top things to do in Zakynthos and where to stay
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Top things to do in Zakynthos and Where to stay – Zakynthos Travel Guide

This Zante travel guide has the top things to do in Zakynthos, where to stay, and the most sought after restaurants you won’t want to miss.

Whether you want to relax on the beach or party all night, Zakynthos Greece, or Zante as it is commonly called, has everything you could possibly want from a Greek Island holiday. We enjoyed a family holiday in Zakynthos many years ago, but for a complete low down on this beautiful island, I went to the Zante expert – Kaitlin Murphy.

Kaitlin Murphy

Like myself, Kaitlin AKA @holidayhun_ on Instagram, is a former travel agent who has travelled extensively. As well as visiting far flung destinations like the Philippines, Kaitlin has visited Zakynthos four times – she even lived and worked there during 2022!

Kaitlin has listed the top things to do in Zante, where to stay, and insider tips and tricks to help you make the most of your visit to the Greek island of Zakynthos.

About Zakynthos

Zakynthos is a small Greek island in the Ionian sea on the west coast of Greece. It has become very popular for summer holidays, primarily due to being home to the world famous Navagio or Shipwreck Beach.

Shipwreck Beach is one of the top things to do in Zakynthos

Zakynthos the third largest Ionian island, after Kefalonia and Corfu, and has a coastline of 123km. The island itself is said to be named after Zacynthus in Greek mythology who founded the island.

Top things to do in Zakynthos

1. Visit Navagio (Shipwreck) Beach

The famous Navagio beach is not just one of Zakynthos top attractions, it is considered one of the world’s best beaches. The only way you can set foot on this picture postcard beach is to book a boat trip.

A visit to Shipwreck Beach is one of the top things to do in Zakynthos

I’ve visited twice and it never gets old! It takes roughly 90 minutes each way by boat. On the way you will come across the stunning Blue Caves, and see crystal clear waters, and the majority of the boat trips will include swim stops via these on the way back.

The beach itself is more rocky that you might expect so I highly recommend buying some swim shoes prior to your trip there.

Top Tips for visiting Shipwreck Beach: Bring swim shoes, loads of water, snacks and anti sickness tablets.

There are many boat trips to Shipwreck Beach and the Blue Caves. The most popular is this 3 hour cruise from €30 per person, however if your budget allows, or you have a large party with you, check out the luxury private cruises!

If you want to get the best views of Shipwreck beach from above you will need to book a full day tour – see more on this in point 10 below.

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2. Go turtle spotting on Turtle Island

No trip to Zante is complete without seeing its famous inhabitants – the loggerhead turtles. Currently there are only about 50,000 loggerhead turtles in the world, originally they numbered several million. Zakynthos is home to one of the most important loggerhead turtle breeding grounds in the Mediterranean.

turtles in Zakynthos

There are many ways to see these turtles, in fact, it is possible to see them easily in the bay of Laganas, where they breed from April to August.

However, a visit to Turtle Island is one of Zante’s top attractions and is a must do in Zakynthos. Funny enough, Turtle Island is actually shaped like a turtle as well! It’s one of the last remaining breeding ground of the endangered loggerhead sea turtle in Zante.

A visit to Turtle Island is one the top things to do in Zakynthos with kids, as it’s suited for all ages and doesn’t take too long to get there. You can see the island itself from Laganas beach.

Top Tip: Combine a visit to Turtle Island and Keri Caves on one trip, this half day tour costs just €50 per person.

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3. Explore Zante Town

Zakynthos Town is the island’s capital and personally my favourite place to roam around. The stunning port is definitely a must see. I love coming here to catch the sunset, and to enjoy a walk around the marina, watching all the locals on the boats finishing up for the day. You can also see cruise ships docked here in the summer months.

Zante town

Zante Town is hands down the best place in Zakynthos for shopping, there are amazing boutique style shops with shoes and handbags GALORE!!

Top Tip: For amazing marina views head to Movida Sky Bar for a Mythos (local beer) and take it all in.

4. Party all night on the famous Laganas Strip

laganas beach bars in Zakynthos

If you are young (even at heart) and are ready to party, you need to go on a night out on the famous Laganas Strip. It is home to some of Europe’s best bars and clubs, and you are bound to have an eventful night here, whatever age you are.

They have everything from Karaoke and Sports bars, to more laid back cocktail bars. You will also find clubs with Mega DJs headlining every night of the summer.

Note if travelling with kids, it is best to avoid this area after 10pm, especially during the peak summer months – it can be a bit chaotic!

Top Tip: Head to O’Callaghan’s Loft Irish bar early in the night to enjoy amazing cocktails on the terrace and to people watch from above.

5. Day trip to nearby island Kefalonia

Book a day trip to Kefalonia from Zakynthos

Why visit one Greek island when you can visit two? As you many know, Greece is famous for island hopping, and the nearby island of Kefalonia is just a 3 hour ferry ride away.

Although Kefalonia is the largest of the Ionian islands it is still relatively unspoilt. It is the location where the movie Captain Corelli’s Mandolin was filmed, and is full of charm and rich history.

Top Tip: Plan in advance and double check ferry days and times on Ferryhopper, as the service doesn’t operate everyday. Alternatively book a full day tour of the island from €77 per person.

Read: 20 Top Tips for island hopping in Greece

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6. Swim in the spring water at Xigia Beach

Xigia Beach, Zante

Xigia beach may not be very well known, and it is definitely off the beaten track, but it is a beach I highly recommend you visit. It is not the easiest to get to without a car or organised tour, but it is one of the best beaches in Zante, so I urge you not to miss it!

One of the things that will strike you as you approach the cove is the amazing turquoise waters – it is an extraordinary shade. This is partly due to the natural spring water that runs into the sea here – it picks up sulphur deposits through the rocks. You can actually see the undissolved minerals pouring into the sea in many areas – it is a sight to behold!

Top Tip: If you want to see Zakynthos hidden gems, like this one, you will need to rent a car or a quad.

7. Spend a morning on Cameo Island

Cameo is one of the top places to see in Zakynthos

Situated near Laganas beach is the stunning Cameo island. It is a must see especially if you are staying close by. You can get here on foot, or by small boat or bus from Laganas (10 minutes roughly). It costs €5 to enter including a picture keyring.

In 1633 Cameo Island was actually part of Zakynthos, until an earthquake separated the small area from the mainland, but it is still connected by a wooden bridge today.

The views are incredible here, it is one of Zante’s best Instagram locations and is also a great place to spot Zante’s loggerhead turtles. I saw a wedding take place there during my visit and I thought it was the most idyllic location to get married.

Top Tips: Go early in the morning for less crowds, and if you like snorkelling bring your gear!

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8. Water Village waterpark

Zante Water Village is one of the top things to do in Zakynthos with kids

No summer holiday is complete without a trip to the waterpark! There are a few on the island but the best by far is the popular Water Village, which is easily accessible from most of the main resorts. There is something here for all of the family, from big slides to lazy rivers, as well as a kids splash zone.

Top Tip: Make sure you specify with whomever your booking with that it is one named Water Village you wish to go to.

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9. Splash out at Banana Beach

banana boat rides in Zakynthos

Banana Beach is a super water sports beach near Vasilikos, and is one of the longest sandy beaches on the island. Not many beaches on the island offer water sports so if your looking to parasail or jet ski this is where you need to go!

There are some beach bars offering snacks and refreshments as well as sun beds and umbrellas. A free shuttle bus runs from Zante town and there is free parking too.

10. Take a Full Day Tour of Zakynthos

Shipwreck Beach viewing point

If you want to visit the Shipwreck Beach viewing point from above, then you may need to book a separate tour. Most of the boat trips will take you to the beach, but not to the iconic Bochali viewing point.

I found a full day tour that includes this and brings you to Navagio beach and several beautiful beaches in Zakynthos. This small group tour is rated as excellent and priced at just €65 per person!

View Tour Here

Where to stay in Zante

From budget friendly apartments to the best hotels in Zante, I’ve got my top picks to suit all tastes including all inclusive resorts in Zakynthos and family friendly stays.

3 Star Ionian Blue Hotel , Kalamaki

Ionian-Blue-Zante

Located only 10 minutes drive from the airport, the Ionian blue hotel in Kalamaki is a great value choice, and ideal for a short break in Zakynthos.

Kalamaki is a suitable for all ages – its main road is lined with bars and restaurants and it is a five-ten minute drive to the lively resort of Laganas.

The hotel is only five minutes walk from the town centre and the beach, and has a pool bar which serves traditional Greek food all day.

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3 Star Katerina Palace Hotel and Studios, Argassi

Katerina Palace, Zante

The Katerina Palace is another super option for couples or friends looking for reasonably priced Zakynthos hotels. I booked my parents to stay here in 2022 when they came to visit me and they absolutely loved it. There are two lovely pools here and it hosts weekly Greek nights.

Located in Argassi, which is very close to Zante town, it is a laid back resort suited for families or couples.

The Katerina Palace has studio apartments too which are a great if you are looking for cheap places to stay in Zakynthos, but if you want to choose the hotel side, be quick, as it usually sells out before the studios. The rooms in the hotel are modern while the apartments are a little basic, but clean and comfortable.

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4 Star Park Hotel & Spa, Tsilivi

Park Hotel Zante

This adult only boutique hotel enjoys a super location in Tsilivi, and is the perfect choice for a couple or friends stay. Tsilivi is a brilliant resort for everyone, you will find a great choice of restaurants and bars with entertainment here.

There is a relaxing spa onsite and a free shuttle bus to Tsilivi beach, five minutes away.

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Lithakia Balcony Villa to Rent in Zakynthos

Lithakia Balcony Villa to rent in Zakynthos

If you are travelling to Zakynthos with a group of friends or extended family, then this 8 bedroom villa with private pool should be on your list! My lovely friend from the island actually owns this property and I would love for you to experience it!

The villa can sleep to 16 people and boasts mountain views, free WiFi. free private parking, a heated jacuzzi and a swimming pool, as well as a terrace with sea views. The property has an outdoor dining area to take in the stunning scenery.

The accommodation also provides airport transfers, car and bicycle rental.

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Best Family Resorts in Zakynthos

4 Star All Inclusive Caretta Beach Hotel & Waterpark, Kalamaki

Caretta Beach Hotel, Zakynthos

Also known as the Caretta Holiday Village, this popular all inclusive family resort is situated in Kalamaki, and boasts a water park with 6 adult slides, 6 children slides, a wave pool, a lazy river, and five outdoor pools.

There is also a fun park located within the hotel grounds (separate cost). It is open to all hotel guests as well as outside visitors and opens every day from 6pm until midnight. There is something for all children to enjoy, with bouncy castles, a trampoline, go karts, water balls, coin operated games and a snack bar-pizzeria.

The beach is only 850 meters away and a free shuttle to the beach is available daily from 11am-6pm.

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5 Star All Inclusive Aqua Bay Suites, Splash World Resort, Tsilivi

best places to stay in Zakynthos for families - Aqua Bay Suites

If you are looking for the perfect stay for the family look no further. With food and drinks included in the cost, as well as full access to an onsite waterpark, it has everything you could want for a family holiday to Zakynthos. It is centrally located too in Tsilivi, walking distance to bars and restaurants.

As this is a TUI SplashWorld Resort, you will have free entry to the waterpark throughout your stay. You also have access to the TUI Kids Club, restaurants and pools at its sister hotels, Planos Bay and Aqua Bay.

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Luxury Hotels in Zakynthos

5 star All Inclusive Zante Maris Hotel, Tsilivi

Zante Maris Suites

The 5 star adult only Zante Maris is best hotel for adults looking for a luxury all inclusive hotel in Zakynthos. Located right on the beach with luxury Bali beds, swim up rooms, this is the perfect choice for a special occasion or even a honeymoon – with no kids around.

This boutique hotel has just 45 suites and offers contemporary accommodation in an intimate setting. There is a wellness area with indoor pool, sauna and treatment rooms, as well as a fully equipped gym and stylish pool area.

This hotel is available to book independently or as part of a package holiday with TUI. If this is booked out or too expensive, TUI BLUE Caravel is close by and of similar standard, it tends to be slightly cheaper too.

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5 Star All Inclusive Domes Aulus Zante

Domes Aulus Zante contemporary design, sensational ocean views, as well as delicious dining options make it one of the best all inclusive resorts in Greece.

Domes-Aulus-Zante

It is located close to the natura-protected nesting ground of loggerhead sea turtles, and within walking distance of the lively resort of Laganas.

There is an adult-only beach club, a luxury Spa and a choice of a la carte restaurants to choose from, including a Greek food truck and an Italian restaurant right by the beach. Part of the prestigious Domes Resorts this is a great luxury hotel in Zakynthos.

Premium branded drinks in all bars and restaurants are included in the all inclusive arrangement, and you can also upgrade to the Cool Living area which has larger one and two bedroom suites and villas with additional amenities and lounges.

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When to visit Zante Island

when to visit Zante

The best time to visit Zante is late May to early September. Its location the Ionian sea means the season starts a little later than the southern Greek Islands in the Aegean Sea, such as Crete and Rhodes.

You can be very lucky with weather in May and October, however, the best weather is from June to mid September, although average temperatures can reach up to 33 degrees in July and August.

Best places to eat in Zante – My personal favourites food and drink spots!

Cave Damianos Restaurant and cocktail bar is situated near Laganas, and is perfect for a date night or special occasion on the island. It offers gorgeous sunset views and a mix of Mediterranean and Greek traditional food.

Cave Dominanos, Zakynthos

Panos restaurant is located in Laganas and is easily accessible from Kalamaki too. I love its traditional Mediterranean menu, it has something for everyone.

It is a super busy spot so if you have a party of six or more, I advise booking ahead. Every night they have traditional Greek music and dancing to keep everyone entertained after dinner.

Madisons is a perfect place for dinner in Zante town. It is located right on the marina and is a food lovers paradise with Asian fusions and a twist on Greek specialities. I went here for cocktails, which were super, but also loved its beautiful setting.

Green Frog restaurant in Argassi boasts a beautiful garden setting and an extensive menu. They offer quiz nights and live bands also.

How to get to Zakynthos Island

airlines that fly to Zakynthos

TUI operate a weekly service on Tuesdays from Dublin Airport from mid May until early September. Ryanair fly weekly every Friday from the 5th of April until October. You can also fly with Jet2 from Belfast who great value flights and package holidays to Zakynthos.

Many flights operate from the UK each day, so you can connect via Bristol, Manchester or London. I saved nearly €550 per person last year doing this, and managed to see Bristol on the way home for a few hours! This is not an ideal place for families, but perfect for a friends or a young couple looking for cheap holidays to Zakynthos.

I hope my Zakynthos travel guide will help you find the best things to do in Zakynthos and let you plan the perfect holiday to this stunning Greek island.

Kaitlin

While every effort is made to ensure accuracy, prices and experiences are subject to change. Some of the links in this post contain affiliate links, where I receive a small commission if a booking is made, but at no additional charge to you.

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