According to Homer’s Iliad, the first inhabitants of the Greek island Zakynthos were the son of Dardanos and his men. After being conquered several times over, a democracy was set up and ran for 650 years, since then it has swung between French, Russian and Turkish rule. For the most part, there is little evidence of the island’s rich history and the overall feel is quite sparse. Outside Zakynthos town, there is little pressure for space and developments sprawl quite far inland away from the beach. This means accommodation can be located a good few kilometres from anywhere and still be classed as being in a town by a tour operator, and given the heat and mostly untreated roads it may not be a very easy walk back from the taverna at night. The beaches are mostly stony sand but the sea is crystal clear with plenty of caves to explore. Laganas bay at the south of the island is a nesting spot for the endangered loggerhead turtle between June and November, and steps are taken to prevent them from being disturbed while laying. The mountainous inland areas are host to more wildlife and idyllic villages.


Laganas Marine Park - In 2000 Laganas Bay became Greece’s first managed wildlife park. The gently sloping beach has been used by the turtles for over 10,000 years, and steps are being taken to ensure they continue to do so. The area has been taken over by tourism so staff have a tough job of trying to ensure that lighting and noise are kept to a minimum so as not to discourage the turtles from laying eggs.

Zakynthos Town – Having been destroyed by the great earthquake of 1953, the town was rebuilt almost entirely in the style of the Venetian Castle in the Bohali region of the town. This means the centre is both attractive and consistent, and gives an idea of the Venetian style for those who don’t fancy the 3 km trip to the fortress ruins. St Mark’s Square is home to some great spots to eat where you can take in the striking views of the town at night with the superbly lit Church of St Dionysios.

Navagio Shipwreck – The freighter named “Panagiotis”, suspected to be carrying contraband by the Greek Navy, was pursued and run ashore in a bay to the North of the island. Tours run to see the ship from the sea, or you can hire a car and look down from a viewing platform in the cliffs. The cliffs are a good place from which to spot dolphins and possibly monkseals, although these are rare.

Blue Caves – You could don a snorkel anywhere along the coast and find something to keep you occupied. Some of the best spots to swim are with the caves beneath cape Skinari. The small particles cause the refractive index to generate amazing blue waters, viewed best when the sun is high and water is calm.


Zakynthos town’s Alexander Street is typical of the shops to be found here. Leather goods, ceramics and jewellery are available relatively cheaply as are the usual souvenirs. Most shops aimed at tourists are open relatively late, with stores proximal to the nightclubs staying open to catch those in need of an ice cream or packet of cigarettes for the stagger home.

Nightlife and Eating Out

Zante town offers some fantastic al fresco opportunities, with good traditional Mediterranean dishes as well as a few quality international restaurants. St Mark’s Square is home to the high-end establishments, with the rest of the town (and in fact the island) offering cheaper food in less regal settings. Smaller towns and resorts standardly have a few tavernas, where the specialities such as deep friend holoumi, moussaka and grilled dishes tend to be the safest bet. The house red wines can vary in quality, but are very drinkable on the whole. It appears many visitors to Zakynthos are not very adventurous when it comes to food, with almost as many British restaurants battling between each other to offer the cheapest mixed grill or full English breakfast. The nightlife seems to run in the same vein with as many clubs appealing purely to a British crowd with the same music, clientele and sticky dancefloors as you would find in Woking. The strips can get really quite unpleasant in the small hours, but the majority seem to like it that way and so the only options are to stay somewhere secluded or follow suit. The seafront at Laganas is riddled with “video-bars” and dubious architecture which has been likened to the set of “Bladerunner”, possibly making it worth a visit for that reason alone.

Tourist Information

There is no official tourist information centre on the island, although free information is available from the Greek National Tourist Information at the police station. You might want to head over to this article for inspiration on things to do whilst in Zante.

62, Lomvardou StreetP.O. Box 291 00 ZakynthosTelephone: 0695-27367


As most flights are chartered by tour operators, transfers to hotels will be pre-booked. The airport building and facilities are fairly poor with customer services to match so it is recommended you take a book in your hand luggage. The airport is only a kilometre from the resorts at Laganas and Kalamaki and six kilometres to Zante town, taxis are both quite reasonable to these destinations and public buses also ferry tourists from the most popular resorts.

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