Zakynthos, which is also known as Zante, is one of the bigger islands you will visit in Greece. It has a lot to offer to tourists with wide variety of attractions, including places of historical significance and some of the most unique beaches in Europe.
While some of its attractions take you back into the history of the country with breathtaking ancient structures and places, some of the other attractions like beaches offer stunning views and a relaxing experience. Not to mention, there’s also a lot to see when it comes to the marine life diversity of the island, particularly including the Caretta Caretta sea turtles and Monachus seals.
No matter what kind of traveler you are, Zakynthos has something incredible to offer to you. But the only way to get the most out of your visit is to know about the island and its attractions before you visit it, so that you don’t have to waste any time in exploring the beauty it has to offer.
Best Time to Visit Zakynthos
Greece has Mediterranean-like temperatures. The winters are usually mild, but the summers are rather hot. However, the best of climates can be experienced during spring and autumn, with the temperatures generally in the range of 10 to 30 degrees Celsius.
While the winters aren’t too cold, there’s a possibility of heavy rainfall and sometimes even snowfall. As far as islands like Zakynthos are concerned though, snowfall is very limited and usually not a problem. But the main culprit may be the winds, as they often get too strong and are known for ruining the best of travel plans.
A summer in Zakynthos is hard to beat, though. The already year-round beautiful beaches are at their best. Swimming, water sports and enjoying the sunsets, all offer a unique experience during the summer.
That said, summer is also the time that attracts large crowds to Zakynthos, so you may not get the kind of quiet and peace you may be expecting. If you fancy the chance of meeting people and even celebrities from different parts of the world though, there may not be a better time to visit Zakynthos for you.
How to Reach Zakynthos?
There are flights directly to Zakynthos from most major cities in Europe. You actually land in the southern part of the island not too far away from the Kalamaki town, but it doesn’t take too long to reach any resort on the island you want as it’s easy to get around with plenty of transportation options.
Cars and buses take you to Killini, a port located on the east Peloponnese coast. You will also get to see some of the mainland Greece on the way.
From Killini you would have ferries that will land you right into the town of Zakynthos. The availability of these ferries is usually never a problem when you’re visiting during the season.
Where to Stay in Zakynthos?
Before we get to the specific hotel recommendations, let us give you a little overview of the different parts of the island as they differ quite a bit in terms of the experience they have to offer.
This is one of the better parts of the island, with a large part of it being just huge mountains that also feature some of the most unique luxury villas you may have ever seen around the northern cape.
It’s the busiest and most developed part of Zakynthos, with the development of Laganas taking a lot away from its beauty. There are turtle beaches there though located between scenic peninsulas that tourists find to be worth a visit.
It’s another part of the Zakynthos town with developed sprawls, but still has a lot of beauty and nature to offer on either end.
This part is similar to the north with beautiful mountains, and offers an amazing sunset point in the Cliffs of Keri.
Now that we know a bit about the different parts of Zakynthos, let’s discuss some specific hotels to stay in.
Recommended Lodging Options in Zakynthos
- Strada Marina: The biggest selling points of this hotel include its location being very near to the port, and its amazing sea and mountain views. There’s a seasonal pool garden and a pool on the terrace that offers views of the Bohali Hill, Solomos Square and the Port of Zakynthos.
- Palatino Hotel: If you’re looking for some quiet, there may not be many better options than this Byzantine-style building with a somewhat traditional feel. It’s also just a short walk away from the beachfront. The interior is nothing to complain about as well, but the most highlighting feature of the rooms is the mountains and the Ionian Sea that they overlook. It’s probably also the best mid-range hotel in Zakynthos.
- Mediterranean Beach Resort: This is another hotel that resembles more of a traditional Ionian village than a luxury 5-star resort. However, it could be a unique experience for those with a taste for traditional-styled interior. The facilities are truly 5-star, you would get stunning ocean views from pretty much every part of the resort, there’s a sea-facing pool, and a sandy beach as well. Mediterranean Beach Resort is one of the best luxury hotels in Zakynthos.
- Cactus Hotel Zakynthos: This is the best budget hotel in Zakynthos because while the prices are budget-friendly, the facilities and comfort is almost luxury-like. It’s a self-catered accommodation for up to four people, but you have all the facilities like air conditioning, private bathroom, sauna, balcony, kitchen area and a dining area. There’s even an outdoor swimming pool. The views aren’t the best you can get but it’s conveniently located to visit the popular attractions.
The Airbnb Option
While not the most popular option, renting an Airbnb may not only help you save a few bucks but also help you find you something well-suited for your needs. You do need to research well in advance though, so that you can rent a Zakynthos villa that’s exactly how you want, at a price that’s well within your budget.
Many villas come in a classy and elegant feel, with some of them offering great views as well.
How Long to Stay in Zakynthos?
Well, it depends on whether you’re just after the natural beauty and amazing views, or would like to experience the Greek history and culture as well. The amount of time you would like to spend on the popular beaches of the island is another factor to take into account as well.
That said, if you want to experience everything of the best the island has to offer, you would want to spend at least three nights there. However, there are definitely many tourists that also spend five nights or more in the island. After all, Zakynthos is a large island with a lot to explore and experience.
If you’re just there for the beaches or the nightlife though, then even two nights would suffice.
Things to Do in Zakynthos
Zakynthos offers a surprisingly large variety of things to do and experience for an island. Ranging from fascinating sailing experiences to exploring hidden caves, and spending time under the sun on beautiful beaches to experiencing the ancient monasteries, Zakynthos indeed has a lot to offer.
However, if you’re only there for a few days, you will prioritize well in order to make sure you don’t miss the best things to do.
The Navagio Beach, popularly known as the Shipwreck beach, is one of the top attractions of Zakynthos. It’s one of the most unique beaches in the world, but the popularity also means that it would be hard to find it without a large crowd.
Tourists have to take a boat ride to reach the Shipwreck beach. However, many tourists like to turn it into a full-day boat tour that allows them to explore another popular tourist attraction in the Blue Caves.
While you can reach the Shipwreck beach in only around 45 minutes, a full-day boat tour would allow you to visit Blue Caves, which is a short bus up the cliffs from the Shipwreck beach. You would get some great views of the Shipwreck beach from the top.
Needless to say, you will be able to spend a good bit of time at these attractions with a full-day tour, as it lasts for around 8 hours. The cost usually tends to be around $50 per person.
As we just mentioned above, the Blue Caves are another popular tourist attraction, forming the east of Cape Skinari and boasting of incredible natural beauty from their centuries of erosion. The deepest parts of the caves make you feel as if you have entered a different world, with the shades of deep blue water offering a unique experience in themselves.
If you go there in the morning, the light reflects off the deep blue water to offer some of the most unique photo opportunities you may have ever had.
As we said above, you will have to book a full-day bout tour if you want to visit both the Blue Caves and the Shipwreck beach.
The Keri Caves make another great tourist attraction along with the “The Arch”, especially if you’re interested in scuba diving. There are many scuba dive operators that would take you to the Keri Caves as part of their scuba diving tour.
One of the most incredible moments when scuba diving there is when you find the loggerhead turtles swimming around in the National Marine Park of Zakynthos.
The lighthouse at Keri is one of the best spots to see the sunset with the sunshine washing over the beautiful cliffs in the distance and offering you another opportunity to take some of the best pictures of your life.
Also known as the Turtle Island, the Marathonisi Island is one of the few places in the world where you get to see Caretta-Caretta sea turtles in big numbers. The government has been making a lot of efforts to protect their habitat, but you’re allowed to take a closer look at them by using the snorkeling equipment available there to get under the water.
Zakynthos Marine Park
The Zakynthos Marine Park is built to protect the more vulnerable parts of the island’s ecosystem. However, it’s also a place where you can see a huge variety of birds, reptiles and other types of wildlife, including the Caretta-Caretta turtles and the Monachus-Monachus seals as well.
If you’re a lover of art, the Byzantine Museum is a no-brainer for you, especially given that it only costs €8 to enter. It features a wide variety of art pieces, with descriptions in both Greek and English.
If history interests you – and maritime history in particular – then visiting the Nautical Museum is going to be a fascinating experience for you. It features maritime history from as back as the 1600s, and you would learn a lot of things you will find fascinating.
Ranging from watercolors revealing how shipping progressed over the centuries, to the artworks that give a glimpse of the existence of the Byzantine ships right from their beginning to 1453, the year in which they were replaced by their modern counterparts.
The Venetian fountain is another way to go back into the Greece history. Although you don’t find a lot more than an ancient fountain today, you can still see the signs of the long passages that existed in the past and used to supply water to the entire city.
Again, although there’s not a lot to explore now, if you observe the details of the structures closely, they will reveal to you the marvelous history of the ancients that the island once had.
Zakynthos Venetian Castle
Here’s some more fascinating Greek history for you, but this time sprinkled with some present-day beauty that will leave you stunned, especially if you’re into ancient things.
Located in Mpohalis city, this castle used to be the capital of the island centuries ago. It was even demolished in the year 1480 but to preserve a place of great historical significance, it was renovated in 1514.
You will find a lot of ancient Greek history here, in the form of the old prison system, how gunpowder came into existence, the ancient fortress and its premises, and also the ruins of the ancient churches that stand as testimony of the country’s rich history.
The views from top of the castle make for some great diversity in your overall experience, too.
While not the most popular tourist attraction, many tourists definitely find it to be worth a visit, especially those that can’t get enough of the Greek history and culture.
It’s actually a holy place and considered a part of the tour of the island. It not only tells you a lot about the Greek history and culture, but also has a lot of stunning views surrounding it that will keep you occupied for quite some time too.
Party animals love to visit Laganas, as it is home to many different clubs and attracts tourists looking to experience the nightlife of the Zakynthos island.
Different clubs cater to different types of audiences. The Kalamaki beach is also only 5 km away from Laganas, and these 5 km is also a long stretch of beach and a lot of nature to see.
Zakynthos town is the perfect blend of modern development and ancient, historical buildings. While there has been a lot of development recently, it still manages to retain its cultural feel with its classic historical buildings boasting of Venetian architecture.
There are quite a few things you can do here as well if you have some extra time on your hand, such as visiting museums, exploring the architecture, shopping around and more.
While the Zakynthos island is no short of beaches, some are definitely more interesting than the others. We have already discussed the Shipwreck beach in detail, but let us quickly mention a few other notable ones as well.
- Kalamaki Beach: It’s hard to define the beauty of this beach, but visitors often say they have not been to many better beaches in their life. With crystal clear waters and uniquely golden colored sand coupled with some amazing views, it makes for a great relaxing beach experience away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
- Gerakas Beach: With clear sandy waters and see turtles and their eggs resting on the surface, the Gerakas beach makes for a unique beach experience both for couples and families.
- Porto Limnionas Beach: If swimming and cliff jumping amuse you, then the Porto Limnionas Beach would be an excellent experience for you. The clean, deep waters, incredible sunset views, and the ability to do swimming and snorkeling, there’s a lot to experience here as well.
Getting Around Zakynthos
While there’s usually no shortage of public transport in the Zakynthos island, it’s definitely not the most recommended way of getting around the island, especially if you value your time or only plan to spend two to three days there.
The public transport is often far from reliable, with everything running according to the “Greek time”. However, there’s no shortage of taxis as well that are a much more reliable way of moving around the island, and so is renting a car or a motorbike.
If you don’t have a lot of time on your hand but you would like to visit most of the major attractions, then renting a car is your best bet. This is especially because unlike many of the other islands of Greece, Zakynthos is much bigger, so if you don’t rent a car, you will end up spending a lot of time just getting to the various attractions and be left with less time to explore them.
The second-best way to explore the island of Zakynthos is on a motorbike or ATV, particularly if you’re single or a couple. In fact, if you don’t mind riding your way all through the island, a motorbike or ATV would actually turn out to be a better option than a car as well.
This is because many roads in the island are rather narrow, and a car won’t be able to get you through them.
Parking is going to be another advantage on a moto, as it’s going to be much easier to park than a car.
You wouldn’t have Uber and Lyft in Zakynthos, but there are plenty of taxis to get you around. However, you need to negotiate the fare before starting your ride, as it’s not uncommon to get ripped off by taxi drivers there.
Top Photo Spots
Zakynthos has an abundance of stunning, breathtaking views that make for some of the best photo spots you may have ever seen. There are more than a few picturesque places in Zakynthos, but let us quickly take a look at some of the best ones.
- The Lake of Keri
- The Keri Lighthouse
- Shipwreck beach
- Blue Caves
- Agios Sosti
- Kalamaki beach
- Porto Limnionas Beach
A Final Word
This is pretty much everything you need to know to get the most out of your trip to the island of Zakynthos. And as you can see, there’s a lot to explore, see and experience in Zakynthos.
If you have any questions about visiting or exploring Zakynthos, feel free to let us know in the comments below.