Top Reasons Why You Should Visit Zakynthos, Greece

Navagio Beach is a secluded piece of paradise on the coast of Zakynthos
Navagio Beach is a secluded piece of paradise on the coast of Zakynthos | © Sorin Colac / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Claire Dodd
17 August 2021

Off the southwest coast of Greece, lapped by the Adriatic Sea, Zakynthos is home to beautiful beaches – including the popular Navagio Beach – dramatic cliffs and lush green olive groves. But so are many other Greek islands. Why visit? Zakynthos, also known as Zante, is unique, housing important turtle nesting grounds and being a hub for adventure sports. Here’s why it should be on your bucket list.

Float inside the Blue Caves

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© Vitaliy Krivosheev / Alamy Stock Photo

Sometimes nature pulls out all the stops. Swim beneath these colossal natural white stone arches in neon blue waters at the famed Blue Caves. However, to enjoy these natural wonders, you’re going to have to put in some work, as they’re only accessible from the sea. Hire a boat, book a catamaran tour, or arrange for a private sailing excursion to make a day of it.

Visit Navagio Beach

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Greece, Ionian island, Zante island, Shipwreck beach
© Tuul and Bruno Morandi / Alamy Stock Photo

This beach looks like something a Disney animator would dream up. Navagio (Shipwreck) Beach, another spot accessible only by boat, is famous for its almost impossible beauty – a stretch of fine golden sand framed by towering cliffs, including a verdant peninsula, and lapped by bright blue waters. And then, there’s the shipwreck. The MV Panagiotis washed up on its shores in October 1980. Folklore abounds as to how it got there, but for now, it’s an attraction in its own right. Look upon its rusting hulk from a boat tour, of which there are many to choose from.

Swim with sea turtles

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Loggerhead Turtle ( Carreta caretta ) in the sea at Laganas resort, South Zakynthos Island, Zante, Greece, Europe.
© Dave Porter / Alamy Stock Photo

Gently snorkel through clear waters, and you may see some sea turtles. There, up ahead – a flipper, the back of a shell, then a face. Zakynthos is home to the largest breeding ground for loggerhead turtles in the whole of the Mediterranean Sea. Ecofriendly boat tours, authorised by the National Marine Park, let you observe but not disturb these creatures, with snorkelling stops away from the key habitats.

Dance until dawn at a world-renowned nightclub

Nightclub, Contemporary, $$$
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Image full of motion blur of a DJ on the decks / sound audio mixing decks devices and dancing clubbers. Athens nightclub, Greece.
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Hot sun and hotter dance floors – it’s a tantalising mix. If you’re after a slow summer cocktail, head to Zakynthos town for a slightly more relaxed evening. Clubbers should make a beeline for Barrage Club. Among the best clubs in the world, this house-music pioneer has been fuelling memorable nights since 1991. Elsewhere, Pure Zante offers that classic pool-party experience. Other famous nightspots boasting international guest DJs include Zeros, Rescue and Sizzle.

Sample the best cuisine in the Ionian Sea

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A mezze meal in a Greek restaurant in Poros Kefalonia
© Tim Mossford / Alamy Stock Photo

Food is a central part of Greek island life. To truly experience the culture here, you’ll need to eat like a local. With its position off the west coast of mainland Greece, Zakynthos has seen many invasions over the years, with many cultures bringing their culinary traditions with them. Try spetsofai, a rich stew of Greek sausage and peppers, as well as mantolato, a locally produced nougat made with egg whites, almonds, a little sugar and plenty of honey.

Watch world-class Base jumping

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The rope jump world record team holder gave themselves rendez vous in Greece for a new adventure full of adrenaline. It is on the island of Zakynthos
© Frédéric Marie / Alamy Stock Photo

Remember Shipwreck Beach? Well, perhaps the best seat in the house is to see it from above. Experienced Base-jumping enthusiasts have been steadily discovering Navagio Beach and launching themselves off the cliffs above it. These brave souls have just two to five seconds to pull their chute and land safely on the sand. Organised events take place from May to September, so pick a spot on the beach and watch them soar through the sky.

Marvel at the island’s flora and fauna

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Small pink Carpobrotus chilensis flowres growing on the rocky shore in Porto Limnionas, Zakynthos Zante Island, Greece
© Pawel Opaska / Alamy Stock Photo
With white cliffs covered in lush greenery and sprawling wild forests, Zakynthos is not short of beautiful vistas. Nicknamed Il Fiore di Levante (the Flower of the East) by the Venetians, it’s easy to see why they thought this island was so beautiful. While it has truly embraced package tourism, there’s still plenty of remote corners to explore. Head to the mountainous northwest and look for wild herbs (rosemary flourishes here) and, in early October, pink cyclamen among the olive groves.
These recommendations were updated on August 17, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh. This article is an updated version of a story created by Claire Dodd

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