Zante or Zakynthos as it is known, is one of our favourite Greek islands. The southern most and reputedly sunniest of all the Ionian islands, Zante is also the most fertile, colourful and quite possibly the most beautiful too.
Fringed with magnificent sandy beaches (many with nothing more on their shores than a solitary taverna), lapped by crystal clear amethyst seas and with a backdrop of rugged mountains covered with forests and olive groves, few who visit could fail to be captivated by its natural charm. Experience this stunning island yourself with one of our Zante holiday villas.
...and Italian style
The towns of the island bustle and thrive with everyday life. The capital Zante Town is so beautiful and full of the influence of its Italian ancestors that it is regularly referred to as 'The Venice of the South'.
Although not as typically Greek as some of its neighbours, Zante is rich in beauty and tradition, both historical and cultural and it is this, combined with the famous Zakynthian hospitality, that has visitors returning to its shores year after year - including the Loggerhead turtle! As one of the last remaining nesting sites of the endangered 'Carreta-Carreta', the dramatic Gerakas peninsular has recently been designated the first protected marine park in the Mediterranean.
Things to see and do in Zante
On the north west coast of the Zakynthos you will find Shipwreck Cove or Smugglers Cove also called Navagio Beach which is probably the most famous beach in Greece and can only be accessed by boat but is well worth the trip.
This picturesque beach has been photographed and featured in many holiday brochures, travel books and televised advertisements. The boat was shipwrecked back in 1980 after hitting rocks in bad weather while being pursued by the Greek Navy who suspected it was carrying contraband cigarettes. Those tourists planning to lounge in the sun are advised to bring all necessities with them as there are no facilities in this secluded bay. A sun umbrella is a must, as the heat radiates off the white cliffs and there is no shade on the beach to get away from it, especially at midday. As you can see from pictures, the Shipwreck Beach is enclosed within large steep cliffs which give it this remote, inaccessible feel. Because of that, it is impossible to walk to the beach, instead you will need to take the boat.
Frequent boat service to Shipwreck Cove is provided from nearby Porto Vromi located to the south, or from the Harbor of Saint Nikolas in Volimes, located to the north of Shipwreck Cove. You can also take a boat from island's capital city of Zakynthos. However when we visited Shipwreck we went on the boat trip run by the Potamitis Brothers which you can catch near the Lighthouse at Skinar in order to avoid overcrowding, go to Navagio Beach either early in the morning or put off your visit until later in the afternoon (at around 3pm). To get spectacular photos of Shipwreck Cove from above, you can drive up on top of the cliff where viewing platform on the edge of the cliff offers amazing photo opportunities. Most postcard photos are taken from there. To get to the viewpoint, just follow the road signs which read 'Navagio'.
If you come here in late August, you'll find the St Dionysios celebrations in full swing. In Zante Town, the remains of the island’s patron saint are carried in a silver coffin from the church dedicated to him. And afterwards, the whole city explodes in a flurry of floats, fireworks, costumes and dancing.Saint Dionyisis' Church is one of just a few churches that survived the earthquake of 1953, having been recently been built in 1925.Saint Dionyisis, as he is known in English, is the Patron Saint of the island of Zakynthos.
He was born in Zante in 1546 into the Venetian ruling class – but all reports suggest that from an early age his character was very kind and he refused all of the advantages of his class. After the death of his parents, at the age of 20 years old, Saint Dioynisi donated his fortune to his brother and became a monk in the monastery of Strofades, in the south of the island of Zakynthos.
In 1577, Saint Dioynisis left Zante to become the Archbishop on Aegina island. Two years later health problems forced him to resign and return to his homeland, where he stayed as an abbot in the monastery of the Strofades. One rainy night, a desperate man came to the monastery and asked for help. This man had just committed a murder. Saint Dyonisis discovered that this man had killed his own brother. Despite his personal sorrow, the monk provided a shelter to the murderer and even helped him to escape the island, saving his life in order to prevent another crime taking place. Local tradition suggests that the murderer later returned and became a monk in that same monastery. The monk died in 1622, at the age of 75 and was buried in the church of Agios Georgios in the Strofades, where he was ordained a priest. Three years later, when he was exhumed, his body was found intact and remains intact still today.
Zakynthos diving is a very popular activity, as the island offers many interesting diving sites around the coastline. Zakynthos diving centers are found in many seaside villages, particularly in the tourist places like Laganas, Tsilivi, Alykanas, Argassi, Limni Keriou and Vassilikos. These centers offer courses for all ages and many diving trips to popular sites. Interesting Zakynthos diving sites include the Octopus and Barracuda Reefs in Keri Peninsula, the Arch of Triumph, the Keri Caves and also the island of Marathonissi.
As Zakynthos is a breeding place for the endangered species of the caretta-caretta sea turtle, divers are very likely to meet such sea turtles during their dive. Here are some diving centers in Zakynthos. Each diving center is presented with detailed text, photos and point on Google map. If you have experience with any of these diving centers, feel free to write your review. All request forms are sent directly to the diving center manager so that you can book a diving course with them or ask any question.
If you fancy trying your hand at scuba diving, you’re in the right place. The waters surrounding Zante are teeming with marine life. Vassilikos, around half an hour’s drive from Laganas, is the best place to head. The island's eastern lobster claw peninsula juts into clear seas and offers up the ideal conditions for an introduction to diving.
During your holiday in Zakynthos it is well worth taking a boat trip to the famous Marathonisi ‘Turtle’ Island. This picturesque turtle shaped island lies in the middle of the Bay of Laganas, floating like a turtle in the sparkling seas. The main beach on Marathonisi is really spectacular, with white sands and turquoise seas – this is the Greek Islands at their best!
The magical island of Marathonisi is about five to ten minutes by speed boat from the shore of Laganas, Agios Sostis and Porto Koukla. You can visit Turtle island by renting a private boat and sailing over on your own or by taking part in an organized boat trip. There are many trips running daily throughout the summer months and you can often combine a bit of turtle spotting with your trip to Turtle Island.There are two beautiful beaches on Marathonisi. On the front of the island there is a large, sandy beach with a distinctly tropical feel. The white sand is matched beautifully by turquoise, crystal waters. Most would agree that this is one of the most beautiful beaches in Zante.Around the side of the island there is also a smaller bay with intriguing sea caves to explore. This is a great spot for snorkelling and exploring the deep seas!
Marathonisi island has no inhabitants or buildings as it is one of the major nesting grounds of the Caretta Caretta Turtles and is heavily protected by the National Marine park of Zakynthos. As a result there are no sunbeds or umbrellas on the beaches here and the National Marine park ensure that the beach is empty by sunset when the turtles approach to lay their eggs. There are no snack bars or restaurants on Marathonisi Island, but while you are relaxing on the beach of Turtle Island you will be able to grab a snack from the quaint little picnic boat that sails around the island keeping everyone refreshed. With everything from watermelon to doughnuts on board the snack boat, it is an added treat to grab something from the picnic boat while chilling out on your very own deserted island.
Gerakas is the southern beach of the island and for sure one of the most beautiful. It consists of a long sand tongue ending in a small promontory diving in the sea. The promontory is very famous since it is entirely made of clay and in the past was used by the tourists to get a regenerating “clay therapy”. Today, the final part of the beach is closed because too many people pulled off the clay, making the ridge unsafe.
From May to October for those who would like to wake up before dawn, there is the possibility to assist to the turtles’ eggs hatching and admire tens of specimens trying to reach the sea. This beach is a protected area of the Zakynthos Marine Park because of the turtles’ choice to go there to hatch, and in addition to the fact that it doesn’t offer any tourist devices the access is forbidden from half an hour before the sunset to half an hour after dawn.
Blue Grotto Caves lie at the top of the island, almost on the tip of the Zante peninsula. The Zante blue caves are one of the island’s most popular tourist attractions, with thousands of visitors heading here every year.These beautiful, natural wonders were formed over thousands of years, with impressive white limestone arches and caves carved by the sea. The caves take their name from the reflections of the sun off the sea floor, giving the water its distinctive azure glow. This causes any objects under the surface (including people!) to appear blue.
The blue caves can be reached by boat and you can take an organised tour or visit with your own boat (rentals are available in larger resorts). It’s best to visit in the early morning, when the caves tend to be quieter and the light is at its best, causing the waters to magically change colour before your eyes.Organised boat trips leave from Laganas or from Cape Skinari, Makris Gialos beach, or Agios Nikolaos port. While it might be tempting to hop on board a larger boat, smaller boats can go all the way inside the caves, so are often the better option. You’ll even find glass bottom boats which allow you to spot marine life like seals, octopus, eels, and loggerhead turtles
The blue caves Zante are a popular spot for snorkelling and diving, and it’s common to see divers here exploring the azure depths; remember to pack your trunks if you fancy going for a swim!A trip to the blue caves can be combined with a visit to Navagio Bay, also known as Smugglers Cove, where you can explore the remains of a shipwreck from the 1980s. This alleged smugglers’ ship was said to be carrying cigarettes, wine, and women when it hit rocks off the coast and was washed ashore. Today the beach is accessible only by boat and is a must-see on any trip to Zante. A short walk up the hill takes you to the tiny, precarious viewing platform hundreds of feet above the beach, from where you can get the best photographs of the bay and the shipwreck; it’s an image you’ll probably have seen on Zante postcards.
Popular Resorts of Zante
Holidays to Zakynthos Town are spent exploring monuments and museums, relaxing on the beach, and dining in traditional Greek tavernas. As the capital of Zante, Zakynthos Town is the largest city on the south-east coast. Although it comes with its fair share of bars and restaurants, it’s more low-key than in the island’s well-known party playgrounds. Instead, the focus is on relaxing, culture and sightseeing – museums, Orthodox churches and age-old castles are dotted throughout its compact, grid-like streets.
Zante has a reputation for good-looking beaches and, although Zakynthos Town’s shoreline is pebbly, it’s no exception to the rule. Park yourself on a lounger and soak up the views of the clear blue waters. If you want to feel the sand between your toes, Argassi Beach is a 10-minute drive away. Or, if you fancy a stroll, you can walk there in under an hour along a scenic coastal path. With a port on the doorstep, exploring is easy from Zakynthos Town. Boat charters shuttle visitors out to the island’s best-known beauty spots, including Shipwreck Beach, Alykes’ Blue Caves, and Marathonisi AKA Turtle Island.
Those seeking a less intense experience in Zante would be more suited to spend their stay in Alykanas. This quieter resort may skip the nightlife of Laganas, but it certainly doesn’t miss out on natural scenery and character. Horse-drawn carriages clip-clop through the streets, while the even older part of Alykanas blends olive groves and orchards with the recently developed area next to the beach – a combination that has culminated in Alykanas truly unique atmosphere of old meets new. A stay at Alykanas Beach means you can do both. Set on a lovely beachfront you're rewarded with beautiful sea views while you relax. But those looking for the sights can venture out and experience the little Greek villages with their traditional ways or take a boat trip to see the ruins of the famous smuggler's ship.
Tsilivi is situated on the North East coast of the idyllic island of Zakynthos or Zante (as it is widely known), 9km from the airport and 5km from the capital of the island, Zante Town. It has fast become one of the main tourist resorts on the island, bustling with many traditional family run tavernas, restaurants, bars and night clubs making it one of the island’s ‘hot spots' for entertaining nightlife. Originally a small resort, it has expanded in recent years and become The place to stay for lively exciting holidays without moving away from its traditional Greek heritage.
Amoudi is located in the eastern part of Zante next to Alykes and Alykanas. It is a picturesque village, ideal for relaxing holidays.. Amoudi combines the tradition with the magnificent colors of the sea and it’s the perfect place for families or couples wishing to spend their holidays in Zante in a quiet place.
Amoudi's sand and shingle stretch is a classic of the village beach genre. There are a few sunloungers and umbrellas, but most locals just grab some shade under the pine trees that line the shore. A few shack restaurants sit back from the beach, and there is shallow turquoise water to wade in. It's all very laid-back here but livelier beaches with lots of watersports are 5 minutes drive up the road at Alykes and Alykanas.
When you holiday to Vassilikos it comes with a relaxing style. getting away from it holiday. Some of Zante’s best beaches on the doorstep, plus quiet and retiring tavernas dozing in the sun. Located on the south-east coast, Vassilikos is made up of vast olive groves and lush vegetation that travels down the slopes of Mount Skopos before dissolving into a host of sandy beaches. The area is quiet region of houses and villas, circled by tiny villages and working farms plus a sprinkling of laid-back restaurants, tavernas, and shops.If you’re here for sea and sand, you’ve come to the right place.
The great thing about Vassilikos is that it can pull any number of beaches out of its hat. Banana, St Nicholas, Sekania, Porto Zorro, Gerakas, Daphne – they’re all different, but all lovely. Some have watersports and bars, others can be vacant at times. No matter where you roll out your towel, though, you’ll be guaranteed golden sands and clear, shallow waters.It’s also worth taking a trip inland to nose around whitewashed villages swathed in blossom and vineyards. Volimes is a great end point. It’s about an hour’s drive away, and packs in monasteries, pretty churches, and snack bars that double as gift shops.Between June and August, loggerhead sea turtles haul themselves up the beaches and sandy coves around Vassilikos to lay their eggs. Boat trips around the island stop in the waters here to catch a glimpse of the endangered species.
If you don't want to be overwhelmed by modern tourist attractions and crowds of people, Agios Sostis beach is worth visiting. The water visibility is good, making this swimming and sunbathing spot equally as popular for snorkelling. Travel by car or on foot to nearby Zante beaches, such as Argassi, Laganas, and Alykes.
Bouka is a smаll beach near the resort of Tsilivi, оnly 8 kms from Zakynthos Town. It is also knоwn аs Gaidarοs beаch. The bеach is small, clean and awarded with a Blue Flag of cleanliness.
It is ideal for families with young children because the water is not deep. Also the beach provides a few sun loungers, umbrellas and water sports for more fun. Moreover near to the beach of Boukas you will find several of small taverns and coffee bars to meet all your needs.