Exploring Zakynthos Island, Greece: Must-See Places and Beaches
Table of contents
- Zakynthos – what to see and what to do
- Top attractions of Zakynthos Town
- Laganas, Zakynthos Island
- National Marine Park of Zakynthos
- Keri (Limni Keriou), Zakynthos Island
- Marafonisi Islet, Zakynthos Island
- Gerakas Beach, Zakynthos Island
- St. Nikolas Beach and Banana Beach, Zakynthos Island
- Tsilivi and Planos, Zakynthos Island
- Tragaki, Zakynthos Island
- Alykes and Alykanas, Zakynthos Island
- Xigia Sulfur Beach, Zakynthos Island
- Agios Nikolaos Port and Beach, Zakynthos Island
- Villas and Apartments for Short-Term Rental in Zakynthos
- Book a hotel to stay on Zakynthos Island
- How to get to Zakynthos Island
- Zakynthos Airport or Port transfers
- Zakynthos car rental
Zakynthos – what to see and what to do
Zakynthos, also known as Zante, is the southernmost gem among the Ionian Islands, nestled 300 km away from Athens and 30 km from Kyllini port on the Peloponnese peninsula. To help you plan your visit to Zakynthos, take a look at our travel guide with must-see places and beaches of Zakynthos Island.
Zakynthos is fabulously beautiful. “Fiore di Levante” or the “flower of the East” is how the island was called by the enchanted Venetians who ruled here for over three centuries. Zakynthos is distinguished by its diverse landscape, featuring gently sloping sandy beaches in the eastern and southern regions with the most popular resorts. The western part boasts rocky terrain adorned with sharp cliffs, sea caves, and the iconic Navagio Bay, often compared to Santorini’s breathtaking views, making it a hallmark of Greece.
Notably, Zakynthos is the most important shelter in Greece for the endangered kind Caretta -Caretta sea turtle and the Mediterranean monk seal, Monachus-Monachus, protected by the National Marine Park.
Top attractions of Zakynthos Town
Zakynthos Town, the capital and main port of the island, narrates a rich history and cultural traditions. Despite the 1953 earthquake’s devastation, the city was rebuilt, with many structures reflecting Venetian influence from years of Venetian rule.
Solomos Square, Zakynthos Town
The town’s main square is named after the poet Dionysios Solomos, the author of the Greek national anthem, to whom there is a monument. The square showcases traditional architecture with notable buildings like Zakynthos City Hall, the Byzantine Museum, and the Public Library. It is also home to the 16th-century church of St. Nicholas Molos, the only Venetian building to survive the 1953 earthquake. The saint patron of the island, St. Dionysios, served here.
Church of St. Dionysius, Zakynthos Town
The large church of St. Dionysius, the saint patron of the island, is located near the port. The church was built in 1925 and survived the earthquake. Inside the church, you can see impressive artworks, including rare icons, frescoes, an impressive altarpiece, stained glass windows, golden chandeliers as well as the relics of the saint. The celebration of the memory of St. Dionysius with the removal of relics and various cultural events takes place twice a year, on August 24 and December 17.
St. Mark’s Square and Catholic Church, Zakynthos Town
St. Mark’s Church, the only Catholic Church on the island, stands at the heart of Zakynthos town, in the picturesque historic square of Agios Markos. Nearby is a beautiful chapel and an interesting museum dedicated to the poets Solomos, Kalvos, and other prominent residents of the island. This cobblestone square with restaurants and cafes is the favorite meeting point for locals and visitors.
Bohali Viewpoint and Fortress
Positioned atop Bohali Hill, the Venetian fortress offers a glimpse into Zakynthos’ past. The fortress was built by the Venetians in 1646. Though partially destroyed by time, military actions, and earthquakes, it provides panoramic views of Zakynthos Town, the port, and the turquoise sea.
Embankment of Zakynthos Town
A lively waterfront promenade adorned with charming bars, cafes, taverns, and shops, makes it a favorite spot for both locals and tourists to stroll.
Central Bus Station of Zakynthos
The central bus station KTEL of Zakynthos provides a comprehensive local bus service that connects to nearly every destination on the island, with a particular focus on popular tourist attractions such as Argassi, Tsilivi, Laganas, Alykes, Keri, and Vassilikos.
Laganas, Zakynthos Island
Laganas, situated on the southern coast of Zakynthos, approximately 9 km from Zakynthos town, is the most popular resort on the island. The extensive beach is characterized by soft sand and a shallow bottom, making it suitable for families with small children. Despite its constant crowding, the water remains clean.
The resort is well organized, offering a plethora of amenities such as restaurants, taverns, beach bars, cafes, and tourist shops, catering to various tastes. Laganas provides a range of water activities, including the option to rent boats and motorboats.
A noteworthy attraction is the charming islet of Cameo on the beach’s right side, Agios Sostis, accessible via a specially designed wooden bridge. Cameo Island, the second most captured spot in Zakynthos, features the southern coast’s smallest white pebble beach.
Zakynthos is renowned for its lively nightlife, attracting young people from around the world. Laganas, in particular, is the hub of nightlife with numerous bars, pubs, beach bars, and nightclubs that host lively parties with an excellent atmosphere. Laganas offers a mix of family-friendly beach activities during the day and vibrant nightlife for those seeking entertainment in the evenings.
Where to stay in Laganas resort, Zakynthos island
Laganas offers a variety of accommodation options – hotels, villas and apartments:
- Domes Aulūs Zante, Autograph Collection, 5*, Beachfront, All Inclusive
- Gardelli Resort, 4*, Beachfront, All Inclusive
- Denise Beach Hotel, 4*, Beachfront
- Akrogiali Luxury View, Beachfront
- Castelli Hotel – Adults only, 4*, 350 meters from the beach
- Poseidon Beach, 3*, beachfront
- Tzante Hotel – Adults Only, 3*, 200 meters from the beach
National Marine Park of Zakynthos
The National Marine Park was established in 1999. The primary aim was to protect one of the most crucial breeding habitats for the Caretta Caretta sea turtle. Encompassing the Bay of Laganas and the islets of Marathonisi, Peluso, and Strofadia, the park plays an important role in safeguarding these endangered species. The administrative headquarters of the park are situated in the eastern part of Laganas Bay, in the Kalamaki area. The sandy beach of Kalamaki is the longest in the Marine Park and it is the extension of Laganas beach. Notably, the Kalamaki beach is usually used by turtles to lay their eggs for nesting. Visitors to the park are strongly advised to adhere to all regulations and avoid crossing any protective barriers on the beach. You can recognize it by the characteristic wooden structures.
In addition, this park also protects the Mediterranean monk seal Monachus Monachus. This is one of the rarest marine mammals on the planet, with fewer than 700 individuals remaining worldwide. The Mediterranean monk seal is recognized as a coastal species that typically avoids venturing far from the shore. Previously, these monk seals used open beaches for resting and reproduction. However, due to increased human activity, the seals are now compelled to seek refuge in less accessible coastal caves for nesting.
Keri (Limni Keriou), Zakynthos Island
Keri Beach, also known as Limni Keriou, is a stunning pebble and sandy beach offering picturesque views of Marathonisi Island. While there are some stones at the entrance, the seabed transforms into sandy terrain, creating an ideal environment for swimming and snorkeling in the crystal clear waters. The long shoreline is shaded by trees, providing ample relief from the sun. The beach is partially organized, featuring bars, taverns, sun loungers, and umbrellas. On the beach’s right side, there’s a parking area for fishing boats and several boat rental services.
Marafonisi Islet, Zakynthos Island
Opposite Keri Beach lies Marathonisi, an enchanting islet accessible by boat or with an organized excursion from Keri, Laganas, or Agios Sostis. The island is lushly covered with pine trees, oaks, and olive trees. Marathonisi features two beaches – one with white sand and the other with pebbles.
The sandy beach attracts Caretta Caretta sea turtles, which come ashore to lay their eggs. That’s why Marathonisi is also included in the Zakynthos Marine Park. Visitors are urged to be extremely careful, staying within the first 5 meters of the beach to avoid damaging turtle eggs. Additionally, the island serves as a habitat for the endangered Monachus Monachus seal, offering a unique opportunity for their resting and breeding.
The islet features two picturesque sea caves, accessible by swimming or boat, making them ideal for snorkeling enthusiasts seeking underwater exploration.
Gerakas Beach, Zakynthos Island
Gerakas Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Zakynthos. It’s located at the southern tip of the island, about 17 km from the capital. Every year hundreds of Caretta Caretta turtles choose this sandy beach to nest. If you visit in August and September, you may witness the remarkable sight of turtle eggs hatching and the tiny turtles making their way to the sea.
Gerakas is under the protection of the Marine National Park and water sports and bars are not allowed. At the entrance, WWF volunteers will inform you of the rules to follow while enjoying your time on the beach. At the end of this expansive sandy beach, you’ll find a clay wall. Remember, it’s prohibited to collect any clay pieces. The water is exceptionally clear, and because fishing is not allowed, you can enjoy a rich variety of sea life.
St. Nikolas Beach and Banana Beach, Zakynthos Island
St. Nikolaos Beach and Banana Beach are located in the southeastern part of the island, about 30 km away from Zakynthos Town. St. Nikolaos Beach is competing with Banana Beach for the title of the best-equipped beach on the island. These two long golden beaches offer various water sports such as jet skiing, parasailing, banana boats, flyboarding, and water skiing. If you prefer a relaxing meal or drink, there are beach bars with snacks, refreshments, sunbeds, and umbrellas.
Banana Beach, the widest beach on Zakynthos Island, has shallow crystal clear waters. Known for its amenities and water sports such as jet-skiing, parasailing, bananas, fly-boards, and water-skiing. It’s a favorite among young people and some families. While popular during the day, both beaches clear out at sunset due to the distance from the main tourist centers.
Tsilivi and Planos, Zakynthos Island
A popular resort Tsilivi on the east coast, just 6 km from the island’s capital, offers a modern tourist experience. In recent years, Tsilivi has evolved into a tourist resort hub with developed infrastructure and entertainment facilities. Tsilivi boasts a range of entertainment options, including a water park, bowling alley, mini golf, and entertainment centers. The town is adorned with numerous taverns, cafes, and shops, contributing to its lively atmosphere.
Tsilivi Beach, consistently awarded the Blue Flag, stands out as one of the finest on the island. This long sandy beach, with intermittent pebbles, features warm waters, making it an ideal destination for family holidays. The beach is well-organized, providing amenities such as sun loungers and umbrellas, along with water sports facilities and a diving center.
Though Tsilivi’s is renowned for its lively nightlife, it tends to be less noisy compared to Laganas. Many accommodations are situated in quieter areas, ensuring a serene stay for those not inclined towards night parties.
Planos has a well-organized sandy beach that extends the beach of Tsilivi. The beach is complemented by various accommodation options, including hotels, apartments, villas, as well as restaurants and beach bars. Conveniently, city buses from Tsilivi and Planos provide a 10-minute ride to Zakynthos town, offering opportunities for shopping, sightseeing, and exploration. Both Tsilivi and Planos offer a balanced blend of entertainment, relaxation, and accessibility to the island’s capital, making them attractive destinations for diverse interests and preferences.
Where to stay in Tsilivi and Planos, Zakynthos Island
Tsilivi and Planos offer a diverse range of accommodation options, including hotels, villas, and apartments.
- Lesante Classic, a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts, 5*, 250 meters from the beach
- Contessina Suites & Spa – Adults Only, 5*, 150 meters from the beach
- Contessina Hotel, 5*, 150 meters from the beach
- Zante Maris Suites – Adults Only, 5*, 900 meters from the beach
- Olea All Suites Hotel, 5*, 850 meters from the beach
- AluaSoul Zakynthos – Adults only, 4*, All Inclusive, Beachfront
- Al Mare, 4*, Beachfront
- Filoxenia Beach, 3*, Beachfront
Tragaki, Zakynthos Island
Tragaki, situated on the slope of Mount Kavelari, is a charming mountain village located 10 km north of Zakynthos town. This picturesque village not only provides a tranquil atmosphere but also offers breathtaking views of the sea, surrounded by olive groves and vineyards. The main attraction in Tragaki is the Church of Panagia Spiloula, positioned atop a hill. According to local legend, the icon of the Mother of God was discovered in a small cave near the church, adding historical and religious significance to the site. Additionally, the Monastery of Panagia Dermatousa stands as another noteworthy cultural and religious site in the area.
The serene surroundings, combined with the proximity to beautiful beaches and popular resorts in the immediate vicinity, make Tragaki an attractive destination for those seeking both natural beauty and upscale accommodation options on Zakynthos Island.
Where to Stay in Tragaki, Zakynthos Island
In the Tragaki area, you’ll find some of the most renowned and upscale hotels on Zakynthos Island, boasting small private beaches. These accommodations offer an exclusive and luxurious experience, combining scenic views with high-quality amenities.
- Porto Zante Villas and Spa, 5*
- Lesante Blu, a member of The Leading Hotels of the World, Adults Only, 5*
- Atlantica Eleon Grand Resort, 5*
Alykes and Alykanas, Zakynthos Island
Alykes Beach is a long sandy coastline with stunning, crystal clear waters throughout its expanse. The salt flats (Alykes in Greek) behind the village of Alykes give it its name. The beach has a shallow seabed with soft sand, making it ideal for families, although it can get quite busy in the summer.
This well-organized beach offers a variety of sunbeds and umbrellas for rent, and you’ll find plenty of bars and restaurants along the water’s edge. Alykanas Beach, which is an extension of Alykes Beach, provides water sports facilities such as boat rentals, SUP trips, pedal boats, and jet ski experiences. The area has various accommodation options to suit every budget.
Xigia Sulfur Beach, Zakynthos Island
Xigia Beach is situated approximately 20 km away from Zakynthos town and 6 km from Alykes Beach. It features small white pebbles and has a captivating blue shade in the sea, due to the ample sulfur emanating from a nearby sulfur spring. The water, enriched with sulfur, is renowned for its therapeutic characteristics for a range of skin issues, cellulite, as well as joint and muscle pain. This beach is particularly favored by snorkelers. Families with children should be careful, as the water depth rises suddenly, and some parts of the seabed are rocky.
Agios Nikolaos Port and Beach, Zakynthos Island
Agios Nikolaos is a small port located in the northern part of Zakynthos Island, 30 km away from Zakynthos Town. Local ferry boats depart twice a day to the port of Pesada on the island of Kefalonia. Additionally, some excursion cruises to the Blue Caves and Navagio depart from Agios Nikolaos port. Adjacent to the port lies the small Agios Nikolaos beach, occasionally mistaken for its southern namesake. This beach is distinguished by its small pebbles.
Villas and Apartments for Short-Term Rental in Zakynthos
Discover the charm of Zakynthos, an exceptional destination for your summer vacation, offering many opportunities for an unforgettable vacation experience. Explore our wide range of vacation rentals including luxurious villas, charming holiday homes, and cozy apartments.
Rent the ideal villa for your 2024 Zakynthos vacation today. Booking in advance allows you to tailor your choice to specific preferences, whether it be a beachfront location or a private pool. Take advantage of early booking promotions and discounts to ensure a delightful vacation experience at a more affordable price.
Book a hotel to stay on Zakynthos Island
If you prefer to stay in a hotel, explore the best options on Zakynthos Island using the interactive map below. For personalized recommendations, please contact us – we’re here to help!Booking.com
How to get to Zakynthos Island
Flight to Zakynthos Airport
To get to Zakynthos you should take a flight from your country or Athens to Zakynthos International Airport (IATA code: ZTH). The airport of Zakynthos is called Dionysios Solomos and is located 4 km from the capital of the island and the main port. To find the air tickets to Zakynthos we suggest you use the online service AVIASALES. It is one of the largest online search engines for flights all over the world. This service helps to compare airfares from many airlines, travel agencies, and systems, and book the cheapest tickets available.
Ferry boats from Kyllini Port to Zakynthos Island
You can get to Zakynthos by ferry from Kyllini port on the Peloponnese Peninsula. Located approximately 290 km from Athens and 70 km from Patras, Kyllini is easily accessible by car or bus. Daily bus departures are available from the Kifissos bus station in Athens and the Patras bus station.
Ferries to Zakynthos depart a few times per day all year round. The trip takes 1 hour 15 minutes. Most ferries operating the Kyllini-Zante route allow the transfer of vehicles.
To ensure a smooth journey, we advise you to book tickets in advance, especially during the summer months when demand is high and spaces may be limited.
Check the schedule and buy your ferry tickets here:
Zakynthos Airport or Port transfers
Arriving in another country, it is important to see a person, who is waiting especially for you upon arrival at the Zakynthos airport. It gives you confidence that you will reach your destination, avoiding all troubles, long waits in the taxi queue, and possible overcharges. Our prices for transfers in Zakynthos include all fares, VAT, and any lawful charge; therefore, you know that what you pay is the final price for your transfer. Comfort and safety will be provided, which is especially important if you are traveling with children. That’s why we offer transfer services with professional drivers and a modern car fleet.
Zakynthos car rental
During your holidays in Zakynthos, you can hire a car from the Zakynthos Airport, from Zakynthos Port port, or your Villa or Hotel. To find the perfect car for your trip, we recommend checking DISCOVER CARS. It is a leader in online car rental reservations. It compares car rental deals from many companies so that you can choose which is best for your trip. Many other websites hide fees and extra costs from you. Discover Cars service includes all mandatory fees, taxes, and extras in the quoted price so there won’t be any surprises when you arrive at the rental desk.
Please note that this small guide to Zakynthos must-see places and beaches contains some affiliate links. This means that we may receive a small commission to help us maintain this site at no additional cost to you. We only recommend services and products that we use and find helpful.
Estimated reading time: 18 minutes
Updated: January, 2024