Navagio Beach (Shipwreck Beach): Everything You NEED To Know

Arguably one of the most serene and picturesque beaches on earth, Navagio, or Shipwreck Beach, as it is popularly called, is one of the most beautiful destinations I have ever been to.

Located on the northwest coast of the Greek island Zakynthos, this hidden beach sits inside a cove surrounded by towering white limestone cliffs and overlooking turquoise-blue ocean waters. It is here, on the sandy beach, where you will find the rusted remains of an old shipwreck.

It is simply a magical place and a spot where you can easily take Insta-worthy pictures with every snap! It’s easily the best thing to do on Zakynthos, however, getting here isn’t like getting to any other beach in Greece, there are rules and regulations that I wasn’t even aware of before we spent a week in Zakynthos.

There are a few things you may want to know about visiting the famous Shipwreck Beach, before making the trek to this part of the island! Let’s dig in!


The History of Navagio Beach

Navagio Beach (Shipwreck Beach) Zakynthos

The name “Shipwreck Beach” or “Smugglers Cove,” as the beach is often called, comes from the shipwreck that lies perfectly in the middle of the white sand beach. 

According to legend, the ship, Panagiotis, was a smuggling vessel used by the Italian Mafia. While on a cigarette smuggling run from Turkey, the ship was spotted by the Greek Navy, and during the chase, it ran shallow ground, and the crew abandoned her to escape the navy on October 2nd, 1980. Over time it naturally made its permanent resting place in the cove, now called Navagio Beach, which means “Shipwreck” in Greek.

Although it is a great story, many skeptics say that the boat was planted on the beach to promote tourism, but to us, that seems even more far-fetched! Other stories exist, but I guess you’ll have to talk to a few locals to try and get the full truth!


Is Navagio Beach Open in 2024?

Is Navagio Beach Open

There used to be two main ways to see the beach – by water or from the white limestone clifftops above. 

However, after a large rockfall that happened a few years ago, which injured a few tourists, in addition to frequent landslides, the government has decided to close access to Navagio Beach. Yes, from Summer 2023 onward, no one is permitted on the famous Shipwreck Beach as another rockfall or landslide could happen at any instance. Locals told us that although this closure is marketed as “temporary,” it’s likely that access to Navagio Beach will be permanent.

Although the actual beach is now closed, it’s still possible to enjoy a boat tour and see Shipwreck Beach from the sea, though no swimming in this area is allowed. Beyond that, it’s always still possible to see the beach from above, which is the best vantage point anyway. Better yet, now you won’t have any tiny ant people in your photos!


Getting To The “Official” Cliff Top Viewpoint

Getting To The “Official” Cliff Top Viewpoint

To get to the Shipwreck Beach Viewpoint yourself, you’ll want to drive to this free parking lot. There’s not a lot in this part of the island, and the roads are very windy and gain lots of elevation. You can drive a 4×4 (quad) up this road, but make sure it’s a powerful one that can make it up the hills. Signs along the route indicate the way to Navagio and the nearby Anafonitria Monastery, which is along the way.

Navagio Beach Viewpoint
There’s usually a long line to take a photo at the official viewpoint

Upon arriving at the parking area, you will find an official viewing platform that lies right below where you park. The safe and secure platform juts out from the cliff, with enough room for 2-3 people at one time. While the views are amazing from here, you don’t get a full view of the beach. You will also likely find a big crowd of people all lining up to take photos, which takes away from the experience.  When we arrived, on a mid week September day there was a long line with about 20-30 people waiting for their turn to take a photo.

To get a better view and truly Insta-worthy pics you will have to take a short hike…


The Best Place to View Navagio Beach

Navagio Beach Viewpoint
Walking along the “unofficial” viewpoint

Instead of waiting your turn at the official viewpoint, there’s another viewpoint nearby. Take a right at the official viewpoint, and where you will find a fenced area with an open gate and plenty of warning signs not to go further. That’s because there are no fences, and it’s not a maintained trail. Falling near the cliff would be a certain death, so you assume all risk going this way. 

Before setting off on the trail I would also advise having a pair of hiking shoes or at least closed toed shoes on as the path is rough in places and not really maintained. I made the mistake of wearing flip flops and had to watch every step, there is plenty of sharp rocks that will cut your feet.

Walking to the Navagio Beach Viewpoint
To the unofficial viewpoints

After a short 5-10 minute walk on mostly jagged rocks, you will come across spot after spot with clear views of the beach below! Though you’ll have to get a bit close to the cliff to get a good view, but do not get too close!

Being afraid of sheer cliff drops I had to sit down, and made sure to stay at least a meter away from the cliff, but there were plenty of people with no fear at all, stepping only inches away from the sheer cliff.

Make no mistake that a slip here could mean death, and a fall off the huge cliff drop would most certainly mean death. Please mind your step around this area.

If you want the very best photo, you’ll have to head out to the very end of the peninsula here, where there is a Greek flag waving. Be extremely careful while walking and taking your photos here as it gets narrower and windier the further you go. Again, one wrong step too close to the edge would lead to a sure death.


Staying Safe During the Cliff Hike

Navagio Beach Viewpoint

It is important to take measures to ensure safety during your cliff hike. The path is rugged and there have been a few tragic tourist deaths here in the past few years. 

The rock is crumbly around the edges, so it is best to keep your distance and never venture too close to the cliff’s edge. It can also get quite windy up here so make sure you have stable footing to not lose balance. 


Can You Get to the Actual Shipwreck Beach?

Navagio Beach
Boat Tours in the cove

There is no way to get to Shipwreck Beach on foot. The beach itself is locked in by the sea and surrounded by sheer cliffs, making it impossible to get to. 

Thus, the only way to get close to the beach is by boat. As mentioned, tourists can no longer swim to the beach or actually step foot on the beach, due to safety concerns. However, you will find plenty of boat companies offering to take you to into the cove and close to the beach for an affordable price. However, you can only spend 30 minutes or less here as this is a popular tourist spot and these ships have regulations to abide by.


How Long Should You Spend at Navaigo Beach?

Navagio Beach Cliff

Most people usually spend only five to 10 minutes on the lookout. However, if you plan on hiking the cliff walk you should ideally spend about an hour or so as the views from up here are incredible. It’s also about 10 minute hike (one way) to the end of the peninsula from the car park.

You can also explore more as if you head back down to the parking area you will find another path leading down along the side of the cliff which will lead to more spots that offer different angles of the beach and surrounding sea.


When is the Best Time to Visit?

Navagio Beach

Arguably, one of the best times to visit Navagio Beach, and Greece in general, is from April to October. It is only from April to October that the island is really open to tourists, as much like the rest of the Greek Islands, tourism on the island shuts down during winter. 

The best time of day to visit Shipwreck Beach is around midday. I found this to be the best time as it is cooler, and the sunlight hitting the area at this time causes the water to somehow look even bluer. The limestone cliffs also begin to cast shadows on the water, and I got my best pictures during this time!

If you’re looking for a great sunset spot on Zakynthos, you can’t go wrong with hanging out at the viewpoints waiting for the sun to meet the horizon here!


Visiting The Blue Caves

Navagio Beach
A big pirate ship boat tour down below in the cove

If you do plan on enjoying a boat cruise to see the Shipwreck Beach up close, I would suggest finding one that also stops at the Blue Caves to or from the beach. Some of the smaller boats can go inside the caves as well as allow visitors to swim around their dark blue waters.


Where & What to Eat Nearby?

Madrakia Taverna
Madrakia Taverna

At the Navagio Beach parking area, you will find a few cheap food stalls offering quintessential Greek food including delicious gyros. However, I would recommend eating before or after your visit to Navagio Beach, as you’ll find much better food away from the parking lot (obviously). The only bad news is there are not a lot of great restaurants near the beach – trust me – we searched!

While the island itself has plenty of restaurants, cafes, and eateries where you can enjoy authentic Greek cuisine in scenic ocean-facing dining spaces, they are not near Shipwreck Beach. If you have your own car we highly recommend driving the 25 minutes to Madrakia Beach and grab lunch at Madrakia Taverna.


Other Things to do in Zakynthos Nearby

Enjoying drinks over the Myzithres
Enjoying cocktails over the Myzithres

Plannign our trip to Zakynthos, we obviously had Navagio Beach on our itinerary, but I was amazed at how much there is to do on this large and picturesque island. If you come here for seven days as I did I would suggest carving out time to hit the highlights of the island. Some of the best things to do on Zakynthos include:

  • Xigia Sulfur Beach:  If you’re looking for a natural fix to relieve some tension, soaking up the waters here may help. The water is said to be a natural treatment for aches and pains with rich qualities in the water.
  • Porto Limnionas Beach: One of the most popular places on Zakynthos, here you can spend the day dipping in and out of shimmering blue waters whilst soaking up the sun reflecting off gorgeous green rocks surrounding the cove.
  • Myzithres: These natural wonders, sculpted by millennia of seismic forces, are located on the island’s southwestern peninsula, less than two kilometers from the charming village of Keri and just 15 kilometers from Zakynthos’ main town. 
  • Madrakia Taverna: Have a delicious seaside lunch here before relaxing on the quiet Madrakia Beach.
  • Porto Vromi Beach: Not far from Navagio Beach is this secluded little beach with excellent waters for swimming.

Don’t Skip Kefalonia

Myrtos Beach - Things to do in Kefalonia-60
Myrtos Beach on Kefalonia

I would suggest booking a day trip by boat to Kefalonia Island to every visitor to Zakynthos. Kefalonia is only a 1.5 hour ferry ride from Zakynthos and is one of my favorite out of all the 20+ Greek Islands we have been to! We spent 7 days on Zakynthos and 9 days on Kefalonia, and I honestly wish we had spent less time on Zante and more time on Kefalonia exploring more beaches like Mytros Beach and Melissani Cave.

You can see this large island on your boat ride to Navagio Beach and its allure is too much to ignore. Kefalonia is the largest of Greece’s Ionian islands and is stunningly beautiful with exotic beaches, wondrous underground caves, and quaint fishing villages. 


Getting To Zakynthos by Air

Zakynthos is a popular summer vacation destination, and as such, you can catch direct flights to the island from many European countries.  We flew directly to Zakynthos from London Heathrow.

However, the island is not well connected to other Greek Islands, so if you are visiting the popular Greek islands like Milos and Santorini, you will need to first catch a flight to Athens and then fly to Zakynthos as there are no direct flights from the islands.


Getting To Zakynthos by Sea

things to do in ithaca, greece
Kioni, Ithaca at sunset

If you plan on getting to the island by sea, you can’t do that from Athens, even though the historic city is a direct port to many of the other popular Greek Islands. 

To get to Zakynthos by ferry, you will have to first book a bus ticket from Athens to Port Killini. The bus ride to Port Killini takes about 4.5 hours, and from there, the one-hour ferry ride will dock you in Zante. From here, you are in for another short bus ride to Zakynthos town if you don’t have a car.

Zakynthos is also connected via ferry to other Ionian Islands , like Kefalonia, Lefkada, and Corfu. We highly recommend traveling to other islands in the region if you have the time. We’ve spent over a month traveling the Ionians and it’s our absolute favorite island group. (psst – don’t sleep on Ithaca, a tiny Greek island that many people skip over!).


Renting A Car or Booking a Tour? What’s Better?

Renting A Car or Booking a Tour? What’s Better?

Be wary of the fact that Zakynthos is a big island. It is the third largest island amongst all the Ionian islands so getting to the Navagio Beach from Zakynthos Town is a fair drive on winding roads, and takes about an hour.

You have two options at this point: you can either book a tour that will take you to Navagio Beach and other attractions on the islands, or you can rent a car and drive to the beach yourself. 

I would highly recommend the latter as while the tours were going to stop at Navagio Beach, it might only be for a short time, which isn’t enough to truly enjoy this stunning destination. 

We always rent a car when we travel Greece, and our time on Zakynthos was no exception. Renting a car is the much more convenient and cost-efficient option, and if you travel in the shoulder season you can get a car rental for under €30 a day. We recommend comparing prices on Discover Car.


The Best Tours to Navagio Beach


Where to Stay on Zakynthos

Olea All Suite Hotel
We loved our stay at Olea All Suite Hotel

Plan For Your Trip


READ MORE GREECE TRAVEL TIPS

I hope you enjoyed this guide on Navagio Beach on Zakynthos! Hopefully, you found it useful. Here are a few relevant articles for more travel around Greece!

About Natasha Alden

Natasha is the co-founder of The World Pursuit. She is an expert in travel, budgeting, and finding unique experiences. She loves to be outside, hiking in the mountains, playing in the snow on her snowboard, and biking. She has been traveling for over 10 years, across 7 continents, experiencing unique cultures, new food, and meeting fantastic people. She strives to make travel planning and traveling easier for all. Her advice about international travel, outdoor sports, and African safari has been featured on Lonely Planet, Business Insider, and Reader’s Digest.

Learn more about Natasha Alden on The World Pursuit About Us Page.