Zakynthos is the legendary island where the poet Ugo Foscolo was born, who dedicated his most famous poem to it, and, according to the myth, also the goddess Venus.
The iconic Beach of the Wreck, one of the most famous beaches of all Greek islands, is the symbol of the island: a postcard image in which you will certainly have already come across but that seen from the real is surprisingly suggestive.
Long gone are the romanticisms of the past, today the island of Zakynthos seems to have developed a double personality: the worldly and noisy one of the eastern and southern coasts, invaded by mass tourism, and the sweet and quiet one of the northern and southern capes and of the western and central regions, areas less beaten by tourists and therefore perfect for those looking for a slow-paced vacation.
Despite the proliferation of hotels, bars and clubs, the island is still a place where you can seek a deep contact with nature. Thanks to the establishment of a natural park, turtles still come to the island’s beaches every year to lay their eggs, enchanting the astonished tourists who watch in disbelief the natural spectacle of hatching.
Whatever kind of tourist you are, fashionable, romantic or alternative, in Zakynthos you will find the vacation of your dreams.
You don’t know where to stay on the island? Follow our suggestions, each town or village has its own characteristics.
The city that gives its name to the island is a lively tourist resort with a busy port and numerous stores, bars, restaurants and tourist agencies that thanks to a mixture of old and new and its location at the foot of the hill Bochali still retains its charm.
Destroyed by an earthquake in 1953, the city of Zakynthos has been rebuilt with the addition of shopping streets, spacious squares and elegant buildings; many of the historical monuments and churches have been reconstructed faithfully respecting the original design. At the top of the hill overlooking the city you can also see the remains of a Venetian fortress.
In the center of the city there are plenty of small and large hotels, while if you prefer a vacation home or a villa you should move to Bochali or Akrotiri, two areas just behind the city. From the hill of Bochali you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the port of the city.
To eat you will be spoiled for choice, including bars and kiosks, traditional taverns, chic restaurants and roof gardens.Accommodation in Zakynthos City
Not far from the capital of the island there is Argasi or Argassi, a seaside town now devoted to tourism that develops entirely along the coastal road, with the striking view of Mount Skopos in the background.
Scattered here and there, sometimes hidden by vegetation other times proudly exposed to the sun, are the ruins of old churches, houses, bridges and aqueducts.
Argassi is the oldest seaside resort of the island and this is reflected in the wide range of accommodations in this area: you can choose between hotels of various categories, apartments, studios, villas and rooms for rent.Accommodation in Argassi
Only twenty years ago Laganas was a small village, but today it is the nerve center of nightlife on the island of Zakynthos. This resort, with its succession of bars, pubs and clubs open until late at night, has become the favorite destination for young people who want a beach vacation full of nightlife.
In Laganas you will find a wide choice of hotels with swimming pool, apartments, rooms for rent and a camping, but since it is one of the most popular resorts of the island it is advisable to book well in advance.Accommodation in Laganas
Tsilivi is another popular tourist resort on the island of Zakynthos, equipped with modern tourist facilities and numerous accommodation options, either directly on the beach or on the inland hills for those who want a little more tranquility.Accommodation in Tsilivi
Everything you’ve read so far about mundanity and tourist services will seem light years away if you visit the villages in the north of the island.
Agios Leon, Kampi, Exo Chora, Anafonitria and Maries are not yet equipped for mass tourism and this is a key ingredient of their charm: few accommodations are available, mostly rooms in private homes or villas, while to eat forget chic clubs or trendy restaurants because you will find only small traditional taverns.
They are all located inland and therefore do not have beaches, but if you have a rental car it will not be difficult to reach the main places of the island.
We recommend the villages of the north to those who want to know an authentic Zakynthos, away from the logic of mass tourism and immersed in a natural landscape still untouched by the cement of modern society.
Among the other places to stay in Zakynthos we point out:
The coast of the island is dotted with suggestive white stone caves, which create extraordinary plays of light with the reflection of the blue waters of the Aegean.
The most famous are the Blue Caves, an unmissable stop of every boat trip on the island: it is a series of caves on the northwest side of the island, from Agios Nikolaos to Cape Skinari: some of these can be crossed by boat, others can be explored only by divers and experienced swimmers.
Very beautiful are also the Caves of Kerì, which develop near the promontory of Cape Marathia, south-west of the island. They are reachable only with a private boat or a boat tour; also in this case, some caves can be crossed by swimming while others are wide enough to be crossed by boat.
The promontory of Kampi (or Kabì), overlooking the sea, is one of the most striking viewpoints of the island. From here you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the island and the famous Gulf of the Seal, so named because the seals use the underwater caves in the area as a refuge where they give birth.
On top of Kampi stands an imposing concrete cross, erected in memory of the victims of the war.
To add a bit of history and culture to your vacation in Zakynthos do not miss the two interesting museums of the island.
Housed inside an elegant building overlooking the main square of Zakynthos city, the Byzantine Museum exhibits an exceptional collection of sacred art, arranged on two floors.
The Solomos Museum is dedicated to the writer Dionysios Solomos, considered the father of modern Greek poetry and author of the lyrics of the national anthem, who was born in Zakynthos.
The most beautiful religious building of the island is undoubtedly the Church of Dionysus, dedicated to the patron saint of the island and richly decorated with frescoes and golden stuccoes. Inside the church there is a museum of sacred art, with splendid icons and parchments.
The most attractive part of the island are its incomparable beaches with golden sand, the picturesque fishing villages or the busy coastal settlements, the organized beaches or the isolated coves with transparent waters, the steep rocks that provoke fear or quiet beaches where the green touches the sea.
North of the city are the beaches of Kryoneri and Planos-Tsilivi while further south are the coastal resorts of Argassi, a fashionable resort, Kaminia, Porto Zoro, Vasilikos, Porto Roma and Gherakas. To the south, the gulf of Laganas with the settlements of Kalamaki, Laganas and Agios Sostis is the largest resort on the island.
On the western coasts, where the bays of Exo Chora and Vromi or Porto Vromi are formed, there is the famous and award-winning Wreck Beach, considered one of the most beautiful in the world. On the northeastern beaches you can enjoy the sea at Agia Ekaterini, Alikanàs, Alykes, Agia Kyriaki, Makrys Yalos, Agios Nikolaos and others.
The Shipwreck Beach (known as Navagio in Greek) is not only one of the main attractions of Zakynthos Island, but one of the most famous and photographed beaches of all Greece, which has become one of the emblems of tourism in modern Greece.
This famous beach of fine white pebbles in one of the most remote bays of the island seems to be held in an embrace by two huge promontories almost vertical that overhang and at the same time protect it, sheltering it from winds and currents.
In 1983 a smugglers’ boat was shipwrecked on this beach, which has never been moved since and has become an essential element of the landscape, even giving its name to the beach.
Do not expect to find the beach of the wreck half-deserted as it appears in the photos of the catalogs of tourist agency: it is one of the most visited attractions of Greece and every day many tourist tours stop here.
Despite the crowd, the charm of the place will not disappoint your expectations: it is simply impossible to forget this iconic beach and the extraordinary blue color of the sea that washes its shores.
The Wreck Beach in Zakynthos can be reached only by sea, with a private boat or a cab boat departing from the nearby inlet of Porto Vromi or from Agios Nikolao.
Another possibility is to take part in one of the numerous boat tours which are organized by local operators.
The best vantage point for photographing the beach from above, just as you have seen in the pictures of many sites and tourist guides, is the panoramic terrace that you find on one of the promontories that overlook it.
You can reach it by driving along an asphalt road that you will find between the villages of Volimes and Anafonitria and then going down some steps from the parking lot.
If the beach of the wreck is the undisputed star of tourism in Zakynthos, exploring the island you can find other beautiful beaches.
Here are some of the most beautiful beaches of Zakynthos:
One of the symbols of Zakynthos are the graceful sea turtles, or caretta caretta turtles, that come to the island to lay their eggs.
In 1999 in order to protect the turtles and to favor their reproduction the National Marine Park of Zakynthos was created, a natural reserve of 135 square meters in the bay of Laganas.
In the waters surrounding the beaches of Laganas it is not so uncommon to see turtles swimming freely in the sea and if you are lucky you can also swim with them: an exciting experience that will certainly remain in your heart for many years!
The following are the most popular tickets and tours in Zakynthos that we recommend you don't miss.