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Thursday, June 13, 2024

The Ultimate Zakynthos Travel Guide

During my trip to Greece in 2022, I had the absolute pleasure of exploring one of the the most beautiful Islands, Zakynthos.

While most tourists flock to Santorini or Mykonos, Zakynthos caught my attention thanks to the Korean drama “Descendants of the Sun.”

(Who knew binge-watching could lead to such great travel decisions?)

You should definitely watch Descendants of the Sun if you haven’t yet!

After a quick research (okay, a lot of Googling lol), I was blown away by the natural beauty of this island and knew I had to see it for myself.

So, I boldly decided to skip the crowded Mykonos scene and head to Zakynthos instead.

And let me tell you, I didn’t look back once.

Zakynthos still holds a special place in my heart as one of my favorite destinations to this date.

So join me as I share my Zakynthos travel tips.

Where is Zakynthos?

Zakynthos sits about 20 km west of mainland Greece and 260 km from Athens.

The island itself is roughly 40 km long and 20 km wide, covering an area of 405.55 km².

This means you can reach any part of the island within an hour of driving.

Best Time to Visit Zakynthos

You can pretty much visit Zakynthos any time of the year, but the best months are between April and October.

June to August are the peak tourist seasons, with steaming hot days and skyrocketing prices.

It might be a better idea to visit during the shoulder seasons—April to June and September to October—when the weather is pleasant, and it’s less crowded.

Winter (November to March) is an okay time to visit, but it can be too cold for swimming, with sea temperatures dropping to 12°C.

Many hotels, restaurants, and stores close for the season during this time as well.

Zante Town

I visited in early October, and it was perfect.

It wasn’t too crowded (that might have been because the travel industry hadn’t fully recovered from COVID), and stores were just about to prepare to close down for the season.

How Long Should You Stay in Zakynthos

I spent 3 days in Zakynthos and felt a bit tight to explore all the attractions.

I’d recommend staying for AT LEAST 4 Days to allow a bit of room to breathe.

How to get to Zakynthos

You can get to Zakynthos by air or by ferry.

It’d be more realistic to fly in unless you’re doing an entire road trip in Greece to the ferry port town.

I flew from Athens to Zakynthos on SKY Express airline, and the ticket was €40 Euros.

By Air

There are many direct flights from major European cities as well as from Athens.

You can find cheap flights from Athens to Zakynthos, if you can take early morning flights.

Source: flightconections.com

By Ferry

Source: Google Maps

There is a ferry from a westernmost town called Kyllini, running 4-5 times daily.

The journey takes around 1 hour and 15 minutes with prices varying slightly depending on the season

Make sure to check price and time table here.

Where to stay in Zakynthos

I recommend staying in either the southern or eastern part of the island.

I personally stayed on the east side, The Senses Tsilivi Hotel in Tsilivi, and I loved it.

Since the island is relatively small, it won’t matter much where you stay (assuming you have a vehicle).

But here is a quick overview:

The South: the most popular area with resorts, hotels, restaurants, bars and nightlife.

The East: the capital and busiest area on the island, Zakynthos town (Zante). Established beaches along the coastline, and family friendly hotels.

The North: a quieter and less developed area. Other than visiting the most famous attraction Navagio Beach, most visitors don’t spend much time here.

The West: Empty, mountainous, cliff area. Visitors usually drive through this reagion as part of their island tour, particularly to see the sunset at the Cliffs of Keri.

Laganas

Most visitors will stay here as it is the main tourist center.

Lots of hotels and resorts are located in this area, as well as restaurants.

This is where the nightlife happens, so this area is perfect for those seeking some party scenery at night.

If you’re a Marriott Bonvoy Elite member, consider staying at Domes Aulus Zante, Autograph Collection.

Photo credit:https://domesresorts.com/domesauluszante/

Tsilivi & Planos

This is where I stayed and it’s a bit quieter area than Laganas.

It’s within easy walking distance to the beaches and has plenty of great restaurant options.

There are many affordable boutique and family-friendly hotel options in this area.

I stayed at The Senses Tsilivi by Zante Plaza and it truly felt like a home away from home.

This hotel is run by an amazingly friendly family, who will greet you with a homemade cookies and coffee made with love and charm.

If you end up staying here, please say hi to the owner, Elena, for me!

The Senses Tsilivi Zante Plaza

Zante Town

This is the capital and busiest area on the island.

This town has beautiful architecture that is influenced by the Venetian and Neoclassical styles.

There is also an interesting museum called Byzantine Museum of Zakynthos.

If you enjoy exploring history and culture, and mingling with the locals, this area is for you.

I recommend checking out Hotel Palatino if you choose to stay in Zante Town.

photo credit: booking.com

Vasilikos

This small peninsula on the island boasts some of the best beaches, including St. Nicholas, Banana Beach, and Gerakas Beach.

If you’re looking to spend the day lounging on the beach or participating in various water sports, this area is perfect for you.

Check out The Bay Hotel & suites.

The Bay Hotel & Suites

How to get around in Zakynthos

I’m going to be very stubborn with this one:

Please rent a car unless you’re planning to just stay at an all-inclusive resort.

It will allow you to explore every bit of the island at your own pace.

You can rent from a notable car rental company like Sixt, located at Zakynthos Airport.

My rented car from Euro Alfa parked at The Senses Tsilivi hotel. Yes, there are chickens running around lol

I personally rented from EuroAlfa Car Rental as Sixt didn’t have available cars, and I had absolutely no issues with them. (€88 Euros for two full days, possibly cheaper if you can drive manual transmission)

It was a smooth pick up & drop-off at Zakynthos Airport.

You can also check Euro Alfa Car rentals review on Google Maps.

Sadly I’m not used to driving manual transmission

Where to go in Zakynthos

Beaches, beaches, and beaches.

Navagio Beach (Shipwreck Cove)

Zakynthos 290 91, Greece

You can’t say you’ve been to Zakynthos without visiting the astonishingly beautiful Navagio Beach.

There are two ways to see the beach:

1. From the viewpoint above the cliff, where you can look down at the beach.

2. By taking a boat to actually step foot onto the beach and enjoy its beauty up close.

Since 2021, the viewpoint has been reduced to a small designated fenced dock due to safety reasons.

So, you won’t be able to take those iconic photos you see online.

Plus, you’ll likely be waiting in a long line for a “mediocre” view.

This is only half of the line

Some tourists still venture through the bushes to get to the edge of the cliff, but I SINCERELY DISCOURAGE YOU FROM DOING THIS.

I highly recommend taking a boat tour or renting a boat (if you’re comfortable driving yourself)

I personally took the boat tour and there are three main places where you can start the boat tour journey.

(There maybe other departure spots operated by private boat tour companies, but these are main spots that will have boats for sure)

You can buy tickets on site, but if you want peace of mind, you can also secure a spot through GetYourGuide.

Powered by GetYourGuide

1. Agios Nikolaos

Agios Nikolaos 290 91, Greece

This is where most people take the boat tour.

It’s about 30km north of Zakynthos Town, a beautiful 45 minute drive along the coast line.

The boat will also stop at the famous Blue Cave on the way to Navagio beach.

I would’ve taken the boat from here if I hadn’t already driven to the viewpoint.

2. Porto Vromi

UΑναφωνητρια, Ζακυνθος 290 91, Greece

Geographically, this is the closest point to Navagio Beach.

I took the boat from here mainly because I had already driven to the viewpoint (where I was a bit disappointed) and decided to quickly go for the boat tour.

The boat leaves from here at a regular intervals daily, and it takes about 10 minutes or less to get to Navagio beach.

I was able to get on the boat upon arrival, and purchased the ticket on site.

It was €25 Euros, and after waiting for few more people to join in, we took off.

It also makes a stop at the Blue Caves.

Port Vromi is a great option if you have motion sickness and want to minimize your time on the boat.

My only concern is that the parking lot here was quite limited, so it could be a potential issue if it gets busy.

3. Zakynthos Town

Zakinthos 291 00, Greece

Zakynthos Town

This is the port farthest from the Navagio Beach.

For this reason, you’ll likely be on a larger boats with bigger capacity,

and the tours will be longer than those from other ports.

You’ll also have more tour options from here, including half-day tours, full-day tours, and sunset cruises.

Gerakas Beach

Zakynthos 291 00, Greece

This beautiful long stretch of sand is located on the southeastern peninsula of the island.

The sand here has a reddish hue, as do the surrounding cliffs, but the water is crystal clear.

This beach is relatively quieter than other beaches and is family-friendly.

It’s one of the only west-facing beaches in the eastern part of the island, making it the perfect spot to view the sunset.

Sunset at Gerakas Beach

Cameo Island (Agios Sostis)

Αγ. Σώστης 290 92, Greece

Bridge to Cameo Island

Just 2 kilometres west of busy tourist area Laganas is Agios Sostis Harbor.

This area is famous for Turtle Spot, where you can see Loggerhead sea turtles.

Nearby is Cameo Island, which you can reach on foot via a cute bridge. (I felt like I was walking on a bridge to paradise!)

Cameo Island Beach

This spot is within walking distance from Laganas, so it often gets busy with day trippers.

Unlike other beaches, this one charges €5 Euros for entrance.🙄

However, they do take a photo of you and make it into a keyring as a souvenir. (Who carries copper keys in 2024 though?)

Xigia Sulfur Beach

Elation 290 91, Greece

Photo credit: https://www.travelandlifestylediaries.com/

Located on the northeast coast, this beach is renowned for its therapeutic sulfur springs and stunning turquoise waters.

Nestled between high cliffs, the small and relatively secluded beach offers a peaceful retreat with basic amenities like sunbeds and a nearby snack bar

This beach can get quite busy, so be sure to get there early.

Myzithres Viewpoint

Keri 290 92, Greece

Located on the southwestern coast, this is place provides a stunning vantage point to capture the natural beauty of Zakynthos.

The unique rock formation rising dramatically from the Ionian Sea, this is the perfect spot to take an instagram-worthy photo.

St. Nicholas Beach

St. Nicholas Beach, Vasilikos 291 00, Greece

This Beach is a lively and popular destination for water sports enthusiasts and sunseekers alike.

It’s well-equipped with amenities, including sunbeds, umbrellas, and several beach bars and tavernas offering refreshments and local cuisine.

Easily accessible by car, it’s a must-visit spot for those looking to enjoy both leisure and excitement on Zakynthos.

Porto Limnionas

Artemisia 290 92, Greece

Situated on the west coast of Zakynthos, is a stunning and secluded cove renowned for its crystal-clear waters and dramatic rocky landscape.

This hidden gem has a tavern attached, allowing you to enjoy swimming and dining together.

One downside is that they charge a fee for sunbed usage, even for guests dining at the tavern. (which i find quite bizarre)

They were charging €4 Euros to use a sun-bed in 2022.

Where to eat in Zakynthos

Parthenon Restaurant

Kalamaki 291 00, Greece

This restaurant offers a blend of traditional Greek and Mediterranean cuisine.

With a cozy atmosphere and friendly service, it’s perfect for enjoying local dishes and fresh seafood.

MICRI ACROPOLI

Zakinthos 291 00, Greece

This restaurant is renowned for its modern take on traditional Greek cuisine.

The stylish decor and sophisticated menu make it a popular choice for both locals and tourists seeking a refined dining experience.

I recommend trying Moussaka (Greek lasagna).

Spartakos Taverna Zakynthos

Lomvardou 74, Zakinthos 291 00, Greece

This is a family-run establishment offering authentic Greek dishes in a warm and welcoming environment.

The menu features classic favorites made with fresh, local ingredients.

Keri Lighthouse Restaurant

Φάρος κεριού, Keri 290 92, Greece

Perched on a cliff near Keri Lighthouse, this restaurant provides stunning panoramic views of the Ionian Sea.

Known for its delicious Greek cuisine and romantic setting, it’s an ideal spot for sunset dining.

I recommend here if you’re seeking for some quality romantic time with your significant other 🥰

Porto Limnionas Tavern

Porto limnionas, Zakinthos 290 92, Greece

This tavern provides great convenience as it’s located within the Porto Limnionas beach.

It offers fresh seafood and traditional Greek fare with breathtaking views of the bay.

But you can skip here if don’t plan to visit this beach.

Final Thoughts

Zakynthos is a beautiful island with fantastic beaches, a dramatic coastline, and plenty of things to explore.

Affordable lodging options are readily available, and the restaurants offer delicious food.

Zakynthos is one of my favorite islands in the world, and I’m eager to return and explore more.

I’m looking forward to hearing your Zakynthos travel stories in the comments below.

And if this guide was helpful, consider buying me a coffee 😜

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