book an excursion from Porto Vromi if you want to save some money.
Local Tip: If you want an incredible picture of the cove, you can go to the Navagio Beach Viewpoint. The beach is not accessible from this location on the cliffs above, but you’ll get fantastic views! You can drive or join a tourist bus but don’t expect to be here alone – to access the viewpoint, you’ll need to wait in line, especially during the high season.
Take Plenty Of Insta Snaps
It’s easy to assume that Zante is just beaches and hangovers, but it’s blindingly beautiful. There are so many spots where you can take amazing photos, including the village of Bokahli, which is just outside the main town. With cobbled, winding streets, this is the stuff of Insta dreams! Be sure to check out the amazing view of the Bay of Laganas from here too.
If you put on your walking shoes, you can venture further up into the hills and be rewarded with nature in a place you thought was all about parties.
See The Undersea World At The Marine Park
Suppose you’re a fan of snorkeling, diving, and marine life in general. In that case, it’s a great idea to explore the southwest, which hosts the Greek National Marine Park, one of Greece’s nesting areas for the loggerhead sea turtle, commonly known as Caretta Caretta.
This protected turtle species lay their eggs here, and the local authorities go a long way to ensure they’re not disturbed in the process. So, if you see one of these beauties, observe from a distance and count yourself amongst the lucky ones.
Many visitors choose to book turtle spotting tours. There are plenty to choose from! Among the most popular ones, go for a glass-bottom tour or take a fishing tour of Zakynthos. With any of these tours, you’ll be able to experience the incredible richness of Zakynthos’ seabed and perhaps spot a turtle or two while you’re out!
Track Down The Hidden Maravelia Cave
Also known as Hidden Treasure Cave, this beauty is only accessible by boat. Only small, private boat tours can get you inside as the cave opening is so small, and only one boat can go in at a time. Because of the limited options to reach the cave, this happens to be a bit of a hidden gem on the island.
Small boats will pass through a rock overhand to get you right up to the entrance of the cave, where you can step directly from the boat onto the stone. Large openings in the cave ceiling allow sunlight in, creating a beautiful backdrop for exploring.
Monastery Of Agios Georgios Krimnon
As you head over to the famous Navagio viewpoint, you’ll come across the Monastery of Agios Georgios Krimnon, which dates back to the 16th century. The monastery is still in working order, so make sure you allow the monks to go about their business and dress appropriately if you choose to go inside.
The monastery is free to visit, but don’t miss the path behind the monastery, which gives the most amazing views.
Many of Zakynthos’ beaches are pretty busy during the summer months, but this is a place you can head to and avoid the biggest crowds. The views from here are stunning, and the towering cliffs give a little welcome shade. While this isn’t the traditional type of beach you might be used to, it does have some space for putting down your towel and soaking up the sun.
Be careful as you venture down to the beach, as the path can be pretty steep and rocky. This isn’t the best beach for anyone with mobility problems or for families.
The sunsets on Zakynthos are epic, and this is another spot you can venture to and really enjoy the view. You’ll also get to check out some old, traditional windmills and take photographs of the famous staircase that winds down to the sea. There are a few sun-loungers and parasols for rent on the beach if you want to spend a few hours there.
Explore The Blue Caves Of Zakynthos
On the island’s northern coast, there’s a little port known as Skinari, from where you can board one of the boats that take you to the Blue Caves, a magnificent landmark that can only be accessed by sea.
The Blue Caves of Zakynthos are limestone sea coves and natural arches surrounded by deep blue waters that reflect their endless shades of blue in the white walls of the caves. The best part of visiting the caves is jumping off the boats to swim in the unique waters!
A tour will take you to explore the caves and the Shipwreck beach; therefore, it’s excellent value for money.
Local Tip: It’s forbidden & dangerous to try to swim out to the caves from shore, so a boat is absolutely crucial.
Visit The Strofades
You can quickly jump on a boat trip to the Strofades, a group of small islands around 37 miles from Zante. Here you’ll find old architecture and even a monastery from the 15th century with a tremendous amount of mystery and many ancient artifacts.
Check Out Myzithres Rocks & Zakynthos’ Lighthouse
Stunning, dramatic white rocks surrounded by beaches are found on the island’s southwest corner. If you want to spend time on the private beaches, boats will take you there. However, there are also incredible viewpoints to look at the rocks from above.
One such viewpoint is Zakynthos Lighthouse, also known as Keri Lighthouse. This unique landmark on the island is on the southern tip of Zakynthos, on top of a 300-meter cliff. When you visit, take some time to check out the restaurant nearby from which you can enjoy the fantastic sea views. The place is a very romantic spot, perfect at sunset too.
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Best Historical & Cultural Sites In Zakynthos
It’s a good idea to visit Anafonitria on the same day you explore Navagio Beach since they’re very close to each other.
This Byzantine building dates back to the 15th century, and the place is famous for being the residence of Saint Dionysios, Zakynthos’ patron saint.
The building features a gorgeous and well-kept flower and fruit garden and a stone defensive tower that was recently turned into a bell tower.
Monastery Of Agios Georgios Krimnon
This monastery is just 5 minutes from the Navagio Beach Viewpoint and is still a working monastery, home to monks who live and work there. The monastery was founded in 1535 and housed a famous library during medieval times. The books have since been moved to Venice.
Inside, you can watch the creation of mosaics and art, and if you like what you see, you can purchase these items too!
Don’t forget to walk along the path behind the building to get incredible views of the Ionian Sea.
Panagia Skopiotissa Monastery
Another religious building worth the visit is Panagia Skopiotissa, a monastery located on top of Mount Skopos in the southeast of Zakynthos.
You must climb a somewhat tortuous path to explore the monastery, but the scenery is worth the effort.
When visiting the church, don’t forget to look at the fantastic frescoes and the Virgin Mary icon from Constantinople.
Agios Dionysios Church
An interesting church you can visit is Agios Dionysios. The building dates back to the early 1700s and can be found at the port of Zakynthos Town. The church houses the relics of the saint. If you visit the island on August 24, saint day, you can explore his reliquary carried around the town.
Although an earthquake destroyed the church in 1893, the building was reconstructed in 1948. The church hosts impressive frescoes as well.
However, if you’re into religious art, pay a visit to our next stop… the Byzantine Museum.
Located on a beautiful mansion on Solomos Square, the Byzantine Museum exhibits Byzantine and post-Byzantine religious art from around the island. Among the things you can admire are frescoes, icons, carvings, paintings, vestments, crucifixes, and other liturgical objects dating from the 15th to the 17th centuries.
Best Beaches In Zakynthos
Discover The Beach Of Kalamaki
Located on the beautiful Laganas Bay, Kalamaki Beach is considered among Zakynthos’s loveliest shores and is also inside the marine national park.
Since the coastline is protected and not really developed, the place is not very crowded, and it’s ideal for a day of relaxation and quietness surrounded by pristine seas and golden sand. This beach is perfect for small kids learning to swim since it’s very calm and shallow.
This beach is a little less touristy than others on the island as no major amenities exist. However, there is a small canteen at the top of the hill to purchase drinks and snacks.
The beach is quite stunning, with bright white pebbles and turquoise waters. Picture perfect in every way! It’s a great spot to escape for a less crowded beach day.
Visit Marathonisi Island
The tiny islet of Marathonisi is also in the Bay of Laganas, on the island’s southern side. Known for being a hatching ground for the loggerhead sea turtle, people often call Marathonisi Turtle Island.
To visit Marathonisi and board a turtle-spotting cruise, you can depart from Laganas or Limni Keriou. It can be a fantastic day trip! After some time spent sailing and spotting turtles, you will also have some free time to spend on the clean beaches of Marathonisi. Since this is a protected area, the island is uninhabited.
Spend Some Time At Gerakas Beach
Another great beach you can visit in Zakynthos is Gerakas, the southernmost beach on Zakynthos, with amazing golden sand and pure turquoise waters. The most impressive part of the landscape is the huge sandy dunes behind the beach.
The shore, secluded and often disregarded by mass tourism, is known for being a favorite of naturists. But also loggerhead sea turtles have a weakness for this place where they come to mate and where their eggs hatch during summer.
Check Porto Liminonas
Probably one of the lesser-known places on the island, really wild and beautiful, is the cove of Porto Limnionas, which you can reach by driving through the mountain village of Agios Leon and, from there, going down to the sea.
You can park at the square and then follow the steps carved in the rock to discover the breathtaking beauty of a fiord with great waters. The area also has a tiny taverna and a small platform where you can sunbathe and spend a fantastic day admiring the stunning landscape.
Explore Keri Caves
Keri Caves can be explored on the same day you visit Marathonisi since the trip often includes visiting both spots. Most tours depart from the villages of Laganas, Limni Keriou, or Agios Sostis. In this impressive area, the white cliffs can reach up to 300 meters, and at their base are small sea caves and natural arches.
Most tours allow you to swim in the crystal clear sea and explore the caves. Don’t forget your snorkeling equipment; the underwater views are unforgettable!
Spend A Day At Banana Beach
Banana Beach is a huge and popular beach on Zakynthos that features soft golden sand and shallow transparent waters, making it a favorite among families.
The beach is in the Greek National Marine Park, but it’s still organized. Visitors can hire sun loungers or head to the water sports center to experience waterskiing or parasailing, among other sports!
Take A Dip In The Waters At Korakonissi
This beach is actually a series of tide pools nestled along a peninsula with a stone arch – it’s incredibly unique! One of the tide pools lies inside the rock cave under the arch, and the waters are some of the bluest hues you’ll ever see! The tide pools are all available for swimming; however, they aren’t great for young children.
Zakynthos With Kids
Enjoy A Visit To Askos Stone Park
Besides the spectacular visit to the marine reserve and turtle spotting, kids love to spend time at this original park. The attraction is in the northern area of the island, and it offers many things for guests: a zoo, a farm, an archaeological site, and a forest reserve too.
It gets its name from the stone structures that are found all over the area, including drystone walls, stone-built stables, and impressive cisterns cut from the cliffs.
Here, kids can feed deer, ponies, turtles, goats, pigs, and rabbits, while parents can chill at the orchards and olive groves.
Best Zakynthos Hotels
Downtown Zakynthos Hotels
Budget – Lofos Strani
Lofos Strani is a comfortable hotel set amidst lush gardens. It’s a family-run property with a swimming pool, a bar, and a sun terrace with sun loungers. Facilities also include a children’s pool and a children’s playground..
Mid-Range – Lodge Luxury Apartments
Lodge Luxury Apartments are in Zakynthos Town near Kalamaki Beach. All units here are air-conditioned and feature a flat-screen TV, a living room with a sofa, a well-equipped kitchen, and a private bathroom..
Luxury – Sirocco Hotel
Sirocco Hotel is only 800 m from Kalamaki Beach. It offers accommodation with a restaurant, free private parking, a seasonal outdoor swimming pool, and a bar featuring a shared lounge..
Budget – Timos Hotel
Timos Hotel is only 400 m from Pure Beach Club. The hotel provides accommodation with free WiFi and an outdoor swimming pool and is only 200 m from Laganas Beach. All rooms have a desk, a flat-screen TV, and a private bathroom..
Mid-Range – Zante Atlantis Hotel
Zante Atlantis Hotel offers an outdoor pool, restaurant, free WiFi access, and a balcony..
Luxury – Mon Repo Suites
Mon Repo Suites is just 450 m from Laganas Beach, surrounded by lush greenery and connected by stone paths. It boasts an outdoor pool and an all-day snack bar. A Continental and English breakfast is provided each morning, while refreshments and light meals are available at the snack bar until late..
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Where To Eat In Zakynthos
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Suppose you’ve ever visited Greece before, you’ll know that the food is something else and that everyone loves to feed you! Zante is no different, and the amount of fresh produce on the island will be mouth-watering.
Olive oil is made locally, and you’ll see olives and fruit growing on all the trees. It’s no surprise that this all makes it to your plate when you dine in a local restaurant – which you must do! While there are plenty of tourist options, the best food always comes from authentic local tavernas, away from the main streets.
Of course, you should head to a tourist taverna at some point because you will get to enjoy the entertainment of smashing plates and dancing!
This restaurant is located in Zakynthos Town, and it’s one of the best-rated places to eat in the area. It features Mediterranean and Greek cuisine and vegan and gluten-free dishes prepared daily with fresh products from the island.
The place is located on Kalamaki Beach, and it’s a fantastic place both for a light lunch and an authentic dinner. A family runs the place, and flavors remain authentic and homemade. Prices are also really convenient.
Head to Laganas to discover the unique dishes served in this original restaurant. They have a great variety of fresh seafood and a vegan menu with plenty of options for the whole family.
How To Get Around Zakynthos Island
You can walk around the center of Zakynthos without any trouble, and there are lots of restaurants, bars, and shops to check out. But if you want to head away from the main touristic parts and into the island itself, you’re going to need to use public transport or hire a car.
There are local buses that run round the island, operated by KTEL Kakynthos, but services tend to be a little unreliable, and they only run in the summer months. You could choose to take taxis for short journeys.
If you choose to hire a car, you can do this from the main town or the airport. The roads around the island are pretty good, although some of the mountain roads on the western side of the island can be a little windy and steep, so take your time.