WHAT TO VISIT IN ZANTE
Learn what to see and what to do in Zante: explore the city, beaches, scenic viewpoints, museums, churches, clubs, and popular attractions. Zante is relatively small and with some planning, you can easily visit the entire island in just one week. Our guide “How to explore Zakynthos in 7 days” has been specifically designed to help you planning and organizing your week on the island. Renting a vehicle is definitely the best and quickest way to move around and reach the most secluded parts of Zakynthos.
WHAT TO VISIT IN ZANTE
Learn what to see ad what to do in Zante: explore the city, beaches, scenic viewpoints, museums, churches, clubs, and popular attractions. Zante is relatively small and with some planning, you can easily visit the entire island in just one week. Our guide”How to explore Zakynthos in 7 days” has been specifically designed to help you planning and organizing your week on the island. Renting a vehicle is definitely the best and quickest way to move around and reach the most secluded parts of Zakynthos.
CITY OF ZANTE
ZANTE TOWN AND BOCHALI CASTLE
Zante or Zakynthos (in Greek) is the capital and main port of the island. In 1953, it was razed to the ground by an earthquake and subsequent fire. With great effort on the part of the local population, the city was rebuilt, but lost its Venetian style. Today Zante is a maze of small streets and alleys and offers a variety of remarkable sites, such as the famous San Dionysios Church, which houses the patron saint’s holy relics, Solomos Square with its Post-Byzantine Museum, San Marco Square with Dionysios Solomos Museum, and Alessandro Roma Square with the Roma Family Museum. An impressive Venetian castle overlooks the city and can be reached by following the signs to Bohali (Boxali) through a 5 Km uphill climb. The view from the belvedere is spectacular both during the day, with crystal blue waters sparkling in the distance, and at night with city lights twinkling below.
Shipwreck Beach is one of the most famous beaches in the world and a tourist trademark for Zante and Greece in general. It is in fact the most photographed beach in Greece. Its white pebbles and surrounding sulphur caves give the water its distinguishing an electric blue colour.
This unique setting was created in 1980, when the smuggler ship Panagiotis, which was carrying contraband cigarettes from Turkey, washed up on the beach due to adverse weather conditions and engine failure. Before the famous shipwreck, this beach was known as Agios Georgios. It is only accessible by excursion or by renting a boat, although you can also enjoy the view and take pictures from a spectacular belvedere overlooking the cove, located near the village of Anafonitria.
ZANTE MARINE PARK
ZANTE MARINE PARK (MARATHONISI ISLAND, TURTLES, KERI CAVES AND MARATHIAN CAVES).
With its caves, turtles, and islands, Zante Marine Park is truly one of a kind and is in fact described more extensively in the “Marine Park” section of our website with its caves.
Zante Marine Park (Greek name: Εθνικό Θαλάσσιο Πάρκο Ζακύνθου) was established in December 1999 as the first national park to protect sea turtles. It comprises 4 marine areas (A, B, C, D), and in addition to Loggerhead turtles (Caretta Caretta) it is also home to some specimens of Monk Seals (Monachus monachus).
XIGIA AND MACRI GIALOS
Xigia is located in the northern part of the island, about 10km from Alykes and Alykanas. There are actually two beaches, a few hundred metres from each other that carry the same name. The first beach you encounter coming from the town of Zakynthos is the less known and visited of the two. It is only accessible on foot by walking along a dirt path. The second Xigia (also known as Xigia Natural Spa) can be reached by a set of steep stairs starting from the parking lot of the Xigia Tavern. A rocky wall to the right of the beach leads down to the to the sea, where sea caves release sulphur-rich white water. Due to the high sulfur content, the water at Xigia is said to have healing properties for skin and joints. The smell might be slightly off putting at first, but the sandy beach and crystal clear waters are bound to enchant you! After a swim, continue north to Makri Gialos Beach. It is a fairly small beach with white pebbles, crystal clear waters, and impressive scenery. From here, tour boats can take you to Shipwreck Beach. you can also find some boats that take you to Shipwreck Beach. Both beaches, with their fish-rich waters, are perfect for snorkelling and in the late afternoon, you might even see starfish slowly peeking out as the sun starts to fade.
Dafni is one of only two beaches part of Area A (the most restrictive) of the Marine Park that are open to the public. There are two roads leading to Dafni: the first one is shorter and starts a few kilometres from Argassi, whereas the second one is longer and takes double the time. Both roads are unpaved and although in recent years, they have been rebuilt, they have to be approached with caution. Since Dafni is part of Area A of Marina Park, which protects local wildlife, fishing is prohibited. As a result, the surrounding waters are extremely rich in vegetation and fish. On the beach itself, there are numerous turtle nests, protected by wooden cages. If you are visiting in August, with a bit of luck, you might actually have the opportunity to witness the first baby turtles hatching and making theur way to the sea! If you get hungry, there is a variety of restaurants along the beachfront, where you can have lunch and relax on a deckchair in the shade of the trees. However, beware of Dafni Taverna, the first one along the way, as we have received several complaints.
SAN NIKOLAS AND BANANA BEACH
San Nikolas (not to be confused with the harbour in the northern part of the island) has been competing with Banana Beach for years as the best equipped beach on the island. These two long golden beaches offer numerous watersports, such as jet skiing, parasailing, banana boats, flyboarding and waterskiing. For those who prefer to relax while enjoying a meal or drink, there are a handful of beach bars offering snacks and refreshments as well as sunbeds and umbrellas. Both beaches offer free shuttle service.
Gerakas is the last beach on the southeastern coast of the island and is part of Area A (the most protected) of the Marine Park. Like all other beaches in the park, it is open from 8am to sunset. You can also find turtle nests here, and as in Dafni, WWF volunteers patrol the area, controlling the use of the park and adherence to its rules. This long sandy beach ends with a wall of clay: but do not collect any pieces as it is forbidden! The water is crystal clear and thanks to the ban on fishing, there is plenty of sealife. If you are visiting in August, with a bit of luck, you might even have the opportunity to witness the first baby turtles hatching and making their way to the sea!
KERI AND MARATHIA
Although Keri and Marathia are only 5 km from each other, we recommend dedicating a whole day to this area.
The water is pristine and while Keri Beach is sandy, Marathia has white pebbles. After a day of swimming, there’s nothing better than ending your visit by enjoying the sunset from the Faros Keri (Keri Lighthouse), about a 15 minute drive from Marathia Beach. Once you pass the village of Keri, you will start seeing dozens of eager tourists waiting for the sun to set at the end of the dirt path.
PORTO LIMNIONAS AND PORTO ROXA
Located on the western coast, 2km from each other, Porto Limnionas and Porto Roxa are two rocky coves of stunning beauty. Porto Roxa is wilder and less equipped for tourist than Porto Limnionas, but its rocking sunbeds facing the sea are definitely worth a try! Access to the sea is a bit rough and wearing sandals is recommended. Porto Limnionas is better equipped with umbrellas and chairs and although it is noisier and touristier than its “rival”, it is certainly worth visiting for the stunning colour of its water. Here in fact, the sea meets a fresh-water source which gives the water a swimming pool-like colour.
PANORAMIC POINTS OF ZAKYNTHOS
Among the most characteristic places in Zakynthos, Bochali, a beautiful hilltop village, named after its flower-filled gardens, is definitely worth mentioning. Located just behind the city, it is accessible on foot from Solomos Square or by car. It is an ideal spot to enjoy the sunset, when the sky and the sea are tinged with red and orange hues, giving life to a unique and exciting show. For an even more romantic moment, you should go there in the evening, sitting at one of the many bars and sipping a drink while enjoying a spectacular view of the city lights and the moon reflecting in the dark sea.
Faros Keri is the best known spot for watching the sunset. You can reach it by following the signs for the village of Keri, which is located about 5 km from the village of Limni Keri. Past Keri, follow the signs to Faros Keri for another 2 km. When you see the biggest Greek flag in the world (with an area of 670 square metres) you’ve arrived!
This is the spot where most pictures of Zante are taken – views from Shipwreck viewpoint are in fact all over websites, social networks and postcards. You can reach Shipwreck viewpoint by driving to the village of Anafonitria and then following the numerous signs for the “Belvedere”, which is 4 km away. It is usually crowded in the morning due to the many buses bringing tourists here. At sunset, you can enjoy a more chilled atmosphere.
Kampi is a small village perched on a promontory about 300 metres above sea level and like Keri and Shipwreck Viewpoint, it faces west, offering breathtaking sunset views. A huge concrete cross stands tall on the promontory just outside the village, erected in memory of the victims of the Greek Civil War in the 1940s.
Mount Skopos is certainly the least known and visited site on the island. Located a few kilometres from Argassi, this panoramic spot is 492 m above sea level. It offers spectacular views of the whole south and southeastern part of the island. At the top of the mountain, you will find the Panagia Skopiotissa Monastery dating back to the fifteenth century.
ZAKYNTHOS BYZANTINE MUSEUM
The Museum of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine art is located in the capital city of Zante, on Solomos Square. The museum was founded after the 1953 earthquake and it houses a rich collection of ecclesiastical works: hagiographies from the Byzantine age, wooden carvings from the 16th century as well as frescos and wall paintings ranging from the 12th to the 18th century. The most interesting pieces are the hagiographies by Zakynthian artists Damaskinos, Doxaras, Kandounis, Koutouzis and Tzanes.
Address: Solomos Square, City of Zakynthos.
Opening hours: from 1 July to 31 October: Tuesday to Sunday 8:00 am to 3:00 pm
Tickets: Full € 4, reduced € 2
XENOPOULOS MUSEUM OF ZAKYNTHOS
The museum is dedicated to Grigorios Xenopoulos, a Greek novelist and play writer, who lived between 1867 and 1951. The museum is near the Church of Agios Dionysios, in the capital city of Zante and houses a collection of manuscripts and personal artifacts of Xenopoulos.
MUSEUM OF D. SOLOMOS AND A. KALVOS
Located in the historical San Marco Square and once used as the island casino, this building was completely destroyed by the 1953 earthquake. It was rebuilt in 1957 and has been in operation since 1968. To this day, it is the most important building in San Marco square. The ground floor houses the tombs of national poets Dionysios Solomos and Andreas Kalvos. Upstairs you can find manuscripts and personal artifacts of Solomos, Kalvos, Xenopoulos, and other eminent Zakynthians as well as a rich collection of their portraits. The museum also houses a well-stocked library, period furniture, a folk and archaeological collection, and a large number of photographs.
Opening hours: from 1 May to 31 October: every day: from 09:00 am to 2 pm
Tickets: Full €4 Reduced €2
HELMI NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM
Helmi Natural History Museum is the only one of its kind in Zakynthos. The museum is located in Ayia Marina, a beautiful village in the centre of the island, with amazing views of the townand of Laganas Bay. It houses noteworthy collections, with more than 500 specimens from the natural world, such as birds, fish, shellfish, plants, rocks, minerals, and animals that have become extinct. Inaugurated in August 2000, the museum is privately funded and aims to raise awareness to the natural wonders of Zakynthos ecosystem. Since its first day of activity, the museum has continued to grow and today it is considered one of the most prominent institutions of its kind in Greece and the Balkans.
Address: Aghia Marina, Zante 29100 (15 minute drive from the town of Zakynthos)
Opening hours: from 1 May to 31 October: every day: from 09:00 am to 6.00 pm
Tickets: Adults €6 Children €3
NAVAL MUSEUM OF ZAKYNTHOS
The Naval Museum is located just outside the town of Zante, on Strani Hill, in Bohali. It claims to have the best collection of Byzantine vessels in the world. Its exhibits cover all aspects of naval history from 1700 to the present day and include an excellent collection of costumes from the Greek Civil War, and from World War I and II. You can also watch a documentary with information on the British submarine HMS Perseus sunk between Cephalonia and Zakynthos during the WWII..
Address: Tsilivi, Zante 29100 (10 minute drive from the town of Zakynthos)
Opening hours: 09:30 am -2:00 pm and 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Tickets: Full €2.60
THE HOUSE OF UGO FOSCOLO
The house where famous Italian poet Ugo Foscolo was born in 1778 is located in the town of Zante. Unfortunately, the original building was severely damaged by the Italian bombing raids on 6 November 1940 and then completely destroyed by the 1953 earthquake. In 2016, Foscolo’s birth home was rebuilt with plans to accommodate a brand new local library. Outside, there is a small plaque on the wall as well as a white marble monument honoring the poet.
SAN DIONYSIOS CHURCH
St. Dionysios is the patron saint of Zakynthos. Zakynthians honor his memory twice a year, with processions taking place on the 17th of December, the day of the Assumption, and on the 24th of August, as a commemoration his holy relics being returned from the Strofadia Islands to Zakynthos. San Dionysios Church is actually one of three buildings, the other two being an elementary school and the National Bank, that are still standing in the town of Zakynthos following the 1953 earthquake. The remains of St. Dionysios are kept in a silver casket inside the church.
Among the artists who contributed to the beauty of this church, there are painter Doxaras and silversmith Diamandis Bafas who has engraved the silver reliquary containing San Dionysios remains.
The bell tower, surrounded by lights, is lit during the night creating an enchanting atmosphere.
ST. NICHOLAS OF THE MOLE
Located in Solomos Square, St. Nicholas Church is the only Venetian-style building that was not completely destroyed by the 1953 earthquake and has since then been fully restored to its former beauty. The church was originally built on a harbor island connected to the mainland by a bridge, but through time the island eventually became joined to the city. For many centuries the church belonged to the Sailors Corporation. Dating back to the 17th Century, St. Nicholas is the oldest building on Solomos Square. It was built in a predominantly Renaissance style with the exception of the bell tower which displays more Byzantine features. Inside there are the liturgical robes worn by Saint Dionysios, the island patron saint, during the period he spent at this church.
SAN MARCO CHURCH
A very small church, it is the only Catholic church on the island. Located next to the Museum of D. Solomos and Kalvos, they look like a single building since they were both built in the same style.
ST. NICHOLAS KILIOMENOU CHURCH
The mountainous village of Kiliomeno is mostly known for St. Nicholas Kiliomenou Church and its majestic bell tower. The church and the bell tower are actually separated by a street and are quite different in appearance. The four-storey Gothic bell tower has a squared base. The third floor is defined by two arches whereas the top floor, which has a hexagonal base, displays beautiful decorations in relief.
VIRGIN KERIOTISSA CHURCH
In the small mountain village of Keri, in the southern part of the island, there is a very large and colourful church surrounded by a park. Its ochre and burgundy bell tower can be easily spotted from a distance and its bells can be heard all over the village, marking the passing of the hours in a place where time seems to have stopped a century ago.
THE CHURCH AT ST. NICHOLAS BEACH.
In this very religious island, you can find churches everywhere, even right by the sea… Once you get to Agios Nikolaos Beach, in the southern part of the island (not to be confused with another town in the northern part that has the same name), on your left, you’ll notice a strip of land with a small white church. The church doesn’t have name and no other information is known about it. Unfortunately, no one is allowed inside.
The Barrage is the largest club on the island and it is located in the seaside village of Argassi. It is well known for its weekly events, the famous WHITE TUESDAY and FRIDAY ELEGANT PARTY. More info about the best parties in Zante on the Events page of the website.