Home Destination Guides Accommodation 24th August 2019





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Greece 

 
 
ZAKYNTHOS
(also known as Zante)
 
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North - Tsilivi, Alikes
 
   
General overview

  Zakynthos is an island of contradictions, even down to it’s name.  The Venetians called this island Zante during their occupation, which spanned from 1363 until 1797 and the name is still used by some, even today.  It has also been known as "Fiore di Levante" (The flower of the East Wind).  
   
   Lying at the southern end of the Ionian islands, not far from the Peloponnese mainland, Zakynthos was a victim of the devastating earthquake which caused so much destruction to the Ionian Islands in 1953.   Zakynthos town was almost completely destroyed, together with some of the outlying villages, causing economic hardship to many of the islanders.  Stretching the length of the island’s eastern side is a fertile plain whilst the western half is mountainous. 
 
   Inland, Zakynthos remains traditionally Greek with tucked away tavernas and villages off the beaten track.  However, the coast has a fringe of excellent beaches which attract the majority of holidaymakers and the coastal towns are quite commercialized, particularly Laganas which is the most visited resort and has an action packed nightlife attracting large numbers of young people during July and August.
   
 
Zakynthos town    
   
   The capital and main ferry port of the island is Zakynthos town, also known as Zante town.  It is situated in the middle of the east coast, facing the mainland. The harbour front, called Strata Marina, runs the length of the town and is lined with bars, coffee shops and tavernas.  North of the harbour lies a good beach run by the National Greek Tourist Board, who charge an entrance fee.  The town has excellent amenities including banks, post office and tourist office and the main square is named after Dionysios Solomos, the renowned Zakynthian poet who wrote the words to the Greek National anthem. 
   
   There are a number of places of interest in the district of Zakynthos town. The Byzantine museum is home to a collection of beautiful holy icons, Byzantine and Hellenic statues and sculptures and approximately 2 kms outside the town, at Bohali, are the ruins of Zakynthos castle - well worth a visit if only for the amazing views across Zakynthos towards mainland Greece and the Peleponnese. Inland from Zakynthos town, just outside Sarakinado, is Water Village.  Reputed to be one of the best water parks in Greece, it has a variety of amazing slides - including the Kamikaze hydro tube! and a lazy river for the not so daring. Good fun for children and adults alike.
   
 
A tour of Zakynthos...... 
  
     Located around 5 kms south of Zakynthos town is the bustling town of Argassi; with a varied selection of restaurants serving Greek and international cuisine, lively nightlife and a long, narrow stretch of sand and shingle beach offering watersports. This resort attracts all age groups.
  
     The Vassilikos peninsula is attractive with glorious wooded countryside, abundant olive groves and beautiful beaches.  Beaches of note are St. Nikolas Beach which has a Scuba Diving Centre and Banana Beach (both on the eastern side) with lovely soft sand dunes, a couple of bars and car parking. Gerakas Beach at the tip of the peninsular also has parking a short walk from the beach, there are sunbeds for hire, but no refreshments on the beach.  Because of its fine, golden sand, Gerakas Beach is also a favourite of the Loggerhead Turtles, so no watersports are allowed and the beach is closed between dusk and dawn in line with conservation guidelines.  
  
     On the southern coastline is the town of Laganas - the second largest after the capital - which sits in the middle of a vast sandy bay.  Undoubtedly the most popular and liveliest resort on the island, (dubbed ‘Lager nights’ by some of the locals!), it is well-liked by families because of the variety of shops, cafeterias, tavernas and restaurants - there is even a MacDonald’s!  Due to the abundance of bars, discos and nightclubs Laganas also attracts couples and young singles, particularly in July and August when it is teeming with young people.
  
   However.............................. this is causing disquiet amongst conservationists and wildlife organizations because Laganas Bay is a major nesting site of the rare Caretta-Caretta (Loggerhead Turtle), which migrate from Africa to the Mediterranean every year to lay their eggs and hatch their young.   The turtles come ashore at night and lay their eggs approx. 50 cm beneath the surface.  When the eggs hatch the baby turtles crawl towards the brightest surface, which used to be the moonlit sea, but now the bright lights of the discos and bars can cause confusion amongst the hatchlings.  Nests have been destroyed by the careless placing of a sun-umbrella pole and adult turtles have been maimed and killed by boat propellers and motorized water sports in the bay.  There is so much concern for the turtles’ future that the World Wildlife Fund and Greenpeace called for stringent measures to protect them.  Now, Laganas Bay has been designated a National Marine Park and divided into ‘Zones’ where water activities are restricted.  Some people have been known to flout the Zoning Restrictions and it is essential that visitors comply with the regulations in order to secure the future of these Turtles.  Motorized vehicles are forbidden on the beach, motorized water sports are restricted and visitors are asked not to leave litter or sandcastles on the beach, as this could restrict access to the sea for a tiny hatchling.  Certain areas of the beach may be closed between dusk and dawn and at night people are asked to avoid making excessive noise or using lights on or by the beach.  

    A short drive from Laganas is Kalamaki.  Slightly more upmarket and quieter at night than energetic Laganas, it still has an excellent choice of bars, shops and restaurants catering for all age groups.  The area is good for families because of the gently shelving, sandy beach, but being part of the Marine Park, certain areas are restricted and motorized water sports are forbidden in order to preserve the Loggerhead Turtle nesting sites.  Due to it’s proximity to Zakynthos airport, some aircraft noise may be heard. 
   
    In the furthest south-western corner of the island is the quiet, traditional village of Keri.  From Keri you can walk to the Cape Keri Lighthouse with its spectacular views across the Ionian Sea.  Before you arrive in Keri, stop off at the small, bustling fishing harbour of Limni Keriou and have lunch whilst admiring the sea views. 
 
    Travelling north from Zakynthos town you come to the modern resort of Tsilivi. Surrounded by vineyards and olive groves it is popular for its lovely sandy beach and selection of bars, restaurants and tavernas.  There is a good choice of water sports on offer and it is lively at night without being as frenetic as Laganas, making this a good option for families and adults alike.  Just on the outskirts of Tsilivi is Tragaki.  Not so much of a resort, more a few tavernas offering a taste of traditional Greece together with a sand and pebble beach.
 
     Continuing north along the eastern coast is the relaxed resort of Alikes, well known for the surrounding Salt Lakes.  The southern end of Alikes Bay merges with the quiet village of Alikanas.  In Old Alikanas there is a beach called Shoestring beach because it is a narrow strip of sand.  This is the place to relax and unwind, there are no watersports available, but sunbeds and umbrellas can be hired.  Some believe Alikanas may be the site of the historical city of Arcadia.  Alikes has a long beach with a jetty, dotted with the colourful boats of the local fishermen.  There is a small selection of shops, bars and tavernas and watersports are available here.
 
     At the northern end of Zakynthos are the renowned Blue Caves, so formed because of the reaction between the sea and the minerals in the rock face.  This area was first visited in 1897 and can only be accessed by boat.  The most famous cave is the Blue Grotto overlooked by the Cape Skinari lighthouse.  Some of the larger tour boats take you past the caves on their way to Smugglers Cove.  However, smaller glass-bottomed boats leave from Skinari, on the northern tip of the island, which go right inside the caves and allow you to swim from the boat, sea conditions permitting. 
   
     The most photographed beach on the island has to be the golden beach of Smugglers Cove (also called Navagio).  Situated on the north west coast of the island a rusty wreck of a cargo ship lies half-buried in sand, on a crescent shaped beach, nestled between dramatic cliffs and a turquoise sea.  The beach is only accessible by sea and most of the resorts offer boat trips to Smugglers Cove.   Another way of viewing the wreck is by going to Volimes, a traditional village where the local people still rely on agriculture for a living and the women are skilled at lace-making and traditional handicrafts.  In addition the church of Agia Paraskevi with its amazing frescoes and icons is worth a visit.  A short distance from Volimes is the Anafonitria Monastery, close to the village of Anafonitria.  It was built in the 14th Century, has a wealth of history and is a place of quiet contemplation for those seeking respite from a hectic life. 
   
 
Island Connections 
    
     Package holidays are available from both the major and Greek specialist tour companies.  Charter airlines fly direct from the U.K. to Zakynthos during the Summer months, usually from April to October.  Flying time from the U.K. is approximate 3 and a half hours.  Olympic Airways offer schedule flights from the U.K. to Zakynthos via Athens for anyone considering a two centre holiday.  Timings vary depending on how long you need to wait for a connecting flight to Zakynthos.
    
   Ferries leave from Patras and Kylini on the mainland for Zakynthos town.  These ferries usually carry vehicles as well as foot passengers.  There is a bus service from Athens to Patras and Kylini.  Additionally there are international ferries crossing from Patras to the Italian port of Brindisi, calling in at Zakynthos town on the way.  There is a ferry from the small port of Agios Nickolas to Kefalonia and from Skinari to Kefalonia.  
      

   

 

 

 

 

 

The foregoing information was last reviewed in July 2006. Things change, and whilst we are often travelling in Greece we do rely to some extent upon others to provide updates in order to keep the site as current and accurate as possible!  If you have any updates or information that you think should be included here, please do mail the webmaster@aguide2greece.com  - thank you.
 

 


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