People that have been to Zakynthos or Zante usually have very different
opinions about the island. Some have found their paradise, others never
want to return. Fortunately, most people think it is a lovely island.
The island of Zakynthos has a significant
development of tourism and a good tourist infrastructure without huge
It basically depends on where you stay. There is the very busy town Laganas with its many taverns, bars and clubs, that for obvious reasons can get very busy and very loud, and then there are quieter parts, better suited for families like Argassi.
Zakynthos is an island rich in vegetation and the best time to visit is in
spring before the arrival of the package tourism. The island at this
time is full of flowers and colors, perhaps for this reason, it was
named fioro of Levante (the Levante flower)
the island produces grapes and wine and this is probably the reason that during the ancient years, the island used to be protected by the god Dionysus, (the god of wine) . Another later person of the same name, Dionysios Solomos, was born here.He was the national poet of Greece who wrote the Greek national anthem.
The fact that many Zakynthian called Dionyssios and their speech that has
yet some Italian idiomatic, is the reason of the creation of one of the
most popular figures of the Greek shadow theater, the figure of Sior
Zakynthos is known as the island of songs and serenade, and indeed there are many local serenades and songs that usually sung by groups of men at restaurants and other places as well as in local festivals. In Zakynthos also it was founded the first music school in Greece.
In Zakynthos is the National Marine Park, which has been built here in 1999 in order to protect the sea turtle Caretta caretta. That species of turtle lives in Greek waters and is threatened by extinction, and that is the reason of the creation of the Marine Park, so that the turtles can give here their eggs undisturbed. in the park are working many volunteers from many countries.
indications that Zakynthos was inhabited from the Neolithic period,
3,000 years BC, the ancient name of the island was Yria. According to
another theory it is believed that the first settlers came in Zakynthos
in the 16th century from the Peloponnese. According to Homer, the first
king of the island was Zakynthos, son of the king of Troy Dardanos. He
created the first citadel on the island the Psofida. The Zakynthian
later gained independence from Ithaca and for more than six centuries
they had democracy on the island. During this period they created the
colony Zakantha in Spain. Hannibal invaded Zakantha in 219 B.C causing
the beginning of the second Punic war with the Romans.
The island took part with the Athenian alliance, and after the defeat of the alliance the island was ruled by the Spartans. In the Classical era, when Philip II of Macedonia and his son Alexander the Great expanded the Macedonian border, Zakynthos was the vassal.
The Romans came in the 2nd century BC and later, the island became part of the Byzantine Empire.
Zakynthos never fell under Turkish rule, but Venetian in stead. The most prominent leaders belonged to the Orsini family, and the Venetian rule was to last for 300 years. The Venetians divided the residents of the island into three categories, the aristocrats, the only ones who had political rights, the middle class and the ordinary people (popolo). Because of the harsh treatment of the common people and the high taxes, the people tried to revolt in 1630, with only more oppression as a result.
The army of Napoleon conquered the island in 1797 and were accepted by the island as liberator, Zakynthos thus gained more freedom than before. One year after this period, followed two years of Turkish-Russian administration. In 1800 after the peace treaty between Russia and Turkey was created the first independent state of Greece in the Ionian Islands.
Independence though was only kept for seven years, in 1807 the French occupy the island and later the British in 1809 until 1864 when Zakynthos finally was united with Greece.
What to see
:There is a museum
dedicated to Dionysios Solomos in the town, as well as a museum of
The church of St Dionysios (Ag Dionysios) holds the relics of Zante's patron saint.
At Mt. Bochali outside Zakynthos town there is a Venetian citadel.
You can go on excursions to visit the beaches where the turtles Caretta Caretta lay their eggs at night. If you are lucky, you might also catch a glimpse of the Monk Seal Monachus Monachus.
By boat from Agios Nikolaos, you can visit the famous blue caves in the north of the island. The blue caves are among the most famous sights of the island with an amazing beautiful color of the water, the largest of the caves is the cyanon cave. Another popular sight is the shipwreck (Navagio) on the beach of Smuggler's Bay. You should also visit the white cliffs at Keri reminiscent of the white cliffs of Dover, England.
What to do
:Many of the beaches offer water sports. Porto Zorro is an excellent place for snorkelling and diving from the rocks in the edge of the beach, in Porto Zorro you will find a well organized beach with umbrellas as well as many bars and cafes. There are also daytrips to Cephalonia, and some travel agencies offer trips to Ancient Olympia on the mainland.
:In general the beaches on the island are excellent for families with children. There is the very famous shipwreck beach which you can visit by boat. In the busy town Laganas there is a 9km beach. Argassi and Alikes can get extremely busy. At the Vasilikos peninsula the beaches are well suited for children. The only thing you have to look out for when you are out on your own trying to find a nice beach, as to make sure it doesn't have signs or fences there about the turtles. These places should be left alone. Another nice beach is near Keri the lake Keri beach just opposite the small island Marthonissos. Near to the village Xirokastelo are the beaches of Daphne and Sekania. Not far from Porto Zoro is the famous Banana beach very popular to many young people. In Kalamaki the beach is from white sand and dunes, in both sides of the beach there are white cliffs. Otehr good beaches of Zakynthos are Gerakas, Porto Roma and Agalas.
:Laganas gets extremely busy during the high season and its full of bars and clubs , you can even found here English pubs . Argassi is a bit quieter, but has quite a few bars and clubs. In Zakynthos town there are also a few bars, but it is generally quiet here.
From local specialties worth trying is the skordostoumpi,a dish with aubergines and garlic and the meat dish sartsa. Other local foodstuff products is cheese, such as mytzithra and Ladotyri . Zakynthos has also very good wines. There is a wide variety of both local and international restaurants in Zakynthos. The rule "eat where the Greeks eat" applies here as in any other Greek island. You'll find all sorts of eateries, for small purses there is always the solution of souvlaki of fast food.
:The best shopping is in Zakynthos town, where you can get souvenirs, clothes and icons. you should also by local cheese and wine as well as the local sweets like the Mandolato (sweet made of almonds) and Pastelia a sweet made from honey and sesame.
: the island has a very good road network. There are local buses that go almost everywhere in the whole island, and also many taxis and rentals of cars and motorbikes. Small excursion boats go to many of the beaches of Zakynthos. In town you can go walking around the small streets and explore the hidden sights, such as market and small shops
By Air: Zakynthos has its own airport which is
linked to good transportation, and there are daily flights to and from
Athens and flights from Corfu, Cephalonia and Thessaloniki. The island
during the summer months has many charter flights from many European
By boat. The island is connected with Patras and Kilini on the mainland, while there are also ships from Zakynthos to Cephalonia.
By bus. There are also daily bus services KTEL from Zakynthos to Patras and Athens and from Zakynthos by bus to Nafpaktos, Larissa and Thessaloniki.
Facts about Zakynthos
Size: 400 sq km
International code: 0030
Population: c.45 000
Local code: 26950
Tourist Information: 27307
Internet cafe: Yes
Port Police: 28117
Tour Operators:Libra, JMC, Apollo, Ving