Since we had bought tickets for a concert in Athens, we decided to go with a car and combine the trip with a visit of the island of Zakynthos, which is a few hours drive from the Greek capital. We spent 5 days there and were surprised to find the place incredibly relaxed and lacking a huge number of tourists on every beach, which was the case in Corfu.
Zakynthos, also known as Zante, is the third largest of the Greek islands in the Ionian see. Arguably the most famous beach in the whole country – Navagio beach, a.k.a. the Shipwreck beach is located on the island and attracts the touristic crowds.
In case you want to spend some time in Zakynthos, this is what we did and saw while on the island. Hope it helps you plan your vacation 🙂
After enjoying a delicious lunch at one of the restaurants near the port, we took the ferry from Kyllini around 2 p.m. and arrived at Zakynthos town in 1:30h.
We used the services of Levante ferry company. You can book your tickets online, we bought them at the port, since we were travelling in June and it was not that busy. For a car and two people we paid around Eur 40 in one direction, so you have to be prepared to have some Eur 80 allocated for this.
We had decided to sleep in a camping and had chosen Tartaruga for this purpose. It is located around 14 km away from Zakynthos town, in the southwest part of the island near Keri. I highly recommend the camping, which is among the best ones we have been to. With its terraces, surrounded by olive trees and flowers, it offers a great view over the sea, enough shadow to allow you to sleep until later in the morning and a very nice restaurant. You can check their website for further information.
So after “building” our temporary home we went to Zakynthos town to walk around and buy some food. Since we were tired after the long journey we went early to bed.
Our most important task for the day was to see the famous Navagio beach. It is located in the Northern part of the island and it took us about 1h to get there. As we expected, all the tourists currently on the island were right there. Although it was around 1 p.m. and the heat was almost unbearable, buses full with tourists kept arriving. The beach itself is only accessible by water and being the most famous attraction on the island, you can imagine how many boats dock near it. Another way to see it is by going to the cliffs surrounding it. I highly recommend you put some comfortable shoes on when going there and forget about the flip-flops. Also forget about the selfies – it is very dangerous and there have been cases of people falling from the cliffs by trying to take one. So just enjoy the view and ask someone to take a photo of you.
After seeing the Shipwreck beach we decided to explore the Northern part of the island further. So we made half a circle and went to the eastern side. We stopped at Agios Nikolaos for lunch. There you can sit in one of the restaurants facing the port.
While driving with the car we saw a beatiful beach from the road and decided to spend the rest of the sunny part of the day there. It is a rather small beach with sand and beautiful aquamarine water. As it is visible from the road, it attracts the attention of the tourists, but while we were there it was very relaxed with just the right number of people.
Agios Nicholaos Church and Beach
Before sunset we headed to Vasilikos area in the Southern part, which in my opinion is the best part of the island. We decided to check the beaches in the area the next days and went straight to St. Nicholas beach on the eastern end of which is located a beautiful small church, surrounded by rocks and water.
The beach itself didn’t look bad, but there were several bars with noisy electronic music, which for me spoiled the atmosphere. For those, looking for a party, this should be a very suitable place.
Banana beach was on our way back so we decided just to check it out before going to the camping. It is a long wide sandy beach with a lot of umbrellas, no idea how crowded it gets during the day.
Book a boat ride for the next day
We wanted to book a boat trip to see some of the caves and of course, the turtles, which is why we went to Keri beach. There you can find many offers, we booked a shared boat for the next day and paid around Eur 10 per person.
We had selected this beach for our third day. It is a rather secluded one which is exactly why we chose it. You have to park your car on the road and then walk a bit along a narrow path and between the rocks in front of you, you suddenly see the water. Small stones cover the beach area, you can take advantage of the umbrellas for rent or just bring your own one. The guy, renting the umbrellas, also offers cold drinks and fruits. Since all other food options would be pretty far, it is a good idea to take some snack with you.
Before going back to the camping we decided to check some of the beaches close to it. So we went to Laganas which is a very long beach, full of people, places to eat and what not. So for those preferring the more lively beaches this one might be more suitable. We didn’t like it at all – it was too crowded for our taste and the water was not as clear as on other small beaches, so you can’t really enjoy the wildness and beauty of the island.
Keri Lighthouse, Flag and Sunset View
Then we found info on the internet about the biggest Greek flag located near the Keri cliffs so we went to see it. It is a popular spot for watching the sunset. There is also a small coffee place where you can sit and have a hot drink while the weather gets windier and windier the more the sun disappears in the sea.
We then went for dinner in one of the restaurants near the Keri port. The seafood was fantastic.
1. The Island of Marathonisi
After enjoying a nice breakfast we went to Keri where we had our boat ride booked the previous day. We were a group of around 10 people which was perfect for the size of the boat We first headed to the island of Marathonisi which we could actually see from our camping. Somewhere on the way we met a giant turtle who kept us company for a while and then disappeared. Then we reached the island where we spent some time. Most of it is a protected area and you can’t even put an umbrella in the sand. So you have to be prepared to lie under the sun without any shadow. Luckily, the water was crystal clear and not too cold so we spent most of the time swimming and taking underwater photos.
2. Keri Caves
We then went to see the Keri caves. The boat dropped its anchor near one cave and we swam until we reached it and went inside of it. The bottom of the sea was covered with huge white stones and since the water was so clear we could see all of them. The most beautiful water I have ever swum in! If you are on the island, I highly recommend you go and see the caves.
Daphne Beach (Dafni Beach)
After the boat brought us back to the mainland we decided to go and check Daphne beach. It is an isolated, long and wide sandy beach which can be accessed through a narrow road in a very poor condition, so expect a slow and bumpy ride. I guess the rather difficult access is the reason why this beach is not so popular among tourists, although in my opinion it is among Zante’s most beautiful ones. There are several taverns along the coastline and a very interesting restaurant with a crazy design at the very end of the beach.
Our last day on the island we decided to spend at a very slow pace without rushing or moving too much from one place to another. So after breakfast we took some food with us and went to Gerakas beach which is pretty close to Daphne Beach. This is a very wild beach, which is also a protected area as baby turtles hatch there. A big free parking area on the right side of the road makes it easy to find a spot, which otherwise can be an issue when trying to leave your car near some of the other beaches on the island. If you are planning to spend the day at Gerakas, better bring some snack with you, because there are no restaurants or bars. In case you get hungry, you can go to the parking on the opposite side of which you will find several taverns.
After spending the whole day on the beach we decided to go to a restaurant for our final evening on the island. On the road between Gerakas and Tartaruga camping you can find several restaurants offering seafood and a good view over the sea.