Greece has always had a special place in my heart, and I’ve been to many Greek islands, but Zakynthos is by far my favorite! I loved its fantastic vibe, dense woodland, secluded coves, never-ending beaches and delicious food. Renting a boat and driving on our terms was definitely the highlight of our trip. Swimming with the Caretta Caretta turtles was another thing that made our stay on the island memorable. If you want to learn more about the amazing things to do in Zakynthos, let me walk you through it! 

Disclosure: *This post contains a few affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through my link.*

Things To Know Before Visiting Zakynthos, Greece

About Zakynthos

Zakynthos is located in the Ionian Sea, off the western coast of mainland Greece. It is part of the Ionian Islands group, which includes several other islands, such as Kefalonia, Lefkada, Corfu and Ithaca.

With its charming villages and limestone cliffs, Zakynthos offers a unique blend of pristine beaches and olive groves, delicious local cuisine, and amazing nightlife. These are just a few of the island’s many unique experiences that are sure to pique your interest.

Navagio Beach, with its iconic shipwreck, is one of the most photographed and famous beaches in the world. 

Swimming with endangered sea turtle species, Caretta Caretta is another highlight of the island

Best time to visit Zakynthos

The best time to visit the island of Zakynthos is between March and early November. However, during the peak season in July and August, when many visit during the summer holidays, it’s crucial to book your accommodation in advance to secure your stay.

If you’re looking for a more relaxed atmosphere, the best time to visit the island is spring and autumn. The temperatures drop, and the weather is sunny and warm, making the experience more pleasant. The scent of rosemary, oregano, and oleander will accompany you wherever you are on the island.

The Meltemia phenomenon, a unique weather occurrence, is often encountered in  June, July, and August. Strong northerly winds hit the Ionian and Aegean Seas, and due to these weather conditions, nights can get chilly, and sometimes, a jacket is required. It’s a good idea to pack some warm clothing during these months.

Where to stay on Zakynthos

You’ll find plenty of luxury hotels, villas, self-catering apartments, studios and boutique hotels. The owners and the residents are generally kind and ready to satisfy all your wishes. Most holiday accommodation is only open from April until November, so keep that in mind if you wish to visit Zakynthos during the off-season. 

Accommodation prices in Zakynthos vary depending on the time of year. The prices are at their highest in July and August, but if you book in advance, you can find reasonably priced accommodation. 

If you’re hoping to experience the nightlife, then the best place to base yourself is Laganas. 

Alykes is well-known as a favored base for families, thanks to its calm waters and plenty of fun activities.

If you’d like tranquility and you don’t mind not staying close to the beach, Keri is another great option.

sunset view over the sea in Zakynthos

How to get around Zakyhthos

The easiest and most obvious option would be renting a car and discovering the island on your own terms. Some parts of the island are less developed, meaning you’ll need transport to get there. Traffic is accessible, and you’ll be driving through empty roads and scenic coastal drives most of the time. It’s a fairly big island, and the attractions are far apart, so a rented car will open up many options and allow you to be more spontaneous. 

The best site to book a rental car in Zakynthos is DISCOVER CARS. This easy-to-use booking platform compares car rental deals from many trusted companies, which enables them to secure the best car rental prices. And they usually include insurance.

Scooters are the best way to get to various places; just don’t plan on doing any off-roading. You’ll find scooter rental places everywhere in Zakynthos. 

Having your own vehicle is ideal for full access to all the beaches. Another option to wander around is to get on a taxi boat, which will take you to the beaches that are inaccessible by road.

Get an eSIM before the trip

Because phones have become our most important devices, it’s necessary to have a data connection as soon as you step foot in a different country. Your home data plan might only work if you paid for a much more expensive package, finding wifi connections in airports or train stations might be tricky, and seeking a local store to buy a SIM card might be exhausting. Forget all of that!

You just purchase an e-SIM, install it on your phone, and activate the plan when you’re ready to use it. Getting out of the plane and instantly connecting to data was a game changer for me. I didn’t have to waste time standing in line to get a local SIM card or finding a wifi connection to book a taxi to reach my hotel.

If you ask me, getting an e-SIM is a quintessential part of traveling. There is no physical installation and no long-term commitments. And the best part is that you can always top up or purchase a new plan through the app. Pretty convenient, right? Find the best data plan for GREECE HERE.

How many days to spend on Zakynthos

You can easily spend 3-4 days on the island and get a glimpse of its treasures. Ideally, you should spend at least one week on Zakynthos. This gives you enough time to visit everything without rushing, go on a boat tour, swim with turtles, enjoy traditional cuisine and relax at the beach.

Secure your travel insurance

We never leave home without travel insurance designed to cover our expenses if something goes wrong. You might not need it, but for peace of mind, take notice of this aspect. 

If you’re still looking for travel insurance for your trip to Zakynthos Island, I highly recommend HEYMONDO, a trusted insurance provider for leisure and business trips, backpackers, long-term travelers, and digital nomads. Their travel insurance protects against theft, flight delays, injury, illness, cancellations, and much more. The best part is that you have access to a 24/7 doctor chat through their app and, most importantly, instant assistance. 

As a Lizy Travels The World reader, you get 5% off your Heymondo Travel Insurance.

Best tours in Zakynthos

Join a VIP tour to admire the Navagio beach from above and from the sea, discover the beauty of the Blue Caves, swim in Xygia Natural Spa beach, and marvel at the stunning landscapes of Bohali Hill and Makris Gialos beach. Sounds exciting? Find out all the details HERE.

Take unique photos of turtles at a close distance as you sail through the crystal clear waters on an eco-friendly glass-bottomed boat. Explore the amazing Keri caves and cross the famous Arches from underneath. Enjoy a swimming stop at the Golden Nesting beach on Marathonisi Island. For itinerary and rates, click HERE.

14 Amazing Things To Do In Zakynthos

Whether you’re looking to explore historical sites, relax on the beach, rent a boat, indulge in Greek cuisine, or shop for souvenirs, there’s something for everyone on this island. So, let me walk you through the amazing things to do in Zakynthos!

1. Glimpse Navagio Beach from the sea

I could only start this article by mentioning the famous sight in Zakynthos: Navagio Beach! Many postcards have tried to capture its beauty, but the reality is far better! 

Situated in the northeast part of Zakynthos, Navagio Beach offers the island’s most emblematic views: an abandoned shipwreck and a cove with glowing blue water! Visiting this beach is definitely one of the best things to do in Zakynthos. 

The beach is relatively new, as it appeared in 1986 after a big storm. What makes this beach interesting is the MV Panagiotis’s rusting remains, a container ship that emerged during the same storm. The cargo was smuggling a shipment of cigarettes from Turkey and trying to escape the Greek Navy. 

In recent years, the beach has had some rock falls, so it was entirely closed to the public in the summer of 2023. However, it may reopen with some visitor restrictions. So, make sure to ask around for the latest updates on this beach. The beach is more appealing from a distance, so getting there is still worth it! 

The only way to access the iconic shipwreck beach is by boat, but there are two ways to get there. 

Join a boat tour to see the famous Navagio Beach

You can board a tourist cruise on a boat trip from pretty much everywhere on the island, from Zakynthos Town on the east coast, Porto Vromi, Agios Nikolaos Port in Volimes, or Cape Skinari. 

However, I suggest visiting the famous beach from the nearest harbors: Porto Vromi or Cape Skinari. It’s cheaper, and you spend less time on the boat itself. 

If you don’t mind crowds, you can relax at the beach, swim in the gorgeous water, marvel at the white limestone cliffs embracing this cove, and explore the wreck. 

Rent a boat with/without a skipper to visit Navagio Beach

The easiest and most comfortable way to visit Navagio Beach is by renting a boat with a skipper. You don’t have to worry about driving and parking the boat, time, or other related concerns.

For a truly memorable adventure, I recommend renting a boat without a skipper and exploring Navagio Beach on your own terms. No license is needed; just pay attention to the instructions, and you’re ready to embark on your own sea adventure. This freedom and independence to explore at your own pace is what makes this experience so special. 

Book the boat for a minimum of four hours so you have enough time to explore and admire the beauty of the West Coast. Are you worried about driving a boat? If I could drive and park the boat, I guess anyone would! Renting a boat without a skipper and discovering Navagio Beach was one of the best things to do in Zakynthos. 

Navagio beach seen from the boat

2. Glimpse Navagio Beach from above 

One of the most popular things to do in Zakynthos is to admire the famous Navagio Beach from the viewpoint above, which is accessible by car, a fairly 45-minute drive from Zante Town.

If you come during the day, queue up for what must be the island’s most emblematic scene and glimpse it from the official viewing platform, a deck with a guard fence that extends from the cliff itself. The angle is not the best and there is a shadow over the beach in the morning, but the views are impressive anyway. 

In addition, there will be chaos in the parking lot and a huge line waiting to take a photo of the famous beach. But, if you don’t mind waiting in the sun’s heat and waiting, queue for the perfect shot. 

But if you visit the Navagio Viewpoint after 6 p.m., you can get to a different viewpoint, offering a better perspective of the beach. At this time, there are no guards and no queues. After the official viewing platform, a rough trail leads to more unobstructed views of the famous beach. Just be careful and stay away from the edge, as there have been deaths when people got too close.

The trail is not maintained, and there is conflicting information about whether tourists can access it. So please double-check the updates before you drive there after 6 p.m.

Navagio beach from above

3. Swim with the famous Caretta Caretta turtles (one of my favorite things to do in Zakynthos)

The Caretta Caretta Turtle is a specimen still living in the Mediterranean, and it is possible to meet it. The largest weighs 140 kilograms and measures circa 120 cm, whereas the smallest measures only 75 cm. The nesting period is from June to August when the females reach the beach to breed. They always breed on the same beach where they were born, so the authorities try to protect their habitat. 

One of my favorite activities in Zakynthos was swimming with the famous Caretta Caretta turtles, and I still can’t believe how many of them we saw and swam with during our stay! 

If you’re hoping to catch sight of turtles in Zakynthos, head to Cameo Island! You’ll get the chance to spot the turtles from the bridge leading to the small island. 

The wide sandy stretch from Cameo Island to Kalamaki Beach is the best area to swim with the turtles! Just don’t forget your goggles and don’t ever touch them! Another thing to remember is that you are not allowed to lay in the sun close to the shore. 

You’ll have the opportunity to see and swim with them on Marathonisi Island, which is reachable by boat only. Hop on a boat tour around Cameo Island, or hire a boat with/without a skipper and explore the region on your own terms.

swimming with Caretta Caretta turtles is one of the best things to do in Zakynthos

4. Get lost in the small village of Keri

The idyllic village of Keri is a popular stop-off for tourists visiting the Keri Cliffs or simply road-tripping. An earthquake struck the small village of Keri in 1953, causing damage throughout the area. Between 400 and 800 people were killed, and many buildings were destroyed

You’ll notice soon that Keri village has a laid-back atmosphere, and everything here is quiet and peaceful. If your itinerary allows you, enjoy a coffee or a refreshment at one of the few terraces. 

Virgin Keriotissa Church is the best place to snap some lovely views over the village of Keri. Unfortunately, the church was also damaged by the earthquake but renovated in 1953. The only remaining piece is the gold-plated temple, added in 1750 by Nikolaos Logothetis and Ioannis Gropas. 

If you’re here around sunset, find a nice place and watch the sun hit the Ionian Sea. 

On the opposite side of the island, only 6 kilometers and 10 minutes drive, you’ll find Keri Beach. The area is remote and popular among families and tourists looking for silence. And the best part is that the water is calm and shallow.

a stroll through the tiny streets of Keri village

5. Head to Mizithres Viewpoint

Less than two kilometres from the idylic village of Keri and only 15 kilometres from Zante Town, you’ll find one of the most famous cliffs on the island: Keri Cliffs. 

Carved by nature and resulting from damaging seismic activity over thousands of years, the two massive, 300-meter tall, conical-shaped white limestone rocks rising from the sea’s depths are regarded as the best viewpoint in Zakynthos. And you can easily understand why! The view over the Keri Cliffs is simply breathtaking! Visiting the Mizithres lookout point on the island’s southwest side was one of my favorite things to do in Zakynthos.

Leave the car near the Lighthouse and walk on a bumpy path for 8-10 minutes until you reach the official viewing point. The trail is easy; just cover your head and shoulders so you don’t get burned by the scorching sun. Try to avoid driving to the lookout with your rental, as you will wreck the car, and there will be no proper parking once you get there.

If you want a place just for yourself, take one of these paths on the right-hand side and walk for a few minutes until you reach several viewpoints. Once you reach the edge, prepare to be amazed by the incredibly blue water down below! You’ll be in awe for a long time and won’t stop photographing the Mizithres Beach and Keri Cliffs. After that, just soak up the views and enjoy the moment! 

While the view from the cliffs looking down to Mizithres is regarded as the best viewpoint in Zakynthos, viewing Mizithres from the sea, with the dramatic white cliffs and the blue Mediterranean sky as a backdrop, gives you a certain sense of scale and grandeur of this magical setting.

girl admiring from above the Keri Cliffs in Zakynthos

6. Visit Cameo Island

For Instagram lovers, visiting the picturesque Cameo Island is one of the best things to do in Zakynthos. 

In 1633, an earthquake hit Zakynthos, separating a small area from the mainland. Now, Cameo Island is a picturesque small islandjust off the shore and reached by a long wooden bridge.

It’s privately run, and there is a small charge to access the island and use the beach bar. It might get crowded and loud sometimes, but we loved our time there. 

It’s also a popular spot for wedding ceremonies and a beautiful spot to watch the sunset. 

If you’re hoping to catch sight of turtles, then I recommend coming to Cameo Island. There is a number that live in the area, so don’t forget to bring your goggles.

girl at Cameo Island, Zakynthos

7. Snap a photo of the wonderful Oleander plant

Well, I guess you didn’t see this coming, but when it comes to flowers, I can’t treasure them enough. I got drunk from the image of the oleander in Zakyhntos, so I had to take some photos! If you’re like me, hunting and photographing the most beautiful plant is one of the best things to do in Zakynthos. 

The oleander has been around in Greece for some time. In its natural environment, it grows spontaneously, reaching heights up to 6 meters. It is long-lived, reaching even 100 years. You can find them pretty much everywhere: on the facades, on pots or along the sandy beaches. 

Oleander, whose scientific name is Nerium oleander, is the Latinized form of the Greek name ancient for the plant Nerion, which is derived from the Greek word for water: “nerous.” This is because the oleander flowers tend to grow along the courses and on the banks of the river.

In many places, the oleander is one of the most significant indicators of pagan beliefs in the early Christian religion. Oleander flowers can symbolize destiny, peace and understanding. However, the oleander juice is poisonous and is used to produce rat poison. 

girl admiring the Oleander plant in Zakynthos

8. Hit the Beaches

The Greek island of Zakynthos is known for its great beaches and beautiful sea. And the reality is that there are beaches to suit all tastes. You never have to travel far to find a gorgeous spot to lie in the sun and relax. I’ve put together a list of the beaches I enjoyed the most in Zakynthos:

Kaminia Beach

It is a lovely, quiet beach with grass and plenty of shadows. The entrance into the water was a little bit rocky, but the ambiance was awesome. There are many sunbeds and umbrellas which are free to use. There is a bar, a restaurant, and a shaded parking place for your rented car. 

Porto Azzurro

Porto Azzuro is similar to Kaminia Beach, with sunbeds and umbrellas, which are also free to use. There is also a small car park, a restaurant, and a bar on the beach. I’m not sure why, but we loved Kaminia Beach better.

Banana Beach

Banana Beach is a long stretch of fine sand with plenty of sunbeds and umbrellas, which you must pay for. There are also a few bar options and restaurants. This turned out to be one of our favorite beaches. 

empty Banana Beach in Zakynthos

The Bay

We really enjoyed the five-star complex with its swimming pool and private beach. Anyone can access the beach and the sunbeds as long as they order from the bar. The area is lovely and quiet. 

Gerakas Beach

Gerakas Beach is a beautiful natural beach where turtles come to lay eggs at night, meaning everyone must leave the area by 7 p.m. The water is shallow and calm, although the beach gets a little bit windy in the afternoon. There are no facilities on the beach, but there are a few small shops just before reaching the coast. You can find anything you wish: fruits, cold drinks, suncream, hats, and souvenirs. There are plenty of restaurants and free parking places.

As you get to the beach, there are a few sunbeds and umbrellas, and you’ll have to pay for them. To the right, there is a lovely sand stretch for naturist lovers. 

view over Gerakas Beach

Kalamaki Beach

Kalamaki Beach tends to attract those looking for a quieter holiday. The area is less developed, mainly due to the protected sand dunes where Caretta Caretta turtles lay their eggs at night. Another reason would be the vicinity of the airport. It was so much fun hunting the planes coming in to land over the beach! 

Porto Limnionas

Porto Limnionas is not a real beach but a maze of steep cliffs and rocks where you can swim in the most beautiful clear blue water. You can also swim and explore the small caves here, sheltered from the open sea. 

There are sunbeds and umbrellas on different rock levels, making this space unique. I can say for sure that laying in the sun and swimming in the caves at Porto Limnionas is one of the best things to do in Zakynthos. 

view over Porto Limnionas beacch

9. Snorkel at Skinari Cape

Skinari Cape is famous for its sensational blue waters, lighthouse, cliffs and windmills. Located at the northernmost tip of Zakynthos, it is considered a paradise for snorkeling thanks to the wide range of marine life living here. 

Underneath the Skinari Cape, you will find the famous Blue Caves, which were discovered in 1897. The name comes from the different shades of blue caused by the sea’s reflections on the white rocks. 

Boat trips to the Blue Caves last around 20 minutes and you can swim for a few minutes inside a small cave. My recommendation would be to rent a boat and discover the caves on your own terms. The transparent water makes the boats look as if they were floating! Find a quiet spot and snorkel for as long as you want. 

If you haven’t had enough, head to Tramplini Beach, where, for a small fee, you can access the most beautiful entrance into the water, with sunbeds included. You can jump into the water from a height of 5 meters or 8 meters or access the water from a small platform. 

amazing view from the Skinari cape over the blue waters of the sea

10. Enjoy the sunset from Kampi

On the island’s west side, you’ll find the cozy and charming village of Kampi. Here, you can enjoy beautiful sunsets from the top of the hill, which rises 300 meters above the sea. 

On the way up, stop at the Shiza Cross, a memorial site for the people who died during the Greek Civil War.

For the ultimate food experience, plan a dinner at Taverna Michalis, a lovely restaurant with a laid-back atmosphere away from the fuzz of Zakynthos. I would recommend their fish plate, which is simply delicious!

view from Taverna Michalis, Kampi, Zakynthos

11. Rent a boat

Renting a boat and discovering the West Coast is one of the best things to do in Zakyhthos, and I encourage you to do the same. The prices are decent, and you don’t need a permit to drive the boat. Just pay attention to the teachings, and you’re good to go. 

We wanted to explore the island’s west coast on our own terms, so we rented a boat for a day without a skipper from Porto Vromi. The guys running the place were amazing. We spoke on the phone first thing in the morning, and they held a boat for the two of us. Everything went smoothly and quickly from there. We had the freedom to ride where we wanted and for as long as we wanted. It was the ultimate boat experience we ever had! As a tip, make sure to schedule a boat as soon as possible in the high season! 

We also rented a boat during our stay on Symi Island, so if you want to check out another amazing island in Greece, read the article below:

THE BEST THINGS TO DO ON SYMI ISLAND

renting a boat and discovering Navagio Beach

12. Explore Zante Town

The capital and main port of the island is often referred to by its Italian name, Zante, as it was under Venetian rule for over three centuries. 

While it’s a popular destination for visitors, it’s not a beach destination. 

With a population of around 16,000, it still feels like a small village and spending a few hours here is definitely one of the best things to do in Zakynthos. 

The charming town has many lovely churches, restaurants, plenty of hotels, shops, and nightlife. It’s also the departure point for most boat tours and excursions.

Solomos Square is a central gathering place bustling with activities all the time. Here, you’ll bump into the statue of Solomos and a few open plazas and parks. There is a lovely pedestrian-only walkway that cuts through the most charming part of Zante. If time allows, you can visit the Byzantine Museum of Zakynthos or the Church of Agios Dionysios.

The charming seafront walkway, which runs about 1.5 kilometers along the harbor on the east side of town, is perfect for an evening walk. 

strolling the streets of Zante town

13. Snorkel around Marathonisi Island

Marathonisi Island is also called Turtle Island since these beautiful creatures lay eggs here at night. Snorkeling here is one of the best things to do in Zakynthos, and you might even get the chance to swim with turtles or at least spot one in the distance. 

Located off the coast of Laganas, the island of Marathonisi is accessible by boat only. You can get there on an organized boat tour, by water taxi or by rented boat. 

There are no sunbeds or umbrellas, just a snack boat where you can buy some refreshments.

You can visit this place for an hour on a boat trip. This gives you enough time to snorkel and take some pictures. Snorkeling is at its best here, but it can get quite crowded. 

Water taxis shuttle passengers from the beach to Marathonisi Island. The journey takes around 15 minutes, and the captain and passengers agree on the return time in advance. 

If you wish to visit the island on a rented boat without a skipper, parking is easy. Many boatmen will give you directions to where you can park. 

Not many tourists know the second beach of Marathonisi Island, which is less famous but just as beautiful. Surrounded by cliffs and behind two caves, there is a strip of sand and white pebbles. From the beach, a passage leads to one of these caves. If time allows, I highly recommend checking this part of the island. 

the blue waters of Marathonisi Island, Zakynthos

14. Indulge in the local food

Of course, no trip would be complete without getting a taste of traditional cuisine. Zakynthos Island offers an array of delicious food, so it is impossible to pick the best restaurant since there are plenty of great ones. Usually, you will find a beautiful, family-run, traditional taverna with wonderfully passionate and knowledgeable staff who cook delicious eats. 

The most requested dish on the island is the Greek Salad, which includes tomato, pepper, cucumber, onions, olives and the traditional Greek cheese feta. 

One of the best dishes on the island is the Oven-baked goat or rabbit served with stuffed peppers. Try local specialties such as Moussaka(chopped aubergines), Dolmadakia (vine leaves stuffed with rice), and Moscharistifado (veal stewed onions and tomatoes).

Another thing you have to try is the Loukamades: lumps of freshly made dough batter, fried and served covered in cinnamon and honey.

Last but not least, you should take advantage of fish and seafood options while on the island. 

Seaffod plate at Taverna Michalis, Zakynthos

Now that I have shared my favorite things to do in Zakynthos, it’s time to buy those flight tickets and schedule your time on this amazing Greek Island! Enjoy Zakynthos!

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Zakynthos. The Best Things To Do

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