Top things to do in Zakynthos
Traveling Through Greece: Top Things To See And Do On The Island Of Zakynthos
Many people who visit Greece tend to stay on the mainland and visit major cities like Athens, exploring all that they have to offer. But tourists should consider taking the extra step and visiting some of the country’s islands to enjoy everything they have to offer. In particular, Zakynthos is rapidly becoming on the most popular islands for people to visit.
Zakynthos, which is in the Ionian Sea and has a pleasantly warm climate throughout the year, is has a total area of about 400 square kilometers (slightly more than 150 square miles) with a coastline that stretches for just over 120 kilometers (or about 75 miles). So not only is the island accessible by boat, but it’s also easy to take a dip in the cool waters. And if you’d rather arrive by air, Zakynthos International Airport has connections to several destinations in Europe.
Many of the most popular activities on Zakynthos involve the water, but there are also other attractions including some gorgeous historical buildings that you can explore during your visit.
Anyone planning a trip to Zakynthos should read the guide below for some of the top things to see and do on the island, including activities that are free and those that will cost money. Plan in advance by using the suggestions in order to have an unforgettably great Greek vacation.
1. Familiarize yourself on the island with a stroll around Zakynthos Town
Once you’ve arrived on the island, consider making one of your first activities a leisurely walk around Zakynthos Town. This is the island’s main hub where locals and tourists mingle. You’ll find a seemingly endless number of homes, businesses and other buildings painted yellow or white with bright red roofing, many of them either built new or reconstructed after a major earthquake that struck in 1953. As you stroll along the slightly angled streets you’ll find something interesting no matter which way you turn, including family-owned shops, cafes, bakeries, and much more including several small plazas where people gather to talk, have a snack or drink, or simply relax. There’s no wrong way to walk around Zakynthos Town and it’ll help you feel settled on the island.
2. Learn about the island’s past with a visit to the Byzantine Museum
One of the many tourist attractions that you can access easily from Zakynthos Town is the Byzantine Museum, which offers visitors a chance to learn all about the island’s past during the long-running reign of the Byzantine Empire. You’ll be able to spot the museum thanks to its bright yellow exterior walls, which lead inside to several rooms across two floors featuring a host of priceless artworks and other artefacts from many centuries of history. Among the various items that you can see are wooden sculptures of icons from the Byzantine era, as well as oil paintings from the 1700s, small statues and other pieces dedicated to religious figures, and more. You can also see a small model of how Zakynthos appeared in the years before the 1953 earthquake devastated the island.
3. Take a trip to marvel at Navagio Beach (also known as Shipwreck Cove)
If you’re ready to enjoy some sea and sun instead of touring museums, the most popular beach to visit on the island is Navagio Beach, also known as Shipwreck Cove. It earned that name because the remains of a shipwrecked freighter sit in the middle of the bright white sandy beach, making it a top destination for people looking to take photographs. You can only get to the cove by boat, not by foot, as there are massive cliffs on all three sides of the beach. Therefore you’ll have to hire a boat tour from one of many operators on the island to get you there, at varying prices. But the experience of seeing the shipwreck up close is hard to beat, and it means the small price of the voyage to the cove is well worth the expense.
4. Try snorkeling and swimming in the water by the Keri Caves
There’s more fun to be had in the water by exploring the area in and around the Keri Caves, which are located on the island’s southwest roughly 15 kilometers (about 9 miles) from Zakynthos Town. The caves are at the bottom of huge cliffs that offer some of the best sunset views anywhere on Zakynthos. If you travel down to the caves then you’ll be treated with crystal clear blue water where you might see the occasional turtle swimming along. This is a great spot for snorkeling, swimming and scuba diving and you can find places throughout the island that will rent the necessary items to you for these activities. You can visit Keri Caves by yourself, or as part of a private tour or group organized by businesses on the island.
5. Travel to the island’s north to explore the Blue Caves
As an alternative to the Keri Caves you can visit the Blue Caves that can be found at the most northern part of Zakynthos. The caves, which are located on Cape Skinari, get their name because when the water from the sea meets the sky and reflects on to the walls of the caves it looks like a mixture of various shades of blue. It’s truly something to be seen to be believed, and makes for one of the most Instagram-ready spots on the entire island. In addition to exploring the caves, water and cliffs on your own, you can also visit one of the tourist trip vendors in Zakynthos Town and buy a tour of the Blue Caves on a boat with a glass bottom. This lets you see the area while also marveling at the clear water and sea creatures below.
6. See a piece of Zakynthos’ history at the Romas Mansion
Back on land, there are several other interesting places to see on the island including the centuries-old Romas Mansion — one of the few buildings that survived the 1953 earthquake that caused massive destruction across the island. Originally constructed in 1660 the mansion was first used by the British as the home of the governor, and then changed ownership over the years until Alexander Roma, the president of Greece’s parliament, bought the building in the late 19th century. Now known as the Romas mansion and no longer in use as a private home, the elaborately decorated mansion these days is a top attraction because it gives a glimpse of what life used to be like on the island. The building includes many interesting rooms such as a library that has more than 10,000 rare books and other written material.
7. Feed animals at the Askos Stone Park
A particularly great attraction on the island for children is a visit to the Askos Stone Park, which is located roughly 30 kilometers (about 18 miles) north of Zakynthos Town. For a reasonable entrance fee you can get the chance to see and feed a wide range of animals including donkeys, chickens, goats, deer, tortoises, peacocks and more. After paying for entry you will be given a map so that you can explore on your own, although staff members are situated throughout the park and will be able to answer any questions that you might have, including the correct way to give food to the animals and where to find certain creatures.
8. Explore the ruins of the ancient Venetian castle
Another land-based attraction is the ruins of what used to be an imposing Venetian castle that was used to help defend the island many centuries ago. The structure was built at least before 1480, because in that year the Turks invaded and caused massive damage to it. That led to a reconstruction effort in the early 16th century that lasted for many years. Now it’s a place for tourists to visit and explore what remains of the castle, including the prison, the sewage systems, prayer rooms, storage areas for gun powder, and more. The castle is a convenient location and can be found less than 2 kilometers (about 1 mile) from Zakynthos Town.
9. Enjoy rest and relaxation on the popular Alykes Beach
If your idea of a perfect vacation is to lay on the sand, sip some drinks (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) and go for a swim in clear, warm water then you need to swing by the Alykes Beach during your time on the island of Zakynthos. This beach, which is located at the north of the island, is incredibly popular with tourists because of its clean sand, clear water and a number of nearby cafes, bars and other places to get something to eat or drink. A good tip to know is that many of the dining establishments own the chairs and beds you will see laid out on the beach, and if you buy something from them then they will let you use the beach furniture for free.