Zakynthos

The Stunning Greek island of zakynthos: Travel Guide to zante

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The Greek island of Zakynthos, also known as Zante, is a true gem in the Ionian Sea. While most know it for the iconic Navagio Beach, with the famous shipwreck resting on white sands surrounded by towering limestone cliffs, there is so much more to discover. From quiet coves only accessible by boat, to traditional villages amidst olive groves, to the lively port city, Zakynthos has something for everyone.

This ultimate guide covers everything you need to know to plan the perfect trip, from the best time to go and where to stay, to can’t-miss activities and drool-worthy restaurants. By the end, you’ll be dreaming of your own adventures on this stunning island. So without further ado…onto

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The Stunning Greek Island Greek island of zakynthos

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  • Zakynthos is a diverse Greek island with beautiful sandy beaches, charming villages, olive groves, and quiet coves
  • Best time to visit is May-October for warmer weather and calmer seas
  • Rent a boat to explore the coastline and discover hidden beaches and swimming spots, especially on the south shore
  • Don’t miss famous sights like Navagio (Shipwreck) Beach and the viewpoint above it
  • Visit unique beaches like Xigia sulfur beach, Mizithres formed by a landslide, and local favorites like Porto Limnionas
  • Stay in the quieter northern part of the island around Agios Nikolaos for a slower pace

Without further ado, on to the ultimate guide to discovering the magic of Zakynthos, Greece…

What makes this island special is the diversity of its landscapes and the feeling of really being able to get off the beaten path, even in high season. While parts of the island cater to tourists with endless bars and souvenir shops, it’s easy to escape the crowds and find a tranquil slice of Greek paradise. Spend your days cruising the crystal clear waters, swimming in hidden bays, savoring homemade Greek specialties at quaint tavernas, and watching spectacular sunsets paint the sky.

where is zakynthos island greece

Zakynthos (also known as Zante) is a Greek island located in the Ionian Sea, off the southwest coast of mainland Greece. It is the third-largest island in the Ionian Sea, after Kefalonia and Corfu.

Here are some key geographical facts about Zakynthos:

  1. Location: Zakynthos is situated around 20 kilometers (12 miles) west of the Peloponnese peninsula, the southern part of the Greek mainland.
  2. Coordinates: The island’s coordinates are approximately 37.7870° N, 20.8998° E.
  3. Size: Zakynthos covers an area of about 410 square kilometers (158 square miles).
  4. Capital: The island’s capital and largest city is Zakynthos Town, also known as Zante Town, located on the island’s eastern coast.
  5. Closest islands: The nearest islands to Zakynthos are Kefalonia to the north and Strofades to the south.
  6. Administration: Zakynthos is part of the Zakynthos regional unit, which is part of the Ionian Islands region.

The island is well-connected to mainland Greece, with regular flights from Athens to Zakynthos International Airport (ZTH) and ferries from the ports of Kyllini and Patras on the Peloponnese peninsula. Zakynthos is a popular tourist destination, known for its stunning beaches, vibrant nightlife, and picturesque landscapes.

Zakynthos

When to Go greece zakynthos island

The best time to visit Zakynthos is May through October, when the weather is sunny and mild. July and August are the hottest and busiest months. For a quieter trip and great deals, consider the shoulder months of May, early June, September and October. The water will be a bit cooler, but still swimmable.

Helpful tip: Avoid August if you want to beat the worst of the crowds and heat. Late May/early June and September are ideal.

how to get to greek island of Zakynthos 

Most visitors arrive to Zakynthos either by flying into Dionysios Solomos Airport (ZTH) or by taking a ferry from another Greek island or the mainland. The airport has flights from many European cities in summer.

How to get Around Zakynthos greece 

Once on the island, you’ll want to rent a car, ATV or motorcycle to get around. Taxis are available but can be expensive. Many of the best beaches and sights are easiest to access with your own wheels. Just be prepared for narrow, winding roads!

Helpful tip: If you plan to explore beaches only reachable by dirt roads, opt for an ATV or 4×4 vehicle.

By Air:

  • Zakynthos has its own international airport (ZTH), which receives flights from various European cities during the summer season.
  • fly to Athens International Airport and then take a short domestic flight to Zakynthos.

By Ferry:

  • Ferries to Zakynthos depart from the ports of Kyllini and Patras on the Peloponnese peninsula.
  • The ferry from Kyllini takes about 1 hour, while the ferry from Patras takes around 4 hours.
  • Ferries are operated by several companies, including Levante Ferries and Ionian Group.

By Car:

  • If you’re already in Greece, you can drive to the ports of Kyllini or Patras and take a ferry to Zakynthos.
  • The drive from Athens to Kyllini takes about 3.5 hours, while the drive to Patras takes around 2.5 hours.

Once you arrive on the island, you can rent a car, take a taxi, or use public transportation to get around. Many hotels and resorts also offer shuttle services to and from the airport or ferry port.

Helpful tip: If you’re planning to visit during peak season (July-August), book your flights and accommodations well in advance to secure the best deals and availability.

Why a Tour is Better for Visiting Zakynthos

While exploring Zakynthos independently can be rewarding, joining a tour offers several advantages, especially for first-time visitors or those short on time. Here’s why:

  1. Hassle-free planning: Tours take care of all the logistics, including transportation, accommodations, and activities, saving you time and stress.
  2. Local expertise: Tour guides are knowledgeable about the island’s history, culture, and best spots to visit. They can provide insider tips and take you to hidden gems you might miss on your own.
  3. Safety: Reputable tour companies prioritize safety, ensuring that all activities and accommodations meet high standards. This is especially important for water activities like boat trips and cliff jumping.
  4. Time efficiency: Tours are designed to make the most of your time, packing in top sights and experiences without the need for extensive research or planning.
  5. Social experience: Group tours are a great way to meet like-minded travelers and make new friends from around the world.
Beautiful Blue Caves in Greece Zakynthos

Top Tour Options for Zakynthos:

Island Highlights Tour:

  • Full-day tour covering the island’s must-sees like Navagio Beach, the Blue Caves, and Anafonitria Monastery
  • Includes hotel pickup/drop-off, boat trip, and lunch
  • Perfect for those short on time who want to see it all

Zakynthos Sailing Tour:

  • Private or small-group sailing tour around the island
  • Customize your itinerary to include secluded beaches, snorkeling spots, and seaside tavernas
  • Ideal for couples or friends seeking a luxurious, personalized experience
Zakynthos

Where to Stay at Island Zynkathos

I recommend staying in the quieter northern part of the island, around the fishing village of Agios Nikolaos or nearby Mikro Nisi. This area has a slower pace and is close to many top sights.

Here are some great options for various budgets:

Mid-range:

  • The Bay Hotel & Suites – modern beachfront resort

Luxury:

For a unique stay, consider renting a traditional stone house through Airbnb or VRBO. Villa Harmonia is a beautiful waterfront option that sleeps 6.

Best things to do on Greek island of Zakynthos

Explore greek island zakynthos by boat

The #1 activity I recommend in Zakynthos is renting a boat to explore the coastline. Many of the island’s best beaches are only accessible this way. You can rent small motor boats without needing a special license.

The south shore, departing from Keri Beach, is jaw-dropping with soaring limestone cliffs, caves, and that famous turquoise water. Keep an eye out for sea turtles and dolphins! Up north, depart from Agios Nikolaos to discover secluded coves.

Companies to rent from:

  • Keri Beach (south shore)
  • Zeus Boats (Agios Nikolaos)

Helpful tip: The south shore is generally less windy and crowded than the north. Mornings usually have the calmest seas.

Must-See Beaches 

You can’t leave Zakynthos without seeing these incredible spots:

Zakynthos is blessed with an array of stunning beaches, each with its own unique character. Here are some of the top beaches to add to your itinerary:

Navagio Beach (Shipwreck Beach)

  • Iconic beach with a shipwreck on the shore, surrounded by towering limestone cliffs
  • Only accessible by boat, go early or late to avoid crowds
  • Best view is from the viewing platform above, especially at sunset
Zakynthos

Xigia Beach

  • Unique sulfur hot springs mix with the sea water, creating a beautiful milky blue color
  • Sulfur is said to have healing properties for the skin
  • Small beach that fills up quickly, go early

Porto Limnionas

  • Locals’ favorite for crystal clear water, rocky sunbathing spots, and cliff jumping
  • Lively taverna perched on the cliff above the beach
  • Combine with nearby Korakonissi Bay for a full day out

Gerakas Beach

  • Stunning wide stretch of soft sand and calm, shallow waters
  • Part of Marine National Park, important nesting site for loggerhead sea turtles
  • Visit in August to see baby turtles hatch (with a guide)

Kalamaki Beach

  • Long sandy beach with plenty of space to spread out
  • Lined with beach bars, restaurants, and shops
  • Great for families and water sports
Zakynthos

Vasilikos Beach

  • Quieter area with a string of sandy beaches like Banana, Agios Nikolaos, and Ionio
  • Crystal clear water and a laid-back vibe
  • Banana Beach has some funky beach bars

Helpful tip: Rent a boat to discover hidden gems like Mizithres Beach and the Keri Caves, which are only accessible by the water. The views of the white cliffs and azure sea are unreal!

Other notable mentions include:

  • Tsilivi Beach – long, lively beach close to hotels and restaurants
  • Alykes Beach – shallow, family-friendly beach with water sports
  • Dafni Beach – secluded sandy cove surrounded by cliffs

Most organized beaches have sun loungers and umbrellas for rent and at least one taverna or beach bar. The beaches around Laganas and Tsilivi can get very crowded in summer. For a quieter experience, head to the Vasilikos Peninsula or more remote coves.

Other great swimming spots include Korakonissi, a clear blue bay with adventurous cliff diving, and Marathonisi (Turtle Island) where you can often spot the endangered loggerhead sea turtles.

For a dose of tradition, explore the sleepy inland villages like Volimes, with old stone buildings and churches. Stop at roadside stands to buy local honey, olive oil, and citrus fruits.

Where to Eat & Drink

Zakynthos has delicious, fresh Greek food. Here are some top picks:

  • Nobelos Bio Restaurant (Agios Nikolaos) – Farm-to-table, the best homemade Greek food on the island in a stunning waterfront setting. The shrimp saganaki is incredible!
  • Keri Lighthouse – Come for a sunset drink and the view of Mizithres beach.
  • Porto Limnionas Tavern – Perched on a cliff over the beach, a perfect lunch spot. Great seafood and Greek classics.
  • Bassia (Agrilia) – Fine dining with beautiful presentation. Great for a romantic splurge.

Don’t miss getting a fresh juice or milkshake from one of the many stands around the island. The oranges are so good! Favorite is the “Fresh Orange Juice” bar on the west coast.

I hope this guide has convinced you to add Zakynthos to your travel wishlist. It truly is a special island full of natural beauty, adventure, incredible food, and that laid-back Greek lifestyle we all need to experience. Have an amazing trip!

Helpful tip: For the most magical photos, plan your visits to beaches/sights in the morning or evening to avoid harsh midday light and crowds. Sunsets are spectacular from the Keri Lighthouse area or Navagio Beach viewpoint.

Getting Off the Beaten Path

While famous sights like Navagio Beach and the Blue Caves are must-sees, don’t be afraid to venture off the typical tourist route. Some of my favorite memories are from randomly pulling off the road to explore an empty cove or wandering through a sleepy village.

A few spots most tourists miss:

  • Korakonissi bay for cliff jumping
  • Exploring the olive groves and small beaches around Exo Hora village
  • Watching the sunset from Kampi viewpoint
  • Grabbing lunch in the charming hilltop town of Anafonitria
Coco Tran — Curated Aesthetic Travel Blog By Film Photographer Coco Tran https://cocotran.com/greek-island-of-zakynthos/

The Beauty of Boat Life

I can’t emphasize enough how much renting a boat opens up on Zakynthos. Cruising along the coastline, you feel like you have the island all to yourself. Pack a cooler full of snacks and cold drinks, bring snorkel gear and floaties, and spend the day beach hopping to secret spots like Korakonissi bay.

Play captain and drop anchor wherever calls your name. Swim through arches carved in the cliffs, float in the bluest water you’ve ever seen, spread out a lunch feast on a rocky outcropping – this is what Greek island dreams are made of. Trust me, the boat rental cost is worth every penny for the freedom and memories.

Helpful tip: Most rental places include a map and short lesson on operating the boat. Don’t be intimated if you’ve never driven one before! It’s easier than you think.

Indulging in Greek Cuisine

One of the best parts of Greece is the fresh, flavorful food. Luckily, Zakynthos does not disappoint. Stuff yourself with savory souvlaki, creamy tzatziki, honey-soaked baklava, and daily catches of fish and octopus.

Must-try dishes

  • Shrimp saganaki (sautéed shrimp in spicy tomato sauce and feta)
  • Kolokithokeftedes (fried zucchini balls)
  • Skordostoubi (eggplant with garlic)
  • Rabbit or rooster stew (local specialties)
  • Ladotyri Zakynthou (local spicy cheese)

For an extra memorable meal, book a table at Nobelos Sea Side Restaurant right on their private dock surrounded by the sea. Watching the sunset with a glass of local wine and their incredible food is pure magic.

Family-Friendly Activities

Zakynthos is a great family destination, with calm beaches, laid-back seaside towns, and fun activities for all ages. Most hotels and restaurants welcome kids. Don’t miss the chance to see loggerhead sea turtles hatching at Gerakas Beach in August or a glass-bottom boat tour to the Blue Caves.

For animal lovers, visit the rescue center Askos Stone Park to see endemic species like mini horses and deer. Older kids will love the thrill of cliff jumping at Porto Limnionas or learning to snorkel at Turtle Island. Tsilivi Waterpark and mini golf make for a fun break from the beach.

Helpful tip: Most boat rentals include child-sized life jackets, but double check before booking. Calm bays like Agios Nikolaos, Alykanas, and Alykes are great for beginning swimmers.

General Travel Tips

A few practical tips to help your trip run smoothly:

  • Rent a car with good AC, most don’t have it
  • Bring water shoes, many beaches are rocky
  • Visit sights like Navagio viewpoint in early morning or late evening for best light and fewest crowds
  • Always carry water, there are few shops outside main areas
  • Have cash on hand, some places don’t accept credit cards
  • For boat/beach days, pack towels, sunscreen, hats, snorkel sets, water, and snacks
  • Be a responsible traveler and take your trash with you, especially in natural areas

is zante in greece safe

Yes, Zakynthos (Zante) is generally considered a safe destination for travelers. The island has a low crime rate and is a popular tourist spot, attracting visitors from all over the world. However, as with any travel destination, it’s always a good idea to take standard precautions to ensure your safety and well-being.

Here are a few tips for a safe trip to Zakynthos:

  1. Be aware of your surroundings and keep an eye on your belongings, especially in crowded areas.
  2. Avoid walking alone in isolated areas at night.
  3. Be cautious when driving, as some roads can be narrow and winding. Always wear your seatbelt.
  4. Take care when swimming and follow beach safety guidelines, especially on beaches without lifeguards.
  5. Protect yourself from the sun by wearing sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses, and staying hydrated.

I hope this guide has given you a complete picture of why Zakynthos will capture your heart and a ton of practical tips to make the most of your visit. This diverse island truly has something for everyone, from the adventurous cliff diver, to the aspiring boat captain, to the foodie, to the beach bum and beyond.

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