Zante

 

 

The shipwreck is the first image that comes to mind the moment someone mentions Zakynthos, but then a sequence of superb images unravel in front of you, of untamed mountainous landscapes of immense natural beauty, and beaches conjured up only in dreams, embracing you with their blue-green sparkling clean waters, making you feel as if you want to stay forever.

 

From another point of view, the Zakynthians, with their impassioned fiery temperament, beautify the island all the more, making you feel welcome every moment of your stay. Most recently, efforts are being made to also develop agro-tourism on the island, with interesting and alternative proposals, giving the visitor the possibility to discover the mountainous regions and the charming, picturesque villages of Zakynthos, thus promoting tourism throughout the whole year and not only during the summer period.

A day cruise around the island is one thing that must not be missed from your trip here, since it will give you the chance to admire the enchanting landscapes and to swim in areas accessible only from the sea.

The southern part of the island comprises of a sanctuary-refuge for the endangered species of sea turtles, Caretta caretta, as well as to the Mediterranean seal, Monachus monachus, exhibiting in this manner, the great environmental interest it holds.

Useful Info

Area Code: 26950

KTEL Zakynthos: +30 26950 42656, +30 26950 22255

KTEL Athens: +30 210 5129432

KTEL Patra: +30 2610 421164

KTEL Thessaloniki: +30 2310 551057

Radio Taxi: +30 26950 48400

Tourist Office for the Prefecture of Zakynthos: + 30 26950 22518

Tourist Police: +30 26950 24482, +30 26950 24483

Airport “Dionysios Solomos” Zakynthos: +30 26950 48793

Port Authority Zakynthos: +30 26950 28117, 30 26950 28118

Port Authority Kyllini: + 30 26230 92211, 30 26230 92000

Olympic Airways: +30 26950 28611, +30 26950 28322

History of Zakynthos

The island took its name from Zacynthus, son of the king of Troy Dardanus, who settled on the island around approximately 1,500 A.D. It is certain that the island’s history began from antiquity, however, due to the many devastating earthquakes, from which the island suffers frequently and intensely, researchers are not able to conclude much about its past civilization, other than the fact that it was a splendid one.

In many parts of the island, ruins of ancient temples, graves and buildings have been found. Due to its strategic location, the island has been pillaged many times and has suffered serious devastating catastrophes.

During the Venetian rule, the island had been characterized as the “Florence of Greece.” The Venetians themselves call Zakynthos, the “Flower of the East,” “Fior di Levante,” literally because of the many flowers evident, and metaphorically because of the flourish of literature and arts. Being the birthplace of our national poet Dionysios Solomos, Andreas Kalvou, as well as the novelist Gregorio Xenopoulos and other significant personalities, it also played an important role in the field of art in relation to the Zakynthian School in the 17th century. Music is the one great loves for the Zakynthians, an art form which appears is an inherent inclination and talent in all, with the renowned Zakynthian serenade, sweeping the visitors away.

Around 1807, the island is governed by the French Imperialists for 2 years, followed by the English, who proclaim it the capital state of the Ionian Islands. Zakynthos unites with the rest of Greece on May 21st 1864, after many years of foreign occupation.

How to get there

  1. By Air: There are daily flights from Athens, with duration of 45 minutes, with Olympic airlines. Concurrently, there is also an airline connection, although not as frequent, with Thessaloniki, Corfu, Preveza and Kefalonia. During the summer months, there is usually also a connection with other airports via charter flights. Zakynthos airport is located 3 kms from the town, and transportation is by means of taxi only.
  2. By Road: You may reach the island via long-distance buses of KTEL Zakynthos. There are daily departures for Zakynthos from Athens, Corinth, Patra and Thessaloniki via Killini, from where you are required to take the ferry boat to cross over. The trip lasts one hour, and is carried out very frequently during the summer months, whilst it is scheduled approximately 5 times daily during winter. There are also ferry connections with the neighboring island, Kefalonia, from the harbor of Agios Nikolaos Volimon.
  3. By Private Car: A third way to reach the island, is to travel with your own private car, to the port of Killini, and from there take the ferry boat, to cross over to you final destination! If you intend on visiting the island during the peak tourist season, because of the increase in traffic, we recommend you reserve your tickets well in advance.
    Telephone

 

Area Code: 26950
KTEL Zakynthos: +30 26950 42656, +30 26950 22255
KTEL Athens: +30 210 5129432
KTEL Patra: +30 2610 421164
KTEL Thessaloniki: +30 2310 551057
Radio Taxi: +30 26950 48400
Tourist Office for the Prefecture of Zakynthos: +30 26950 22518
Tourist Police: +30 26950 24482, +30 26950 24483
Airport “Dionysios Solomos” Zakynthos: +30 26950 48793
Port Authority Zakynthos: +30 26950 28117, +30 26950 28118
Port Authority Kyllini: +30 26230 92211, +30 26230 92000
Olympic Airways: +30 26950 28611, +30 26950 28322

 

Getting Around the Island

The island of Zakynthos is relatively large in size, and for this reason the best solution is to have your own private means of transport, to see the island properly and to visit the most possible places. If you do not have a private car at your disposal, or for whatever reason you choose not to take it with you, then there is no cause for concern.

On the island, there are many rental car and motorbike companies, which will take care to assist you. Do not neglect to do your own market research, before you decide on which supplier, as rates vary quite substantially. Very common nowadays is the rental of the 4 wheeled dirt bike, “gourouna,” a means of transport more convenient than the moped!

You can also, of course, get around using the KTEL Zakynthos [local bus service], which carries out, especially during the summer months, many timetables to and from the villages on the island. Another option is to do a bus tour of the whole island, which will enable you to visit the picturesque villages of Zakynthos.

There is, at the same time, the possibility to visit the distant beaches, amongst which are also placed the most beautiful of the island [Blue Caves and Shipwreck] with boats commencing primarily from Zakynthos town, and from other areas, which travel around the island.

Finally, taxis are quite easily accessible, and at reasonable rates.

Where to Stay

Zakynthos has a very good tourist infrastructure, and you will find choices for all tastes and budgets: from deluxe hotel properties offering all types of facilities and comfort to rental rooms and even camping sites, for those who prefer to be nearer to nature, at Tragaki, Laganas, Lithakia and Gerakari. In particular, there are a wide variety of choices from the Easter period to the end of October, which is the operational period for most accommodation, and are entirely dependant upon your requirements, and financial needs, with regard to what you will choose for your stay.

At Argassi, choose the Zakantha beach hotel, which is a situated only a step away from the sea. It provides very good facilities in combination with reasonable rates. It offers a pool, restaurant and a very beautiful garden, where you may enjoy a coffee or drink, whilst gazing at the sea which is located directly below. We suggest you request a room with a view, which is magical, and reaches as far as the town of Zakynthos. The hotel is located at a most central location in Argassi, with all conveniences nearby. The only negative factor is that the beach at this particular area is not very notable.

Another good choice can be found in between Argassi and Kalamaki, at Limni [lake] Makri and it is no other than the hotel “Ilaria” where you will find fully furnished bungalows, situated amongst beautiful gardens, a pool and a very good restaurant. Located in quiet surroundings, it provides easy access for persons with mobility disabilities and it even offers an open air amphitheatre! Situated very near to the cosmopolitan resort of Laganas, it is assured that you will be very satisfied with your stay here.

At Vasiliko, in the area of Gerakas, on an 18 acre land estate amongst nature, you will find the complex “Liuba Houses” for those who prefer alternative options and seek tranquility and contact with nature. In fact, this particular complex remains open throughout the entire year and rooms also have central heating during the winter months.

 

Where to Swim

In Zakynthos, the question is where to swim first, and not, where to swim in general!! An array of beaches, each with its own characteristics, but all capable of bewitching you…and each day you can discover yet another new, small paradise…
If you prefer sandy beaches, then you will favor the eastern and southern sides of the island, whilst, if you prefer isolation and seek quiet beaches, then you won’t tear yourself away from the northern and western parts of the island, where the landscape is untamed, with many sea cliffs, but with dream-like beaches. This combination is totally unique, blue-green heavenly waters, in complete harmony with dense vegetation and mountainous landscapes.

The most beautiful beaches are inaccessible, and may only be reached by the sea, demonstrating in this way, that the greatest pleasures in life need effort! Fortunate are those who vacation with sailing yachts, and may take delight in whichever small paradise catches their eye, for as long as they wish! Regardless of the location on the island you choose to spend your summer vacations, you must most definitely not miss the boat trip to the Blue Caves and the Shipwreck (Navagio), as well as to Marathonissi Island, which is located across Lagana Gulf, as well as to Keri.

If you prefer quiet surroundings, then a little further down from Tsilivi beach you will encounter Boukas beach, which, definitively is the same beach, also organized, but without bars, as well as the nearby beaches, Tragaki and Krioneri.

 

Places to Visit

It is highly likely you will not choose the town of Zakynthos for your stay; nevertheless, it is imperative that you visit it to feel the heartbeat of the island, as it beats in its capital.

Take a stroll on the Strata Marina, at the beachside, and become one of the crowd at the bustling main square of Agios Markos. Visit one of its cafes, bars or taverns and observe how tranquil life passes by in a ….capital!

An essential destination is Bohali, and the Enetian castle, from where you will have the most stunning view over the town and the Ionian Sea.

Furthermore, it will be worth your while making the time to visit Keri, in the southern part of the island. It is a most beautiful village with lush green hills, narrow pathways, and picturesque stone houses. This is where the lighthouse is located [Faros], from where you will be enchanted by the view, especially if you are fortunate enough to enjoy the sunset…

Marathonissi-Keri: situated across Limni Keriou. There are two beaches and very dense vegetation, whilst its main characteristic is that it is here where the turtles Caretta caretta build their nests. For this very reason, supervisors of the National Sea Park live here permanently and protect the turtles and their eggs. The chapel of Theotokou Odigitrias of Marathonisiotissas is located at the turtle’s beach.

Blue Caves-Keri: Here, in an area of 18 kms, you will find incredibly beautiful beaches – small gulfs in complete contrast and yet at the same time, harmonious with the country element and the steep cliff tops, whilst discovering the caves which dominate the area. If you enjoy sailing, then this is the ideal place for you!

Blue Caves-Volimes: situated at the northern part of the island. One may visit them, commencing from Cape Skinari either with the small boats which carry out trips around the island.

Laganas, in the other direction, in the south part of the island, with its endless beach, is possibly the most popular resort of Zakynthos. Although we would not personally recommend it for a stay, it is of the essence that one visits to see up close the turtles Caretta caretta.

It is also worthwhile for one to get acquainted with some traditional villages of Zakynthos, such as Ano and Kato Volimes, renowned for its craft in weaving and embroidery, the harbor of Agios Nikolaos, where you may embark with one of the boats which depart for the Blue Caves; Mahairado, where you will find the church of Agias Mavras; Orthonies, with its picturesque stone houses, and the historical monastery of Theotokou Spilaiotissas, as well as Agios Leontas.

At the traditional village Kambi, on top of the mountain Shiza, one will find a great cross – a memorial for all those who perished in the civil war as well as the 2nd world war, a locality which offers a magical view. In this area you will find many taverns and cafes, where one can enjoy a magnificent sunset.

You will surely go to Vanato, in the Municipality of Arkadia, if you find yourselves on the island in September, as the first Sunday of this month, the traditional church fair of Iperagias Theotokou or Panagoulas takes place.

Where to Eat

Zakynthos has a particularly flavorsome cuisine. You will find many taverns in picturesque areas of the island, on steep outcrops with wonderful views…

At Porto Roma, after you have a swim at the charming beach, climb up to the tavern, directly above, and take pleasure in traditional Zakynthian cuisine and fresh fish with an amazing view.

At Kambi, also west of the island, you will find lots of appealing taverns with traditional local food. Try the delectable specialty, stuffed rabbit and chicken, and the local wine.

 

Night life

When night comes, the choices are plentiful, but that which will prevail depends entirely upon your preferences. A visit to the town and the bustling square of Agios Markos for your first drink or a dessert is a vital start for your night walk.

To continue, you may choose from relaxing proposals with magnificent bars with offer stunning, this time, night views, or from more extreme ones, with clubs and bouzoukia…

Laganas is perhaps the most cosmopolitan area of the island and you will adore it if you enjoy the bustling life, especially the nightlife, since here you will find many night clubs and bars including restaurants.

In Zakynthos, you will not be short of anything; however you decide to spend your evenings.

 

Main attractions

  • Bohali: in the town of Zakynthos, and at its highest peak, naturally the view is incomparable and panoramic. Here you will also find the castle, where the old quarter is located, whilst at the square, the church of Panagia of Hrisopigi or Zoodochos Pigis, will surely capture your attention.
  • At Kambi, at Shiza Cliff to enjoy the view and the sunset.
  • Argassi- Panagia Skopiotissa: climb to the peak of mount Skopos, and you will be rewarded for your efforts by the view you will encounter, as well as from the visit to the monastery of Panagia Skopitisssas, built in 1624.
  • Shipwreck-Volimes (Navagio): this is one of the most well known beaches in Greece, and not unrightfully so. It is named, as a result of a ship that was smuggling illicit cigarettes and was shipwrecked here in 1983, and then washed ashore on the beach where it is located today. Access is only by means of the sea from the harbor at Agios Nikolaos Volimon, or Porto Vromi, or by either embarking on a day tour of the island with small boat.
  • Kastro – Bohali: During the years of Enetian rule, the capital of Zakynthos was located within the Venetian castle, and as such, here one may find significant works of art, such as the stone domed prisons, the main bastion of the fortress, the gun powder storehouse, remains of the drainage system and ruins of many churches.
  • Strani Hill-Bohali [2kms from the city] It was here, where Dionysios Solomos was inspired and wrote our National Anthem. At the main square, one may see the bust of our national poet, whilst his mansion is located towards the summit of the hill.
  • Agios Markos Square – Zakynthos town: this historical square comprises of the main centre of society in Zakynthos. Here one will also find the only Catholic church of the island, Agios Markos church. Furthermore, this is the location of the “Solomos and Kalvou Mausoleums,” as well as other prominent Zakynthians, built on the former location of the island’s casino.
  • Solomon Square: the most central square in Zakynthos town, where the statue of our national poet, Dionysios Solomos, is located. Also here, is the church of Agios Nikolaos, built in 1561, which “survived” the great earthquake of 1953. The Byzantine museum is also located here, where one may find important religious paintings, as well as the cultural centre of Zakynthos with the town library, a small art gallery, and various exhibitions and a cinema.
  • Agios Dionysios Church: built in 1708, and recently renovated [in 2000], it is the church of the patron saint of the island. It portrays vivid Venetian elements, whilst the bell tower is an exact replicate of the one at St. Markos square, in Venice. The holiday celebration of this church is a name day celebration, commencing on August 24th [the day of the name day of St. Dionysios], and last for 3 days, and it is particularly popular not only with the locals, but also with the tourists. The monastery of Agios Dionysios is situated next to the church.

Traditional events – local products

The carnival season is celebrated most vividly on the island of Zakynthos, and it is certainly worth experiencing it personally. It is a lavish carnival which is transported throughout the whole island, and not only in the capital. Easter is another period, particularly graphic on the island, for the Zakynthians have their own customs, which they follow devotedly.

Another important date for the island is the name day celebration for the saint, Agios Dionysios on August 24th. Many events from the cultural societies of the island are organized from the 23rd to the 26th August, and the remains of the Saint are carried about the streets of the town with the escort of a band. In fact, the patron saint is also honored on December 17th with such similar grandeur, with 3 day events with last from 16th – 19th December.

Local products of the island include an oily based cheese, oil, local wine verdea and of course the famous mandolato [nougat] and pastelia [honey-sesame sweet], which are just what are needed to take back with you when you return.

Of Special Interest

The National sea park of Zakynthos [N.I.P.Z]: it is located in the southern part of the island and includes just as much of the sea area as the land surface of the Gulf of Laganas, where the most significant egg-laying beaches are located, for the sea turtle, Carettta-caretta in the Mediterranean sea. The N.I.P.Z. also foresees Marathonissi, Pelouzo and Strofadia, which have been distinguished as protected areas of nature.

This is the first operational carrier of a protected area within Greece, and its purpose is conservation of the natural and cultural legacy of the area as well as its social-economic development.

Significantly important is the fauna of the area of the park, since it comprises of two endangered species – the sea turtle Caretta-caretta as well as the Mediterranean seal, Monachus monachus.

The N.I.P.Z, along with the assistance of the WWF, and its volunteers, undertake the responsibility each summer, of informing the touristy areas not only of its existence, but also of the project it performs whilst simultaneously providing useful information for a code in behavior, which is necessary to abide by, during one’s stay at the egg-laying beaches of the sea turtle Caretta-caretta.

 

 

Tourism during the low season

With the development of agro-tourism, a holiday during the low tourist season acquires meaning, and we are hopeful that it will strengthen more so tourism on the island. Zakynthos, just like all of the islands, has, apart from beaches, many other beautiful attributes, and the ideal period to discover this, as well as its people is exactly during this period; when the island lives at its true pace…

Below, you will find an indicative list of hotels which remain open throughout the whole year, which is not consuming. As such, if you request to stay at any other hotel, all you have to do is simply telephone them, or send them an e mail, requesting whether they remain open during the period that interests you!

Particularly appealing are also the prices that one may find, apart from the hotels and all types of accommodation, with reference to the restaurants. This is the ideal period for one to discover the villages of the island, to walk the narrow pathways, to meet the locals, and to learn about some of the customs and traditions of the island. The carnival period is a very popular season, when various interesting events are organized, as well as Easter, which is celebrated with a particular devoutness by its residents.

AREA NAME TELEPΗONE
ZAKYNTHOS STRADA MARINA +30 26950 42761-3, +30 26950 45501-3
DIANA HOTEL +30 26950 28547
PALATINO +30 26950 27780
IRIA +30 26950 44682
FINIKAS +30 26950 42419
BASILIKOS LIUBA HOUSES +30 26950 35372

Accessibility for persons with special needs

There is sufficient accommodation with easy access for persons with special needs, and especially modified rooms on the island of Zakynthos. However, the general infrastructure of the island is still not satisfactory in this sector. Below, you may find only some of the accommodation for persons with special needs. You may easily find out if some accommodation of your choice offers facilities or not, either by telephone contact or by e mail.

As an indication, you may find below some accommodation listings which offers facilities for persons with special needs:

• Matilida: A hotel at Vasiliko, which offers rooms with a suitable lay-out and hotel infrastructure [tel: + 30 26950 35376, +30 26950 354 30]
• Diana Palace: this hotel is located at Argassi and even through the rooms on the mezzanine level do not offer special furnishings, they are completely accessible either via the elevator or with a wheelchair. Also, the common areas of the hotel [lounge, restaurant] are accessible either with the aid of bars or with one step [Tel +30 26950 23070]
• Liuba Houses: this complex is located at Vasiliko in Geraka, and it in fact remains open throughout the whole year, whilst the guest houses provide a suitable lay-out for persons with special needs [tel+30 26950 35372]
• Ilaria Hotel: the hotel is located at Limni Makri, in between Laganas and Kalamaki, and offers a suitable infrastructure for persons with special needs in two of its rooms, as well as for all the common areas of the hotel [tel: +30 26950 52671]

 

Beaches

The Shipwreck

It is one of the best beaches you will ever set your eyes on, is our opinion and all those who have been, agree! You may reach it, only via the sea, either by means of a caique from the harbor of Agios Nikolaos Volimon, or Porto Vromi, or by taking the island excursion tour with a cruise ship [from the port of Zakynthos or from the beach at Lagana] something that we will not recommend, because the time you will spend there is in actual fact, too little… as such, prefer the scheduled departures which go directly to this beach, so that you may have enough time to enjoy it. It was named as such as a result of the ship which was transporting smuggled cigarettes was shipwrecked here in 1983, and then washed ashore on the beach where it is found until this day. It is certain that your cameras “will come alive” and for this reason be certain that your digital camera is fully charged and that the memory disc is not full!

Laganas

Its attractive sandy beach extends a length of 9 kilometers and it is one of the longest in all of Greece. It belongs to the Zakynthos National sea park and is under its protection as it is also here where the turtles Caretta-caretta, find refuge and sanctuary. In fact, you will have the opportunity, if you so pursue it, to see them up close, via small boats.

Gerakas

One of the most striking beaches at Vasiliko, Gerakas consists of a large area of sandy gulf, where the turtles Caretta-caretta lay their eggs. For this reason, the beach belongs to the Zakynthos National Sea Park, and there are certain specifications for its function for eg. Entrance to the beach after a specific time in the afternoon, is not allowed. Of course you will not find water sport facilities and beach bars here, but there are umbrellas and sun chairs and the sea is definitely worth it.

Sekania

Also located in the area of Vasiliko, and in close proximity to Gerakas, it is one of the main beaches for the nesting of the sea turtle Caretta-caretta, and it is also under the protection of the Zakynthos National sea park, as well as the W.W.F.

Porto Roma

it is a quiet and small pebbled beach at Vasiliko, where you may quietly take pleasure in the deep blue waters and then climb to the picturesque tavern, where you can enjoy not only fresh fish, but also a captivating view.

Porto Vromi

A beautiful gulf in the area of Volimes, with a sandy beach and deep, sparkling clean waters. From here, the caiques for the nearby caves and shipwreck depart.

Agios Nikolaos -Vasiliko

A sandy beach located 17 kms from Zakynthos; one of the most widely visited beaches on the island, where one may find almost everything: unbelievable beauty, an organized beach, lots of beach bars directly on the beach, dense vegetation, and the possibility for many water sport facilities, including scuba diving! On the left side of the beach, you will find the chapel of Agiou Nikolaou, from where you may take many captivating pictures.

Argassi

Located very near to the town of Zakynthos, Argassi has a developed tourist infrastructure with many types of accommodation, restaurants and much nightlife. Its beach extends to a great length, and is sandy although it cannot compare with the other beaches on the island. An ideal location to stay, although not as so, for one to enjoy a swim!

Tsilivi

A very appealing sandy beach with shallow water in very close proximity to Zakynthos town [only 6 kms], which has been developing gradually, over the last few years. One may occupy oneself with water sports, and in fact, the weather conditions prevalent are suitable also for windsurfing.

Useful Info – If you get tired, you don’t need to go very far at all, as directly next to it, you will find a variety of bars and restaurants.

 

Read Previous

Kos Island

Read Next

Rodopi

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.