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9 OF THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN ZANTE

By Kevin Charit
READING TIME
As long as it takes to eat a slice of watermelon

You won’t be the first to fall in love with Zante and you certainly won’t be the last. The Ionian island (known as Zakynthos in Greek) has a way of connecting with its visitors. The beaches alone are enough … and that’s before you’ve set eyes on the sunsets or tasted the local sweets. There are wines, villages and a Venetian castle to discover on an island that has inspired each of its settlers to contribute to its rich cultural identity. So let’s get your heart thumping by sharing some of the best things to do on your holidays in Zante.

Add Shipwreck beach to your Instagram feed

Shipwreck Beach

There’s no heart capable of resisting the beauty of Zante’s most-photographed spot. It’s Shipwreck beach, of course (Navagio, by its given name) … the envy of every self-respecting Instagrammer. Electrifying blues, a dramatic cliff backdrop and the mysterious shipwreck at its centre

Navagio beach from above

Yes, the iconic shot is from the viewpoint at the top (please follow the safety instructions) but the real love comes when you arrive by boat and swim in those mesmerising waters. Porto Vromi and Agios Nikolaos are the closest starting points for boat trips. It’s No.1 in our list of things to do in Zante for a reason.

Take a boat trip to Shipwreck beach

Discover the colour of love at the Blue Caves

Blue Caves & Keri Caves

When it comes to Zante, the colour of love is blue. But not just any blue. It runs through all the shades, from navy to turquoise and back again. You can visit the Blue Caves (yes, no other name would do) at the north of the island or the Keri Caves in the south and you’ll know exactly what we mean. 

Snorkeling in the Blue Caves of Zakynthos

Uncover the meaning of love at first bite

And second, third and fourth. Just a nibble of a local sweet and you’ll be hooked. There’s Mandolato (nougat and roasted almonds), pasteli (sesame-and-honey bars) and semolina-based fitoura. Or if you’re the savoury type, how about taking a bit of Zante home with you? You’ll discover aromatic honey (from bees feeding on local mountain herbs) and peppery olive oil. Or perhaps cheeses (smooth myzithra or spicy graviera), fruit (sweet melons and zingy wild strawberries) and any number of specialities created from local producers. 

Find beaches you’ll fall for … over and over again

There are so many great beaches in Zante, it seems wrong to highlight just a few. But love’s a matter of taste, so it’s up to you to find the perfect match. To feel close to nature, head to Gerakas which (beyond the fine sand and shallow blue water) is a protected nesting site for sea turtles. The umbrellas and sunbeds have been placed away from the protected zones and access is forbidden after sunset. For a feeling of discovery, head to Porto Limionas (more of a lagoon than a beach). Keri beach is considered one of the most picturesque and family-friendly, with clear, shallow waters and fine pebbles. Agios Nikolaos, taking its name from a little chapel by the beach, is one of the liveliest and most fun-filled, with many water sports. As is Laganas (the busiest but so long that it rarely fills too busy). And, finally, Porto Vromi (near the boats heading to Shipwreck beach), a secluded, narrow beach that isn’t as busy as its more illustrious neighbours.

Raise a glass to the passion of Zante’s wine-makers

There are over 19,000 acres dedicated to growing vines on Zante and dozens of different grape varieties. A few have become closely associated with the island – like the red Avgoustiatis (grown since the 14th century) and yellow-gold Robola. You won’t need any encouragement to learn about them and even less to drink them. So be sure you plan a trip to a local winery, where you can meet the winemakers and learn all about the passions that drive them. 

Search for the sparkle hidden in a Zante sunset

Kampi

Every great love affair needs the spark that ignites it. Zante offers its in the form of sunsets. The one we’ve chosen for you is near Keri village, eating a romantic dinner-for-two at a taverna high up on the cliffs.

sunset at Kampi

Ahead of you are the imposing Myzithres rocks and the Ionian Sea, stretching into the distance. As the sun sets here, it plunges into the water, radiating every shade of red and yellow and gold. If that doesn’t light a spark, nothing will.

Be inspired by Zante’s deep cultural roots

Bochali

It’s not for nothing that the Venetians called Zakynthos Fiore di Levante, the Flower of the East. Every inhabitant and settler seems to have been inspired by the island. So for your inspiration, head to Bochali, a small village on a promontory at the back of the main town. Here you can explore a Venetian Castle and become acquainted with Dionysios Solomos, a local 19th-century poet who wrote (amongst other verses) the Hymn to Freedom that gave birth to the Greek national anthem. 

View from Bochali

Understandably, Solomos has a monument and a museum in his honour. The museum also commemorates fellow poet Andreas Kalvos. But it’s the author of the Hymn to Freedom we salute here.

Get active… from hiking to horseback riding

Zante is an island made for exploring. There is range of hiking paths and trails to choose from, with charts you can follow and even apps you can download with the walks that take you past vineyards, monasteries and olive groves. Hiking is definitely one of the best things to do on Zante, but how about trying something different… exploring on horseback? There are a few options and some will even take you into the sea! Finally, keen swimmers should head to Korakonisi, with water so clear you’ll snorkel for hours. 

Head to the villages and fill up on authenticity

Love is nothing if it’s not authentic. And when it comes to finding authenticity amongst all the things to do in Zante, the villages have it all. There’s Kiliomenos, with its bell tower from another time, and Loucha, with its stone houses and cobblestone streets. For beautiful views, Kambi overlooks the bay of Schiza and Katastari the gulf of Alykes. And definitely head up to Ano Gerakari with its fabulous 360-degree view. If you time your village visit to coincide with a festival, you’ll experience the kantathes. Sung in the streets to the accompaniment of the mandolin and guitar, they were traditionally how islanders expressed joy and grief … and, of course, love.

9 best things to do in Zante

For the best experience, if you can take your holidays in Zante either side of the peak summer months (May-June and September-October) you’re in for an extra-special treat. You’ll get to know the Venetians’ ‘Flower of the East’ in an even more personalised way. 

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