When planning a trip to the Greek islands, put the island of Zakynthos, Greece on your list. This gem in the Ionian Sea is a must-visit destination; 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. There are so many things to do on Zakynthos that you’ll want to spend at least three days enjoying the island’s attractions. If you have more time, even better!
Zakynthos Island, also widely known as Zante is located in the Ionian Islands in northwest of Greece. This name duality stems from the island’s Venetian past, where it was referred to as ‘Zante,’ a name that has persisted, especially in English-speaking countries.
Best to do in Zakynthos, Greece
We will show you the best way to explore Zakynthos Island, from visiting its traditional villages, savoring authentic Greek cuisine, and even witnessing 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 serve up a holiday filled with diverse and enriching experiences. The best way to get around Zakynthos is by rental car. You can compare prices here at RentalCars.om
The beaches and natural beauty of this Ionian Island capture the imagination of travelers seeking a vacation to the Greek Islands. Zakynthos is known for its nightlife in towns like Laganas but is also known for its traditional villages such as Alykes and Vasilikos. Let’s not forget its crucial role in wildlife conservation, being a sanctuary for the endangered Loggerhead turtles.
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 early in the morning for the best light and to avoid the crowds. Going snorkeling at the Blue Caves is one thing you do not want to miss. You will see what we mean once you dip your face in the deep blue azure water and see what is below.
You can hire a small private boat or take a tour of the many famous sites along the coast where you can go swimming and snorkeling. 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* Book your tour here. Most boat tours leave from Agios Nikolaos Harbor.
2. Navagio Beach – Shipwreck Beach
Located on the west coast of Zakynthos, Navagio Beach is a cove is surrounded by white sea cliffs that are 900 feet tall. The famous Navagio Beach (Which means shipwreck in Greek) has become the symbol of the island and is one of the top things to do in Zakynthos. The amazing view gives me the chills.
This secluded beach is famous for its shipwreck, the Panagiotis, which adds a touch of mystery and intrigue to the picturesque setting. Surrounded by towering high cliffs and turquoise waters, it is one of the most beautiful scenes in the Greek Islands. 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, Navagio Beach is closed, and you cannot go on the sandy beach itself. You can still enter the bay by boat, check out the shipwreck, and take photos, which I would prefer to do anyway. Who wants to stand on a small beach with a bunch of people getting in your way? You can book a boat tour to see Navagio Shipwreck Beach here.
The closure was due to rockfall from several small earthquakes and was put in as a safety measure. However, I also think it is an environmental issue as well, as in the past, there was overcrowding on the beach.
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 in early morning or later in the afternoon so you are not crammed in there with a bunch of other boats. Most tour boats leave from Agios Nikolaos harbor.
3. View of Navagio Beach – Shipwreck Beach
The best photo opportunity of Navagio Beach is from the lookout from the top of the cliffs. This is the classic view that has been used to market Zakynthos Island and one you have probably seen on Instagram. Because of this, you can imagine the number of people who want to see it from this angle, and you would be right. If you visit Zante Island in high season, you will be standing in line with a bunch of other people just to get to the platform for the view.
You should also be aware of a couple of things. There is only a small stand selling coffee and drinks by the platform and no bathrooms. When you get to the platform, you will have to fight for a view of the Navagio shipwreck with all the selfie-taking tourists and then crane your neck to get the postcard view above. Be careful not to drop your phone or camera as well. This view can be accessed by car or a van from Zante Town or Alyke. 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.
Snorkeling is one of the most popular activities on the island of Zakynthos (football is also popular with a professional football club), and it is one of the most exciting 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 in the Zakynthos Marine Park. 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 that will allow you to take in the beauty of the turquoise waters and what lies below.
5. 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 endangered, but Zakynthos is a nesting area for them, and they lay their eggs on many of its beaches.
Note: Visiting places where turtles lay eggs are prohibited for tourists as Zante authorities protect them. (Kalamaki Beach is one of the beaches where the turtles lay their eggs, and when they are there, Kalamaki Beach is off-limits. The region between Laganas and Kalamaki Beach also has some restrictions.
You don’t need to see them laying eggs through; this giant gentle turtle can be seen swimming at Laganas Bay. If you book a snorkeling or diving trip on Zakynthos, you can see the Caretta-Caretta turtle. Trust me, the enjoyment when you see one of those will give you goosebumps. Book this boat trip to Laganus on a glass bottom boat to spot turtles.
As we suggest, with all water activities and wildlife, do your research and ensure you go with a company that practices safe snorkeling with wildlife. If you see a ton of boats pulling up alongside a turtle and everyone jumping in at once, just tell your boat captain that you don’t agree with this and to move on. The last thing we should do is cause unnecessary stress to any animal.
6. Marathonisi – Turtle Island
Marathonisi is an islet just off the southern coast of Zakynthos and is has one of the most beautiful sandy beaches in the region. It is also known as Turtle Island as it looks like the shape of a turtle when you approach from Keri or Marathia. The island is also home to the Loggerhead Turtle, and the beach itself is only accessible for the first 3 meters from the shore. You will see it roped off beyond that as it is their nesting ground. This private boat tour takes you on a luxury cruise to Turtle Island, Keri Caves, and Mizithres.
The islet is located in the Marine Park, and the blocked-off sections are monitored. The best way to get to the island is to take the Taxi Boat that shuttles from the beach to Marathonisi Island, which is about 15 minutes. The other options are renting your own boat or jumping on an organized tour. Whichever way you choose, you will be glad you added this island to your trip.
7. Keri Caves
Just outside of Zakynthos Town are the Keri Caves. The Keri Caves are a series of sea caves located along the island’s southwestern coast. Their extraordinary beauty and crystal-clear waters make them a popular spot for tourists. These caves are accessible only by sea, and many visitors explore them via tour boat that include opportunities for swimming and snorkeling. Combine the beauty of the underwater world with white sea cliffs reaching up from the clear azure waters, makes for a spectacular day trip.
Like most popular snorkeling spots in Zakynthos, you can also go via a glass-bottom boat. The waters are so clear; these are very popular on the island. A Keri Caves tour stops at Turtle Island to spot sea turtles as well.
You can even rent a boat if you feel comfortable to explore around the island at your own pace.
9. Keri Beach
Keri Beach is another popular beach that is located in the village of Keri, in the southwestern part of the island, this picturesque beach is known for its crystal-clear waters and pebble-lined shores, making it a paradise for swimmers and snorkelers.
The charm of Keri Beach lies in its peaceful setting, away from the bustling crowds, where visitors can unwind and soak in the Mediterranean sun. The beachfront is dotted with traditional tavernas where you can savor authentic Greek dishes while enjoying views of the Ionian Sea.
This is the jumping off point to the nearby Keri Caves and Marathonisi Island which are accessible by boat tours. For those interested in a more leisurely experience, renting a sunbed and simply relaxing by the azure waters is a delightful option.
10. Keri Lighthouse
Keri Lighthouse is a remarkable landmark located in the picturesque village of Keri, on the southwestern tip of Zakynthos. This historic lighthouse stands as a beacon, offering some of the best views of the Ionian Sea and the surrounding limestone cliffs.
While there, you can enjoy some delicious Greek cuisine at the Keri Lighthouse Restaurant.T his popular eatery is renowned for its strategic location at one of the island’s most scenic vantage points, offering panoramic views of the Ionian Sea and the surrounding landscapes The Keri Lighthouse Restaurant terrace is a perfect spot for a meal or a drink, especially during sunset when the sky and sea are painted in vibrant hues.
11. Gerakas Beach
Gerakas Beach is located in the southern tip of the Vasilikos peninsula in the National Marine Park. This sandy beach has plenty of amenities such as sunbeds and umbrellas for rent
The beach’s proximity to Vasilikos makes it one of the most popular beaches to visit and it has easy access to a variety of tavernas and cafes, where one can enjoy local Greek cuisine.
12. Scuba Diving
Zakynthos Island is an exceptional destination for scuba divers, boasting a variety of dive sites that cater to all levels of experience. The island’s underwater world is rich in marine life and geological features including reefs and caves.
Avid scuba divers will love diving through one of the 400 caves around Zakynthos island. Among the top dive sites is the enchanting Keri Caves. The caves are popular for their excellent visibility to explore its underwater formations and nooks and crannies of the caves. When the sun shines down, the light dances over the rocks creating an interesting display of light. Divers can also encounter a variety of marine life, from octopuses to sea turtles. Plus, the calm waters and range of depths make the Keri Caves suitable for both beginner and experienced divers.
For the more adventurous, the wreck of the MV Terekhol Shipwreck, a Russian cargo ship that sank off the coast of Zakynthos in 2008, provides an intriguing exploration opportunity to see its haul.
Dive tours in Zakynthos are plentiful, with approximate costs ranging from €60 to €100 for a single dive, including equipment rental, depending on the dive center and the complexity of the dive.
Many operators offer PADI certification courses and guided dives, ensuring safety and an enriching underwater experience. Divers in Zakynthos can expect to encounter vibrant coral formations, a variety of fish species, and with luck, the fascinating Loggerhead turtles. The combination of diverse dive sites, reasonable costs, and the allure of the Mediterranean marine life makes Zakynthos a top destination for scuba diving enthusiasts looking to explore the depths of the Ionian Sea.
13. Banana Beach
The golden sandy beach of Banana Beach is the longest beach in Zakynthos. Located in the Vasilikos region, Banana Beach is easily accessible to make a day out at the beach full of sun, sea, and sand. Its sheer size ensures there’s always a spot on the soft, golden sands, making it perfect for families and groups.
There are activities and water sports like jet skiing and parasailing to more relaxed options such as sunbed rentals and paddleboarding. The beach area is dotted with a variety of restaurants and beach bars making it the perfect place to spend the day. Plus, the clear, inviting waters of the Ionian Sea make it a great spot for swimming and snorkeling.
14. Porto Limnionas Beach
There’s no shortage of scenes of white limestone cliffs plunging into crystal clear waters along the coast of Zakynthos. And Porto Limnionas is one of its stars. Porto Limniona is considered the best swimming spot in Zakynthos, which was once undiscovered.
This secluded cove on the west coast is yet another place with calm azure waters. Impressive rock formations and steep cliffs surround this popular snorkeling and swimming area. And there are chairs with beach umbrellas to rent.
With the Limnionas Tavern nearby, visitors can enjoy local Greek cuisine while soaking in the tranquil views over Porto Limnonas. More people are starting to learn about Porto Limnionas beach, but that doesn’t detract from its beauty. However, Porto Limnionas Beach is not large with only a small beach area, so it does get crowded.
15. 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.
The Laganas Horseriding Center is family-run by the Tsourakis family, who have been leading tours since 1994. They are ranked as one of the top 10 list of the best riding centers in Greece. You can choose rides to the Sand Dunes, Pine Forest, Laganas Valley and Beach.
16. Laganas Beach Party
We mentioned that Zakynthos is known for its nightlife. The island of Zante is not called “The Party Island” for a reason. The central part that gets this attribute is a resort area called Laganas. A vast number of clubs, bars, and restaurants are placed here for a reason. The area attracts a hip and youthful crowd with its mix of international DJs, lively bars, and nightclubs right on the sand.
This is the epicenter of all the parties with tasty cocktails flowing. 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. The beachfront is lined with venues offering a variety of music and themes, ensuring there’s something for every tastes where guests can enjoy cocktails and snacks under the stars.
The themed parties can get pretty wild where they pour neon colors on people, bathe in vast 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 you can experience on Zante here.
17. Agios Nikolaos Beach, aka St Nicolas Beach
Located about 30km west of Zakynthos Town in the scenic village of Volimes, on the northeast coast of the island, during the day, this beach offers a tranquil escape with its clear, blue waters and pebbly shores. Ideal for families and couples alike, Agios Nikolaos provides excellent facilities including sunbeds, umbrellas, and a variety of beachfront tavernas serving delicious Greek cuisine.
The beach is also a hub for water sports enthusiasts, offering activities such as snorkeling and diving, with dive centers available for equipment rental and lessons. The nearby port offers boat trips to the famous Shipwreck Cove and Blue Caves, making Agios Nikolaos a convenient starting point for exploring Zakynthos’ natural wonders.
It is not a surprise that Zakynthos is one of the best islands in Greece for a party, and at night St Nicolas Beach is another party beach on Zakynthos.
18. Korakonisi Ridge
Korakonisi Ridge is an off-the-beaten-path marvel in Zakynthos. Located near the village of Agios Leon, this striking rock formation is a unique geological landscape. Photographers and hikers are drawn to its rugged beauty providing a panoramic view of the Ionian Sea.
The area around Korakonisi is ideal for those who enjoy exploring natural landmarks and engaging in outdoor activities like rock climbing and trekking. The clear waters surrounding the ridge are also perfect for snorkeling, allowing visitors to discover the vibrant marine life. While the ridge is relatively remote, its untouched and serene environment makes it a worthwhile destination for those looking to experience Zakynthos beyond the typical tourist spots.
19. 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, and if you take a hike up from 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 surviving 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.
20. 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.
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, and Greek food is one of the most delicious food you will ever taste in your life, especially on Zante. No matter what 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 delicious food, olive 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. 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.
Some of the best places to eat on Zakynthos are: Nobelos Bio Restaurant – Located near Agios Nikolaos port, The Halfway House – Situated in Tsilivi, Votsalo Taverna – Located in the village of Marathias, Essence Restaurant – This fine dining establishment in Kalamaki, Keri Lighthouse Restaurant – Near the Keri Lighthouse and Porto Limnionas Taverna
How to Get to Zakynthos, Greece
The best way to get to Zante Island is by flying into Zakynthos International Airport. The Zakynthos Airport welcomes flights from major European cities, especially during the tourist season.
For those traveling from within Greece or neighboring countries, taking a ferry is a popular option. Ferries to Zakynthos depart from mainland Greece port of Kyllini, offering a scenic voyage across the Ionian Sea, and are well-connected to the Greek road network, making them accessible for those on a road trip.
Another convenient approach, especially for European travelers, is to drive to a nearby port and take a car ferry, combining the flexibility of a road trip with the experience of sea travel. Whether you’re looking for speed and convenience via air travel, or the scenic route via ferry, reaching Zakynthos is an integral part of the adventure, setting the stage for an unforgettable Greek island experience.
Best Way 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.
The most flexible and convenient way to explore the island is by rental car. You can compare prices here. This option allows visitors to travel at their own pace, access remote beaches and hidden gems, and enjoy the scenic drives Zakynthos is famous for.
If you feel comfortable, there are scooter rentals, motorcycle or quad bikes available, especially near tourist areas and the airport. You can also rent a boat or book a boat trip to many of the nearby islands and tourist destinations.
For those who prefer not to drive, the local bus service offers an affordable and reliable alternative, connecting the main town to popular beaches and resorts.
Taxis are also widely available and can be a good choice for shorter trips or when traveling in a group.
Organized tours and boat trips are also a good option as they provide transportation and guided exploration of the island’s key attractions, such as Shipwreck Cove and the Blue Caves.
Where to Stay in Zakynthos, Greece
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 with olive trees, sandy beach and private pool where you can chill out and shake your stress away just by listening to the sea.
Laganas: Ideal for those seeking lively nightlife, Laganas is renowned for its vibrant bars and clubs. Hotels like the Mediterranean Beach Resort offer luxury accommodation right on the beachfront, perfect for party-goers and beach lovers.
Tsilivi: A family-friendly option, Tsilivi boasts a beautiful beach and a range of activities. The Contessina Hotel is a popular choice here, offering a blend of comfort and convenience, with easy access to local attractions.
Argassi: For travelers looking for a balance between tranquility and accessibility, Argassi is perfect. The Diana Palace Hotel provides a peaceful yet convenient base, with excellent facilities and proximity to Zakynthos Town.
Vasilikos: Nature lovers should head to Vasilikos, known for its natural beauty and serene beaches. The Vasilikos Beach Hotel is a great option, offering a quiet environment and stunning sea views.
Zakynthos Town: For a more cultural experience, staying in Zakynthos Town is ideal. Hotels like the Phoenix Hotel offer easy access to historical sites, restaurants, and shopping areas.
Alykes: For a quieter, more relaxed vibe, Alykes is a wonderful choice. The Potamitis Studios provide comfortable, family-run accommodation, ideal for those looking to unwind in a more laid-back setting.
When is the Best time to Visit Zakynthos
The best times to visit Zakynthos depend largely on your preferences for weather, crowds, and activities. Generally, the most ideal times are during the late spring, early summer, and early autumn months.
Late Spring (May to Early June): This period offers pleasant weather with temperatures ranging from 20°C to 25°C (68°F to 77°F). The island is less crowded, making it perfect for exploring the natural beauty and attractions in relative tranquility. The sea temperatures are also warming up, suitable for swimming and water activities.
Early Summer (Late June to Early July): Early summer is ideal for those wanting to enjoy the warm weather without the peak season crowds. The temperatures range from 25°C to 30°C (77°F to 86°F). This time is great for beach activities, water sports, and exploring the island’s outdoor attractions.
Early Autumn (September to October): The weather remains warm (around 20°C to 25°C or 68°F to 77°F) but with fewer tourists. The sea is still warm enough for swimming, and the reduced crowds provide a more relaxed atmosphere. This period is also excellent for outdoor activities like hiking and sightseeing.
It’s worth noting that the peak tourist season in Zakynthos is during July and August. While this time offers the hottest weather and a vibrant atmosphere, it also brings larger crowds and higher prices. For those interested in observing the Loggerhead sea turtles, late spring and early summer are the best times, as this coincides with the nesting season on the island’s beaches.
Ultimately, the best time to visit Zakynthos hinges on your personal preferences for weather, crowd levels, and the nature of your trip.
About the Ionian Islands
Zakynthos Island is a beautiful island that is part of the Ionian island chain which is fast becoming a great alternative to the Greek Islands of Santorini or Crete. So, you know what that means: Get there now!
This group of islands is located in the Ionian Sea, off the west coast of mainland Greece. The islands have a strong Venetian Influence but also influences from the British and French. Tehy consist of Corfu (Kerkyra), Kefalonia, Lefkada, Ithaca (Ithaki), Paxos (Paxoi) and Kythira.
And these are the best things to do in Zakynthos, Greece. When looking for the best things to do in Zakynthos, include at least some of the cultural and conservation activities, and go beyond checking out the famous Shipwreck Beach or spending your time in the clubs. If you dig deeper, you will fall in love with this Greek Island.