Zakynthos is the third largest island in the Ionian Sea
Zakynthos also called Zante (its Italian name), located off the west coast of Greece. The island is named after Zacynthos, son of legendary Arcadian chief Dardanos.
Numerous picturesque beaches can be found around the island, in the north-west, the imposing rocky landscape has a number of sea caves such as the famous Blue Caves. The majority of all beaches, towns, etc. are located along the south and east coasts, as the west and north coasts are extremely mountainous often with cliffs dropping many hundreds of feet straight into the sea.
Archaeological excavations have proved that Zakynthos was inhabited from the Neolithic Age. The island is first mentioned by the Greek poet and writer Homer. In his masterpieces, the Iliad and the Odyssey, he stated that the first inhabitants of Zakynthos were the son of King Dardanos, Zakynthos (which the island has been named after), of Troy and his men who settled around 1500-1600 BC.
Over the years the island was conquered by King Arkeisios of Kefalonia, and after him Ulysses from Ithaca. Today tourism is the most important source of income and Zakynthos is currently one of the most popular tourist destinations in Greece.
To See & Do
- Zakynthos Town – capital, on the east coast. This has the main shops, piazza and harbour from which the frequent ferries to the mainland port of Kyllini depart and arrive.
- Agios Nikolaos – (north east) although the small village has only 30 year-round inhabitants, it is the second most important port on Zakynthos, as the ferry to Kefalonia departs there. The bay itself is fairly sheltered by the tall mountains and island in the bay and has many sea front restaurants along with a local coastguard station. Boats running trips to the blue caves slightly to the north depart from here and although quiet it can get busy at certain times of day when bus loads of tourists arrive to get the ferry to and from Kefalonia
- Alykes and Alykanas – a closely linked pair of family resorts on the east coast north of Tsilivi.
- Argasi – A few km south of Zakynthos town on the Vassilikos penninsula. No real beach and consists of a few streets with hotels and more across the main road that runs up the peninsula. It has some bars and clubs but not a lot else to recommend it.
- Kalamaki – Located to the east of Laganas past the turtle “no build zone”. Although a busy resort its less of the all night party area than Laganas and is more suited to families. Most of its buildings and shops are located on the main road that runs between this resort, past the airport and towards Laganas. Like Laganas it shares a very long sandy beach that stretches for many miles across the south part of the island.
- Keri – Basically 3 parts to this. The pebble beach and coast area at Limniou Keri, the village of Keri itself in the mountains and further west the lighthouse of Keri which is popular with tourists who want to see a sunset.
- Laganas – The (in) famous resort of Laganas. This is the main “party” town on the island. The main street consists almost entirely of nightclubs, bars and fast food outlets. It’s very popular with the younger visitors and the 18-30 brigade. The beach itself has some nicer bars and restaurants along its length.
- Tsilivi – A family orientated resort north of Zakynthos town. It has some late night bars and near nightclubs but on the whole is a bustling family resort with all the usual hotels, supermarkets, restaurants and so on. It has a very wide and long sandy beach along with watersports available from it.
- Vasillikos – A quiet village in the south east on the Vassilikos penninsula. Here there are now no major hotels and just apartments, villas along with restaurants and tavernas. It has much more of a small village feel to it, has no nightclubs or other entertainment as is the place to look for a more relaxing, quiet holiday. In this area are the turtle nesting beach of Gerakas and Dafnia. Slightly to the north is Agios Nikolaos (not to be confused with the one in the north) where there are many watersports, basic scuba diving and a buisier place.
Zakynthos, due to mild winter rainfall, is an extremely lush island; the Venetians (who conquered it) referred to it as Il fiore del Levante— the Flower of the Levant. March-May is a particularly rewarding time to visit; the island is relatively low on tourists, the Easter parade takes place and the island blooms spectacularly with a myriad of colorful flowers and lush green hills.
The beautiful white cliffs that plunge into azure seas towards Keri have to be seen to be believed; the water is wonderfully clear and it is worth hiring a boat to see such sights.
The Odyssey • Locations & Activities