Zante, also Zakynthos, is the third largest of the Ionian Islands. It covers an area of 410 km2 (158 sq mi) and its coastline is roughly 123 km (76 mi) in length. The island is named after Zakynthos, the son of a legendary Arcadian chief Dardanus. Zante has a thriving tourism industry.
Coordinates: 37°48′N 20°45′E
Zante was inhabited from the Neolithic Age, as some archaeological excavations have proved. The famous ancient Greek poet and writer, Homer, first mentioned the island in his masterpieces, the Iliad and the Odyssey, stating that the first inhabitants of it were the son of King Dardanos of Troy called Zakynthos and his men and that they first came on the island around 1500-1600 BC.
Read more of Zakynthos’ history at Wikipedia
Zante has the shape of an arrowhead, with the “tip” (Cape Skinari) pointing northwest. Western half is a mountainous plateau, and the southwest coast consists mostly of steep cliffs. Eastern half is a densely populated fertile plain, with long sandy beaches, interrupted with several isolated hills, notably Bochali, overlooking the city, and the peninsula of Vasilikos in the northeast. Peninsulas of Vassilikos on north and Marathia on south enclose wide and shallow bay of Laganas on the southeast part of the island.
The capital, which has the same name as the prefecture, is the town of Zakynthos. It lies on the eastern part of the northern coast. Apart from the official name, it is also called Chora (i.e. the Town, a common denomination in Greece when the name of the island itself is the same as the name of the principal town). The port of Zante has a ferry connecting to the port of Kyllini on the mainland. Another ferry connects the village of Agios Nikolaos to Argostoli on Kefalonia.
Zakynthos Town: After Mary Magdalene’s visit to the island in 34AD, Christion faith won over the idol-worshipping population and conquered the hearts of the people of Zante. Until the earthquake of 1953, there were over 350 churches on the island, of which 100 were in the capital, Zakynthos Town. Even today, the visitor can admire many beautiful churches rebuilt after 1953.
The Church of St Dionysios (St. Denis) in Zakynthos Town is the largest on the island and is home to many important works of art, including painting, word carving and gold sculpture. The Church of St. Nikolas of Molas (in Solomou Square) is home to beautiful religious icons.
Minor uninhabited islands around Zante, included in the municipality and peripheral unit, are Marathonisi, Pelouzo and Agios Sostis in the Laganas bay, Agios Nikolaos, near the eponymous harbor on the northern tip, and Agios Ioannis, near Porto Vromi on the western coast.
The National Marine Park of Zante founded in 1999, is a national park located in Laganas bay, Zante island in Greece. The park, part of the Natura 2000 ecological network, covers an area of 135 square kilometres (52 sq mi) and is the habitat of the Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Caretta caretta). It is the first national park established for the protection of sea turtles in the Mediterranean. The marine park is composed of three marine zones (A, B, C) in the Bay of Laganas, in addition to the strictly protected nesting areas, as well as the terrestrial and peripheral zone. For the protection of the ecosystem, fishing activities are strictly prohibited inside each of the marine zones.
Sights on Zante: The most famous landmark of the island is the Navagio beach. It is a cove on the southwest shore, isolated by high cliffs and accessible only by boats. The beach and sea floor are made of white pebbles, and surrounded by turquoise waters. It is named after a shipwreck (MV Panagiotis) which sunk on the shore around 1980. The ridge area from Anafonitria has a small observation deck which overlooks the shipwreck and there is a monastery nearby.
Numerous “Blue Caves“, are cut into cliffs around Cape Skinari, and accessible only by small boats. Sunrays reflect through blue sea water from white stones of cave bottoms and walls, creating interesting effects. Keri is located in the far south of the island. It is a mountain village and has a lighthouse in the south. It includes a panorama of the southern part of the Ionian Sea. The whole western shore, from Keri to Skinari, contains numerous interesting rock formations, particularly arches.
The northern and eastern shores of Zante contain numerous wide sandy beaches, many of which are packed with tourists in summer months. The largest resort is Laganas, whose beach stretches around 10 km. Small Xigia beach in the north is noted for its underwater springs rich in sulphur, which gives it a characteristic odor.
Bochali hill above the Zakynthos town contains a small venetian castle, and offers panoramic views onto the town.
Island Cruises: Explore the entire island of Zante by sea on a one-day cruise. It’s the best way to enjoy the stunning coastline of Zante island and make stops at some of the island’s beaches which are only accessible from the sea.
There are plenty of cruises to choose from, most of them departing from Zakynthos Town.
Highlights on your cruise may include:
• A visit to the blue caves
• A stop at the shipwreck
• Sighting dolphins out at sea
• Spotting a loggerhead turtle
Most of the main cruises depart from Zakynthos Town and can take up to nine hours. It’s best to take an early cruise because you’ll have undisturbed access to the quieter parts of the island.
Zante is a great island for Scuba diving and facilities are available in a number of locations.
• Eurodivers – middle of Laganas beach (PADI instructors)
• Adventure Diving – based at the Scuba Café on the beach
• Diver’s Paradise – Louis Zante Beach Hotel in Kalamaki
• Diving Centre in Limni Keriou – Turtle Beach email: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Nero Diving Centre in Limni Keriou 49125
• Thalassa Diving/Watersports in Lithakia
• Adventure Diving Lithakia 53200
• St Nikolas Diving School in St Nikolas
Major sporting facilities can be found in Zakynthos Town. In the resorts, sports are limited to watersports.
Biking on Zante: A sporting alternative on land is biking. You can hire mountain bikes in most resorts and go biking in the hills. Be careful though, keep off the roads whereever possible and hire helmets as well. The best areas for mountain biking are the hills inland from Vassilikos and the central mountain range east of Zakynthos Town.
You could also bring your own bikes to the island. In principle the only difficulty is arranging for the charter airlines to carry the bikes in the hold.
• Rent a bike
Nightlife & Clubbing: Zante is a vibrant island, offering a wide variety of tavernas, bars and night clubs.
The livelist resorts are in the south of the island. Argasi and Laganas are the two main resorts which cater for a younger audience.
Laganas is the nightclub centre of Zante, where competing clubs blast out dance music from their open-fronted bars onto the Laganas “strip”. This isn’t a resort for a good night’s sleep although there have been recent moves to restrict loud music in the early hours. Tsilivi, Alikes and Kalamaki have a good range of entertainment in the evening for a broad age group. All three are lively resorts without becoming too hectic.
For more information on clubbing in Zante, have a look here.
Transportation: Greek National Road 35, a road linking Zante and Porto Roma; and another road linking Zante and Volimes. The island has one airport, the Zakynthos International Airport, “Dionysios Solomos” (on former GR-35) in its southwest which connects flights with other Greek airports. It is 4.3 km from Zakynthos town.
• Zakynthos (Zante) – net.gr
Tourist and regional information about Zakynthos island
Total list of museums on Zante
• Science Park Zante
Information from Science Park Zakynthos: Water is a limited resource on Zante. The island has a serious overconsumption of water, and this is increasing year by year. If all visitors to Zante reduce their shower time daily by 1 minute in one week, we could save more than 57 million litres of clean water a year. Remember! You use 12 litres of water for every minute when you shower. Every minute matters, each drop counts! This is why we kindly ask you for your contribution: Please limit your shower time by 1 minute daily during your stay!”
• Municipality of Elatia (official website)