Zakynthos Island in Ionion
Zakynthos or Zante is one of the largest of the Ionian Islands with a population of about 41000 locals and an area of 406 square kilometers. It is a beautiful island that has the common characteristic of the Ionian islands which is the rich vegetation. It is a mountainous island with highest point the mount of Vraxionas.
Zante is one of the places which were the target of conquerors in many historical periods which is probably a consequence of the highly privileged location of the island. The Venetians called Zante "Fior Di Levante" which means the East blossom. Therefore, this island has a strong history and cultural elements which are influenced by many cultures. Furthermore it is the birthplace of many important personalities like Dionysios Solomos.
Finally, Zakynthos is one of the most important shelters for the turtle Caretta caretta, which is one of the endangered species.
Best beaches in Zakynthos:
Zakynthos undoubtedly has some of the most beautiful beaches of Greece, which are known in a worldwide base. Visit the island and find your own paradise. Below there are some which you should not miss.
- Navagio: Undoubtedly Navagio is the best known and the most photographed beach of the island. Its name is due to a ship which wrecked on the beach in 1983 and remains there until today. It is located in the western part of Zante, on the beaches with difficult access. Basically you can get there only by boat. It has white sand and crystal clear water. You can not leave the island without visiting Navagio!
- Gerakas: Gerakas is an amazing beach to visit. For many people it is surely the best beach on Zakynthos. It is sandy, with shallow blue water. Another advantage of Gerakas is that at the edge of it there is aluminum, so if you need a mud bath you can take the advantage to swim there. It is a coast which is prefered from the turtle Caretta caretta so watersports are banned and from late afternoon and then the access is prohibited.
- Agios Nikolaos: A large sandy beach, with crystal clear water and very popular in the crowd. It is certainly among the most cosmopolitan beaches of Zakynthos. All around there is dense vegetation which makes the beach even more interesting and accessible. Here you can engage in watersports or simply enjoy the comfort of impeccable organization.
- Makris Gialos: A lovely picturesque beach in a small bay. It has deep turquoise water and a combination of sand and pebbles in places. The landscape has an attractive and wild beauty which worths to be seen. Around the beach there are many caves and large rocks. The organization of the beach includes only a few umbrellas and sunbeds.
- Alykes- Alykanas: Also two great beaches. Basically the one is the continuation of the other. Both are sandy. Alykes is a fully organized beach mostly preferred by families because it has calm and shallow water. Alykanas is also well organized and it has facilities for watersports.
- Laganas: Another highly developed in tourism beach but also clean and beautiful. It is sandy and has warm, shallow water. Moreover Laganas belongs to the National Marine Park which protects Caretta Caretta so here watersports are prohibited. Otherwise it is fully organized.
- Porto Roxa: This is a small bay with crystal clear blue water. There is a stair which takes you directly into the sea. There is also a podium for diving. Practically there is no beach, but there are places with sunbeds and umbrellas above.
- Xigia: Xigia is a different beach. Around it there are caves which secrete sulfur to the seawater and thus the beach Xigia is ideal for those who need thermal treatments. It is sandy and it has very clean and deep blue water. If you are there, do not miss to taste delicious local dishes from the taverna directly above.
- Tsilivi: Tsilivi beach is very popular and it has pebbles and sand in combination. The water is crystal and clear and the proof for this fact is that each year it is awarded with a blue flag. It is fully organized and offers the opportunity to try watersports.
What to do in Zakynthos:
- Visit the marine park of Zakynthos: Do not miss this unique opportunity. You will visit the beaches which are chosen by Caretta Caretta turtles in order to nest and of course if you are lucky you will meet turtles and seals Monachus Monachus, and also many bird species. In the park you can go hiking, diving and many other activities through organized programs. In addition, next to the beach of Dafni there is an exhibition center for the turtles.
- Visit attractions and museums: In Zakynthos there are many sights to see. Visit the island of Agios Sostis which is connected to the shore via a wooden bridge! There, you can have a drink and enjoy the magical landscape. Moreover definitely you should see Navagio and Blue Caves which are the best known places in Zante. The lighthouse of Keri is another popular spot, as the cave there. If you want to know a little more about the history of the island visit some of the museums such as the Post-Byzantine Museum, the Saint Dionisios Museum, the Solomos Museum and many more. If you are a fan of religious tourism, you can visit several monasteries such as the church of Saint Dionysios, the Strofades monastery and church of the Virgin Skopiotissa. Finally see important historical monuments such as the Venetian fortress and the Venetian aqueduct.
- Get closer to nature through activities: Zakynthos is a beautiful island, full of green, with striking differences in morphology. Hiking would certainly be a very interesting experience. There are many routes you can take depending on your strength and fitness. Some of these are of the path of Gerakas(easy), the hiking route of Marathias and the crossing of Mount Vrachionas. You can also take a bath with a bike if you prefer. Finally in many beaches very often yoga and meditation classes are offered.
- Make excursions and see as many places as possible: You can make very interesting excursions by boat to the coasts of the island in order to discover hidden treasures and other special places. As we said Navagio can be reached only in this way. Also a worth seeing place is the blue caves and the exotic Marathonisi, which is a small island near Laganas.
- Do diving: This island is the ideal place for diving because of its particular seabed and in addition it is very likely to see turtles Caretta caretta and seals Monachus Monachus. The most popular destination for diving on the island is the lake in the cave of Keri which is situated near Laganas. Also in a daily base many dives and diving courses take place by professionals. You can choose between the dive from shore or by boat.
- Taste traditional and local products: Once on Zakynthos you have to taste local dishes. Try stuffed rabbit cooked in wine, which is one of the most characteristic dishes of the island, stifado, stuffed vegetables with rise, briam and rooster cooked in wine. Also, you can buy traditional products at your departure from the island. Some of the most famous products of the island is the extra virgin olive oil, different varieties of wine, black currant, cheese, nougat and sweets.
- Wander the island and discover villages and hidden treasures: Take your car and wander through the island! By this way you will have the chance to visit many picturesque villages and places. One of the most famous traditional villages, is the mountainous Volimes. Moreover Salinas is a very developed in tourism village near the sea and as well Kalamaki is a must see place. Dont forget to visit the picturesque village Bohali.
- Try watersports: In Zakynthos you can try different sports and enjoy your stay at the beach. Suitable for fans of such activities are Argassi, Alykanas, Banana and Tsilivi. Also you can do windsurfing on several beaches like Tsilivi and Agios Nikolaos.
Where to stay in Zakynthos:
Choose among many accommodation options the suitable for you, depending on your needs and your financial ability. Pick the right in order to make your vacations unforgettable.
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