The Italians call it Zante, the Greeks – Zakynthos – one thing is for sure, you need to visit this stunning Greek Island. Why? Here are 15 good reasons to start with…
1. Legendary Navagio beach (Shipwreck bay)
Chances are when you hear Zante, this is what you see. The symbol of this island, its unique selling point if you will, Navagio beach is absolutely stunning with its out-of-this-world-turquoise waters and incredible white pebble beach. Surrounded by high cliffs and thus secluded from the rest of the world, you can only reach it by boat. Picture. Perfect.
2. It has mesmerizing blue caves
It’s not just Navagio beach though. When it comes to Zante you can enjoy blue caves galore! Find them at the north part of the island, underneath Cape Skinari. What’s the deal? Different shades of blue dance on the white walls of the coves, a splendid sight created by the reflection of the sunrays on the waters. Magical? Yes.
3. Crystal clear waters
You have heard about crystal clear waters but here is the real deal as the waters around the island are truly mesmerizing. Imagine the most beautiful turquoise hues and waters so clear boats look as if they are floating in air!
4. That amazing climate
Lovely Mediterranean climate? Check. Long hot summers? Check. High temperatures? Check. Nonstop sunshine and seducing warmth all through summer, cool but pleasant winters – what more could you ask for?
5. Great party scene
Here we go: a popular party destination, Zante is ideal for party animals who want to dance the night away. Laganas is the night club hot spot on the island, so hit that up if you are after memorable nights out. Open fronted bars, loud music and partying till the small hours of the night are a given.
6. The Caretta-Caretta sea turtle
An endangered species, the Caretta-Caretta turtle (Loggerhead sea turtle) can still be seen in the waters here as the island is one of the few remaining mating grounds: you can see them on six separate beaches in Laganas Bay. Take a boat trip to Marathonisi Island (shaped like an actual turtle, seriously people!) to catch a glimpse of the turtles. Best time to visit: June, July and August when the turtles migrate to the bay to lay their eggs on the beach.
7. Local cuisine to die for
Visit a traditional taverna and sample the delicious Greek food on offer. In Zante you can try such favourites as moussaka, Greek salad, gyros, souvlaki and pastitsio (baked pasta dish). Why is it so great? The island benefits from great fresh produce, local olive oil and delicious seafood making it a foodie-heaven.
8. Historical sights
You hear Zante, you think party, but stop right there – you can find plenty of cultural sites here as it is only suitable for a true Greek island. The Byzantine Museum of Zakynthos, the Church of St. Dionysios, the Solomos Museum (the Dionysios Solomos and Andreas Kalvos tombs are a must) are all based in Zakynthos Town, making sightseeing especially easy.
9. Outdoor adventures
If you are the outdoorsy type then here is your reason to visit Zante. Scuba diving in particular is especially attractive as there are so many stunning caves around the island. Jet-ski, paragliding, canoeing and sailing are all options here as well.
10. See THE town: Zakynthos Town
The only town you will find in Zante, Zakynthos Town is vibrant and full of life. Get lost walking around those beautiful Venetian buildings – fully rebuild after the earthquake of 1953 that ruined most of the town. Top tip: Do visit The Aghios Markos square where the revolutionaries (popolaroi) burnt the Libro d’ Oro and planted the tree of freedom back in 1797.
Commercial street full of shops, great clubs and lively taverns, a beautiful port – getting bored is simply not an option.
11. …and visit Laganas
Apart from the turtles that you could see here, what makes Laganas such an attractive destination is that it is such a buzzing party spot. Not only this, but the beach here is one of the biggest ones in Zante as a whole. Stretching from Kalamaki Beach to Cameo Island, it boasts shallow waters, fine sands and plenty of taverns stretching along the beach (for your convenience of course).
12. …and Tsilivi
Another gorgeous place that makes the whole island worth a visit is Tsilivi. With a superb beach, plenty of water sports, great nightlife and beautiful scenery to boast with, Tsilivi truly has it all. Gorgeous, lively and sunny – it easily represents everything that Zante stands for.
13. The gorgeous Venetian architecture
Zante might be a Greek island but this is not the only culture the island has benefited from. Truth is, the island was part of the Venetian Republic resulting in a strong cultural influence that can still be felt around Zakynthos Town in particular: from the buildings to the old churches left from the Venetian period and even a Venetian castle looming over it all from the top of the hill of Strani. Those same Venetians called Zante “Fioro di Levante” or Flower of the East as it boasts over 7,000 species of flowers…
14. Vibrant carnivals and festivals
Festivities in the memory of Aghios Dionysios (Saint Dionysios of Zakynthos) are held both on August 24th and December 17th, while the celebration of the Holy Week over Easter is a very impressive event for both locals and visitors. Think great processions and ancient customs: truly remarkable.
15. Revel in the stunning sunset
Finally, we would never offer you a place that didn’t boast glorious sunsets… Savour the views as you truly unwind on your beach getaway. Memories like those do not need to be captured by a picture: fully take in the panorama and carry it home with you…