Zakynthos is famous worldwide for its Navagio (Shipwreck) beach and the rare Loggerhead sea turtle living in the turquoise blue waters around the island. You will totally love Zakynthos for its exotic beaches with powder white sand, crazy-blue waters and breath-taking landscapes.
In my post about Zakynthos you will find everything you need to know for your perfect holidays in Zakynthos. Discover the best beaches and things to do in Zakynthos.
Zante and Zakynthos – are they the same place?
Zante is the Italian name for the island whereas Zakynthos is its Greek name.
What is Zakynthos famous for?
Zakynthos is among the most exotic Greek islands along with Kefalonia, Lefkas Paxoi. It is extremely popular with its magical beauty and crazy nightlife. It is placed right in the middle of the stunning Ionian Sea among the other Ionian Islands making it a perfect holiday choice for island hopping.
Exploring Zakynthos, maybe hiring an ATV for a day or hiking, you will discover picturesque villages on hilltops, medieval monasteries and gorgeous landscapes. Always have your camera with you! Most beaches on Zakynthos are home to the endangered Loggerhead sea turtle, also known as the species Caretta-Caretta, which lay their eggs every year in the fine sand on the beaches of Zakynthos.
Of course, the most famous sight on Zakynthos and its trademark worldwide is the scenic and much photographed Navagio (Shipwreck) beach. Believe it or not – it is far more beautiful in reality! Navagio beach is only accessible by boat, or maybe by parachute jumping from the cliff above 😉
Best beaches in Zakynthos
In Zakynthos there are many stunning beaches you should visit during your stay. At Shipwreck beach you can only stay for a short while before the boat sails to the next sights. Go visit Gerakas beach, Laganas Zante, Vasilikos beach and Spiantza beach. Beware not to disturb the endangered Caretta-Caretta sea turtles when they lay their eggs on some of these beaches during the spring and summer months. If you are really lucky you will see the them coming up from the sea to hide their eggs under the sand, but from a safe distance in order not to disturb them in this serious business.
Organized beaches in Zakynthos
- Argassi beach – sandy, family friendly, 5 km south of Zakynthos Town
- Drosia beach – sandy, family friendly, 12 km north west of Zakynthos Town
- Koukla beach – sandy, family friendly, 13 km south west of Zakynthos Town
- Kalamaki beach – sandy, family friendly, 6 km south of Zakynthos Town
- Agios Nikolaos beach – sandy, family friendly with water sports, 32 km west of Zakynthos Town
- Spanzia beach – sandy, family friendly, 16 km south west of Zakynthos Town
- Banana beach – sandy, family friendly with water sports, 14 km south east of Zakynthos Town
- Limni Keriou beach – diving club, sandy, 21 km south west of Zakynthos Town
- Tsilivi beach – sandy, family friendly with water sports, 8 km north west of Zakynthos Town
- Porto Zorro beach – sandy, family friendly, 17 km south east of Zakynthos Town
- Laganas beach – diving club, party, sandy, family friendly with water sports, 9 km south of Zakynthos Town
- Agios Sostis beach – party, sandy, 11 km south east of Zakynthos Town
- Alykanas beach – sandy, family friendly with water sports, 16 km north west of Zakynthos Town
- Alykes beach – sandy, family friendly with water sports, 18 km north west of Zakynthos Town
- Planos beach – sandy, family friendly with water sports, 8 km north west of Zakynthos Town
- Porto Kaminia beach – sandy, family friendly, 12 km south of Zakynthos Town
Partly organized beaches in Zakynthos
- Dafni beach – sandy, partly organized, 15 km south of Zakynthos Town
- Gerakas beach – sandy, 18 km south of Zakynthos Town
- Makrys Gialos beach – sandy, family friendly, 28 km north east of Zakynthos Town
- Plaka beach – sandy, family friendly, 15 km south west of Zakynthos Town
- Porto Roma beach – sandy, family friendly, 16 km south east of Zakynthos Town
Non organized beaches in Zakynthos
- Navagio (Shipwreck) beach – crowded, sandy, only accessible by boat
- Stenitis beach – secluded, pebbled, 35 km north west of Zakynthos Town
- Ksigia beach – secluded, pebbled, 20 km north of Zakynthos Town
- Limnionas beach – pebbled, 30 km west of Zakynthos Town
- Porto Vromi beach – secluded, pebbled, 37 km west of Zakynthos Town
- Amboula beach – secluded, sandy, 10 km north east of Zakynthos Town
- Marathia beach – pebbled, 25 km south west of Zakynthos Town
How to reach Shipwreck (Navagio) Beach?
My suggestion is to visit Navagio beach from the sea on a boat trip which also will be taking you to the blue caves. Here you will have the opportunity to swim and snorkel in the clear water and maybe you are lucky to experience the Loggerhead sea turtles. Then go another day by ATV to view Navagio beach from the dramatic towering cliffs above.
Best things to do in Zakynthos
Explore Zakynthos Town (or Chora), the capital of Zakynthos. The town is strongly influenced by the Venetians during their rule on the island. They had also named the island “Fiore di Levante” (meaning flower of the East). Give yourself the time to explore the hidden gems of the town like Saint Mark Square, Solomos Square, and the Post-Byzantine Museum of Zakynthos. Bochali Hill above Zakynthos Town contains a small Venetian castle, and offers panoramic views onto the town.
In Zakynthos you will never be bored – go partying, scuba diving or on day trips by boat (organized tours) or hire a car or even better an ATV to reach the most secluded beaches and villages on the island. On organized beaches you will find water sports to keep you entertained during the hot summer days!
Where is Zakynthos?
Zakynthos, also Zante, 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.
Zakynthos history and culture
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 and his men, who called the island Zakynthos. They first came on the island around 1500-1600 BC.
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.
Zakynthos – how to get there?
The capital of Zakynthos lies on the eastern part of the north coast. Apart from Zakynthos Town, it is also called Chora. The port of Zakynthos has a ferry connecting to the port of Kyllini on the western side of Peloponnese. You can reach Zakynthos from Kyllini within an hour. Another ferry connects Zakynthos with Kefalonia during summer. These ferries depart from the port of Pessada and reach the port of Schinari. The itineraries are carried out about twice a day during high season.
Flights to Zakynthos
Zakynthos International Airport “Dionysios Solomos” receives domestic flights from Kefalonia and Athens all year and during summer the airport receives flights from numerous cities around Europe. The flight duration from Athens to Zakynthos is 45 minutes. The airport of Zakynthos is located 5 km from Zakynthos Town.
Island hopping from Zakynthos
The location of Zakynthos in the Ionian Sea close to both the coast of Peloponnese and Kefalonia makes it perfect for island hopping in the Ionian Sea and a visit at Ancient Olympia in Peloponnese not far from Kyllini.
Weather and climate in Zakynthos
The weather in Zakynthos is characterized by a typical mild Mediterranean climate with dry, hot summers and rainy winters, like in the other Ionian Islands. The average annual rainfalls in the Ionian Islands are three times higher than in the Aegean Islands. This is also why the Ionian islands, including Zakynthos, have a lush vegetation with forests and fertile plains. The winds in Zakynthos are not strong, not even during summertime.
Zakynthos – what to see?
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.
The Blue Caves of Zakynthos
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.
Northern and eastern shores of Zakynthos
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 odour.
Cruises around Zakynthos
Explore the entire island of Zakynthos by sea on a one-day cruise. It is 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 sea turtle
Most of the main cruises depart from Zakynthos Town and can take up to 9 hours. It is best to take an early cruise because you will have undisturbed access to the quieter parts of the island.
Scuba diving in Zakynthos
Zante is a great island for Scuba diving and facilities are available in a number of locations.
- Eurodivers– in the middle of Laganas beach (PADI-instructors)
- Diver’s Paradise – Louis Zante Beach Hotel in Kalamaki
- Diving Centre in Limni Keriou – Turtle Beach
- NeroDivingCentre in Limni Keriou
- ThalassaDiving/Watersports in Lithakia
- St. Nikolas Diving School in St. Nikolas
Major sporting facilities can be found in Zakynthos Town. In the resorts, sports are limited to water sports.
Biking in Zakynthos
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.
Nightlife & Clubbing on Zakynthos
Zante is a vibrant island, offering a wide variety of tavernas, bars and night clubs. The liveliest 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.
How to get around Zakynthos
The 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.
History of Zakynthos Town
After Mary Magdalene’s visit to the island in 34AD, Christian 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.
Islands and islets around Zakynthos
Minor uninhabited islands around Zakynthos are Marathonisi, Pelouzo and Agios Sostis in the Laganas bay, Agios Nikolaos, near the eponymous harbour on the northern tip, and Agios Ioannis, near Porto Vromi on the western coast.
The National Marine Park of Zakynthos
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 km2 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.
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!