Travel Guide to Zakynthos

Best things to do and see in Zakynthos

Zakynthos: Why go

Zakynthos - or Zante, to use the old Italian name - is an island of two halves. In the south, centred around Laganas, is a growing rash of cheap resorts lined with boozy bars and sunburned Brits. But it's easy to avoid; and the rest of the island is glorious, with some of Greece's most spectacular - and most photographed - beaches, not to mention sculpted sea caves, pristine waters where loggerhead turtles swim, and rolling hills of vineyards, olive groves and pine trees.

The postcard view is looking down onto Navagio (or Shipwreck) Beach - you'll recognise it. Backed by sheer cliffs (you can only reach it by boat), an ancient trawler hull is half-covered by sun-bleached sands, while its azure waters sparkle in the sunlight. It makes you want to be there, now. Other lovely northerly beaches include Xygia, whose therapeutic sulphurous waters act as a natural spa; and the deep inlet of Porto Vromi, best reached by boat, with its small pebbly strip and buzzing beach bar.

Families might prefer the long sandy stretches of Tsilivi - which also has a water park nearby; and the shallow sickle of Gerakas - in the south, but protected as it's a breeding ground for loggerhead turtles.

The island's capital is Zakynthos (or Zakinthos) Town, which despite repeated efforts by earthquakes, retains some handsome churches and pretty pastel-coloured Italianate houses, many of them faithfully rebuilt. Stroll the seafront promenade, stop for ice cream, pop into the Post-Byzantine Museum, and climb Bokhali hill to the Venetian castle for bird's eye views over the bay and harbour. You'll be surprised how green it is: the Venetians called the island the Flower of the East, because of its fertile soil.

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