I really love Greece, as well as to spend my summer holidays there. Beside the fact that Greece is a beautiful country, it is one of the best price-quality ratio in the region.

Scroll to the end of the page to see the video from Zakynthos. 

For my third visit to Greece, I chose Zakynthos, which is the third largest island of the Ionian Islands and it is known as the “Flower of the East”. Are you asking yourself why one of the most western Greek islands is called so? Geographically, it is situated on the western edge of the Eurasian tectonic plate, but historically it was offering important harbourage on the eastern edge of the Ionian Sea, right at the centre of the divided Roman Empire.

What makes Zakynthos so popular? Why so many people want to visit it? In the last years, I had the impression that almost all my Facebook friends have been there or were planning to go as soon as possible.

The crystal clear water, the wonderful bay with its shipwreck (which is one of the most beautiful beaches), the sheer white cliffs, the blue caves and the sunsets that you can see there makes this island a magical place.
However, it’s not a wild place as you would expect it to be from the pictures that you can find on the internet. Every single beach on the island, even the hardest to get to, were already packed around 10 in the morning. I tend to blame the month of August for the huge number of tourists, as many people plan their holidays during this month. Nevertheless, it is one of the must see places.

Organization of the trip:

You need to know how to arrive there and where to stay, everything except what you can decide on the spot.
We traveled by car, however there is an airport on the island and you can find some good deals on flights. It is a very touristic place so you’ll easily find a car or a scooter to hire.
There are many studios and hotels on the island. Greeks don’t invest too much in hotels and it is perfect for me that way. We stayed in a very nice studio in the Laganas region close to the Cameo island. The only problem was that there were too many young drunk people in the neighbourhood. 

10 things you have to do while on Zakynthos:

1. Take a picture of the Navagio bay

This place became popular in the 1980s, thanks to the publisher and photographer Stavros Marmatakis. The shallow turquoise waters combined with the golden sand, some rocky formations and the abandoned smugglers ship make Shipwreck Cove the 4th most beautiful view in the world. You can see it from the Anaphonitria village.

The Shipwreck beach (Navagio beach) is probably the most photographed beach in Greece. It takes its name from the wreck of a rusty ship that was transporting contraband cigarettes (some say even drugs) and washed up here in 1980. It can be reached only by boat. Frankly, we spent only one hour on the beach, but it was enough. It was extremely busy, we couldn’t even swim. Every 2 minutes boats were arriving to leave or pick up people from the beach. One of my biggest surprises was to see a girl selling sandwiches and fruits.


2. Visit Zakynthos town

It is located on the eastern edge of the island. This area has been continuously inhabited from prehistoric times. The modern history of the island begins with the Venetian rule (1484). The Venetians transformed the town into a beautiful renaissance town of the Venetian Republic. Unfortunately, the town had to be  completely rebuilt after the 1953 earthquake. From Bohali hill, which was once the aristocratic suburb of Zakynthos, you will enjoy a beautiful view from the top. In many cafes you’ll have the sensation to have the town at your feet, but my favourite was Diethnes Caffe. They also serve some food. If you want to visit the castle, you have to know that it is open until 15 o’clock and it is closed on Mondays.


3. Be captain for several hours!

You can hire a boat from Laganas beach and drive to the turtle spotting (next to Cameo island) – you will recognise it by the boats searching for the poor Caretta Caretta, turtle island and the Keri caves. Marathonisi or the Turtle Island is the small islet situated in Laganas Bay. Not only the island has the shape of the turtle, it also is their home. The tourists are allowed to use only the front of the beach, in order to protect the turtles. Over the years, there have been a number of myths, one of which is that the island was carved by the ancients in honour of the visiting creature! You can see the turtles in their natural, undisturbed habitat. You can combine this trip with a visit to the Keri Caves, which are located in the South-West area of the island. We payed 100 euros for 4 hours. Though, if you prefer to go on a cruise, they cost 15 euros per person for a 3 hours trip. 

4. Watch the sunset at Kap Keri.

It is located in the south part of the island. This cape is mostly famous for two reasons: the two Mizithres rocks and the amazing sunsets. There is a very nice restaurant where you can have dinner while contemplating the Mizithres rocks, Keri Lighthouse. The restaurant is famous for having the biggest flag in the world.

5. Watch the sunset at Kampi village

Maybe one of the best sunset places on the island. The village is located in the west part of the island. At the top of the hill is Shiva cross, a memorial to the victims of the Greek civil war. We didn’t go up to the cross, we chose to admire it along with the sunset from the tavern, Porto Schiza. They say that it is the Best Sunset Place, well I agree with them. Our table was perfectly positioned to watch the sun melting into the sea. The food was delicious. We had the traditionally cooked lamb.

6. Visit the northernmost point of the island

Skinari Lighthouse is the northernmost point of Zakynthos. From Cape Skinari you can see Kefalonia island. Moreover, from here you have an easy access to the Blue Caves, all you need to do is going downstairs. Otherwise you can take a boat from Skinari Lighthouse and go to the Blue Caves and the Shipwreck beach. The boats take you deep inside the caves.

7. Swim in The Blue Caves

The Blue Caves are called this way because they reflect the perfect blue colour of the water. Everything inside seems blue. The trip to the blue caves can be combined with the visit to the Shipwreck beach. The boats leave from the northern part of the island: Makris Giolos, Agios Nikolaos, Porto Vromi.

8. Visit Xigia beach

Xigia Beach got its name from the area’s sulphur depositions. In this region of the island sulphur is being mined in the water, so it contains large amounts of it. On the cliff, you’ll find a small bar from which you can contemplate the view and smell the “rotten eggs”.

9. Have dinner at Anadalis

Anadalis – in Argassi, close to Zakinthos town. The best restaurant on the island in terms of customer service. It is perfect for special occasions, we celebrated my father’s birthday here. If you want to have a table close to the sea, then better book it in advance.

10. Have some wine while spotting carretta carretta

Cameo island – at the western end of Laganas Beach. It is a tiny island that you can access by bridge. It was the only place we visited twice during our stay on Zakynthos. The access to the island is 5 euros, for which you receive a drink. You have a nice view from the bar, if you’re lucky enough, you can see a turtle (it was the only time we saw it). The beach is empty in the morning (at 9 o’clock there were 4 people), however it is so small that it gets crowded quickly.


More beaches in order of preference:

Gerakas beach – in the southernmost point of the island. Be careful walking here as the turtle lay their eggs on the beach. However, the nests of the turtles are marked with a wooden frame.

Daphne beach – the road to get there is quite hard if you’re by car and you’re not very experimented on tiny roads.

Kalamaki beach – to the east of Laganas

Porto Limionas is a lagoon with transparent water. There is no beach as such, there are flat rocks you can stay on or with 3 euros you can get sunbeds. Nonetheless, come in the morning to have place, it gets jam-packed around 12 o’clock. 

Porto Roxa is a bit more dangerous place to swim, because there is no sand beach and you enter the sea on rocks. As there were huge waves and I didn’t have water shoes, I got nasty scratches all over my feet. On the other hand, you can have free sunbeds and it wasn’t as crowded as other places. 

Makris Gialos a little bit further north. It is worth a visit during the morning, because it gets full around 12 with people waiting for their cruises to Navagio beach and Blue Caves.

Porto Roma and Porto Zoro. Both of them have nice beach bars. However, I wasn’t impressed by these places.

I miss Greek food, the music and the fresh salty air of Zakynthan island.


 

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