When visiting Greece we always recommend that people visit the island of Zakynthos, Greece, a hidden gem in the Ionian Sea. Most people are unaware but it is renowned for its stunning natural beauty, rich history, and vibrant culture, and upon first glance, you can see why. In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the top attractions and activities that make Zakynthos a must-visit destination in the Greek Islands. From the iconic Shipwreck Beach, accessible only by boat, to the mesmerizing Blue Caves, ideal for snorkeling and exploring marine life, Zakynthos offers a lot of unforgettable experiences.
We will show you the best way to explore Zakynthos island so you are able to experience traditional villages, savor authentic Greek cuisine, and witness the endangered Caretta-caretta turtles in their natural habitat. Whether you’re an adventure seeker like us, a history buff, or simply looking to relax on pristine beaches, Zakynthos will definitely serve up a holiday filled with diverse and enriching experiences.
Best to do in Zakynthos Greece
Sure, we love the beaches and natural beauty of this Ionian Island, but beyond that, we love that Zakynthos is also known for its vibrant nightlife in towns like Laganas, and the tranquil beauty of traditional villages such as Alykes and Vasilikos. And don’t forget its crucial role in wildlife conservation, being a sanctuary for the endangered Loggerhead turtles.
So, what we recommend, is that when you are looking for the best things to do in Zakynthos, make sure to include at least some of the cultural and conservation activities, and not just pop in to check out the famous Shipwreck Beach or spend your time in the clubs. We fell in love with this Greek island because of its diverse offerings and you will too.
Zakynthos island is fast becoming a great alternative to the likes of Santorini or Crete. Actually, all the Ionian islands like Paxos, Anti-Paxos, and Corfu (all of which we visited this year) are becoming increasingly popular as the years go by. So, you know what that means; Get there now!
1. Blue Caves – Amazing scenery.
One of the best things to do in Zakynthos is to visit the Blue Caves. These natural arches have been carved out by erosion, and are famous for the vivid color of blue water in its deepest hollows. We recommend getting out there early in the morning, not only for the best light but to avoid the crowds. Going snorkeling at the Blue Caves is one thing you do not want to miss. Once you dip your face in the deep blue azure water and see what is below you will see what we mean.
You can hire a small private boat or take a tour of the many famous sites along the coast where you have the option to go scuba diving and snorkeling. Avid scuba divers will love diving through one of 400 caves around the island but they are also popular for snorkeling, swimming, and sightseeing on a boat tour. The fact that the Blue Caves are only accessible by boat should be reason enough to add it to your itinerary.
*Note: – cruises around the island last around 9-10 hours, so you be prepared for a long and beautiful day*
2. Navagio Beach – Shipwreck Beach
Located on the northeast part of the Zakynthos, this cove is surrounded by rocks that are 900 feet tall. The famous Navagio Beach (Which means shipwreck in Greek) has become the symbol of the island and has become one of the top things to do in Zakynthos. The amazing view gives me the chills whenever I see it.
This secluded cove is famous for its shipwreck, the Panagiotis, which I find adds a touch of mystery and intrigue to the picturesque setting. Surrounded by towering cliffs and accessible only by boat, Navagio Beach feels like it is a little undiscovered gem when you look at it from the sea.
In truth, it is anything but undiscovered. Unfortunately as of this writing the beach is closed and you cannot go on the beach itself. You can still enter the bay by boat, check out the shipwreck, and grab some photos. This was due to some rockfall from earthquakes is is a safety measure. Although I also think it is an environmental issue as well, as in the past there were tons of people crammed onto a small beach with no shade. Not the most fun experience.
Shipwreck Beach is still a stop on almost all boat tours and is often combined with the Blue Cave. We recommend booking a boat tour that visits early in the morning or later in the afternoon so you are not crammed in there with a bunch of other boats.
3. Shipwreck on the Beach
There is a large shipwreck on the beach, that was stranded on the white sands while fleeing from the authorities. In 1980, authorities chased a boat suspected of smuggling cigarettes and drinks, sailing off the coast of the Ionian Sea.
Even though it wasn’t grounded until 1980, the ship itself is an old ship from Scotland dating back to 1937 adding even more character to the scene.
The sea is absolutely stunning, and the white sand is like white chalk decomposed from large rocks around it attracting thousands of tourists each day during the summer season.
4. View of Navagio Beach
Photography enthusiasts and nature lovers will find Navagio Beach particularly appealing. The panoramic views from the viewing platform atop the cliffs offer a breathtaking perspective of the beach and the Ionian Sea. This iconic landscape is not just a visual treat but also a symbol of Zakynthos’ natural beauty, making it a top attraction for visitors. Whether seeking a peaceful retreat or an exciting exploration, Navagio Beach promises an unforgettable experience in one of Greece’s most picturesque locations.
The best photo opportunity is from the lookout from the top of the cliffs. This view can be accessed by car or a van. It’s crowded in the high season but in the off-season, this place is a wonder of nature that gives chills to the bone.
For the true thrill-seekers, there’s even skydiving and professional base jumpers who come to Navagio Beach each year to jump from the 200 meter high cliffs.
Snorkeling is the most popular sport on the island of Zakynthos (football is also popular with a professional football club) and it is one of the most interesting and adventurous things a visitor can do in Zante.
From absolute beginner to experienced divers, you can set out on an adventure to explore the depths of the Ionian Sea. The crystal clear waters of the gulf that surrounds the main island of Zakynthos are pristine. There are many sea caves that lure you inside for some of the most unique snorkeling experiences you’ll ever have.
If you aren’t up for snorkeling, you can also book a glass bottom boat tour. These tours
6. Loggerhead Sea Turtles of Laganas Bay
The island of Zante is one of the best places in the world to find the famous Loggerhead sea turtle. (Caretta-Carreta Turtle)
The loggerhead sea turtle is an endangered turtle, but Zakynthos is a nesting area for them and they lay their eggs on many of its beaches. Visiting places, where turtles lay eggs are prohibited for tourists as they are protected by Zante authorities. (Kalamaki beach is the main beach where the turtles lay their eggs, and when they are there, Kalamaki Beach is off limites. The region between Laganas and Kalamaki Beach also has some restrictions.
You don’t need to see them laying eggs through, this huge gentle turtle can be seen swimming at Laganas Bay. If you book a snorkeling or diving trip on Zakynthos, you have a good chance of seeing Caretta-Caretta turtle. Trust me, the enjoyment when you see one of those will give you goosebumps.
7. Marathonisi – Turtle Island
If you don’t want to go snorkeling, another popular way to see the turtles is take a glass bottom boat. Glass bottom boat tours also stop on the island to enjoy its sandy beach.
8. Keri Caves
Just outside of Zakynthos Town are the Keri Caves. If you are an avid scuba diver, the caves are very popular to explore. If not, one of the best things to do in Zante is snorkeling at the Keri Caves. White sea cliffs reach up from the clear azure waters making for a spectacular day trip.
Like most of the popular snorkeling spots in Zakynthos, you can also go via glass-bottom boat. The waters are so clear, these are very popular on the island. And a Keri Caves tour stops at Turtle island to spot sea turtles in the crystal clear waters.
9. Banana Beach
The golden sand beach of Banana Beach is the longest beach in Zakynthos. Located in the Greek National Marine Park, this beach is famous for its rows of chairs under sun umbrellas.
10. Porto Limnionas
There’s no shortage of scenes of white sea cliffs plunging into crystal clear waters along the coast of Zakynthos. And Porto Limnionas is one of its stars. It is considered the best swimming spots in Zante that was once undiscovered.
People are starting to know about it, but that doesn’t take away from its beauty. There are chairs with beach umbrellas to rent and the Limnionas Tavern offers a lovely view of Porto Limnionas.
11. Horseback Riding
There are plenty of outdoor activities on Zante including horse riding on the beach, (highly recommended!) The Laganas horseriding center offers rides through sand dunes, forests, and the beach with an unforgettable experience swimming with horses in the Ionian Sea.
12. Laganas Beach Party
The island of Zante is not called “The Party Island” for a reason. The main part that gets this attribute is a resort called Laganas. There are a vast number of clubs, bars, and restaurants placed here for a reason.
This is the epicenter of all the parties. The crowds rush to hit the strip every night from 10 p.m. and party in packed clubs until morning. The vibe and energy pulses in every direction and it is easy to go bar hopping all night long.
Many bars have themed parties where they pour neon colors on people, bathing in huge amounts of white foam. And the clubs put on special fireworks displays almost three times a week. So you get the idea of the atmosphere and vibe that you can experience on Zante here.
13. Agios Nikolaos Beach aka St Nicolas Beach
It is not a surprise that Zakynthos is one of the best islands in Greece for a party. And St Nicolas Beach is another party beach on Zante. Located about 30km west of Zakynthos Town, is a typical tourist beach with plenty of water sports and sun umbrellas.
14. Relaxation on Zante
Zante is a party island but there are many places where you can relax, away from the crowds and the noise.The island doesn’t have to be that much “Party” as it is mentioned in the media.
Many of the resorts are scattered on the quiet parts of the island, and with it only being 410 square kilometers, you can go from one end to the other in few hours of driving. Many places offer a peaceful environment, where you can chill out, and shake your stress away just listening to the sea.
Some of the best places to relax in Zakynthos are:
15. Museums & History
The island of Zakynthos also has many historical attractions. The rich history of Zakynthos dates from 1600. B.C. One of the most famous people who lived in Zakynthos was Dionysios Solomos. He was a native of Zakynthos and Greece’s national poet, who wrote the Greek national anthem.
The Town of Zante (Zakynthos Town) contains two of them. One of them is the remains of the Venetian Castle located and if you take a hike up from Zante Town, you’ll discover the Venetian Fort that dates back to the 15th century.
Other Museums and historical places on Zante are:
Roma Mansion – This 17th-century mansion survived the earthquake of 1953. It hit Cephalonia and Zante, practically destroying both islands, with only a few buildings that managed to survive the impact. Monastery of St. Denis – In the mountain village of Volimes, you’ll find the Monastery of St Denis. St. Denis was the patron saint of Zakynthos who was born on the island in 1546.
16. Zakynthos Town (Zante Town)
As mentioned above, much of Zakynthos Town was destroyed in the 1953 earthquake, but it is a nice place to wander, do some shopping and eat some traditional Greek food.
Things to see in Zante Town are Agios Dionysios, The Venetian Castle above the city that offers beautiful views from the village of Bohali and the Byzantine Museum which houses a replica of the town before the earthquake.
17. The people of Zante
We Greeks are really nice, polite, and great hosts. We are happy to help and give you the best service anywhere. Often times you’ll find that you’ll receive a gift, just to make you feel more comfortable. We love to strike up a conversation and you’ll instantly feel like an old friend. Hugs are also a common.
The experience of having Greek friends has many advantages over the normal “tourist”. You may receive special treatment, or get free stuff. Many times the people of Zante will treat you to free drinks in bars. So what are you waiting for? Make friends in Zante today!
Olive oil, wines, hand made carpets, ceramic statues of Greece historian symbols, the small turtles, and many more.
The best thing about the holidays in Zante is that chances are you will meet somebody new, interesting, and experience some great things.
The Greek Cuisine of Zakynthos
Greeks are great gourmands. Their food is one of the most delicious ones you will ever taste in your life, especially on Zante. No matter what are your preference is. As a part of their hospitality, Greeks load so much food on the plates. It’s literally unbelievable. So, food lovers, this island will be like heaven to you.
Anywhere you go, there is a beautiful smell of fresh food, great oil (one of the most produced products in Zante) as well as a great atmosphere in restaurants, where you can experience fire dancing, and plate smashing.
(Those are common Greek traditions) With the expansion of tourism on the island lately, the gourmet side of it is blooming almost everywhere.
The best part of this – the food is affordable in Zakynthos, and Greeks take their hospitality and level of service to another level, so they will get you the best of the best, just to show how they value your visit and choice to eat at their tavernas & restaurants.
How to Get Around Zakynthos Greece
There are many ways to explore the island. You can go hiking, ride a bike, or take a small train to explore the resorts on the island.
You can also rent a motorcycle, quad bike or a car to do your own exploring.
So now that you know everything about Zakynthos, let’s get ready to make new friends. There is no better reward in life than this. This is why we travel, and this is what keeps us going.
“Life Is Not Measured By the Number of Breaths We Take, But By the Moments That Take Our Breath Away.”
And these are the best things to do in Zakynthos, Greece. Have you been to Zante? If you are planning to come, stop by for a visit and say hello.