Charming Greek villages, sandy coves washed by turquoise waters and nesting loggerhead turtles – holidays to Zante are filled with memorable moments.
Flower of the Orient
Zante, or Zakynthos as it’s also known, was given the name ‘Flower of the Orient’ by the Venetians because of its colourful landscape. The island’s interior is filled with rolling hills, olive groves, lemon trees and blooming bougainvillea. And, along the way, you can explore traditional villages that haven’t changed in hundreds of years. The whole lot’s easy to reach from Ireland’s Dublin Airport, too – the flight’s around four hours long.
Best for beaches
Zante only deals in good-looking beaches. It’s got a coastline that rivals, or perhaps even outdoes, its handsome interior, with sandy stretches and hidden inlets lapped by clear waters. Smugglers Cove, with its soaring cliffs and sandy bay, is up there with the most beautiful beaches in Greece.
In July and August, loggerhead turtles flock to Zante to nest. In fact, this island’s one of the most important loggerhead nesting spots in the Mediterranean. Head over to Laganas Beach or Yerakas Beach at sundown, and you’ll see the spot where this unique event takes place.
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Eleven kilometres southwest of Zante’s capital is one of the island’s most beautiful villages. Aghios Sostis has kept a grip on its traditional charm so you’ll find chapels and old-style Greek tavernas. Its most handsome feature, though, is the quiet coastline, dotted with little coves and pine trees. And when you fancy a change of pace, party town Laganas is just a kilometre’s walk away.
Tragaki, on Zante’s north coast, showcases the flip-side of the island’s coin. A stark contrast from busy beaches and party towns, this pint-sized village hides up in the hills, among olive groves and vineyards. It’s not too out of the way, though – the capital, Zante Town, is a half-hour drive away, while it’s just a quick downhill trip to lively Tsilivi and the areas’s sandy beaches.
Perched on Zante’s south-east peninsula, Vassilikos is made up of vast olive groves and lush vegetation that leisurely bumps and slides down the slopes of Mount Skopos before dissolving into a host of sandy beaches. All told, it’s a quiet region of houses and villas, circled by tiny villages and working farms. There’s no mass development in these parts, just a sprinkling of laid-back restaurants, tavernas, and shops.
Sitting pretty on Zante’s northeast coast, Tsilivi is a relative latecomer to the tourist boom on Zante – but it’s making up for lost time. Not only does it have an outstanding sandy beach, but its winding streets cram in a waterpark, a mini golf and tonnes of tavernas. And away from the bar-and-restaurant-lined strip, it’s still got the feel of an old fishing village, with old men dozing in the afternoon sun.
- St Denis Apartments
- Ariadne Apartments
- Planet Studios & Apartments
- Aqua Bay Hotel
- Planos Aparthotel
- Planos Bay Hotel
- Olea All Suite Hotel
- Park Hotel & Spa
- Zante Maris Suites
- The Lesante Luxury Hotel & Spa
- Tsilivi Beach Hotel
- Hotel Contessina
- Zante Palace
- Tsilivi Palazetto Hotel
- TUI SENSIMAR Zante Maris Hotel
- SuneoClub Tsilivi Admiral
- Hotel Phoenix Beach
- TUI SENSIMAR Caravel Hotel
- Aqua Bay Suites
As the capital of Zante, Zakynthos Town is the largest city on the south-east coast. Although it comes with its fair share of bars and restaurants, it’s more low-key than in the island’s well-known party playgrounds. Instead, the focus is on relaxing, culture and sightseeing – museums, Orthodox churches and age-old castles are dotted throughout its compact, grid-like streets.
This village on Zante’s northeast coast isn’t as developed as those in the south, but there’s still plenty here, from motorbike rental places to cocktail bars. Alykes is packed with charming touches, such as the old stone bridge over its river – and even a horse and carriage that will ferry you to tavernas for free. There are wildlife-filled salt flats to explore, too, along with a sweeping golden-sand beach.
This village on Zante’s southwest coast is certainly not short on views. Here, in the foothills of Mount Skopos, pine forests, lemon trees and wildflowers dot the plains. But this place isn’t just about rural beauty – it offers bags of convenience, too. The main road through town is lined with shops, plus a surprisingly lively selection of bars and tavernas. And there’s a fine beach right on hand, too.
In Alykon Bay, on Zante’s north coast, Alykanas is a small beach resort where the pace of life is as easy-going as the horse-drawn carriages that clip-clop through its streets. There’s a new part of town right by the beach, with little shops and relaxed tavernas. And just along the coast is Old Alykanas, with its church and quaint main square, surrounded by olive groves and orchards.
The tiny village of Kampi lies on Zante’s western coast – the dramatic cliffs at the edge of the village look out to the Ionian Sea and boast the best sunset views on the island. It’s a one-road kind of place with a couple of authentic Greek tavernas, but although there’s a lovely away-from-it-all feel you’re less than 50 minutes’ drive from the capital.
On Zante’s southeast coast, Laganas has gone from a small fishing village to the island’s most vibrant resort. But even if its biggest selling point is its after-hours scene, that doesn’t mean it’s not also a bona fide family destination – its stellar beaches, boat trips, and resident loggerhead turtles are just some of its major draws.
On the southern shores of Zante, lapped by the Ionian Sea and backed by Mount Skopos, Kalamaki is tailor-made for those who like tranquility. It’s a traditional Greek village, full of olive groves, and home to a beach that wouldn’t look out of place on a postcard. Loggerhead turtles from thousands of miles away come to lay their eggs on the soft sand here.
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