The third biggest island in the Ionian sea has so much to offer to everyone- remote locations with serene nature, beautiful beaches and an excitement of a cool city life. Wrapped in wild flora and fauna, it’s a favourite destination for holiday goers who want to see, taste and explore everything Greece is so famous for. The lush scenery is also the reason why Valentians during their occupation of the island named it ‘Fioro di Levante’ which translates ‘Flower of the Orient’. The size of Zakynthos makes it ideal for every type of holiday. Big enough to try a variety of activities and small enough to get exploring. It’s absolutely essential to hire a car and luxury holiday goers won’t find Zakynthos a perfect spot because the most beautiful beaches and sceneries are located far from the comfort zone of a five-star hotel. It’s time to put your walking shoes on and get on the road.
We hired a super cute tiny vehicle which let us explore the island efficiently and with a chilled bottle of wine carefully strapped in the back seat, we hit the streets of Zante, as the locals call it.
Zakynthos is perhaps best known for its beautiful beaches, one of them being Navagio beach also called Shipwreck beach as it has a large old rusted shipwreck “parked” on it. The myth has it that the ship was smuggling contraband such as cigarettes, wine and women and it wrecked in the cove after a huge storm. We decided to visit Navagio twice, once from above with our little car and the second time with a boat so we could snorkel around the cliffs and enjoy the fun in the sun.
The water here is just out of this world. The clear and turquoise colour that shimmers in the light in the contrast with bright beige sand makes a truly picturesque setting. And even though the beach becomes packed during the day, because travel agents load their ships with tourists to take them to this magical place, we still enjoyed our time here.
We also visited Spanzia beach– a long strip of beautiful sand and tropical vibe looking umbrellas and sunbeds. Worth visiting is also Porto Vromi and beautiful Banana beach with the best atmosphere of a beach club. They serve amazing cocktails here and together with sea-food pasta and swinging nets all over the place it became the best chill spot on the island for me.
After driving through endless roads snaking between ragged cliffs, we found a place that became the biggest highlight of my trip- Porto Roxa. This is one of the most beautiful spots I’ve seen in my life, mostly because of the enormous cliffs and beautiful clear water. Here we’ve spent a half of the day, enjoying the sun, having cocktails and taking pictures of the coves, little pools created on the shores and cute boats moored to the rocks. Jumping into the water felt so refreshing and satisfying and it allowed us to cool down every time we felt the sun trying to burn us alive. I don’t think words allow me to perfectly describe this place. It’s just stunningly beautiful and I loved every second of it!
During our road trip, we stopped at many places, such as the oldest Olive tree on the island, viewing points and little villages where we enjoyed coffee and fresh juices in local coffee shops. Zante people are very kind and helpful and they often offer you some of their homegrown peaches and oranges if you stop to ask for directions. One of my favourite elements of summer are pine trees and cicadas, and here you can hear them “singing” and hiding in trees and bushes everywhere you go.
Zakynthos is no doubt a place for foodie lovers, and mostly those who worship Medditearean cuisine like me. Traditional dishes include greek salad, grilled vegetables (zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant) but also locally sourced fish, amazingly tasteful tzatziki with pita bread and of course olives and olive oil. You can get those in every Tavern around the island and don’t get scared if you won’t see any people eating there. Zakynthos’s atmosphere is so calm and peaceful that it’s best to enjoy it on your own. We had a lunch with a view in an amazing restaurant on the coast and we also found a beautiful all white Tavern at one of the viewing points. It had little lantern lights all around the exterior- such a fabulous place for a romantic dinner!
Seeing giant turtles when swimming even topped my experience (Zakynthos is well known for its turtle nesting beaches and you can learn a lot about them and why it’s important to protect them in one of the visitors centers on the island or visit Archeolon center)
If you’re looking for an adventurous holiday in one of the most beautiful places in Europe, in a place where dreams turn into reality, Zakynthos is the perfect place for you. This stunning paradise will take your breath away, leaving you speechless and full of memories.
Scroll down for more stunning pictures, most of them taken by my brother or me.
With Love, Domi.