Zakynthos, often also called Zante, is a Greek island part of the Ionian island group found on the west coast of Greece. The island has its own airport, and has direct flights from some European cities including London, Bristol, Amsterdam, Athens, and Rome. For those unable to get a direct flight, there are connection options from Athens.
The airport is quite small and not very nice, just something to keep in mind when planning out when to arrive for your flight.
If arriving from other Ionian islands, these islands are well connected by ferries. Check directferries or ferryhopper to find out when and where ferries depart from. Zakynthos has a few different ferry ports including Zakynthos town and Port of San Nicolas.
Renting a car is the easiest and best way to get around Zakynthos, and really the only way to ensure being able to visit different areas of the island. There are many common car rental companies based at the airport where you can pick-up and drop-off the car. For those who do not want to get a car, many will rent an ATV or scooter. There are also taxis available across the island, but would not be best to depend on if trying to adventure to different areas of the island.
In the more concentrated areas, such as Zakynthos town and Laganas, it will be pretty easy to get a taxi. There are taxi lines which are frequented by taxi drivers here, but keep in mind, when in more remote areas, it will be more challenging to get a taxi. In these situations, it is best to save a few taxi numbers and book in advance where feasible to guarantee a driver.
Driving in Zakynthos can be nervewracking for a few different reasons. For one, in the busier towns, it feels there are no rules. People will stop on the side of the road with blinkers on, weave through lanes on scooters, pass in bad locations and drive a bit recklessly. This can be challenging for those visiting and not familiar with the area. There are also a lot of ATVs and scooters on the road, which are more agile and can move through narrow spaces easier. Additionally, outside the main town, the roads are sometimes winding and narrow, especially roads leading down to beaches.
With all the above in mind, it is still recommended to rent a car to provide flexibility in your visit to Zakynthos. The island itself is not very large, and you can drive around much of it in a few hours.
The main town of Zakynthos is the best place to stay for those visiting Zakynthos and wanting to explore the island. The town itself is a bit rundown, but the location is prime. The town is home to one of the main Zakynthos ports, where many ferries arrive and depart from. It is also only 15 minutes from the airport. Aside from location, the town also has a good number of restaurant options and other niceties include shops, mini markets, gelaterias, cafes and more. The town is awake late, with many restaurants serving food late into the evening, and bars open for late night drinks.
The most famous beach in Zakynthos, and up there for all of Greece, this beach can only be accessed by boat. It is famous for the especially blue waters and more importantly, for a shipwreck that now sits on the beach. The Shipwreck is fairly recent, having washed ashore in the 1980s. There is no way to know the full story for certain, but it’s said to have been a boat smuggling cigarettes illegally.
When we visited, we were not able to take a boat to view the shipwreck since waters were too rough. We were also told people are not currently allowed to visit the beach itself because there are falling rocks onto the beach making it a dangerous spot.
An iconic photograph, and likely the photo seen when looking up Zakynthos, the viewpoint provides a spectacular view of the beach. Located high above the beach, you can admire the white steep cliffs, some over 200m high, driving into the beach where the shipwreck sits and surrounded by aquamarine and turquoise blue colored water. The water almost looks fake, as it has a magnificent blue color caused by the sulfurous minerals in the water.
Only accessible by boat, the Keri Caves are found on the southwest coast of the island. There are options to rent a boat to drive yourself, join a larger boat tour to the caves, or book a private boat tour to the caves.
These rocks are found on the southwest side of the island. You can see these two rocks by boat or from the Keri Lighthouse restaurant and viewpoint.
When visiting Keri Caves by boat, be sure to make your way over to Turtle island. This island both looks to be in the shape of a turtle when caught at the right vantage point, but also is a common location to spot sea turtles in the water.
Found on the southeast of the island, the peninsula is an area concentrated with more beaches than elsewhere on Zakynthos. Many of the beaches have sun-beds for rent and offer food and drinks on the beach. Gerakas beach and Banana Beach are the most well-known and famous beaches on the peninsular. Check out Banana Beach Club for a good spot to lounge for an afternoon, enjoying the sun and a swim in the water.
On the west side of the island, this is more like a cove than a beach, but a great place to visit. The cove is a nice spot to swim, even on rougher days, as much of the cove is protected by the surrounding cliffs. There are snorkels available to rent, and you can even scuba dive from this port directly.
Since there is no real beach, those who want to enjoy the sun will need to sit on the rocks. Alternatively, the tavern alongside the cove also has a bunch of sun-beds which are available to rent. This is especially nice as there are beautiful views, sun-bed side service for food and drinks, and a comfortable spot to lay rather than sitting on the rocks.
Book a spot on the west side of the island to enjoy an evening sunset over the water. L’ete Sunset Bar, noted below, is one great option for dinner or drinks.
Explore the town of Zakynthos itself. One aspect to note about the island, unlike other Greek islands, Zakynthos does not have many cute towns to offer. The town of Zakynthos has some great restaurants, cafes and generally a good spot to use as a home base but the town lacks charm found in villages on other islands.
True to its name, this is a great spot to catch a sunset in the evening. Found on the west side of the island, the restaurant and bar is set up with tables to enjoy a meal or drink with a view. It is best to call in advance to make a booking, especially if hoping to have a table at the prime sunset hour.
The restaurant is set-up in a way where the tables with better views have a higher minimum spend per person. In July 2023, the minimum spend for the top tables was 60 euros / person (food and drink). The second tier was 50 euros / person, the third lower, and the bar did not have a minimum spend. The restaurant really does have a gorgeous sunset view so it is definitely worth checking out this spot one evening.
Offering beautiful views of Myzithres Rocks, this al fresco dining experience is an excellent location for a nice afternoon lunch or evening meal.
Delicious and nicer Greek restaurant in town. The atmosphere and ambiance of the restaurant add to the experience and is well worth a dinner one evening. A few dishes I can recommend include the patatas bravas, the chicken tahini, and the mushroom orzo.
Great gelato shop with a variety of flavors and one of the tastier gelato spots
Café perfect for picking up a morning coffee and breakfast pastry (variety of sweet and savoury options available!)
Greek fast food spot with excellent gyros
Greek tavern in Porto Limnionas with a wide variety of Greek dishes available. For those visiting for more than just lunch, there are sunbeds to rent which where you can order any food from the menu
If looking for a quick bite before heading to the airport, this is an easy place to stop. Located just a 5 minute drive from the airport, you can grab a quick final snack here before dashing out of Zakynthos
Zante is known for being an island with nightlife. It draws in a younger, pre-teens and young teenagers, crowd with its cheap prices. The Vasilikos Peninsula offers goin options for the crowd in their twenties. Be sure to skip the strip in Laganas, This area is filled with a very young crowd and looks like kids going out in high school. The area is also busy, dirty and rundown.
The island provides beautiful views and great days spent on the water. However the island itself has a dirtier, trashier feel to it than other islands. The towns are not quaint and cute, and instead rundown.
Three days is a perfect amount of time to spend in Zakynthos. This allows you time to visit different parts of the island, get out on a boat, enjoy a nice beach day and sunset in the evening, and explore at a leisurely pace.
The summer months offer the best time to visit the island and ensure good weather. Plan a trip between June and August for some summer sunshine in Greece.
Transportation and Accommodations
Things to do and see
Food and Drinks