Nestled in the heart of the Ionian Sea, the island of Zakynthos blesses travelers with jaw-dropping coastlines, beautiful white sand beaches, and small, picturesque villages.
Despite areas of the island having a big party reputation, including the likes of Laganas, this beautiful Greek island is relatively unexplored, and there are a plethora of things to do in Zakynthos. And with so much natural beauty, this Ionian Island should definitely feature on your next Greek Itinerary.
We just spent a month exploring the Ionian Islands, and along with Corfu and Lefkada, Zakynthos is a real gem.
Where is Zakynthos Island?
Zakynthos (also called “Zante”) is the third-largest Ionian Island and a popular destination in Greece. It’s most well known for the Instafamous view of Shipwreck Beach and for being somewhat of party island for European holiday goers. However, it’s not as party-going as Ios, Kos, or Rhodes, and there is a lot more to Zakynthos that meets the eye.
The island is served by one small airport (ZTH) with frequent flights to Athens and the UK. Like the other Ionian Islands, Zakynthos is ultra lush and has brilliant white pebble beaches with bright blue water.
The Best Things to do in Zakynthos
1. Take a boat trip around the island
Cruising around the wonderful coastal highlights of Zakynthos is one of the most popular things to do on the island. You can spend the day diving into crystal clear waters whilst experiencing the backdrops at spectacular locations. Popular destinations to visit by boat are the famous shipwrecks at Navagio beach along with luminous Blue Caves.
There are typically two options for taking a boat trip around the island, renting a private boat or taking a guided tour. Both are great options that allow you to see the main highlights, but we’d recommend renting a private boat purely due to the flexibility of driving around the coastline yourself! Big Blue Motorboat rentals rent out boats starting at €150 for the day (not including fuel) and charge €30 for a skipper if you want someone to captain the boat.
Hiring a boat is pretty easy; you don’t need a license for a small vessel (a little experience is preferred), and it is reasonably cheap if you have a group.
- Price: Private Rental €150 (+ €40 gas)
- Guided tour: €30 per person
2. Visit Navagio Beach: The Famous Shipwreck Cove
This best things to do in Zakynthos list couldn’t be complete without listing the island’s most photographed site and one of which is on many people’s bucket lists. The famous Navagio Beach is a whole other experience to see in real life. With surreal views of stunning white sandy beaches and impossibly blue waters, it is a true spectacle.
The beach is home to the rustic remains of the MV Panagiotis, a ship that became stuck in the cove in the 1980s and has a fascinating history behind it. Located in the northeast of Zakynthos, there are two main ways to see the beach – by water or from the white limestone clifftops.
Well signposted, the viewing points are easily accessed by land and this is where your best vantage point will be. It’s also the best place to grab a photo of the beach. However, there are no tracks leading directly to the beach, so if you’re looking to head for a swim in the water or to get up and personal with the shipwreck, the only option is by boat.
- Price: Shipwreck boat tour: €25 with Shipwreck Zakynthos
- Clifftop Access: Free
- Top Tip: Don’t pay for a trip just to the shipwreck, lots of boat tours include a visit here along with other spectacular destinations for a similar price.
3. Take a trip to the Blue Caves
A trip to these magnificent sets of limestone sea caves and natural arches is a must-do activity when visiting Zakynthos. Only accessed by water, the blue caves are located a few minutes boat ride from the little harbor of Skinari. Once arriving at the caves, you will be stunned by their natural beauty, with the caves sparkling in the sunlight reflecting off the aqua blue waters.
- Price: €10 with Potamitis Brothers
- Top Tip: Head here either in the early morning or late afternoon to skip the midday crowds, as the Blue Caves are a popular destination for tourists on the island.
4. Explore Zakynthos Town
If you have done a lot of traveling in Greece you’ll know there are some stunning main towns. That is not the case in Zakynthos; it’s not the most picturesque town in the Greek Islands, Zante Town hasn’t acquired the best reputation amongst visitors. Despite not hearing the best things before heading to the town, we actually loved exploring it for an afternoon.
The town is home to a picturesque seafront promenade along with a variety of different restaurants and pockets of plazas where you can spend the day exploring authentic markets.
We wouldn’t recommend spending more than a day here, but if you have time on your hands, an afternoon exploring Zante Town is a great experience.
- Top Tip: Grab a meal at one of the restaurants in the local plazas rather than the seafront promenade, they are much cheaper, and the food tends to be more authentic.
5. Relax on Porto Limnionas Beach
Located near a fjord on the island’s west coast, the pristine beach is nestled between high white cliffs hollowed with rocky caves. Spend the day dipping in and out of shimmering blue waters whilst soaking up the sun reflecting off gorgeous green rocks surrounding the cove.
You can finish your day with a meal overlooking the sea at Limnionas Taverna, which serves up a great selection of reasonably priced food and drinks.
- Sunbed: €5 a day
- Access: Free
- Top Tip: Rent snorkeling gear before heading to the beach, you’ll find it hard to find waters clearer than the ones surrounding Porto Limnionas.
6. Experience a night out on the Laganas Strip
Laganas is the most popular resort town on the island and is a firm favorite with young people looking for a party. It is one of the Greek Islands’ party capitals and is packed full of lively bars and extraordinary clubs. If you want a night out, this is likely the place you’ll head.
A trip to the Laganas strip may not be for everyone, but I can assure you it will be a night to remember (or perhaps not remember). The town also has a beautiful beach hosting spectacular sunrises, so for those late-night partygoers heading to the beach to watch the sun go up is an excellent experience.
- Location: Laganas Town
- Price: Entry is typically free at most bars or less than €10
- Top Tip: Check out Zeros, one of Zante’s super-clubs, they often have cool events taking place, including famous DJs and foam parties.
7. Marathonisi (Turtle Island)
Located in a little islet on the south of Zakynthos is the mesmerizing Marathonisi. Nicknamed ‘Turtle Island’ Marathonisi is home to the nesting grounds for the Loggerhead Turtle. Now luckily a protected area, there are plenty of tour operators that will take you to see the turtles. However, I’m including this item in this post to tell you not to go with these tour operators and ignore taking a tour to Turtle island altogether.
While Zakynthos is home to these amazing creatures, our human presence has threatened them, and they have fallen victim to mass tourism. Unintentional or not. For one the eggs laid on the beaches of Zakynthos have been smashed by careless tourists who place beach chairs on them or let children dig them up. Turtle hatchings have also been killed on Zakynthos roads as they are disoriented after hatching from the bright neon lights.
Even if a “turtle tour” markets itself as eco-friendly, I would be wary about it. The turtles are easily disturbed, and with hundreds of boats and snorkelers crowding them in the water, they come distressed, which affects their breeding and eventually their survival.
If you do happen to see a Loggerhead Sea Turtle randomly while swimming anywhere, consider yourself lucky! However, it’s best not to engage with a tour.
8. Take a Greek dancing lesson
If you’re looking to immerse yourself in one of the country’s oldest and most popular traditions – then letting your hair down and taking a Greek dancing lesson is a perfect option. Spend your evening dancing away to Greek musicians whilst being guided by a local professional with years of experience.
Various places offer guests a night of traditional Greek food and wine amongst an idyllic backdrop alongside the dancing lesson.
- Location: Zakynthos Town
- Price: Dancing Lesson: €15 per hour
- Evening out with meal + wine: €50
- Top Tip: Have a little research into traditional Greek dancing before you go, it will definitely enhance your experience.
9. Rent a 4×4 and drive around the island
A driving trip around the island is the ultimate way to explore all the hidden treasures Zakynthos has to offer. Renting a car and driving through the hills is a great way to explore further than just the amazing beaches Zakynthos has to offer.
By renting a car, you will be able to visit amazing pit stops at your own pace, including the spectacular Vrachionas Mountains, and you will be able to drive towards the highest point on the island.
- Price: €45 per day (+ €15 petrol) with Zante Car Rental
- Top Tip: With so many off-road places to explore picking a 4 x 4 car is probably your best option as there are multiple many hidden gems not easily accessible by foot or in a normal car.
10. Indulge at one of the island’s traditional tavernas
Traditional Greek food is widely regarded as delicious throughout the world, with so many unique flavors and spices. Each island adds to this uniqueness with personal spins to popular Greek dishes.
There is arguably no better place than to try the island’s cuisine than at a traditional taverna. Try the island’s range of food, including alterations of popular dishes, such as tzatziki, melitzanosalata, and dolmadakia. Some of the best food can be found at San Leon Tavern Restaurant and Taverna Akratiri.
- Price: Typical meal for two- €30- €40
11. Venture to Kefalonia for the day
Kefalonia is the largest island of the Ionian Islands, and it’s home to extremely diverse landscapes full of breathtaking natural beauty. With multiple ferries leaving for Kefalonia from Zakynthos every day and the island only a short ride away, it is an easily accessible day out.
Once arriving to Kefalonia, get ready to explore the plethora of incredible mountains and quaint towns; we were surprised by how much of the island we could see in a day!
- Price: Ferry Transfer- €9 each way with Ionian P Lines
- Top Tip: Head on one of the earlier ferries to get as much time on the island as possible, ferries depart from around 9 am at the harbor of Skinari.
12. Visit Agios Dionysios Church
Agios Dionysios is a picturesque church located on the main harbor in Zakynthos Town. A historic landmark on the island, it is a must-visit for history lovers. The church has added a museum which allows an insight into its history and reconstruction since the earthquake in 1983.
- Location: Agios Dionysios Church, Zakynthos Town
- Price: Free
- Top Tip: Head here when you need a break from the sun, it offers great shade and coverage.
13. Take a trip to the bay of Porto Roxa
Porto Roxa provides a secluded bay on the island’s west coast and is hidden away from tourists. With little information from the tourists’ boards about these shores of Porto Roxa, you will find significantly fewer tourists than other attractions in Zakynthos, making it a bit of a secret paradise.
Spend the day soaking up the sun in the beautiful azure waters. Attempt the bay’s springboard board where you can take the more adventurous entrance into the water experience plunging yourself into the sea.
- Price: Free
- Top Tip: There aren’t many facilities in Porto Roxa, so make sure you come prepared with plenty of water, sunscreen, and food.
14. Explore Tsilivi
Tsilivi is a small coastal town located on the east coast of the island. Its soothing atmosphere is home to traditional tavernas, market stalls, and beautiful sandy beaches. We’d definitely recommend a nature walk through rural Tsilivi; our favorite trail was from Tsilivi waterpark to the beach.
Along your walk, you will find an assortment of wildlife and plant species before arriving at spectacular views overlooking the coastline.
- Top Tip: Watch out for moorish geckos; they’re a very common sighting in rural Tsilivi and are a fascinating creature to observe.
15. Go Kayaking at the Keri Caves
Just off the villages along the island’s southern coast lies the blemished white rocks of the Keri Caves. A variety of boat tours offer trips to the caves, but we’d recommend taking the more adventurous route and booking a kayaking tour.
Feel closer to nature and weave in and out of the 984 feet-high white cliffs before taking a dip in some of the purest and clearest waters I have ever seen.
- Location: Keri Caves (Accessed from Limni Keriou and Laganas)
- Price: €30
- Top Tip: We would recommend going with Eco-Zante, they are a great company with ethical and sustainable values and provide a fun and non-touristy day out. (You can also book with them to go to Turtle Island).
16. Relax at Xigia Beach
A hidden beauty on Zakynthos’s northwest coastline lies the charming pebbly beach of Xigia. 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 pain with rich qualities in the water.
- Top Tip: Rent a car for the day to head to Xigia beach as it can be difficult to access by public transport.
17. Visit the mountain villages of Kambi and Anafonitria
Many visitors to the island won’t do this, but I promise it’s one of the best things to do in Zakynthos. Head inland and visit the area of Zakynthos that has been left almost untouched by development and tourism. Spend the day venturing through the picturesque villages of Kambi and Anafonitria, wandering through local farmland where you can observe locals harvesting grapes.
There are several vineyards where you can stop and explore the grounds and gain an understanding of Zakynthos’s rural history and culture.
- Top Tip: Buy a bottle of homemade olive oil to take home from one of the local vineyards, it is some of the best we’ve tried and will help to support local rural workers.
18. Visit Cameo Island
Cameo Island is a lush, green, and picturesque island connected by a bridge to mainland Zakynthos. Here you can experience the true Mamma Mia! lifestyle as fans will recognize the island as being the wedding venue in the first hit film. You will only need an hour or two to explore the island due to its small size, but a visit here is certainly worth it, especially if you’re a big fan of the movie.
- Price: Entrance fee: 5€
- Top Tip: After heading to the island take a dip in the nearby waters as the area has been known to be home to a few turtles.
19. Watch the sun go down at Keri Lighthouse
Looking for that perfect Greek sunset that you see in those perfect travel photos? Then look no further than Keri Lighthouse. This is probably the best place on the island to watch the sun go down, with immaculate views overlooking the azure waters.
In the summer months, the golden-red sun dissolves perfectly into the sea, creating a spectacle for visitors. Easily accessible but extremely popular, we’d recommend heading there a couple of hours early to make sure you get the perfect position.
- Top Tip: Buy an ice-cooler and bring a beer or two, it is the perfect place to finish your day.
20. Go on a cycling adventure
If you’re looking for a more adventurous thing to do in Zakynthos, this is for you. Venture through delightful villages by bike, encountering numerous through the vineyards, olive trees, and churches on an epic cycling adventure from Zakynthos’s town.
Rent a bike from one of the local vendors and take a gentle ride through picturesque landscapes. Stop off and have a coffee at one of the village cafes; here you will get to see a more authentic side of Zakynthos and get to know some of the local villagers.
- Location: Zakynthos’s town
- Price: €15-30 with Go Electric
- Top Tip: Be prepared to weave in and out of wildlife as you’ll come across lots of sheep blocking your path.
21. Go Scuba Diving
The most spectacular place to go scuba diving in Zakynthos is off the uninhabited island of Marathonisi.Diving meters underwater will give you a spectacular view of the area’s marine wildlife, and you may be lucky to spot one of the loggerhead turtles swimming around.
Along with turtles, you will have the opportunity to take a glimpse of other local species, including flying fish, octopi, and parrotfish.
- Location: Marathonisi Island
- Price: Double dive €110 with full equipment with Zante Diving
- Top Tip: We would definitely recommend doing more than one dive, as this isn’t enough time to experience the spectacular marine life Marathonisi island has to offer.
22. Take a Greek cooking course
So, you’ve spent your days trying all the delicious cuisine but want to know how you can make it? Then learning how to cook some of the island’s famous dishes at a cooking course is the perfect way to find out. Spend your evening cooking up a traditional Greek feast with the help of a professional before ending the course with a glass of fine wine.
- Location: Argassi
- Price: €45
- Top Tip: If you’re staying near the Argassi region, then Utopia Greenhouse is one of the best places on the island to do a cooking course. It is set in a beautiful location with friendly and professional chefs.
23. Climb to Bohali Castle
Bohali Castle is located on the south-eastern side of the island along the stunning Vasiliki Peninsula. Explore the castle’s historic ruins dating back to the 15th-century whilst experiencing spectacular views over the Zakynthos Town Harbour.
This is a steep but short hike, but come prepared with plenty of water as the trail is in direct sunlight. After you’ve finished exploring the castle, you can take the trail down to Bohali Village, home to numerous quaint cafes serving an excellent selection of traditional Greek snacks.
- Location: Bohali Castle
- Price: Free
- Top Tip: Head here for sunset/sunrise for the best views overlooking the town
24. Try the selection of watersports at Banana Beach
Banana Beach isn’t the most spectacular beach in Greece, but it is the longest stretching beach on the island. The beach provides a variety of activities for adrenaline addicts, including flyboarding, parasailing, and jet-skiing.
Be aware the prices of these activities are reasonably high due to their popularity amongst tourists, but it is definitely worth it if you’re in need of that adrenaline kick.
- Location: Banana Beach
- Beach Entrance: Free
- Jet-Skiing: €45
- Parasailing: €60
- Waterskiing: €40
- Flyboarding: €50
- Top Tip: Try out flyboarding, it was our favorite activity at Banana Beach and is not as common in other destinations.
25. Gerakas Beach
Located on the southern tip of Zakynthos is the golden sand beach of Gerakes. Surrounded by rocky and sandy hills and beautifully blue waters, it is the perfect place to relax. It is also home to a group of turtle species that lay their eggs early in the morning (these are protected by wildlife workers).
If you venture away from the shallow waters, you may also find yourself sharing the waters with these striking animals. (It is important to make sure you keep your distance from the animals)
Best Restaurants on Zakynthos
- Achilles Restaurant Bar (Laganas): Traditional Greek Taverna that serves up cheap and delicious food.
- Cave Damianos Restaurant: An upscale restaurant with a fabulous setting ideal for sunset. Cave Damianos is famous on the island and is the perfect place to head for date night and for delicisou seafood.
- Spartakos Taverna (Zante Town): Family run restaurant with some of the freshest seafood in town. Try the Shrimp Saganaki!
Where to Stay on Zakynthos
How to Get Around Zakynthos
The best way to get around Zakynthos is by car. The island is quite large and if you want to get to all these Zaykynthos attractions it is best to have a car. We typically rent a car on every Greek island we visit.
Experience driving in Greece is helpful, as I can almost guarantee the mountain roads are nothing like driving back where you are from. Roads are winding and often dilapidated. You can see our tips for renting a car in Greece here.
When is the Best Time to Visit Zakynthos?
The best time to visit Zakynthos and the Greek Islands, in general, is in May and September when the weather is sunny and mild, but summer tourism is not as present. June, July, and August are the busiest months on the Ionian Islands and is when you will find higher prices and more crowds.
My favorite time to visit Greece is always September.
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I hope you enjoyed this guide on what to do on Zakynthos! Hopefully, you found it useful. Here are a few relevant articles for more travel around Greece!