Here’s a list of the 15 best things to do in Zakynthos (Greece) along with famous landmarks, museums, and other points of interest.
Zakynthos, also known as Zante, is one of the most popular Greek islands, and the third largest of the Ionian Islands. The island is famous for its natural beauty and being home to endangered sea turtles, but also due to its rich history.
In recent years, it has also become quite among European youths, who come here to enjoy the vibrant nightlife in Laganas during the summer months. In this article, I’m sharing some of the best things to do in Zakynthos as well as recommendations on where to stay on the island and my favorite hotels.
Things to do and places to visit in Zakynthos
The Blue Caves are one of the natural highlights of Zakynthos. Taking a boat tour into the caves is an unforgettable experience due to the beautiful blue-tones of the water.
Visitors can choose between a private tour on a smaller boat that can enter the smaller, more secluded caves and the public tours on bigger boats. Most of the tours start at the Makris Gialos Beach.
Navagio Beach (Shipwreck)
The Navagio Beach is home to one of the most famous shipwrecks in the world, the MV Panagiotis which ended up here in the 1980’s. Since then, it has become one of the most famous beaches in Greece, and visiting this place is one of the most popular things to do in Zakynthos.
“The Shipwreck Beach” is not just worth a visit because of the interesting shipwreck, it also offers beautiful nature and incredible views. The white cliffs that surround the beach are very imposing and the turquoise water is equally marvelous.
It does not come as a surprise that this beach is one of the most photographed spots in all of Greece. Boat tours to the beach can easily be arranged. The best places to hire a boat from are Porto Vromi Bay or Volimes.
The turtle island Marathonisi is another maritime highlight of Zakynthos. It is located across the beach of Keri and can be accessed by a short boat trip (1-2 km). Many endangered sea turtles (belonging to the species Caretta Caretta) live here.
They reproduce in the busy summer season which means visitors must be very careful not to disturb the turtles with their visits. Because of that, visitors are only allowed to stay within the first five meters of the beach and aren’t allowed to explore the island.
Marathonisi offers beautiful untouched scenery because of these protective laws, and even though you aren’t allowed to venture away from the beach you can still enjoy the scenic natural beauty from afar.
The Anafonitria Monastery is a Byzantine church that attracts visitors with its lovely charm. The monastery also features a well-maintained garden and a graveyard.
The site is relatively small but makes up for it with the beautiful main church, a three-aisled basilica. Don’t miss the especially impressive frescoes of the church.
Panagia Skopiotissa Monastery
The ruins of the Panagia Skopiotissa Monastery are a great destination due to the beautiful views and the monastery’s hill-top location, you can see the sea and many kilometers of coastline from here.
There is a small road leading all the way to the monastery but getting here can be quite hard nonetheless as the road is rather small and unpaved. The best way to reach Panagia Skopiotissa is to hike up to the top. It’s a very scenic walk.
Gerakas is often mentioned as the most beautiful beach on the island and indeed it is one of the best beaches on Zakynthos. The beach is located in the south-eastern corner of the island and is very wide.
It offers plenty of space for visitors. The white and brown colored cliff and the green hills surrounding the beach are very impressive. Beach umbrellas and sunbeds can be rented at the beach.
Make sure not to disturb the sea turtles that are at home here. The water of Gerakas Beach is very shallow, making it an ideal place for children playing in the water.
Aristeon Olive Press & Museum
The ecological Aristeon Olive Press is a family business that started in 1850 and looks back on a rich tradition and history of oil production. A small museum offers an interesting collection of tools such as the previously used oil presses.
All guests are invited to taste the olive oil with homemade bread. The adjacent shop offers a wide array of olive oils, including lemon-flavored olive oils, as well as pure organic oils.
The family business also sells olive soap, which is a great product to bring back home as a souvenir or gift to friends and family. Aristeon Olive Press & museum is a lovely place to visit in Zakynthos, to get a local experience.
The Tsilivi Waterpark is one of the most fun attractions in Zakynthos. It offers water-lovers, no matter if young or old, a great variety of water slides, pools, water playgrounds, and even a pirate ship.
The facilities are well-maintained, lifeguards are on duty, your safety is guaranteed. The waterpark also offers free sunbeds that can be used for relaxation along with the restaurant if you get hungry during your visit.
Embrace your inner child or simply let your children splash around with other kids, while you relax in the sun. Visiting the waterpark is one of the best things to do in Zakynthos with kids.
Porto Limnionas Beach
The beach is located on the western coast of Zykantos and is surrounded by cliffs and steep hills. A winding road leads here, which is the only way to access it by land.
Porto Limnionas is the perfect spot for nature-lovers as it is almost completely undeveloped apart from the beach tavern. The water here shines in beautiful turquoise tones. Sunbeds can be rented here but visitors should keep in mind that they can’t bring their own food and drinks.
Agios Dionysios Church
The Agios Dionysios is the largest church and religious highlight of the island. It is located right by the water and features a remarkable bell tower that is one of the main landmarks of Zakynthos.
The church is dedicated to Agios Dionysios, who is considered the saint of forgiveness for hiding the murderer of his brother. The remains of Agios Dionysios are still intact and can be viewed in the church.
Snorkel with Turtles
Several local travel agencies organize turtle spotting trips. These unique boat trips allow the visitor to swim and snorkel around the Caretta Caretta turtles.
The most popular areas for this are the Turtle Island and the Keri Caves. A good example of this is the Nefis Travel Zakynthos boat which offers eco-friendly tours.
This tour company works together with ARCHELON, a Sea Turtle Protection Society, so you can be sure your trip isn’t going to harm the animals in any way.
The Venetian Castle has great historical importance as it acted as the medieval capital of the island. It housed not only administrative agencies but also the military.
The ruins of the castle have been shaped by the many bloody battles that were fought here and the frequent earthquakes that hit the region. One of the highlights today is the stone vaulted prison, which is still somewhat intact.
There are also somewhat intact churches and castle walls to be found here. The surrounding nature has taken over many of the former ruins which means there are now plenty of trees providing shade while enjoying the site.
One of the main reasons to come here is also to enjoy the beautiful view over the harbor of Zakynthos and the sea.
The Keri Cliffs are located at the southern edge of Zakynthos. They offer fantastic views over the sea and the island offshore. The breathtaking turquoise colors of the water are marvelous and unforgettable.
Next to the lighthouse is a fantastic restaurant where you can enjoy some Greek food and a great view from its balcony. This area is a paradise for nature-lovers as most of the surroundings are completely untouched.
Taking a walk on some of the trails that lead around the cliffs is very much recommended. I recommend that you bring good shoes though, as the terrain can be quite tedious to walk in sandals.
Explore Zakynthos Town
Zakynthos town is a colorful town that is situated right on the coast. It offers a lovely harbor area with plenty of restaurants, shops, and bars and also some historical architecture that is worth exploring.
Especially at night, the town becomes very lively, there are live music and plenty of parties for visitors looking for nightly entertainment. For those that are interested in history and culture, a visit to the Museum of D. Solomos and Other Eminent People of Zakynthos as well as the Zakynthos’ Museum is recommended.
Kalamaki is located a few kilometers south of Zakynthos town and offers a combination of facilities, easy accessibility, and natural beauty. Sunbeds and umbrellas can be rented at the beach.
There are plenty of hotels close to the beach as well, making this a good place to stay for families with children that want to enjoy a nice and relaxing holiday.
Some people visit the beach just for the planes that fly towards the main airport of Zakynthos (located just north). Plane spotting is an interesting activity here due to the low altitude of the passing planes.
Where to stay in Zakynthos?
Zakynthos town is the main city on the island and serves as a great base for those who wish to explore the island by public transport. It’s also a great place to get a more local experience. If you seek nightlife, then Laganas is the best place to stay.
For those who travel to Zakynthos and wish to get a relaxing vacation, I recommend staying in Alykes or Tsilivi, which are both great places to stay in Zakynthos for families. Vasilikos is another town that is nice with beach access.
Those who prefer natural beauty away from the crowds will find this in Keri and Agalas, which are both perfect to disconnect and recharge your batteries.
Monuments and Landmarks in Zakynthos
- Agios Dionisios Church
- Monastery of Panagia Skopiotissa
- Anafonitria Monastery
- Keri Lighthouse
- Zakynthos Metropolis Church
- Monastery of St George Kremnon
- Saint Nicholas Church
- Argassi Bridge
- Eleftherotria Monastery
- Church Agios Nikolaos of Molos
Museums in Zakynthos
- Aristeon Ecological Olive Press
- History War Museum
- The Byzantine Museum
- Museum of D Solomos and Eminent People of Zakynthos
- Museum of the Monastery of Strofados
- Giatras Museum-Dionysios Art Gallery
- Helmi’s Natural History Museum
- Exhibition Center of National Marine Park
- The Milanio Naval Museum
- Cultural and agricultural Museum
Fun things to do in Zakynthos with kids
If you’re traveling to Zakynthos as a family, you’ll be happy to know that there are plenty of activities in Zakynthos that are suitable and fun for the whole family.
Some of my best recommendations include taking a boat trip, which is a great experience for children of all ages. If your kids know how to swim, a snorkel tour with turtles will surely be an unforgettable experience.
Exploring the blue caves is another great option if you’re looking for an adventure. For families staying near Tsilivi, I highly recommend the Fantasy Mini Golf, which has 18 holes. It’s definitely one of the most fun things to do in Zakynthos with kids.
Additionally, a day at the waterpark is almost always appreciated if your kids like to splash around the water. As for beaches, Argassi Beach, Kalamaki Beach, and Alykanas Beach are particularly kid-friendly beaches in Zakynthos.
Want more recommendations on things to do in Zakynthos, Greece? Leave a comment below!