At over 400 sq km, it’s one of the largest islands in the Ionian group. Having been invaded by Byzantines, the French, the Romans and Venetians (who referred to it as the flower of the Orient), Zakynthos is now subject to hordes of German and British package tourists. Also known as Zante, it’s popularity has soared since the 1990s.
Laganas is the resort where the summer crowds head to for all those carefree package thrills. The north east of Zaykinthos is relatively untouched by mass tourism and ideal for those seeking a beach break devoid of the masses.
Getting there/around Zakynthos
It’s possible to fly direct to Zakynthos from most UK airports including Glasgow, Birmingham, Gatwick and Newcastle. The island’s airport, Dionysos Solomos has connecting flights to other Greek airports.
Cars, bikes and scooters are available to rent to explore the island and bus tours are also quite popular – and a good alternative if you don’t want to tackle the narrow twisting roads yourself. The interior is worth travelling around thanks to the lush natural landscapes and Mediterranean climate .
Boat trips are also quite popular and essential if you intend to observe some of the more remote beaches. Shipwreck beach on the north west of the island is best approached this way and daily boat tours usually depart in the morning from Laganas, Zakynthos town and Vromi Bay.
There is a big range of beaches to discover, from the more remote shingle beaches in the north including Makris Gialos, to the popular sandy shores of Alykes and Tsilivi to the sunbed blitzed beach around Laganas in the south.
Laganas beach is one of the longest on the island – and is also a major breeding ground for loggerhead turtles.
On the east coast, among the more popular beaches are Argassi and Vasilikos. Argassi’s beaches are however, fairly small, while Vasilikos has quieter beaches. Close by is Yerkas, which has one of the best beaches in the area and is a very picturesque part of the island.
Shipwreck beach on the north tip of the island can be reached by boat – it’s wide sand cove and surrounding deep blue sea is quite iconic as photos of this beach usually grace endless tourist brochures of both the island and the country.
Sightseeing around Zakynthos
Head out to the Blue Caves at the northern most point of the island at Skinari. These are best reached by taking a boat from the port of St Nikolaus and in particular the blue grotto is worth discovering.
If the beaches and watery sights don’t beckon then head inland and visit the Venetian Castle in Bohali – about 3kms from Zakynthos town , built on the sight of a former acropolis.
Alternatively the Byzantine museum in Solomos square is worth visiting to catch up on a little history and culture of Zakynthos.
The 16th century monastery of Spiliotissa near the village of Orthonies is also worth a visit.
Family attractions in Zakynthos
A trip to the Luna Fun Park with the Bowl M Over centre in Tsilivi will keep the children happy. The Park has bouncy castles and a laser shooting arena, while the Bowl M Over centre has fantastic bowling alleys, air hockey and table football games to enjoy.
The new water park in Sarakinada is an alternative option.
Day trips around Zakynthos
Travel agencies on the island offer day trips to unspoilt Kefalonia during the summer. Ferries depart from Skinari and arrive in Pessada. The journey takes 90 minutes. Highlights include stops at a monastery, lake, cave, lunch in a local taverna followed by a visit to the main commercial centre Argostoli for a spot of shopping.
The island’s mountainous scenery and clear seas provide another glimpse of a Grecian island.
Typical Greek food including greek salads and kleftico (lamb), moussaka and stuffed tomatoes jostle for menu space with fantastic seafood including calamari and swordfish.
Recommended restaurants include Ilision in Agrasi, Casa Greque in Kalamaki and La Bella Napoli in Laganas, for those favouring Italian.
There are also many places in the resorts and town, which cater for those seeking favourites like burgers and chips, kebabs and pizzas.
Laganas is the nightlife hub of Zakynthos, full of clubs, bars and celebratory tourists.Also take a trip to Argasi, Alykes and Tsilivi where you’ll be spoilt for choice with drinking and dancing venues. The Jungle Bar and Cave Bar along with the Factory Club and Rescue Club are prime spots to start the party.
Zakynthos town is better suited for those seeking restaurants and tavernas without the descent into loud music.
Shopping around Zakynthos
Head down to Alexander Roma Street in the capital of the island and pick up specialities, such as leather and jewellery which are considered relatively cheap.
More traditional outlets such as barber shops and clothes shop are also worth a visit.