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Useful hints and travel information for a Zakynthos holiday
Zakynthos (Zante) is the most southerly of the Ionian Islands, and with an area of 410 square kilometres the third largest of the islands in the Ionian Sea after Corfu and Cephalonia. Referred to as “the Flower of the East”, the Ionian island of Zakynthos once enjoyed a very favourable reputation with the Venetians. They ruled over “Zante” for ca. four and a half centuries (1363-1797) and their legacy is reflected in the island’s architecture, art and culture. The Ionian Island’s popularity is hardly surprising, as it offers lush vegetation and flowers on the one hand, long and sloping beaches with dazzlingly white sand on the other. For that reason, Zakynthos (Zante) is the most popular Ionian tourist island after Corfu.
With a population of about 14,000, Zakynthos Town is a fairly large island capital and offers attractions like typically Greek everyday life as well as numerous bars, taverns, ice cream parlours and shops. The hotels in the capital are a good starting point to explore the island. However, the so-called “chora” is quite noisy and hectic, and you will look in vain for a really nice beach anywhere near it. For that purpose you will be much better off in the other holiday resorts on Zakynthos (Zante) where you can stay in hotels, guesthouses or apartments. The most popular places on Zakynthos (Zante) are in Vasilikos and Argasi on the Skopos Peninsula in the southeast of the Ionian Island, in Keri in the western part, in Tsilivi in the east and in nearby Alikes and Alikanas. In the bay of Laganas in the south of Zakynthos, Laganas and Kalamaki also offer a lot of places to stay and entertainment for holiday makers, but Laganas is mainly geared towards young people who like to party. This is not for people who prefer a quiet holiday. There are numerous places away from the hustle and bustle of tourist life on Zakynthos (Zante) that are worth considering.
In principle, Zakynthos (Zante) can be divided into three parts:
- Eastern and southern part of the island with beautiful sandy beaches and the bay of Laganas with its famous “Caretta Caretta” turtles that come to breed on some of the beaches. Fully-grown turtles can be up to three feet long, and boat trips to see the turtles are very popular with tourists.
- Western part of the island that is mountainous and more remote, affording breath-taking views from the rugged cliffs
- The sparsely populated mountain area in the west and the north of Zakynthos.
Depending on the time of year and which part of Zakynthos you are visiting, the “Turtle Island” has it all: you can go hiking, swim in the crystal-clear water of the Ionian Sea, laze on a sandy beach, party all night or go sight-seeing. Why don’t you take a look at our detailed descriptions of resorts that will certainly help you to find the perfect place for your holiday on “Zante”?
Pictures from Zakynthos
Villages of Zakynthos
Alikes and Alikanas are two small tourist resorts in the north-east of the Greek Island of Zakynthos. Alikes is a former fishing village, Alikanas a functional tourist resort consisting of apartment complexes and hotels with international clientele, built along a main road with bars, restaurants and shops. It has a little fishing harbour next to a chapel dedicated to Agia Kiriaki, and quite a nice beach as well. Alikes is more attractive than Alikanas, but it is a tourist centre as well, mainly for package tours which makes it less attractive for individual use. Situated at an attractive bay, it offers a variety of entertainment and a beautiful beach. The village used to be a salt-mining place, and the salt mines are still there, just outside the village. There is a beautiful beach with a lot of entertainment possibilities.
Argasi is the tourist centre of the Skopos Peninsula in the south of the Greek Island of Zakynthos, with countless bars, restaurants, shops and entertainment possibilities. The clientele is international, but the majority is British. Argasi is very busy with a lot of traffic going through the centre, so it is not a quiet place. The beach is very busy during the holiday season too. The view of Zakynthos Town is absolutely stunning, though, and an excursion to the highest elevation of the peninsula, Mount Skopos, affords a view of the bay of Laganas and Zakynthos Harbour.
Kalamaki is the second tourist centre of Zakynthos and is located right next to Laganas. Like Laganas, it has a comprehensive tourist infra-structure, but it less noisy and has a beautiful beach with a special attraction: once a year the loggerhead turtles arrive to lay their eggs in the warm sand of a designated area that is fenced off to protect them and is guarded day and night by members of a wildlife protection organisation. Kalamaki has no cultural sights worth mentioning, but offers a lot of entertainment for tourists, so boredom is out of the question
Situated at Cape Keri in the west of the Greek Island of Zakynthos, the traditional mountain village of Keri is waiting to be explored. Surrounded by meadows and olive groves in a landscape of undulating hills, Keri is truly a remote village. According to legend, it was founded by pirates, another version claims it was founded by islanders who were hiding from pirates. Whatever the case may be, Keri has kept its original character; and whoever wants to see the most beautiful sunset on the island, this is the place to see it. The viewpoint is marked by an old, disused lighthouse and a truly gigantic Greek flag. The “Lighthouse Tavern” serves traditional Greek food and affords – apart from the sunset – a spectacular view of the rocky coast with two dazzlingly white cliffs rising like spears from the blue of the sea. The local church of the “Panagia Keriotissa” is illuminated by night and definitely worth a visit too. Those in search of shops and entertainment can drive down to Limni Keri, the little harbour of the cape, the car journey only takes about 15 minutes.
Laganas is situated in the bay of the same name in the south of Zakynthos. With the longest sandy beach in the whole of Greece and a comprehensive tourist infrastructure it is the perfect holiday resort for young people who want to sunbathe, meet lots of people and party all night. The party mile along the beach includes clubs, bars, taverns and discos and there are numerous souvenir shops and fast food restaurants like McDonald’s, KFC etc. Away from the beach there are more luxurious and expensive apartment complexes and holiday villas as well. Laganas is the perfect place for a fun holiday.
In the west of the Greek Island of Zakynthos, the small harbour resort of Limni Keri nestles around Cape Keri. With countless caverns and caves around the cape and crystal clear water, Limni Keri is very popular with scuba divers. There are some very good scuba diving schools there as well, most of which offer free trial sessions. The view above water is equally stunning, though, as you can see the famous turtle island of Marathonisi. Limni Keri itself is not very big, but offers some very nice bars, restaurants and taverns along its little marina. The beach has mainly pebbles, apart from a very short stretch of sand. For a holiday in idyllic surroundings with excellent Greek food Limni Keri will be one of your favourites. There are very few big hotels, but very tastefully arranged apartment complexes that will satisfy even demanding holiday-makers. Limni Keri is also a good starting point for excursions to Keri, Agios Sostis and to the island’s west coast. For an unforgettable visit to the turtle island of Marathonisi, visitors can hire a boat from one of the numerous boat hire places.
Tsivili is a big tourist centre on the east coast of Zakynthos that seems to tick all the boxes. There is a long, gently sloping beach with crystal clear water, a large choice of water sports and numerous beach bars. Families with children will find a lot of things to do, as the entertainment options are endless; if the kids are done with the banana boats, there is always the huge waterpark. There are restaurants serving Greek food, but international options are available as well. Accommodation is no problem, as there are hotels and apartment complexes galore, the quiet ones at the end of Tsivili. There are car hire places for more adventurous and independent tourists (but mind: if it isn’t Cyprus, drive on the right!), but regular public transport too - there is a bus service to most places on the island. Tsivili is the perfect place for families, young people or anybody who likes a vibrant resort.
Vasilikos on the peninsula of Skopos is small and a little bit out of the way, but a real insider favourite. Those looking for peace and quiet will find it there, and into the bargain the most beautiful beaches of Zakynthos. Vasilikos is situated between Xirokastello and Gerakas and affords spectacular views of the coast. The coastal road is a bit of a challenge, though, with potholes and deep ruts but no clear indication where the steep drop is; not good after dark, in other words. During the summer season the long and shallow sandy beaches are very busy with tourists and locals alike. Vasilikos has numerous beach bars, taverns and restaurants catering for a variety of tastes. It has a good tourist infrastructure and beautiful scenery which makes it the perfect place for a quiet, comfortable and relaxing holiday.
Zakynthos Town is the busy capital or “Chora” of the island and has a population of approximately 14,000. It is definitely worth a visit, as it has interesting sights as well as very good restaurants. The narrow lanes in the centre of Zakynthos Town are best explored on foot, as the one-way system seems to follow rules that tourists just don’t understand. The most famous church on the island is dedicated to the patron saint of Zakynthos, Agios Dionysos, and has a very interesting interior as well as a bell tower that looks like an Italian campanile. Other important sights are grouped around the biggest square of the town, called after the local poet Dionysios Solomos, author of the Greek national anthem. There are Italian style palazzi all around the square, housing the Byzantine Museum, the municipal library, the cinema and an outstanding coffee house. For tired and hungry sight-seers there is the pedestrian precinct with countless restaurants, bars and shops.
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