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Alykanas Village31.08 - 01.09.2023, 2 dnyPolopenze, Letecky Praha
Sorrento15.06 - 16.06.2023, 2 dnyBez stravy, Letecky Praha
Aparthotel Zante Plaza15.06 - 16.06.2023, 2 dnyAll inclusive, Letecky Praha
Omnipresent exuberant vegetation, flowers of various colours, turquoise sea, sandy beaches, diving with sea turtles, swimming in mysterious caves, surfing, yachting, mountain hiking, hospitable inhabitants, hot climate, trips to see the rare seals, hundred years old villages with their peaceful pace of life, and plenty of churches, monasteries and historical sites...
This is only a short account of what is waiting for the visitors of the beautiful green island in the Inonian Sea, Zakynthos. With its area of 410 km2 and the 123 km long coast, it is the third largest island of the Ionian Sea. It certainly wouldn’t go amiss to see what the origin of the island name is, since in case of Greek islands, the names’ origin is always related to mythology, history and a bit of mystery.
Of course there are more versions of how the name emerged. One of them is based on the Greek language with the island name meaning something like a ‘many moountains range’, i. e. the place of huge mountains, which wouldn’t be far from the truth. Another explanation has its roots in history. More than 3 500 years BC, there lived a king of the same name, Zakynthos, who contributed to the construction of the first town on the island. And finally the last version is related to nature and the hyacinths growing on the island, of which the name is similar to the name of Zakynthos to a certain degree.
If you are interested in where are all the places on the island are located, see the detailed map including all the resorts and beaches in the section Zakynthos Map.
Zakynthos weather and climate
Zakynthos is the sunniest island of the whole region but also of the whole Greece. The local climate is Mediterranean, i.e. very warm with hot and dry summers and mild winters with a great amount of precipitation. For a detailed description of the climate, including the weather history of the last years, see Zakynthos weather. It is the very humidity that contributes to the fertility of the island that is ideal for all thermophilic plants, some of them with tasty fruits and thus providing for the locals. Therefore during your stay, you should definitely taste some of the local natural products like figs, grapes, olives and olive oil, almonds, pistachios, nuts, citrus fruits and fresh vegetables of full taste. Yet not all the plants are meant to be eaten. Some of them simply protect the local ecosystem, and you can feast your eyes watching them in their natural habitat. Those include plane and pine trees, dense bushes of myrtle and laurel, but also the blooming jasmine exuding a heady scent, ibiscus or orchids. Besides that, you will also find there many healing herbs and sweet-smelling spices like sage, thyme or juniper. It is not surprising then that Zakynthos is sometimes called ‘the Scents Island’, ‘the Flowers Island’ or ‘the Flower of the East’. If you like the island and you would like to know it more, take a look at our overview of sightseeing tours to Greece. Some of them have Zakynthos included in their programme.
The island can boast one natural rarity which is a rare turtle species - the Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Caretta Caretta) that can be found on the list of endangered species threatened by extinction. The bay with the Laganas beach and the resort of Laganas in the south regularly becomes the place where the turtles that were born there return to hatch their offspring. That numbers about one thousand eggs, yet only a few animals have a chance to survive.
Today the mankind that has been the main cause of the turtles becoming extinct, does everything to save this rare species. This is why during the hatching period, there are several measures being applied, including the forbidden access to some localities but also limitations concerning artificial light and the presence of domestic animals in the hatching area and even stopping all the transport. You can see this primordial inhabitant of the earth if you go diving. You shouldn’t really miss this opportunity. After all, an adult loggerhead turtle is up to 1 metre large and weighs 150 kilograms! Besides the turtles, in the sea you can observe crabs, sea urchins, jellyfish or starfish, exceptionally also a dolphin. Another rare species is the threatened Mediterranean monk seal. Only a few last animals live in the hard to access caves on the small island of Pelouzo south-east of Zakynthos coast, where access is forbidden though.
The varied Zakynthos landscape is the result of erosion and soil movement in the ancient times. The majestic ranges are stretching proudly from the south to the west and north with the highest peak of Vrachionas (rising to more than 750 m), while the eastern part is covered with fertile lowlands.
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The island capital bearing the same name as the island is where about 10 thousand inhabitants live (out of the total 40 thousand). Those who work in tourim are ready to provide all the comfort for the visitors - including accommodation, restaurant services, but also sports and cultural activities. Especially the town centre is quite busy - there are many cafés, restaurants, and night spots. The side streets are calmer, full of sweet-smelling flowers and mysterious corners.
In the town port, the first thing that will catch your attention is the tower of the Church of St. Dionysus which is especially impressive during the night when it is nicely illuminated. The part of the town in its vicinity was built in a lowland, yet since the surrounding landscape is till quite mountainous, this charming place also had to be built on a slope of a green hill, where you will also find the remains of an old Venetian fortress. In fact the town has more Venetian, i.e. Italian buildings, due to the several hundreds of years long period where the island was ruled by the Venetians. Another interesting thing is that the current form of the town is the result of vast redevelopment and reconstructions that had to be made after devastating earthquakes throughout the whole last century, with the worst of the earthquakes hitting in 1953. It damaged mainly all the island infrastructure. The third and strongest tremor of which the epicentre was located near the island of Cephalonia, reaching 7.9 on the Richter Scale, destroyed more than 90% of the buildings. The only three buildings that could resist this devastating element, were the Cahedral of St. Dionysus, the edifice of the National Bank, and the Church of St. Nicholas. Today there are many interesting edifices, churches and museums to be seen in the town.
One of the most popular island attractions are obviously the beaches - Zakynthos has enough of them so that everyone could choose the right one. They all have beautiful azure sea, varied landscape, goldish sand, and breathtaking sunsets. The most famous beaches are Argassi (a very popular resort among the tourists with a goldish sandy beach and many possibilities of refreshment, sports and entertainment), Alykes and Alykanas (two mingling beaches with sandy surface and clean water), Banana (a vast beach with sand and pebbles, suitable for afternoon relaxation and sunbathing), Gerakas (one of the most beautiful sandy beaches on the island with impressive rock formations), Kalamaki (a beach located near the resort of Laganas, quite small but busy), Laganas (a beach famous to be the hatchery of the Loggerhead Turtle, a part of the national park and also the main island resort with all the equipment), Limni Keri (a small but adorable peaceful beach), Navagio (a sandy beach accessible only by sea, it has a genuine wreck of a smugglers’ ship) and Tsilivi and Planos (two resorts one very close to each other, very busy, will all the comfort and many sports activities). For a complete overview of beaches, see Zakynthos beaches.
What to do on the island?
It is no wonder that with such beauty Zakynthos is offering, the island was a place where the gods were dwelling, Apollo and Artemis, among others. The island is even mentioned in Homer’s works. Today everyone has the opportunity to visit this fabulous place and see for example the gorforsaken villages like Volimes (known for the traditional handicrafts), Maries (the place where Mary Magdalene reputedly brought Christianity) or Maherado (famous for a church with a magical icon of a Black Madonna). On the west coast, you can admire the Blue Cave with glowing azure water. Close to the south-east coast of the Strophades Islands, you can experience the thrilling sensation knowing that the sea underneath is filled with the deepest sea trench in the Mediterranean Sea, between 4 000 and 5 000 metres deep.
With its strategis position, the island is a perfect deparure point to get to know the beauties of Greece and organize trips. Close to Zakynthos, there is another island, Cephalonia with unique caves, fortresses and monasteries. You can also travel to the close Athens, for which you should reserve more time as there is a lot to see, including the Acropolis and the famous Parthenon, but also many museums and thousand years old historical edifices. And if you have some spare time, don’t miss the Peloponnese Peninsula, the paradise of all history lovers. This is where the famous city of Sparta, the seedbed of illustrious fighters, Olympia, the cradle of the Olympics, or Mycenae, the symbol of Greek civilization can be all found.
Tips for trips
There are really many beauties and places of interest on the island. We are trying to sum them up one by one in the section Tips for trips. If you know about a place that shouldn’t be missing, write to us! We will be happy to include it. Otherwise you will find an overview of all resorts, historical sites, museums and natural places of interest in the menu on the left in the section List of sites.
Transport to the island
Zakynthos is accessible only by air or by sea. Obviously there are also bus connections but those also need to use ferries to get to the island (unlike the island of Lefkada, for example, which is another of the Inonian islands but there is abridge and so you can drive to the island. It doesn’t have an airport though). Zakynthos has one airport, Dionysios Solomos, with the ICAO code of LGZK, located about 6 km south of the capital and the popular resorts of Laganas. The official airport website is Zakynthos airport. The airport is used mainly by Olympic Airlines, but there are also lowcost airlines and charter flights with travellers and holiday-makers. The interesting thing about Zakynthos airport is that night arrivals and departures are prohibited because of the turtles. Ferries to Zakynthos depart mainly from Kyllini (continental Greece, Peloponnese region) or Patras. And of course, Zakynthos has boat connection with all the surrounding islands. If you are interested in the timetables, take a look at the section Zakynthos flight schedules and timetables.
Transport on Zakynthos
There are at least two possibilities how to move on the island. Personally I would definitely recommend renting a car - you can travel as you like, visit all the remote and hidden beaches, stop in the romantic villages or in the local tavernas, with those in the island interior or small ports still offering the original atmosphere. The hire charges are not so high either - you will usualy pay around 25 - 30 EUR per day. When travelling by bus, you are much more limited by the timetables and the places where the bus goes (or doesn’t) go). If you decide to do without the secluded places and some of the splendid beaches, and you can make do with the visit of the resorts, than the public transport will be sufficient. For the routes and prices, see the link above.
Zakynthos on the internet
One of the sites you can try is for example Zakynthos-net.
Below you will find a few tips for accommodation on Zakynthos Island, including hotels, suites and studios. For a complete overview, see the section Zakynthos hotels and other types of accommodation.