These days the Greek island of Zakynthos is most famous for its dynamic, crazy nightlife but I assure you that this is just the tip of the iceberg. The island has so much more to offer, from stunning nature, amazing weather to great people and good food, there is something to please everyone.
1. Interesting facts about Zakynthos
The island is located in the east part of the Ionian Sea, about 20km (12,4 miles) from the Greek mainland. It is a famous tourist place, very popular within the European youth crowds. It is one of the warmest and sunniest islands in the Mediterranean which paves the way for a long tourist season (from early May to late October). Throughout its history, Zakynthos was under Venetian, French and British rule (among others), each of them leaving their mark and contributing to the architecture, culture, and diversity of this place.
2. How to get to Zakynthos island?
The majority of travelers arrive by airplane since it is the simplest way by far. Zakynthos International Airport is located in the island’s south part, near the town of Kalamaki.
Flights to Zakynthos are available from most European major cities as well as from Greece’s capital city of Athens, and more than thirty airlines fly there frequently during the tourist season. Since the island is fairly small, it doesn’t take a lot of time to reach any of the resorts.
All those who opt to go by car or bus will have to cross mainland Greece to reach the port of Killini on the east Peloponnese coast.
A ferry from Killini to the town of Zakynthos sails many times a day during the season.
3. Main touristy spots in Zakynthos
This small resort is on the south side of the island between the larger towns of Laganas and Zakynthos Town. There are many things to entertain yourself with such as mini-golf and go-carts, as well as a ton of nice restaurants and bars. It is not as hectic as it’s “big brother” Laganas and is suitable for families.
The biggest and the busiest place on Zakynthos; this is where the party is at. It is full of nightclubs and bars which are packed during the season, usually with young tourists from the UK and other European countries. It has the longest beach on the island, but water sports are not allowed here because of the endangered Caretta-Caretta turtles, which inhabits its part.
While it is a fairly new resort compared to the others, Tsilivi is ideal for a relaxing vacation, boasting a traditional Greek feel, surrounded by vineyards and olive groves. It is located in the northeastern part of the island, and it offers a bunch of picturesque spots for a good chill out. There are some entertainment centers, a water park, and a lot of restaurants and bars available here.
The Southeast tip of Zakynthos hides a cluster of small villages snuggled between gorgeous mountains, and this place goes by the name of Vasilikos
This is another small resort on the east side of the island, just a few kilometers south of Zakynthos Town. It has a beautiful beach that stretches along the length of this town. It is overall a peaceful place which has some interesting historical sites, surrounded by pine forests. Bars, restaurants, and social activities are present but modest.
3.6. Alykanas and Alykes
These two small villages placed in a gulf on the northeastern part of the island form one resort centered around its famous beaches. This area is known for salt pits (Alykes) to which it owes its name. Generally, it is a peaceful resort, suitable for an unwinding holiday, but it also has a few restaurants and bars to spice things up a bit.
3.7. Zakynthos Town
This is the commercial and cultural epicenter of the island. Built in classic Venetian style, it is perfect for those who enjoy old and historical buildings. In this town, you will find plenty of hotels, shops, a few museums, and churches, and it is a great location for tourists interested in the history of Zakynthos island.
4. Things to do and see in Zakynthos
4.1. Visit Navagio Beach
This is our main recommendation for all Zakynthos visitors since it is undoubtedly one of the unique and stunning sites in the Mediterranean. Navagio, also known as Smugglers Cove or Shipwreck beach is in the northwest part of the island. You can reach it directly by boat from various resorts, or take a bus to its near vicinity and then get a boat ride to the beach. You cannot walk to the beach since it is surrounded by high cliffs and inaccessible terrain. Make sure to put on your swimming suit because you’ll be needing it, and definitely bring an umbrella or a hat to avoid heatstroke (there is not much shade to hide in).
4.2. Party at the best clubs in Laganas
For all those who came to the island to party, there is no place better than Laganas. Zante nightlife is absolutely great, and there’s a big number of clubs and bars to satisfy all kinds of tastes. Must-visit clubs for dance music fans are Rescue, Zeros, Cocktails and Dreams, Ghetto, and Candy. They’re usually filled with tipsy clubbers most nights of the season, and a good time is highly probable. For people who would like a bit more relaxed atmosphere, there are many pubs and bars at hand, for instance, Drunken Duncan’s, Chevy’s, Barcode, and Medusa.
4.3. Enjoy water sports at St Nicholas beach
St Nicholas or Agios Nikolaos beach is in the Vasilikos area, and it offers a variety of water sports. Adrenaline lovers can spend a perfect and exciting afternoon at this spot, without ever getting bored since there are so many rides to try. Renting a water jet ski, getting a “crazy couch” or banana boat ride, paragliding – these are just some of the things available here. Prices vary greatly from ride to ride, and there’s something for everyone’s pockets. You can get to St Nicholas Beach by bus from other resorts.
4.4. See the historical sites of Zakynthos
Zakynthos Town is the perfect starting point for the historical and cultural tour of this island. Take a stroll through the town’s Neoclassical streets and take in the wonderful atmosphere of this place. Next, visit the main church of Agios Dionysios which is dedicated to the patron saint of the town. On the main square, you will find the Byzantine Museum where you can see many frescoes, sculptures, and religious icons, some of them dating from the 12th century. After that, head up to the village of Bohali where you can see the ruins of an old Venetian castle, as well as enjoy a stunning view.
4.5. Try out local food
Of course, no trip would be complete without getting a taste of local specialties. Zakynthos Island offers an array of Greek food, nothing that you would not find in other places in Greece, but still delicious and satiating. It is impossible to pick the best restaurants since there are plenty of great ones, and instead.
Here’s a list of must-try dishes:
- Start your meals with melitzanosalata, an eggplant dip, and dolmadakia, stuffed grape leaves.
- For the main course, order moussaka a famous Greek meal of eggplant, minced meat, and béchamel sauce, then paidakia – amazing lamb chops served with a salad.
- For dessert, you have to try baklava, delicious, and very typical.
P.S. There are many, many more amazing dishes to try!
6. How to get around the island of Zakynthos
Buses are a cheap and reliable option. Frequent buses run from the KTEL bus station in Zakynthos town to Laganas, Agassi, Alykes, Tsilivi, and Kalamaki. Getting to villages and smaller resorts might not be available.
Renting cars or motorbikes is another option. They are affordable, and the island has a pretty good road network, so reaching any desired place shouldn’t be a problem. Those interested in the north parts of Zakynthos will need their own transportation since there are not many services available.
Taxis are plenty, and they run 24/7. If you wish to visit some popular tourist destinations, there will usually be a predetermined price, but for other places, the taximeter will determine the cost. Boat transportation is also available. You can rent a boat or hire a boat taxi to get you to the secluded or hard-to-reach locations.
This would be it, all the information you need to know before heading out to this Greek island. This place has all the perquisites for a fun, exciting, and relaxing vacation, all at the same time. Whether you are a party animal, a person looking for some relaxing time, or just somebody who likes to discover new places having a blast, it is all guaranteed on Zakynthos island.
Can it guarantee a good holiday? Most likely, but in the end, it all depends on you and your preferences. Give it a try and you might just love it!
Do you have any other Zakynthos tips to add to this guide to Zante? Let us know in the comments below!