11 things to do and see in Zakynthos and 2 not to do

11 things to do and see in Zakynthos and 2 not to do
11 things to do and see in Zakynthos and 2 not to do

Zakynthos (or Zakynthos) is a land of poets. In fact, they were born on this island of the Ionian archipelago Ugo Foscolo (1778) and Dionysios Solomos (1798). The city airport (near Laganas) is named after the latter, author of the Greek national anthem, while Foscolo is remembered with a monument not far from the road where his birthplace once stood. The circumstance should not surprise: the verdant nature of the island, together with the rocky cliffs of the coast and a crystalline sea not only inspire artists and contemplative souls (in the cover image the famous "Beach of the Wreck"). Tourists are more and more numerous, also they are rightly attracted by the enormous quantity of landscape-environmental resources of the territory. An important part of the island's tourist appeal passes through Laganas, a coastal town with a high concentration of bars, restaurants and night clubs. Furthermore, the inlet of the same name has been declared a Marine National Park. At the base of the recognition, the frequentation of the bay by the "caretta-caretta", sea turtles that cross the Mediterranean to come here to lay their eggs. In short, Zakynthos is a complete tourist destination with right mix of nature, culture and fun. From May to October it is full of presences, while in autumn and winter agriculture and pastoralism return to mark the daily life of the territory, especially in the inland villages. Below, we see together the main attractions of the island. Happy reading.

1 Blue Caves

Le Blue Caves of Zakynthos are one of the main attractions of the island. They are less famous than the Blue Grotto of Capri but have nothing to envy to the latter. They can be easily reached by boat from the beach of Makris Gialos or from the port of Agios Nikolaos, often in combination with the visit of the Shipwreck Beach (see point 2). If desired, the site can also be reached on foot from a small road not far from the Capo Skinari lighthouse. In this case you have to go down a hundred steps at the end of which you arrive right above the stretch of coast that hosts these caves. A dip and away, you find yourself in an enchanting scenario that is worth exploring with a mask or goggles. In short, the nature in these parts offers unique suggestions that will remain etched in the memory for a long time. Seeing is believing!

2 Shipwreck Beach

Navagíou it is not only one of the main attractions of Zakynthos. It is one of the most famous tourist postcards in the whole of Greece, permanently included in (almost) all the rankings with the most beautiful beaches in the world. In reality, what is beautiful is the whole western side of the island characterized by high cliffs, narrow inlets and wonderful colors, especially in the evening. Same characteristics of the Beach of the Shipwreck, if anything even more pronounced than the rest of the coast. In fact, here the vertical walls are so impressive that they almost seem to want to hide the beach, only to suddenly reveal its extraordinary beauty. This is the sensation you get when arriving by sea from Agios Nikolaos or from the nearby cove of Porto Vromí. Bathing in the turquoise waters of this beach, where a cargo ship ran aground in the 70s (hence the topos "Beach of the Shipwreck"), is a wonderful experience. Even more wonderful, however, is to take the coastal road that leads to the viewpoint from which most of the shots portraying the inlet are made. The route, which winds through the mountain villages of Volimes e Anafonitria, ends with a side street near the Monastery of San Giorgio della Rocca (Agios Georgion Kremnon). Not to be missed!

3 Loucha

The Blue Caves and the Shipwreck Beach are the two tourist postcards of Zakynthos. Undoubtedly beautiful, but of little significance for those who want to know how the locals actually live. To deepen these aspects, it is necessary to go to the inland villages where agriculture and livestock still play an important role in the domestic economy. Especially worth a visit Loucha, a village on the western side about ten kilometers from Porto Limnionas (see next point). Those who visit the village have the distinct feeling that time has stopped. The scenario, in fact, is still largely that of 1953, the year in which a violent earthquake struck Zakynthos and nearby Kefalonia. Here, unlike the surrounding villages, traditional architecture of stone houses, walled gardens and cobbled streets has withstood the advance of modern construction. The result is an enchanted village with a fine view over a valley mainly cultivated with vineyards. Not to be missed!

4 Porto Limnionas

Porto Limnionas is a wonderful bay on the western side of Zakynthos, however not very easy to reach both by sea and by land. From the sea, in fact, you find yourself in front of a long and narrow inlet, more like a small fjord than a navigable canal. From the ground, however, you must first reach the mountain village of Agios Leon and from there continue for a couple of kilometers along an asphalted road that ends in an open space where you can leave your car or scooter (see photo). The effort to get there, however, is amply rewarded by the scenery all around. Crystal clear water, rugged coastline and a small pebble beach to spread out your towel. Alternatively, two platforms have been created equipped with umbrellas, sunbeds and deck chairs even if availability is still limited. In the area there is also a restaurant where it is worth stopping for something to eat. Not to be missed!

5 Keri Caves

The south-western side of Zakynthos is even more jagged than the rest of the island. Rocky walls overlooking the sea and a myriad of smaller caves and ravines follow one another for several miles. Some of these caves can be visited by boat, while others can only be entered by swimming. Tours to the Keri Caves depart from the small beach of Lemni Kerioú. The tour also includes Capo Marathia, the south-western end of the island, and the Mzitres stacks. The latter are particularly suggestive. In fact, they are two rocky cones at the foot of which a small beach of very fine sand has formed. In conclusion, a paradise for diving and snorkeling enthusiasts who, not surprisingly, during the summer, thousands visit these places. Even the visit from the ground has its charm. In Keri, a small mountain town, the tourism industry has not altered the architecture and lifestyles of its approximately 500 inhabitants, who are still firmly linked to agriculture and pastoralism. To see the Church of Panagia tis Keriótissas with its characteristic bell tower.

6 Marathonisi Island

From Lemni Kerioú there are also excursions to Marathonissi, the island of turtles. Yes, because, this small island in the Laganas bay is one of the breeding places of the "caretta-caretta" and for this reason it is protected by the Greek authorities. Anchoring is strictly prohibited, while it is possible to reach the island by canoe. Marathonissi has two beaches: one of sand and the other of stones. Ideal for spending a day in full relaxation "armed" with nothing but a mask and snorkel. The coasts of the island, in fact, are a paradise for snorkelers who, with a little luck, will cross one or more turtles in the water. To be seen!

7 Laganas

Laganas is the most developed tourist area of ​​Zakynthos. The presence of the largest beach on the island and the proximity to the airport over time have favored the opening of hotels, residences, restaurants, bars and clubs of all kinds. In short, a "divertimentificio" that clashes a bit on an island that instead has its main strength in contact with nature. Among other things, as mentioned at the beginning, the bay of Laganas is a protected area as it is a privileged breeding place for sea turtles. In short, the locality is experiencing the conflict, quite recurrent in those territories that experience a sudden tourist fortune, between the reasons for economic development and those of the defense of environmental peculiarities. This does not mean that if you want a bit of social life you would do well to book in the area, while if you have another type of holiday in mind it is preferable to stay elsewhere. Maybe right in Zakynthos, the homonymous capital of the island (see point 9).

8 Gerakas beach

Let's start immediately by saying that Gerakas cannot be visited from half an hour before sunset to half an hour after sunrise. The southern end of the island, in fact, is an integral part of the Laganas Marine Park for the protection of the "caretta caretta", and in particular this beach is an area of ​​absolute protection. A series of important prescriptions derive from this: for example, anchoring is prohibited and you must pay close attention to the arrangement of the umbrellas in the sand. It is even forbidden to visit the bay by canoe. The only activity allowed is it snorkeling to admire the beautiful seabed of this stretch of coast. Furthermore, the depth is not high, a circumstance that makes Gerakas particularly suitable for families with children in tow. As long as - we repeat - everything happens by giving priority to the needs of the turtles that it is not uncommon to meet in the water.

9 Zakynthos (city)

Rebuilt after the 1953 earthquake, Zakynthos (Greek name) it is the most culturally stimulating city of the homonymous island. Here are concentrated most of the museums (remember above all: the Byzantine Museum and the other dedicated to Dionisios Solomos) and the churches of the territory. L'religious architecture, in particular, plays a leading role. From the church of Agios Nikolaos, passing through that of San Marco (the only one to celebrate mass according to the Catholic rite) to the church of Dionissios which dominates the seafront, the visit of "Zante city" offers different ideas than the rest of the island . It goes without saying that it is also one seaside resort with a lively nightlife, an excellent alternative to the more chaotic Laganas.

10 Bochali

Zakynthos, like Corfu and the other Ionian islands, on the historical-cultural level is mainly indebted to the very long Venetian domination. The Turkish-Eastern influence here has left no traces, while the Italian imprint is still clearly visible in most of the territory, despite the terrible earthquake of 1953. In this regard, the visit of Bochali Venetian Castle, a hilltop village just behind the capital. Of the fortress, only the entrance portals and the external walls remain; on the contrary, the churches and the barracks were completely destroyed. In place of these architectural testimonies there is one luxuriant pine forest, where it is nice to relax after visiting this tiny village. Bochali deserves especially al sunset and in the evening, as he gives one amazing view over the port and the city of Zakynthos (see photo). To be seen!

11 Olympia

Visiting Zakynthos also means visiting everything around, starting with the closest Kefalonia and Lefkada. Or Olympia, about an hour's drive from the port of Killini, in the western Pelopponeso. The maritime connections between the island and Killini are daily and guaranteed all year round, a circumstance that makes a visit to the village, where the Olympic Games were born in 776 BC, one of the unmissable stops on a holiday in Zakynthos. Lots of things to see: to begin with, the Temple of Zeus, of which a few columns and the imposing base with three steps have come down to the present day. At the center of the temple in ancient times stood the statue of the god made by that Phidias also in charge of the decorations of the Parthenon in Athens. The village also included him stadium, the racecourse gym and gymnasium. In these last two buildings the athletes, coming from the various Greek cities (which stopped hostilities during the games), had the opportunity to train in view of the competitions. Adjacent to the village, there is also a museum which collects statues and other archaeological finds related to the history of this symbolic place of Hellenic civilization. Not to be missed!

1 Do not wear inappropriate clothing when visiting churches, museums and villages

Nudity, bikinis and skimpy clothing are the order of the day in Zakynthos, especially in the Laganas area. Precisely for this reason, however, when you visit churches, museums and the villages of the hinterland, more sobriety in clothing is required. Warn!

2 Pay attention to the price of fish

Traditionally good food is eaten in Greece. On the islands, then, even more. It only takes pay attention to a couple of things: first of all the price of the fish, so as not to be caught unprepared at the time of the bill; secondly, to the chosen restaurant, avoiding the more "touristy" ones to the advantage of lesser known places but more in line with the local gastronomy.

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