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The beautiful island of Zakynthos Greece has become famous for its picturesque shipwreck beach, but there are also many other things to do and see on this scenic island in the Ionian Sea.
Zakynthos features steep limestone cliffs, white pebble beaches, and some of the most colorful blue water you’ll ever see in your life. You can explore the sights on this island by boat or by land, and it’s relatively easy to get to Zakynthos from Athens.
To be fair, the island of Zakynthos has become a very popular and crowded summer tourist destination in Greece nowadays, but it’s still worth a visit for the bucket list sights and photo ops.
This travel blog will explain what to do in Zakynthos, how to get there, where to stay, best transport options and tour packages, and some of the top sights to see. I’ve also included a handy Zakynthos island map for trip planning!
Best Zakynthos Tour Packages
The coastline of Zakynthos is full of sea caves, beaches, and other wonderful sights that can only be seen with a boat tour.
We recommend GetYourGuide for boat tours in Zakynthos! They have high rated tours for all of the best sights like Navagio Beach, Blue Caves, Turtle Island, and more. These tours usually include free hotel pickup and drop-off from most of the popular areas in Zakynthos.
We’ve used this company for lots of day tours and activities around the world, and they’re great! Highly recommended.
Book Now: Zakynthos Island Tour
Where Is Zakynthos Island?
Zakynthos (also known as Zante) is an island located in the Ionian Sea, west of mainland Greece. The distance from Athens to Zakynthos is about 240 kilometers (150 miles) as the plane flies.
There are a total of seven Ionian Islands in Greece, and Zakynthos is the most famous of these, but the other nearby islands like Kefalonia are also very scenic and worth a visit if you have time.
How To Get To Zakynthos Greece
Zakynthos island can be reached by flight or ferry.
Flying to Zakynthos is the easiest, fastest, and most expensive (but recommended) way to get there. The Zakynthos airport (ZTH) is served by daily nonstop flights from Athens, as well as some international cities like Amsterdam, Rome, and Warsaw.
The flight time to Zakynthos from Athens is 1 hour, and it costs about 50 to 100 Euros for a one way ticket with Aegean/Olympic Air or Sky Express.
The best airline to use is Aegean (or its subsidiary Olympic Air) instead of Sky Express if you have a choice, but any of them are fine. Free checked baggage is usually included in the ticket prices.
Taking the ferry to Zakynthos from Athens is cheaper than flying, but it’s slower and a bit more complicated.
You first have to take a 4 hour bus ride from Athens to Kyllini (which costs 25 Euros), and then hop on the ferry there. The boat ride from Kyllini to Zakynthos takes around 1 hour and costs about 12 Euros.
If you’re interested in doing some island hopping in Greece and you want to see more than just Zakynthos, you can also mix up the itinerary a bit.
For example, you can fly into Zakynthos for a few days, take the ferry to Kefalonia, and then fly from Kefalonia back to Athens. That’s what we did, and it worked out great!
Transport: How To Get Around On Zakynthos Island
Zakynthos town proper is small enough to be walkable by foot for restaurants and most other things, but if you want to do some exploring outside of town you’ll need transport.
The main way to get around on Zakynthos island is by renting a car or ATV (4 wheeler). There are many companies offering car rentals on the island, but we recommend DiscoverCars! For short distance trips near town, there’s no Uber but you can hire a taxi or book an airport transfer.
Driving in Zakynthos is a little stressful, but not too hard, and most of the roads are in good condition. The west side of the island is more mountainous, so you’ll occasionally have steep roads with plenty of bends, but these are usually well paved.
A few remote roads on the west side of the island may still be gravel with occasional potholes, but even those roads are quickly improving as the island becomes more accessible and popular with travelers.
The main difficulty is driving in Zante town, where there’s more traffic and the roads are narrow, with lots of cars parked on both sides. Drive slowly in town and stay alert. Once you get out of town, the roads are smooth sailing for the most part.
Greeks drive on the right side of the road, similar to the US and Canada. The locals like to drive fast, and they frequently ignore speed limits and pass on double yellow lines. Just be aware of this, and move over to let them pass.
Since the law was changed in 2021, foreign tourists from Australia, Canada, UK and United States do not need an International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive in Greece anymore.
With that said, it still doesn’t hurt to have an IDP for Zakynthos in case there’s confusion from the authorities or your local car rental company. Many people in Greece still seem to be unaware of this change.
The coastline of Zakynthos is stunningly beautiful, and many of the best sights on the island are worth touring by boat. You can rent a boat or join a shared tour at one of the many harbors on the island, or you can book tour packages online that include free hotel pickup and drop-off.
What To Do In Zakynthos Greece
This famous shipwreck beach is what first put Zakynthos island on so many travelers’ bucket lists. It’s probably one of the most famous travel pictures in the world!
Navagio is a beautiful secluded beach surrounded by turquoise water and dramatic, winding cliffs. In the center of the beach sits a smuggler ship that ran aground during stormy weather in 1980.
If you’re mainly wanting to see the iconic postcard view and take photos of it, you can do that from a viewpoint on the cliffs high above the beach.
You can drive to the Navagio viewpoint yourself, or book a tour package that includes the viewpoint along with several other sights in Zakynthos.
Keep in mind, it’s not possible to reach the beach itself from the viewpoint. There’s no path to go down to the beach, because the cliffs are too steep. The only way to walk on the beach is with a boat tour, and that’s explained below in more detail.
However, the viewpoint is still one of the best sights in Zakynthos, so you should definitely add it to your itinerary!
• Monastery of Agios Georgios Krimnon
This is a small monastery that you’ll pass on the way to the Navagio viewpoint. In fact, it’s just a 5 minute drive from the viewpoint!
The Monastery of Agios Georgios Krimnon was founded in the 16th century, and it’s still a functioning monastery, with monks living and working there. Remember to dress appropriately if you want to go inside, although plenty of nice pictures can be taken from outside.
It’s free to visit the monastery, and they have a little workshop where they make mosaics and other art. You can buy their wares if you want, but they aren’t pushy about it. The mosaics are very nice.
Behind the monastery, there’s a walking path that takes you to a cross with wonderful views of the Ionian Sea, and it’s also a great sunset spot.
Even though the best pictures of Navagio shipwreck are actually taken from the steep cliffs above, it’s also fun to get in a boat and go see the beach at eye level, if you’re willing to brave the crowds.
Boat tours to Navagio Beach generally depart from the nearby harbor at Porto Vromi. You can show up there and try to arrange a boat rental on the spot, but it’s generally better to book a tour package online.
This beach gets very crowded and chaotic during the daytime, when it’s bombarded with tourists and boats. During the summer, the only time you can avoid the crowds at Navagio Beach is by arriving before 8 AM or after 6 PM.
Nevertheless, it’s still a very nice beach and the rusty shipwreck is fun to see up close!
• Hidden Treasure Cave (Maravelia)
Out of all the many wonderful caves in Zakynthos island, this was one of our favorites.
The Maravelia Cave, also known as Hidden Treasure Cave, is located on the coast near the shipwreck beach, and you can only get there by boat.
In fact, the cave is only big enough for one small boat to fit inside it at a time, and only private boat tours go to this spot. Shared tours skip it.
To go inside the cave, you’ll have to step directly off of your boat and climb up the smooth rocks that meet the water’s edge near the cave entrance.
The rocks can be slippery from sea water, so watch your step! Hidden Treasure Cave has a high ceiling with an opening at the top that pours in sunlight and makes the whole cave amazingly beautiful and photogenic.
It may not be famous just yet, but this was one of our favorite hidden spots in Zakinthos!
Book Now: Zakynthos Private Boat Tour
• Myzithres Rocks
This is one of the most spectacular and underrated places in Zakynthos Greece, with dramatic white rocks and private beaches on both sides of the rock.
The Myzithres Rocks are located on the southwest corner of Zakynthos island, and you can view them from the cliffs above, or take a boat directly to them from Keri Harbor and land on the beach!
There’s a viewpoint and a restaurant on the cliffs above, called Keri Lighthouse Restaurant. It’s a little overpriced, although the views are unbeatable. Afternoon until sunset is the best time to dine there and take pictures.
You can also walk further up the road and enjoy the view of Myzithres Rocks without any people, but be careful not to get too close to the edge, because the cliff may be unstable.
Book Now: Myzithres Viewpoint Tour
• Marathonisi Island
Also known as ‘turtle island,’ Marathonisi is a small island near the south coast of Zakynthos. Part of the island is a protected breeding ground for loggerhead sea turtles.
The front side of this island has a nice beach with clear water, and the south side has a couple of caves you can enter with a small boat. It’s a fantastic island, but it’s becoming pretty crowded.
You can visit Marathonisi Island on a half day tour from Keri Harbor along with other sights such as the Keri Caves (below), or it’s also possible to take a boat taxi there from nearby places like Laganas Beach.
Book Now: Marathonisi Island & Keri Caves Tour
• Keri Caves
The Keri Caves are usually visited on a half day boat tour that includes Marathonisi Island (above) and sometimes the Myzithres Rocks.
Inside these caves, the water seems to glow blue, giving it a gatorade-like color that almost doesn’t look real. It’s hard to capture with a camera. Small boats can float into the caves see them up close.
There are also several pebble beaches and two rock arches on this coastline that your boat captain can drive through if he’s feeling adventurous!
Overall, the Keri Caves were one of our favorite places in southern Zakynthos.
Book Now: Keri Caves & Marathonisi Tour
• Blue Caves
This is a group of small caves on the northern tip of Zakynthos island, reachable by boat from Agios Nikolaos harbor.
As you might guess from the name, these are some of the most colorful caves in Zakynthos, and little boats can pass through the caves and come out the other side. Usually you can do some swimming here too, if there’s enough time.
The Blue Caves tour is generally shorter than any of the other boat tours in Zakynthos, but it’s also cheaper, so it’s well worth it!
Book Now: Blue Caves & Navagio Tour
• Plakaki Beach
This viewpoint is still kind of a hidden gem in Zakynthos, with amazing views of the coastline and that dark blue water the Mediterranean Sea is famous for.
Calling it a beach is kind of a stretch, but at the bottom of the cliff there’s a nice swimming spot that can be reached with a bit of short, intense hiking. The path is still unfinished rock, and there are some steep sections, so it’s not good for kids or older folks.
When the access improves, I’m sure this place will be one of the highlights of Zakynthos island. It definitely has some of our favorite views.
• Potamitis Viewpoint
Potamitis is another viewpoint with a nice restaurant, a windmill, and easy access by road. It’s located on the north end of Zakynthos island.
There’s a photogenic winding staircase that takes you down to the seaside, where you can watch the tour boats coming and going from the nearby Blue Caves. It’s a really nice view, and there are also sunbeds if you want to stay and relax.
We had heard that the restaurant asks you to buy something before taking pictures at the viewpoint, but in our case they didn’t ask for anything. The restaurant has good ratings too, so I’m sure it’s worth a visit!
• Monastery of Panagia Skopiotissa
This is a medieval church that sits at the top of Skopos mountain in southeast Zante, at an elevation of 543 meters (1,782 ft). Surrounding the church are the ruins of a monastery that is even older. It’s like a trip back in time.
To reach the church you can drive or hike, but the road is rough gravel all the way to the top of the mountain. We made it there in a rental car, but it wasn’t a very comfortable drive. If you hike, bring a hat and lots of water.
If you drive, it’s best to come from the northeast side, because apparently the road from Kalamaki is worse and requires a 4×4 vehicle.
The atmosphere at the monastery is quiet and special. If you come in the daytime, they open the doors to the main building for visitors, and the inside has nice frescoes and a guestbook.
There’s a good breeze and you have panoramic views of much of Zakynthos island, with Kefalonia visible in the distance. I’m sure it’s a great spot for sunset too, although we didn’t stay that late.
Behind the monastery, there’s a rocky summit you can climb for even better views of the whole area! The path for this climb starts on the southeast side of the rocks, and there’s a rope to help you go up.
All in all, this place is a true hidden gem in Zakinthos, and most people still don’t know about it!
• Pelagaki Beach
There are lots of beaches in Zakynthos, but this one stands out because of its snow white pebbles and nice clear water. It’s similar to some of the scenic beaches in Kefalonia island.
This is one of the quieter and less touristy beaches in Zakynthos, with no music or sunbeds, although it’s occasionally disrupted by noisy boats dropping off tourists, so that’s the only downside. At the top of the hill, there’s a small canteen selling food and drinks.
The beach itself is fantastic from above or below, and you can reach it in about 5 minutes by hiking down a steep dirt path. Even though it doesn’t have the easiest access, the beach is beautiful and well worth a visit!
This beach might be one of the most unusual locations in Zakynthos Greece.
Actually, it’s not really a beach, but more like a little rocky peninsula with a natural arch and some tide pools for swimming.
The path down to the water is rocky and a bit steep in places, so it’s not the greatest. You can go down in about 5 minutes. I wouldn’t recommend it for kids or older folks, but you can enjoy great views of Korakonissi without going all the way to the bottom.
There are three places to swim: in the tide pool to the right, in the open sea to the left, or inside the cave below the arch.
It’s a spectacular location, and climbing on the rocks gives you some different views of everything. The water inside the cave is incredibly blue.
Parking is limited here, so you’ll want to arrive early if possible. The road is a bit steep and turns into gravel near the end, so depending on your vehicle, you may need to park before you reach the bottom of the road.
There is a cafe in the parking lot with nice views and reasonable prices for Greek food. Enjoy!
Best Zakynthos Photo Spot
There are many beautiful photo spots in Zakynthos Greece, but I think the winner would have to be the Navagio Viewpoint, followed by the Myzithres Rocks in second place. Third place for me might be Plakaki Beach.
If you only have time for two boat tours in Zakynthos, do Navagio and the Keri Caves. These are on opposite sides of the island, so you may need two separate days to do them, but we thought the tour at Keri Caves was even better than the Blue Caves! It’s also a longer tour, so you get more time to enjoy the scenery.
For drone pilots, it’s possible to take amazing photos on the west coast of Zakynthos island, which is all lined with steep limestone cliffs.
The locals in Greece aren’t strict about drones. EU regulations on drones aren’t really enforced here, and there are lots of quiet places to fly without disturbing anyone. If in doubt, just ask before you fly.
Best Zakynthos Beaches
To be honest, Zakynthos beaches generally aren’t as nice as the ones on say, Kefalonia, and they’re very overrun with tourists during the summer months. For the best experience, you’ll want to arrive early and find a good parking spot before the crowds get there.
If you want sandy beaches in Zakynthos, check out Banana Beach, Porto Zorro, or Alykanas Beach. If you’re mainly wanting spectacular views, go to Porto Limnionas or Plakaki Beach. These aren’t sandy beaches, but the views are wonderful and they can still be great spots for swimming and sunbathing.
The famous Navagio Beach also has amazing views with nice sand and water, although it’s usually crowded with boats and people.
Zakynthos Island Map
Here’s a Zakynthos island map you can use to plan your trip.
You can click the icons on this map to get more info on each point of interest, but keep in mind some of the locations may be approximate.
Attractions to visit by land are marked in blue, while harbors (and nearby attractions to reach by sea) are marked in orange.
Best Sunset Spot In Zakynthos
Zakynthos island has a long west-facing coastline, so naturally there are lots of good sunset spots to enjoy.
One of the most popular places to watch the sunset is at the Navagio Viewpoint (above the beach), where you can use a wide panoramic photo to capture the beach together with the sunset.
For a more quiet sunset, our favorite spot was the cross at the Monastery of Agios Georgios Krimnon, which is also located near the shipwreck viewpoint.
To find the cross for sunset, walk along the short path behind the monastery until you’ve gone about 150 meters down the hill. It’s a really nice spot, and you’ll most likely have it all to yourself!
All of these restaurants and sunset spots are located on the west side of the island, so a bit of driving is required if you’re coming from town.
There are also some tours available that will take you to one of the good sunset spots in Zakynthos and handle all of the transportation for you.
Book Now: Romantic Agalas Sunset Tour
What To Bring
Here are some packing suggestions for your trip to Zakynthos Greece.
Most of the items below can probably be found on the island in a pinch, but the quality of stuff you buy on the street won’t be guaranteed (personally, I’m not about to use a junky knockoff bag from a street vendor to protect my expensive camera gear).
It’s best to buy vetted products online!
- Waterproof Bag: Essential for keeping your electronics safe on the boats. I brought a 30 liter bag and was able to fit my drone, tablet, camera, phone, and a bunch of other stuff inside. Everything was kept dry, even when I took the bag swimming a few times!
- Waterproof Phone Pouch: Same as above, but these are for your phone only. Great if you don’t have other electronics and just need something small to protect your phone.
- Snorkeling Gear: Good for exploring the clear waters around Zakynthos, and sometimes you can even see turtles. Snorkels and masks can be borrowed or rented from the boat companies too, but if you plan to do multiple tours it’s better to bring your own gear.
- Water Shoes: Save your feet some grief and wear water shoes! Many of the beaches in Zakynthos have rocky shorelines, so water shoes are very helpful for getting in and out of the water.
Other Zakynthos Tips
- Credit Cards: You can pay by credit card for most hotels, restaurants, and other things in Zakynthos, but it’s still a good idea to carry cash (in Euros). Some smaller restaurants only take cash, or the card machines may go down. If you show up at the harbor and want to book a boat tour on the spot, then they’ll ask you to pay in cash. This is part of the advantage of booking tours online, that way you can pay by credit card and save your cash for those little family owned tavernas with top notch food and low prices.
- ATM: There are ATMs within reach of every corner of the island. We usually pulled 200 Euros at a time, and never had any issues. One thing to note is that the ATMs will offer you their own conversion rate (which is a really bad rate), or you can continue in Euros. Make sure you choose Euros without their silly conversion rate. This is a well known scam at ATMs in Greece, but it’s easily avoided if you know what you’re doing.
- Cell Service: Phone reception is strong across most of Zakinthos island, although you may lose service in some places while driving around because of the hilly terrain of the island.
- WiFi: Internet quality in Zakynthos is not the greatest, but it’s improving, especially in the main town areas. Don’t expect WiFi speeds on par with Athens (or other European countries), but it’s generally good enough for emails, browsing, and maybe a little bit of streaming.
- Language: The local language in Zakynthos is Greek, of course, but almost everyone speaks and understands enough English for conversation. Lots of UK tourists visit the Ionian islands, so the locals are accustomed to speaking English with travelers.
- Mosquitoes: We had very few encounters with mosquitoes in Zakynthos, and the island isn’t known to be home to the West Nile Virus, so it’s not really a significant concern here.
- Water: The tap water in Zakynthos is supposed to be safe to drink, but it doesn’t taste good. It’s better to drink bottled water, which is cheap and can be found at any mini market. You can use the tap water for cooking or brushing your teeth.
Is Zakynthos Safe?
Yes, Zakynthos is a very safe place to visit!
Greece has one of the lowest homicide rates in the world. Just take normal precautions and you shouldn’t have any issues with crime.
The locals in Zakynthos are very friendly, especially if you get out of the busy town and go to some of the quiet villages in the countryside.
Is Zakynthos Worth It?
If you still can’t make up your mind, then yes, Zakynthos is definitely worth it!
This is a beautiful Greek island with great food, people, and scenery. You can enjoy a sunset dinner by the cliffs, or explore a sea cave by boat. Famous bucket list views like Navagio Beach are also icing on the cake.
In spite of the summer tourist crowds, Zakynthos is undoubtedly one of the quintessential Greek islands in my opinion. It’s also fairly easy to reach from Athens, and the infrastructure is improving every day.
How Long To Stay
There are loads of good things to do in Zakynthos Greece. The best highlights will take at least 3 days to see, but one week is more ideal.
We spent two weeks in Zakynthos, and easily could have found more activities to do if we had stayed longer.
Here’s what a sample 4-day itinerary for Zakinthos island could look like, assuming you’ve rented a car:
- Day 1: Northwest Zakynthos. Visit the Navagio Beach viewpoint and see the famous shipwreck from above. Make a quick stop at the nearby monastery, and then drive to Porto Vromi, where you can take a boat to the shipwreck beach and also tour some of the nearby caves. Relax at Porto Limnionas Beach or Korakonissi, and then have dinner at San Leon Tavern or one of the other great restaurants in the area.
- Day 2: North Zakynthos. Drive to Agios Nikolaos Harbor and rent a boat to go to the Blue Caves for scenery and swimming. Next, drive to the Potamitis Viewpoint and walk down the stairs by the ocean. Lastly, relax at Pelagaki Beach or Xigia Sulfur Beach.
- Day 3: Southwest Zakynthos. Drive to Keri Lake Harbor, and then rent a boat to go to Marathonisi Island, Keri Caves, and Myzithres Beach. Next, drive to Plakaki Viewpoint and hike down to the beach (if you’re fit and able). Lastly, go see the Myzithres Rocks from above and enjoy the sunset at Keri Lighthouse Restaurant.
- Day 4: East Zakynthos. If you’re feeling adventurous, hike or drive up the steep gravel road to Monastery Panagia Skopiotissa, and enjoy the historic buildings and panoramic views of Zakynthos island. Bring plenty of water. Afterwards, relax at Banana Beach, Porto Zorro, or one of the many other beaches in the area. If you have extra time, check out the Cameo Island Beach Bar.
I hope this sample itinerary gives you some ideas for your own trip to Zakynthos! As always, feel free to ask any questions if you have them.
More Greece Travel Guides
Thanks for looking! I hope you enjoyed this travel guide for Zakynthos island in Greece.
We have more travel guides for the Greek islands coming soon, so don’t forget to check back!