If you are the type of person that Google searches for everything before visiting a foreign country, then I strongly suggest that you go ahead and type “best beaches in Greece” on your search engine.
I bet all my money that you will not manage to find even one article which has omitted the Shipwreck (also called Navagio) beach. And that’s why Zakynthos is a worldwide famous island, aside from its incredible Ionian views and sea.
Of course, Zakynthos is also known for limitless partying among British teens, and a large number of visitors choose to visit for this reason and only.
That said, whether you’re looking for a relaxing escape or a wild adventure, Zakynthos is the place for both. I experienced both sides of the island and I still cannot understand, how this can be true – but it is.
So if you’re not sure this year what type of vacation you’d like to do, then choose to have a bit of everything in Zakynthos.
What To Know Before You Visit Zakynthos
Choose the right place to stay
Zakynthos is a pretty big place and your decision regarding your accommodation needs to be a bit careful. According to your age, type and needs, you can choose a different location on the island.
Zakynthos, also called Zante, is widely known among British teenagers and young adults, who are regular visitors of Laganas. Laganas, which is a bay of the island, is advertised as the place of “non-stop partying” and “wild entertainment well into the night”. And it’s exactly that and nothing less.
So if you’re looking for a hotel or room, in which you will sleep mostly… in the morning after a wild night of partying, then go ahead and book your stay in one of the countless studios and resorts of Laganas.
However, if you are the type of visitor that is attracted more to the… sleepy side of the island, then your options are plenty as well. Tsilivi, Argasi, Bochali or close to Vasilikos beach are the most appropriate accommodation hotspots and great starting points for your excursions.
Do not wait to visit Shipwreck Beach!
One of your first pro moves is to book your tour. Let’s get some things straight first. The Shipwreck (or Navagio in Greek) beach is accessible only by boat. That means that, if you try to get there alone with a car/ATV etc. you will end up taking only a (no-doubt very cool) selfie, with the panoramic view of the beach.
There are many boat tours offered and if you don’t find them, they’ll find you. Still, I recommend booking in advance to get the best tour and time slot, since if you want to avoid the big masses of tourists, you need to try to get an early boat tour and be there before 12:00.
There are several options for boat tours; our preferred option is this tour which combines the Shipwreck Beach & the Blue Caves on a full-day tour. We picked this one because you can choose an early 8 AM start so you can actually visit the beach before the main crowds hit, as well as add on the stunning Blue Caves to your itinerary.
Avoid the crowds – book your Shipwreck Beach & Blue Caves tour today!
There are several other boat tours you can choose in case you don’t want to visit the Blue Caves or the thought of waking up before 8 AM is too much to beat. In the end, the only thing that matters is that you get to the beach and get to swim in the clearest and bluest waters you’ve ever seen.
On the beach, there is, of course, a shipwreck and it’s no other than “Panayotis” ship. There’s not really a dramatic story behind the ornament of the famous hotspot. Rumors have it that it was smuggling cigarettes and due to bad weather and technical problems, it stranded on the remote beach.
No passengers were harmed during the incident, so you can enjoy a dive without a pang of guilt.
But don’t forget that there are also other beaches worth visiting on the island
Shipwreck Beach is probably the highlight of Zakynthos. And yet, it keeps getting better.
Agios Nikolaos beach (Saint Nicolas) is the ultimate fun summer setting. If you’re looking for a place to drink a cocktail by the beach and have some relaxed time, Agios Nikolaos’s golden sand is waiting for you.
If then again you’re more fond of the silence, Gerakas beach is no doubt a great choice. Forget your Bluetooth speakers and private umbrellas, cause… you might scare the turtles! Gerakas beach has been chosen to be the “maternity home” by Caretta Carettas, who have surely noticed that the Ionian view has a soothing ability.
Moreover, you can pay a visit to a village, named Keri, where you can find another sandy beach offering watersports.
Last but not least, Porto Limnionas is one of the hidden treasures. It’s a real fjord that exemplifies the beauty of Zakynthos island. Porto Limnionas is not your typical sandy beach but offers crystal clear frozen waters in a beautiful scenic bay.
All in all, there are probably more beaches than your vacation days on the island! Other names you should have in mind while visiting are Porto Zoro, Dafni, Alikanas, Alikes and Porto Xygkia. Just in case you have time and energy left to try a different beach.
Spend some time with sea turtles because you can!
I could make probably 1000 cringy jokes about turtles that are shell-arious. But I’m gonna stop right here and move on with the crucial info. There are many ways to see turtles on Zakynthos: boat tours, turtle beaches, and diving.
What I believe is more enjoyable than being on a boat that “hunts” turtles for souvenir pics, is naturally bumping into a turtle on a beach. Of course, it’s all about what works best for you. Plenty of boat tours are offered on the island, and this is the one we recommend, as it brings you to Marathonisi Island where the Caretta Caretta turtles nest.
However, there’s the old fashioned way of simply going to Marathonisi (the Turtle Island), which is only approachable by boat and patiently wait for a turtle to show up. However, there is no guarantee that you will actually see turtles this way.
Snorkeling or diving, again, is a very natural way to observe turtles. But – wait for it – no one promises that you will come across the turtles underwater!
In other words, I cannot give you a magic insider’s tip, that will magically bring a gang of turtles to you, willing to hold a selfie stick and hang out with your group. But, what I can promise is that success is a journey, not a destination. Searching for them is half the fun!
Still want to seek out turtles? Check out this glass bottom boat tour which brings you to Turtle Island!
If then again, you absolutely want to spend time with this amazing sea creature, there’s always the option for you to volunteer in Archelon, the Sea Turtle protection society of Greece. Here’s their website for more info.
Eat like a Greek
We both know that the rest of the article is just a preface. This is the moment we were all waiting for: Zakynthos food tips.
The way I see it, there are always two types of travelers. The one that prefers the touristic restaurants and the one that wants to experience the local lifestyle and food. Don’t look at me, I like both and I eat everything. So I’m going to highlight both types of places with the same enthusiasm.
Since you’re on an island, expect amazing seafood. Grecos restaurant in Laganas is an excellent option for that and is highly suggested. For a more idyllic view, while enjoying your gourmet Greek salad, a visit to Aperitto is worth your time. The setting is very romantic, so it’s perfect if you’re still on a honeymoon phase or… you want to go back to the honeymoon phase.
Greek traditional tavernas, usually with local wine and culinary masterpieces, are spread all over the island. On your way to Vasilikos, the taverna O Aderfos tou Kosta is an amazing choice. There, you can enjoy your warm dinner after a refreshing dive in the beach, in a garden with Greek music.
If then again you start wondering where the so-called “Greek hospitality” is hidden, Xigia taverna is your type of place. Local food and a father and daughter serving you will make you feel welcome in the best possible way!
Last but not least, Malanos is a value for money taverna and definitely not at all worse than the previously mentioned restaurants. You might struggle a bit to find it, but the best places are always hidden.
Have a taste of Zakynthos nightlife
When it comes to the nightlife, it’s all about what you are looking for as a traveler. Luckily, there are options for all. And I mean it. Whether you are a party-goer or a party-pooper, Zakynthos has your type of night outing taken care of.
There’s a lot of criticism against Laganas as a party place, due to extreme behaviors of drunk visitors. Although I understand the point of the locals and local authorities, Laganas has its own character and a separate place in my heart (as all party places do).
My suggestion for Laganas is the Cocktails and Dreams club. When order at the Bartender a Gin&Tonic, he might ask you back “I have one that costs 3€ and one that costs 6€. Which one do you want?”.
Now, it’s not a time for money saving. You love your liver more than this, so choose the second option and have a safe and fun night!
Small hint, you can go out on the balcony of the club and enjoy the view of the party street and possibly masses of drunk people. Yes, that’s what we “sober ones” do when you get drunk.
Laganas is not, of course, your only option for a night outing. It is just the most intense. However, locals prefer spending their nights in all the other places left on the island. Argasi is considered the most appropriate place for Greek people, who usually prefer the clubs Barrage and Island.
In Argasi, you can also discover a hipster bar named Portokali (or “Orange”), with a great selection of drinks and sweets.
Additionally, you can enjoy a really well-made cocktail in the bars of Bochali. There, you can find an abundance of cafeterias, creperies and ice-cream shops as well. My personal favorite is Base, and I can recall drinking an amazing “pornstar martini” there.
Last but not least, in Tsilivi, you can find once again parties in Laganas’ style.
Add some sightseeing to your schedule
To begin with, Zakynthos has a castle. If you’re not aware of it beforehand, you can easily miss that point of interest… as it happened to me. The castle is above Bochali and during the morning hours, you can visit it to see the remains of the old capital of the island.
The Keri Cape is another must-visit place. Rumors have it that you can enjoy the best sunset view from this location. The lighthouse of the village offers a great view of the endless blue of the Ionian sea, on top of a 300 meter high cliff.
Remember that when you reach a large parking area in Keri, on your left you will find a small path, leading to the perfect view spot. Don’t try to go there by car, as it’s very probable that your car will end up being a part of the Ionian view. On your right, you can enjoy the view of the Keri Rocks (or in Greek “Mizithres”).
If you’re the type that cannot go to a place without visiting a museum, I suggest that you give The Byzantine Museum. There you can find paintings of the Byzantium era and religious art. Many of the pieces are of high value and it’s totally worth to see.
You could also pay a visit to Museum of D. Solomos and A. Kalvos. Located in St. Marco square is the museum of two well known Greek poets including Dionysios Solomos. D. Solomos is best known for writing the Hymn to Liberty, which became the Greek and Cypriot national anthem in 1865.
However, since the most important pieces are texts in Greek, I guess it wouldn’t be so exciting for a foreigner. Unless of course, you can read Greek! In that case, this museum is of great national interest and a visit is definitely recommended.
Want to Rent a Car for Zakynthos?
While not all trips to Zakynthos require a car, if you’re staying far from the main town for the local bus station or you want to tour the island independently without going on a guided tour, a rental car may come in handy! [Just don’t drive if you’re going to be drinking, obviously — taxis exist for that reason!]
We’ve rented cars dozens of times in the Balkans through various search engines and have settled on Discover Cars as the best car rental search engine – it searches over 500 trusted rental companies to find the cheapest price for your rental! Compare prices for car rental in Zakynthos here.
What to Bring to Zakynthos
If you’re planning a trip to Greece, you’ll want to pack all the normal essentials, but here are a few things we strongly recommend bringing that may not have crossed your mind. For more packing tips, check out our complete Greece packing list.
– A physical guidebook, in paper or on Kindle. We love Lonely Planet Greece for this region and strongly recommend it to supplement blogs. Blogs are great, but a combination of a blog and a guidebook is key to having the best access to information easily at your fingertips.
– A water bottle with a filter. While often, the tap water in Greece is drinkable, there are places where it isn’t, including some popular tourist destinations like Santorini and Mykonos.
We generally recommend using a water bottle with a purifying filter to reduce your plastic consumption and ensure you won’t drink any funny-tasting water on your stomach that could make your trip unpleasant!
We recommend the GRAYL water bottle – it filters water perfectly in an instant so that you can even drink from lakes, bad taps, etc.
– Motion sickness pills. Very necessary if you’ll be taking a ferry or boat! The ferries in the Mediterranean can be quite choppy. If you have a weak stomach as we do, save yourself and bring some non-drowsy motion sickness pills.
– Travel safety items. We think Greece is very safe to travel, but at the same time, it never hurts to be prepared! Zakynthos is rather safe, but is not immune from pickpockets, so be cautious (this goes double if you plan to go to Athens – the metro is notorious for its pickpockets, and a travel blogger friend of ours got his phone stolen on it!). Some people like to carry money belts, but neither Stephanie or I use these. Instead, we both carry the same PacSafe anti-theft backpack.
It has locking zippers, slash-proof construction with metal mesh hidden in the fabric, and tons of other smart security features — all while being cute and stylish enough to be our everyday bag. We recommend it highly for both male and female travelers, as it’s neutral enough to be unisex. We also strongly recommend travel insurance! Our recommendation is at the bottom of the post.
More Zakynthos & Greece Travel Resources
Headed to Greece? We have some great travel resources to help you with your trip. First read our guide to planning a trip to Greece, which covers visas, budgets, vaccines, and much more. Next, you’ll want to read our all-season Greece packing list.
If you’ll be on Mykonos, we have our Mykonos Instagram guide and our Mykonos itinerary, as well as our favorite Mykonos beaches!
We also have guides to several other Greek islands, including Thassos, Ios, and more on the way!
If you are still trying to figure out your Greece itinerary, check out our guides on where to go in Greece, the best places for island hopping in Greece, and when is the best time to visit.
Many people combine a trip to Athens with a trip to Zakynthos. Check out our Athens Instagram guide, the best Athens day trips, and our complete Athens hotel guide. We also have Athens safety tips so your trip can be hassle-free. We are currently working on our mega-post of things to do in Athens as well as our itineraries, so stay tuned!
We publish new content about the Balkans almost every day! For more information about traveling to Greece and the Balkans, bookmark our Greece and Balkan travel pages so you can find out what’s new before your trip.
Finally, Make Sure You Come to Greece with Travel Insurance!
I’m sure you’re aware that it’s a good idea to have travel insurance for traveling in Greece, the Balkans, or anywhere in the world!
We have both been paying customers of World Nomads for the last three years. We love the peace of mind it gives us in case of emergencies, accidents, illnesses, theft, or trip cancellation or disruption. While Greece is safe, there’s always a risk inherent in everyday travel like theft or injury, so it’s better to play it safe.
>> Get a travel insurance quote for your trip here <<
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Ioanna is a Greek Medicine Student and a Professional Karaoke Singer. When she’s not slaving over really big books, she’s at the airport 4 hours before take-off, so she can drink a cup of coffee across from her gate and worry about missing her flight from there.