I grew up in Amfissa, a small town close to Delphi. When I graduated from school I moved to Athens for studies. Having parents from different countries inspired me from a very young age to gain awareness of different customs, cultures, places and people. This is what inspired my love of travel.
I also remember always having a camera with me and capturing all the places I visited. Later on, I took photography seminars in order to improve my perspective in the world of photography. One beautiful place that I visited and photographed recently was Zakynthos.
Zakynthos Island: Flower of the East
Zakynthos, also known as Zante, is a Greek Island located in the Ionian Sea. The Venetians ruled this island from 1484-1797 and called it “Fioro di Levante” (Flower of the East) as there are over 7,000 species of flowers.
It’s one of the most popular Ionian Islands known for Caretta Caretta Turtles which find shelter to lay their eggs on the wonderful beaches here. The marvellous landscape, wild nightlife and exotic beaches makes you feel like you’ve been transported to a tropical island paradise in the Caribbean.
I travel all year round but during the summer months I always try to visit the Greek Islands. In fact, I have visited Zante many times now but this time around it felt different. The most amazing aspect about the island is the stunning beaches and due to COVID-19 they would be empty.
This provided a great opportunity to experience the island without the normal hoards of tourists. So I couldn’t miss the chance to prepare my suitcase and go to Zakynthos for a 6 day holiday. It was an amazing trip!
Favourite Place: Navagio Beach Viewpoint
My favourite place is Navagio Beach Viewpoint. It’s the main attraction of the island that offers a panoramic view at the top of promontory facing the sea. Navagio Beach is one of the most photographed and iconic spots in Greece. It certainly lives up to the visitors’ expectations.
Top 10 Things To Do in Zakynthos
1. Spend the Day at Navagio (Shipwreck) Beach
Greece’s most popular beach, which is also ranked among the “Top 50 Beaches in the World”, is the main attraction of the island. Shipwreck Beach has huge limestone cliffs, white sandy shores and the most stunning turquoise water in the world. It makes for a unique and enchanting image.
The beach took its name after a ship called MV Panagiotis which was rumoured to be illegally transporting cigarettes and contraband. It washed ashore in Zakynthos in 1980. You can only access the beach by boat.
2. Visit the Amazing Marathonisi Islet
Marathonisi islet is known as ‘turtle island’ because of its vital breeding ground for sea turtles. The iselt is located in Laganas Bay and has no inhabitants, just exotic nature. You can find two beautiful beaches – one with pebbles and another sandy beach where the turtles make their nests.
In 1991, Marathonisi was established as a national marine park for the protection of the turtles and their eggs. The turtles are facing extinction because of human interference. If you don’t see them on the beach, you can look for footprints in the sand and find them in the crystal-clear waters.
The best way to reach Marathonisi is by joining a boat tour from Zakynthos or by renting your own boat. Please remember these tips to help save the turtles: don’t leave rubbish on the beach, don’t place umbrellas on the sand as you might destroy a turtle nest and don’t bring any pets.
3. Discover the Hidden Paradise of Porto Selinas
A hidden paradise because of its secluded location and since it’s not well known with tourists. Thus, this is one of the best beaches of Zakynthos where you can truly relax and unwind. Porto Selinas is located in the north of the island and is full of pebbles and huge cliffs that rise over the sea.
4. Take Photos at Navagio Beach Viewpoint
As mentioned before, Navagio Beach Viewpoint is my favourite place in Zakynthos. In order to take spectacular photos of Shipwreck Beach from above, hike to its viewpoint which is close to the Volimes village. The most iconic images of the island are captured here, especially at sunset!
5. Dive into the Crystal-Clear Waters of Stenitis
Porto Stenitis is located northwest of Zakynthos town. Although there’s no beach, there’s a calm bay full of rocks that slope into the sea so you can dive into the crystal-clear waters. The place is surrounded by hillsides covered in lush greenery and vast plantations.
Stenitis is also full of blue caves along the coast. Make sure you bring your snorkelling gear and discover the underwater world of this beautiful spot. It can be difficult to reach by travelling on the mainland, so I recommend taking a 4×4 vehicle or accessing it on a private boat.
6. Bathe in the Sulfur Waters of Xigia Beach
Xigia is a pebbled beach located on the northeastern coast of Zakynthos. It’s a unique beach because of the high sulphur content in the water which comes from a nearby cave. This gives the beach a distinct sulphuric aroma. Bathing in the sulfur waters is great for people with aches and pains.
7. Swim in the Blue Waters of Porto Limnionas
Porto Limnionas is located on the west side of the island and is famous for its wild beauty and dazzling colours of the sea. You will feel the water colder because of the underwater springs. It has a spectacular bottom to explore! Porto Roxa is another great spot nearby for those who have boats.
8. Marvel at the Rocks of Mizithres Beach
Mizithres Beach is a stunning beach that formed after an earthquake in 2018. It’s one of the most exotic beaches I’ve ever been to. There are two huge white rocks that sprout out of the water. They look like pyramids – one is small and the other is big, both surrounded by turquoise waters.
9. Explore the Charming Town of Zakynthos
Zakynthos is the name of the main city on the island with the same name. One of the main attractions is the statue of native Dionysios Solomos which adorns the main square. You can also visit the Byzantine Museum and Strani Hill where our famous poet wrote the national anthem of Greece.
10. Watch the Best Sunset on the Island at Keri
Keri is a village in the southern part of Zakynthos and is characterised by its old, stone-built houses and narrow streets. Those old houses survived the earthquake of 1953. They are great samples of local traditional architecture.
The lighthouse of Keri offers the best sunset in Zakynthos. There are some fantastic taverns around the lighthouse where you can enjoy the sunset while drinking wine. Keri is also famous for the cliffs of Mizithres rocks which rise over 300m from the blue waters of the Ionian Sea.
While you’re at Keri you will see a Greek flag blowing in the wind. It’s the largest Greek flag in the world according to the Guinness World Records.
Amazing Traditional Cuisine of Zakynthos
You can’t leave the island without trying the traditional food of Zakynthos. The island’s cuisine is based on Greek traditional recipes with a slight local twist. Eat their typical cheese called Ladotyri, a hard table cheese made from goats milk and stored in olive oil which has a distinctive salty taste.
Rabbit stew, roasted chicken and lemonato are all examples of local dishes prepared with the best quality fresh local products. Also, at the local shops you can buy the typical sweets such as pasteli and mantolato (nougat).
I would say that if you haven’t sat in a typical tavern eating the typical food and drinking one of the local wines, such as the Venetian influenced Verdea, while feeding the friendly cats you haven’t lived yet! Below are the taverns and restaurants I recommend for your visit to Zakynthos.
Let’s start with my favorite two with a great atmosphere, friendly staff and absolute value for money. Taverna Stavros Kampi Tou Papa is extremely popular for its balcony above the sea where you can dine watching a breathtaking sunset view. The Old Windmill is another great place.
This restaurant is a traditional, family business that is now taken over by the new generation. They use the finest ingredients from their farm. You can accompany your dishes with one of their homemade wines. It’s located in Askos and has a stunning view of the port of Saint Nicolas and Kefalonia.
Other good places to eat include: El Sueno, Ex Animo and Mandrakia.
Best Place to Stay in Zakynthos
One place I recommend is Askos House. A traditional house located in the north of the island very close to Navagio Beach. It provides comfortable accommodation and is ideal for families or couples who desire to have a memorable stay with a great view. The hospitality here is superb.
Tips for your Visit to Zakynthos
The generosity of the local people will impress you. Everyone speaks English and is willing to help with everything. They will guide you and show you the beauty of the island. Even if you travel solo, you will never feel alone.
Zakynthos has a typical Mediterranean climate which means the summers are blisteringly hot. Also, I would say that the island is a place that can be visited by friends, families and couples because it offers activities for all the different preferences. You can easily access it by ferry or by aeroplane.
If you are a party lover, try to visit the island during the peak season, between the end of July and August. During this period prices soar and everywhere gets overcrowded but the parties are booming until the early hours of the morning. Visit Zakynthos and you will discover paradise!