Zakynthos island, Ionian Sea

Zakynthos is an island at the Ionian Sea, at the West side of the mainand of Greece. Known for the amazing beaches as all the other Ionian islands, the Caretta-Caretta turtle and the amazing sunset.It is known to the tourist as Zante as well. It was inhabited since the Neolithic Times as it is mentioned by Homer, the Greek poet, in the Iliand and the Odyssey.

The first inhabitants of the island were the son of Kind Dardarnos, called Zakynthos, with his men in 1500-1600 B.C. During the Persian War in the 5th century, Zakynthos remained neutral and during the Peloponnesian War in 459-446 B.C. it took part in the Athenian Alliance. After that Lacedemonians took control of the island and they established an oligarchy that ended the democracy. The democratic political system came back at the island later when the inhabitants organized a revolution. Macedonians and Romans had control of the island later in the history.

In the 3rd century A.D. the Byzantine Empire brought the Christianity on the island. Venetians and Franks dominated on the island later on the history and during the 15th century when the rest of the Greece was under the Turkish rule, all the Ionian Islands were under the Venetian domination.

How to go to Zakynthos

You can go to Zakynthos either by a ferry or with a plane.

Zakynthos International Airport connects Zakynthos with both Athens and Thessaloniki in Greece and with other European destinations as well. You can find more information about flights to Zakynthos at Zakynthos airport website HERE.

There are ferry connections between Zakynthos and Killini. You can find more information about ferry tickets HERE.

Villages in Zakynthos

Zakynthos Town – Directions HERE

The Venetian Castle – Directions HERE

On top of the town of Zakynthos, on the hill of Bohali is located the Venetian Castle. It has been found that the Venetian Castle was built on the site of a former Byzantine Castle. The Castle was completed by the Venetians in 1646 A.D.  On top of the main entrance of the castle stands the symbol of the Venetian Empire, the Winged Lion of Saint Mark. Due to war attacks and the earthquakes that happened in the Ionian Sea, the castle was partly damaged. In 1812, the castle was reconstructed by the British Empire and they had built new buildings, inlcuding barracks, powder stores and the house of the British Parliament.

Krioneri Walking Route – Directions HERE

For those who enjoy walking, you can follow the Krioneri Walking Route. It starts from the port of Zakynthos at the lighthouse and ends to the Krioneri end for a total distance of aprox 4kms. As you walk to the nice route you will find the Venetian Aqueduct ( HERE ). The Venetian Aqueduct was constructed in the 16th Century by the Venetians and used to supply water to all Zakynthos town. Today the only ruins in the area is the ornate stone building with small embossed inscriptions and a stone fountain.

Byzantine Museum of Zakynthos – Directions HERE

At the town of Zakynthos, at the large Dionysios Solomos square is located an impressive neoclassical two storey building that was built in 1959 and hosts the Byzantine Museum of Zakynthos.  In the museum someone can find Byzantine icons, wood carvings, impressive temples and shrines, murals and paintings from the 15th -17th centuries. The museum enables the visitor to appreciate the development of Post byzantine and Neohellenic art and offers a full picture of the influences of the Western art in the Ionian islands.

Aristeon Olive Press & Museum – Directions HERE

The Olive Press Aristeon is. Traditional family business located in Lithakia Zakynthos. The history starts in 1850 with the traditional animal movement press, part of which survives until today. Through the decades the technology has evolved that replaced the animal movement press with a metal one and later with a hydraulic press. The olive press museum and fatory are accessible to the visitors all year round and have a step by step guided tour through the process of the olive production from the 18th century wooden olive press to today’s modern two-phase centrifuge separator.

Keri Village – Directions HERE

Keri Caves – Directions HERE

On the Sounth-West side of Zakynthos island, along the coast there are located the Keri Caves that are accessible only by the sea with private boats or tourist excursions. Some of the caves are smaller while some others can be passed through with the boats. The water at the caves is crystal clear and has an amazing blue color. The Keri Caves are the habitat of many animals like the Monk Seal and the famous Caretta Caretta Turtle.

Keri Lighthouse – Directions HERE

The first place from where you can admire the amazing sunset in Zakynthos island is the Keri lighthouse. The amazing thing about Keri lighthouse is that from there you can have amazing view to the two huge rock cones, the Mizitres, flanked by a deserted island rising the blue sea and signing the beginning of the Keri caves.

Skinaria Village – Directions HERE

Blue Caves – Directions HERE

One of the most popular attractions of the island of Zakynthos is the blue caves. Accessible only by boat, they consist of particular geologic formations giving life to a succession of caves along the North-West coast of the island. The caves took their name due to the reflection of the vibrating and striking blue color of the waters in them, which at the same time capture and reflect the shine of the limpid sky reflected on their surface. Most of the caves are accessible with the boat while some of them are accessible only by swimmers and divers. The biggest cave is called Kianoun.

The boat trips to Blue Caves start from Makris Gialos Beach (HERE), Agios Nikolaos port (HERE) and Cape Skinari (HERE).

Skinari Lighthouse – Directions HERE

Skinari Lighthouse is located at the North-East side of Zakynthos island near the famous Shipwreck Cove and the Blue Caves. At Skinari there are two old flour grinding windmills that are converted into places to stay and from where you can enjoy amazing views from the top of the cliff and the sparkling sea below. A little further down the Windmills is located the Skinari Lighthouse, an active lighthouse that wathes over the crossing between Zakynthos and Kefalonia the neighboring island.

Volimes Village – Directions HERE

Monastery of St. George Kremnon – Directions HERE

T the west of Volimes village is located the monastery of Agios Gerogios. It was founded in 1553 while the tower of the monastery was built in 1561 in order to defend the monks from the pirates. The monastery was well-known for its archive and for its library, which are now housed in the Marcian Library in Venice.

Navagio Beach ViewPoint – Directions HERE

The most well-known part of the island is the Navagio beach or Shipwreck Beach. It is located at the West side of the island on an exposed cove a little further from the village Volimes. On October 2, 1980, the coaster MV Panagiotis, ran aground in the waters around Zakynthos island on Navagio Beach during a stormy weather with bad visibility. Some rumours claim the ship was smuggling contraband, however official sources  did not confirm this. The ship was abadonded and still rests buried in the limestone gravel of the beach that now bears the nickname Shipwreck. From the end of the mainland you can enjoy the amazing view to Navagio.

Anafonitria Monastery – Directions HERE

The Monastery of Anafonitria is dedicated to Virgin Mary. It is a Byzantine monument located at the North-West side of the island that took its name after the miraculous icon of Virgin Anafonitria that was bought to the Monastery from Constantinople during the Turkish occupation. The Monastery was founded in the 15th century during the Venetian occupations. The main church, a three-aisled basilica is located in the center of the complex. In order for the monastery to be protected it was built a Tower that today is used as a belfry.

Agalas Village – Directions HERE

Damianos Cave – Directions HERE

Among the pine trees and the olive groves at the end of the village Agalas youcan find the Damiano Cave. The cave has two entrances the one at the bottom from where you can walk inside the cave and another entrance at the top of the other one where you have to climb. The view from the cave is amazing and from the place next to the entrance of the cave you can enjoy the mazing view to the sunset in the evening.

Andronios Wells – Directions HERE

According to the local legend, Andronios was a dragon 300m tall that made 12 wells of Agala and gave them his name. The protector of the village Agalas, Damianus forced the evil dragon Anthony to fight him and defeat him. As a punishment he ordered him to make 12 wells for the shake of the village people. The wells are privatedly owned, 11 of them visible on the surface of the ground while the last one is buried. There are used today for water supply of the inhabitants, their owners whom names are on each well.

Agalas Caves – Directions HERE

Activities on the island

Askos Stone Park – Directions HERE

At the North side of Zakynthos, next to the village Aksos is located a natural beauty. Aprox 170.000 self-sown plants grow at the park, exactly as placed by the nature and a lot of animals such as wild hawks, different species of birds also occupy the area. In addition, at the park there are several stone structures such as old stables and basins cut into the rock for waer collection that date a lot of years ago. The Aksos Park operates all year round if the weather allows it and visitors can spend as much time as they wish there.

Marathonisi – Directions HERE

At the South-East side of Zakynthos island, eight across the beach of Keri is located an islet that is not inhabited, called Marathonisi. You can reach Marathonisi with a boat from either Keri beach or Laganas bay. Marathonisi is an islet that Caratte-Caretta turtles and the Monachus-Monachus sea seal go in the summer season to reproduce. For this reason, visitors are allowed tostay only in the first 5m of a small beach of the islet. Another interesting thing about Marathonisi are the caves that are located at the South-West side of the islet.

Zakynthos National Marine Park – Directions HERE

Zakynthos National Marine Park is located at the South side of the island. The area presents the main characteristics of the Mediterranean ecosystem with the sandy beaches, emerging rocks and sandy dunes. The park was founded back in 1999 and the main purpose of its creation is to defend the particular fauna of the southern part of the island and the animals such as the Caretta-Caretta turtle and the Monachus-Monachus Seals.

Tsilivi Water Park – Directions HERE

Fantasy Mini Golf – Directions HERE

Boat Tours around the island.

Most of the beaches and the natural beauty of the island including the caves are accessible only from the sea. With starting point the port of Zakynthos town you can find a lot of different cruises that you can enjoy. Most of them start in the morning and return at the same place in the evening while they stop at some of the most amazing spots for swimming and pictures.

Panagia Skopiotissa Monastery – Directions HERE

At the South-East side of the island on top of Skopos Mountain is located the oldest church of Zakynthos. It was built in 15th century and in 1534 it was given to Logotheon family to whom it still belongs today. The church was built on the site of a Temple of Artemis and is surrounded by the ruins of another monastery. Inside the church there are beautiful wall paintings and an icon of Panagia Skopiotissa (Virgin mary). The murals on the wall of the monastery areoriginal and date back to the 16th century.

Beaches in Zakynthos

Tsilivi Beach, Directions HERE

Bouka Beach, Directions HERE

Psarou Beach, Directions HERE

Ammoudi Beach, Directions HERE

Alikanas Beach, Directions HERE

Laperda Beach, Directions HERE

Xigia Sulfur Beach, Highly Recommended –  Directions HERE

Makris Gialos Beach, Highly Recommended – Directions HERE

Climati Beach, Directions HERE

Vathi Lagadi Beach, Directions HERE

Kremidi Beach, Directions HERE

Madrakia Beach, Directions HERE

Filipoi Beach, Directions HERE

Agios Andreas Beach, Accessible only with Boat, Directions HERE

Navagio Beach, Accessible only with boat, Directions HERE

White Beach, Accessible only with boat, Directions HERE

Porto Vromi Marie Beach, Directions HERE

Porto Limnionas Beach, Directions HERE

Marathias Beach, Directions HERE

Laganas Beach, Directions HERE

Kalamaki Beach , Directions HERE

Sekania Beach, Directions HERE

Dafni Beach, Directions HERE

Gerakas Beach, Directions HERE

Mavratzi Beach , Directions HERE

St. Nicholas Beach, Directions HERE

Banana Beach, Directions HERE

Restaurants in Zakynthos

Prosilio Restaurant – Seafood – Directions HERE

The Halfway House – International Cuisine – Directions HERE

Estia Traditional Cuisine – Greek Cuisine – Directions HERE

The Sizzlebang Grill – Mexican Steakhouse – Directions HERE

Botanic Garden – European Cuisine – Directions HERE

Contessina Restaurant – Italian Cuisine – Directions HERE

El Greco Tavern – Greek Cuisine – Directions HERE

Elia Restaurant – Seafood – Directions HERE

Cave Damianos Tavern – Greek Cuisine – Directions HERE

Ristorante Zinc – International Cuisine –  Directions HERE

The Family Restaurant – Italian Cuisine – Directions HERE

Massa Steaks & Seafood – Italian Restaurant – Directions HERE

Prosilio Restaurant – Seafood – Directions HERE

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