The 18 best places to see in Zakynthos
Zakynthos (Zakynthos, Zante) is a Greek island, where every vacationer will find something interesting for himself. The geography of the island is incredibly varied: on the northwest coast steep hills descend to rocky shores with beaches covered with white pebbles and the azure sea; in the southern part there are fewer rock formations, and along the coastline stretches beaches with golden sand.
The central part of the island is a fertile plain covered with forests and olive groves. Zakynthos is also famous for its historical, architectural and natural attractions. Here is just a short list of things to see in Zakynthos, Greece.
Navayo Beach (Shipwreck Beach)
View of Navayo Beach (Shipwreck Beach).
Navayo Beach with its white fine pebbles surrounded by sheer white cliffs is perhaps the most picturesque and often photographed beach in Greece. It is located on the west coast of Zakynthos, in the so called Smugglers Cove.
The beach got its name (navaio means “shipwreck” in Greek) because of the shipwreck of a smuggler’s boat in 1980.
The peculiarity of this beach is that you can reach it only by water. It is regularly served by water-taxis, which depart from the harbor of Agios Nikolaos, located on the northeast coast of the island, 32 km from the city of Zakynthos.
Address: Shipwreck Beach, Elation, Greece.
City of Zakynthos (Zante)
View of the city of Zakynthos (Zante).
Zakynthos is on the east coast of the island of the same name, of which it is the capital. The city stretches in a wide arc along the steep shores of the bay.
Sadly, many of the neoclassical features of the city were destroyed in the 1953 earthquake, but the cobbled streets and squares which have survived are still a delight to walk through on foot and enjoy the fine bakeries, cafés, boutiques and jewelers’ stores.
Address: Zakynthos, Greece.
Byzantine Museum | Photo: wikimedia
This magnificent museum of church art is located in a beautifully restored building on the city’s main square. Almost everything in the museum’s exhibit was salvaged — by volunteer sailors! – immediately after the 1953 earthquake. The museum’s rich collection includes entire interiors of churches and monasteries.
In addition, the facade and fragments of the 16th century Church of St. Andrew of Volimsk, which was completely destroyed during the famous earthquake, are preserved here.
Address: Byzantine Museum, Platia Solomou, Zakinthos 291 00, Greece.
Roma Mansion | Photo: Heather Cowper / Flickr.
Built in the 1660s this stately mansion is one of the few old buildings that survived the earthquake of 1953 that destroyed most of Zakynthos.
The building belongs to the members of the Romas family who decided to restore it and in 2007 it was opened to the public. The interior decoration of the mansion with antique furniture, paintings and books gives the visitors an idea of the life of the local aristocracy, who lived a few centuries ago.
One of the few beaches of Zakynthos, which are part of the National Marine Park. Kalamaki is located in the eastern part of Laganas Bay and is among the best beaches on the island. The shoreline is a protected area, so many areas are fenced off, there are no water sports activities and the services provided to tourists are limited.
There is a single bar on the beach, where you can rent umbrellas and sun loungers. The golden sand is immaculate and the shoreline is very smooth going into the warm, clear water. From the beach you can see swimmers hundreds of meters from the shore – this is possible thanks to the calm and shallow sea in this part of the bay.
Address: Kalamaki Beach, Laganas 291 00, Greece.
Venetian Fortress Kastro
Atop the Venetian Fortress Kastro.| Photo: Heather Cowper / Flickr.
The half-destroyed ancient Venetian fortress sits on a wooded hill overlooking the city center. To see the fortress ruins, you have to overcome a 15-minute steep hike, or drive 2.5 km on a bypass road.
Currently, the hill is a quiet forest park, which offers stunning views of the city, port and sea. Scattered throughout the wooded area are dilapidated churches. There is also a 19th century British soccer ground.
Address: Venetian Castle, Bochali 291 00, Greece
In the northern part of the island at Schinari Cape is the most famous natural attraction of the island of Zakynthos, the famous Blue Caves. The sun’s rays hitting the rocky grottoes refract through the sea water, rich in minerals and calcium, and give it an emerald and bright blue hue.
Combined with the white rocks, it creates a magical effect! The amazing natural reserve of grottos and arches can be accessed by small boats equipped with glass bottoms, which depart regularly from the harbor of Agios Nikolaos on the northeast coast (32 km from Zakynthos town).
Address: Blue Caves, Greece.
Keri Caves | Photo: Andy Buckingham / Flickr.
On the southwest coast near Keri (14 km from Zakynthos) a number of spectacular caves lead directly to the crystal clear blue sea. These caves are extremely popular among the lovers of outdoor activities. Exploring such a natural wonder, especially with scuba diving or snorkeling, is probably one of the most exciting and memorable adventures during a vacation on the island.
The color effects from the sun’s rays that pass through the water and reflect off the walls of the caves make for stunning photos and videos. You can visit Keri Caves on your own with a rented boat or with a tour group.
Address: Keri cave, Greece.
Porto Limnionas beach
View of Porto Limnionas beach.| Photo: dronepicr / Flickr.
This beach with crystal clear, azure water against a backdrop of cliffs and grottoes is one of the best little crowded places on the island to swim and sunbathe. Porto Limnionas is in a wild area, near the village of Agios Leon.
You can get here by going down a newly paved road. The beach becomes more popular every year, so at the height of the summer season it can get crowded.
Two local taverns with terraces overlooking the sea rent out sun loungers and umbrellas. Porto Limnionas is a great place for snorkeling enthusiasts. There are also amazing caves and even an underwater bridge.
Address: Porto Limnionas, Artemisia 290 92, Greece.
Zakynthos National Marine Park
Zakynthos National Marine Park | Photo: Robert Wallace / Flickr.
On the southeastern coast of the island, along the wide bay of Laganas (8 km south of Zakynthos town) there are several stretches of white sandy beach. Since the 1980s, this place was the best resort area of the island with budget accommodation – it attracted a lot of young people looking for clean sea, sun and fun.
This area of the coast is also the nesting ground for the timid Loggerhead sea turtles, an endangered species. It is estimated that about 1,300 of these rare animals currently live around Laganas Bay. The turtles are protected in the National Marine Park of Zakynthos, founded in 1999.
During the nesting period, access to some areas of the beach is restricted. To learn more about the endangered species of turtles, visit the exhibition center of the park, located near Daphne beach.
Address: Zakynthos National Marine Park in Laganás Bay, Zakynthos 290 92, Greece.
Island of Marathonisi
Marathonisi Island | Photo: dronepicr / Flickr.
This islet, located in Laganas Bay, south of Zakynthos, is often referred to as Turtle Island, as the Loggerhead (Caretta Caretta) turtles, protected by the National Marine Park, lay their eggs here. For this reason, Marathonisi Island is deserted-summer visitors must leave the sandy beach before sunset to allow the turtles to come ashore and lay their eggs.
From the southern harbors – Limni Carey or Laganas – you can go to Turtle Island on glass-bottomed tour boats. Thanks to the amazingly clear water, there is a chance to see one or more turtles.
Address: Marathonisi, Greece.
Askos Stone Park
Askos Stone Park.
A nature reserve with rare species of animals and plants, located in the northern part of the island, near the mountain village of Volmes (30 km from Zakynthos). Askos Stone Park is a must visit for those who love animals.
It is especially interesting to visit here with children – the animals, freely moving through the park, can be fed and stroked. There are many deer, raccoons, peacocks, turtles, ponies, sheep and many other animals that live in the park.
Address: Askos Stone Park, Volimes, Greece.
Banana Beach | Photo: Stephan Rudolph / Flickr.
It is not only the longest, but also one of the most popular beaches on the island of Zakynthos, thanks to its soft golden sand, clear sea water and shallow waters. The whole coastline of Banana beach at the south end of the island belongs to the territory of the National Marine Park, so the list of services is limited.
Nevertheless, almost all along the beach you can rent sun loungers or even a beach gazebo. Banana Casa Playa’s bar and restaurant not only rents beach gear, but also provides vacationers with a full range of services, including snacks, drinks and entertainment.
On the eastern edge of the beach is the Water Sports Center, where you can rent jet skis or jet skis, as well as parasailing equipment.
Address: Banana Beach, Epar.Od. Zakinthou – Vasilikou, Zakinthos 291 00, Greece.
St. Dionisios Church
Church of St. Dionisios. | Photo: Stephen Caffull / Flickr.
The Church of St. Dionysius, reconstructed in 1948, is located at the southern end of the coast, near the ferry pier. It was erected in honor of St. Dionysios, the patron saint of Zakynthos.
The interior of the church is richly decorated with gilding and stunning frescoes; and the museum, with an entrance from the backyard, is a major restoration center. Museum exhibits include icons, priestly vestments, church utensils, and ancient books.
The address is St. Dionisos, Zakynthos, Greece.
Solomos Museum | Photo: wikimedia.
Its full name is the Museum of Dionisios Solomos and the famous natives of Zakynthos. Here are not only the manuscripts and personal belongings of the poet Dionysios Solomos (1789-1857), but even the mausoleum where his remains are buried. The poet is best known as the author of the Hymn to Freedom, which later became the national anthem of Greece.
Address: Museum of D. Solomos and Other Eminent People of Zakynthos, Zakynthos, Greece.
Monastery of Anathonitria
Monastery of Anathonitria.
This monastery is located a stone’s throw from Navajo Bay. It was founded during the Venetian occupation and was illuminated in the mid-15th century. In the 1500s the heavenly patron saint of the island, St. Dionysius, lived here. The monastery of Anafonitria was virtually unscathed in the 1953 earthquake.
The fanciful stone tower of the monastery was originally built for defensive purposes, but was later used as a bell tower. The church is adorned with stunning, though time-aged, frescoes depicting episodes of the lives of the saints.
Probably the most picturesque part of the monastery is the courtyard with freestanding antique columns, fruit trees, palm trees, potted flowers and vines winding their way along the stone walls.
Address: Anafonitria Monastery, Anafonitria monastery, 290 91, Greece
Panagia Skopiotissa Monastery
Panagia Skopiotissa Monastery
The monastery is located on the top of Mount Skopoulos in the south-eastern part of the island of Zakynthos. To reach it, you will have to make a long, grueling climb up a narrow, winding road. However, the 15th century church and the stunning panoramas of the surrounding scenery are worth the effort.
The walls of the church are decorated with frescoes as well as an icon of the Virgin Mary, which was painted in Constantinople and brought to Zakynthos after the island was invaded by the Ottoman Empire. An image of the double-headed eagle, the emblem of the Byzantine Empire, can be seen on the floor of the church.
Address: Panagia Skopiotissa Monastery, Zakynthos 291 00, Greece
View from Bochali Hill.
Bochali Hill is a hill, 2 km from the foot of which spreads the city of Zakynthos. From the highest point you have a stunning view of the town, the port and the Ionian Sea. Bochali Hill is one of the oldest areas of Zakynthos. There are many palm trees and olive trees, in the shade of which it is pleasant to relax on a hot sunny day.
The 18 best sights in Zakynthos – descriptions and photos
Unusual stone arches – an uncreated miracle created by the waves of the sea. Locals recommend visiting the Blue Caves in the evening or at dawn – illuminated by sunlight, they reveal all their beauty.
Temple of St. Dionysios on Zakynthos
The church in honor of the patron saint of the island St. Dionysios was built in the first half of the 20th century in place of the monastery that was destroyed by an earthquake in 1893. It was built with great care and proved to be one of the few that survived the great earthquake of 1953.
Church of St. Nicholas of Mola
The church of St. Nicholas of Mola, built in 1561, is the oldest building in the square of Solomou, as it is the only one that survived the terrible earthquake of 1953.
Water Village water park in Zakynthos
Water Village is one of the largest water parks in Greece, with an area of 40,000 square meters. It is located in the southeastern part of the island, not far from its capital, Zakynthos. There are a lot of water attractions, extreme (giant slides “Kamikaze”, “Black Hole”) and relaxing.
Byzantine Museum in Zakynthos
The Byzantine Museum is one of the largest and most interesting museums on the island. Its visit gives an idea of the development of Christian culture on Zakynthos. The Byzantine period gave the island a lot of monasteries and temples, active development received icons, painted walls.
Askos Stone Park
The stone park Askos on the island of Zakynthos is a unique monument not only to the man-made creations of stone blocks but also to the living nature. The reserve extends to almost 500 thousand square meters and hundreds of rare species of animals and flora live in absolute harmony on this piece of land.
Monastery of Our Lady of Anathonitria
The Monastery of Our Lady of Anathonitria is one of the few medieval buildings that survived the 1953 earthquake on the island. The damage was so minimal compared to the surrounding devastation that it was a miracle.
The Marine Reserve of Zakynthos
The Greek island of Zakynthos is often referred to as the “turtle island”. The amazing climate and the convenient location made this small piece of land attractive for the giant Caretta caretta sea turtles. To preserve the rare species, the Marine Reserve was established here in 1999.
The Carey Caves are a must-visit for all lovers of natural beauty. The combination of snow-white-blue rocks and the blue waters of the Ionian Sea and the mysterious grottos is an idyllic picture of an island paradise.
Transfiguration Monastery in the Strophades
The Monastery of the Transfiguration (Metamorphosi Sotiros) was built in 1241 by the Byzantine queen Irene, daughter of Emperor Theodore. It occupies the larger of the two small islands, known collectively as the Strophades and located 45 km south of Zakynthos.
The third largest island of the Ionian Islands was formerly called the “flower of the Levant” or the “flower of the Mediterranean East”. Such a name was given to Zakynthos by the Venetians who fell in love with the nature of the region back in the 15th century. The island of musicians, artists, writers and poets is famous for its stunning beaches, emerald sea and plenty of attractions.
In early summer, visitors to Zakynthos can watch the giant caretta-caretta turtles. The sea creatures, reaching up to one meter in length, at this time lay their eggs in the sand of the beaches of the Lagana Bay.
The capital of the piece of land with a paradisiacal climate is Zakynthos or Zakynthos. The area of Zakynthos is only 402 square kilometers, so it is not surprising that the number of local residents barely exceeds the figure of 50,000 people. It is remarkable that the region of Greece has preserved almost untouched nature: there are no industrial facilities that ruin the environment, except the olive oil and wine factories.
Zakynthos has more than 7000 species of plants, which blossom all year round thanks to the continental climate and fertile soil.
Cultural traditions are strong on this magical island. The birthplace of Zakynthian painting and cantadas, even today, attracts the lovers of fun festivities, music and folklore festivals that attract tourists from all over the world. Wonder the hospitality of the natives and taste the delicious dishes in the colorful taverns, which dot the entire coastline. Orange groves, tall pine trees and old villages are a source of inspiration for visitors to Zakynthos.