5 days in a Greek paradise – Zakynthos (Zante)

When most people think of the Greek Islands, the ones that come to mind are Santorini or maybe Mykonos.  There are so many more islands in Greece that are worth exploring and given we had already seen the more popular islands, we thought we’d give Zakynthos a try, especially since we found out ‘that’ photo from TripAdvisor’s home page is taken on this very island!!!

thewelltravelledman navagio beach shipwreck beach zakynthos

Getting to the island

We were lucky enough to pick up some pretty cheap flights, our flight to Athens was with Avios points and then we picked up a cheap domestic flight from Athens to Zakynthos with Olympic airlines.   You can also get a direct flight from Zakynthos to London Luton with Monarch Airlines.  We quickly booked them before they got booked up or the prices sky rocketed!!

Getting around the island

The best way to get around this fairly small island is by rental car.  We booked our car through rentalcars.com and had no problems whatsoever.  I’d highly recommend reading our blog on hiring a car in Europe for some tips and tricks when choosing this option!

thewelltravelledman rental car zakynthos

Everything on the island is no further than 1.5 hours away.  So, if you plan it properly you can see a couple of key sights in one day!  The roads are good, and the drivers somewhat friendly!  You’ll find when you drive around the island, there are plenty of windy roads in and out of mountain ranges… I found it quite fun to drive through, Jenna however, found it a little scary with the roads being so windy and fairly high up.

thewelltravelledman rental car zakynthos

It is helpful to have a GPS, so either rent one from the car company, or use your mobile phone for Google Maps.  Just make sure you read our tips on using your mobile phone abroad!!

Unfortunately for us, the start of our holiday served us with very average weather.. it was warm, but very overcast and threatening rain clouds.  It was our first day, and we were eager to get out and see the sights!  We jumped in to our hire car, and off we went en route to Porto Limionas.  With the help of our GPS, we started driving through some incredibly windy roads, in between mountains and all of a sudden, the clouds turned into storm clouds, the rain was so heavy… then followed the thunder and lightning!  Driving through the little villages was pretty cool – we were pretty much the only people around, it seemed deserted!  Jenna was pretty excited as it was the first real storm we had witnessed since living in London!

Take a look at our quick GoPro video of our drive to Porto Limionas.

We started to think to ourselves that this was going to be a bit of a nightmare, exploring beaches in the rain – who does that?

Well, after about 50 minutes of driving, the rain started to die down and we arrived at our first point of call, Porto Limionas. Even with the weather, the place was incredible, the water was rough and choppy, the clouds dark and stormy but you could still see how amazingly beautiful this place is.

5 Days in a nutshell

Day 1:  Porto Limionas and Navagio Beach from the top

Day 2: Porto St Nicholas, Navagio Beach (by boat), Mikro Nissi and Xigia Beach

Day 3: Keri Beach, Kalamaki Beach and Laganas Beach

Day 4: Turtle Spotting – half day tour and Zakynthos town

Day 5: Spend one day relaxing at the hotel pool before flying back to reality

What to see

Navagio Beach (Shipwreck Beach), aka the Trip Advisor Photo!!

A trip to Zakynthos is not complete without two separate trips to Navagio Beach.

The below is an overview of our time at Navagio Beach.  For more detailed information, please click here for our blog post specifically on Navagio!

thewelltravelledman navagio beach zakynthos

You’re probably wandering why you need two separate trips?  Well, you MUST see the view from the top looking down, it is simply not to be missed.  The moment you look over the edge and see the colour of the water, your immediate reaction is ‘WOW’, how can that be real?

thewelltravelledman navagio beach zakynthos.

We went on an overcast and drizzly day and the water colour was still perfect, it seemed unreal and if we hadn’t seen it with our own eyes, we wouldn’t have believed anyone who tried to tell us!

To get to this spot, it is quite easy, all you need to do is punch in Navagio Beach in to your GPS and it will take you to the parking spot and the walk down to the viewing spot is only a minute away.

thewelltravelledman navagio beach zakynthos.

We happened to wander through some bushland to a different vantage point and saw some guys setting up for their jumps the following day!  They kindly took our GoPro and took some incredible photos for us – I don’t know about you, but this 200m drop is enough to make Jenna’s stomach feel funny, which means I’m constantly in trouble when I go near the edge!

thewelltravelledman navagio beach zakynthos.

The second trip will be via boat so you can swim at the beach and explore the shipwreck.

thewelltravelledman navagio beach zakynthos

We pre booked our spot on a tour with Theodosius Cruises and the boat departed at 10.30am from St. Nicholas in Volimes. This spot is located near the top right of the island and took us around an hour to get there from our hotel.

The tour cost us €15 per person and lasted a couple of hours.  It was a 20 minute speed boat right to get to Navagio Beach and we spent an hour on the beach exploring the shipwreck and having a swim in the bluest of blue water.

thewelltravelledman navagio beach zakynthos.

We then went to the gorgeous blue caves and were lucky enough to go in to one for a closer look!  And from here, we stopped at another cave for a swimming stop and we were able to swim right in to one of the caves and swim in the perfectly clear water.

thewelltravelledman navagio beach zakynthos

Porto Limnionas

This was our first stop on our first full day in Zakynthos.  The drive was around an hour, and we drove through the mountains, there was thunder, lightening and rain (at only 9.30am!!) but when we got there, we were nearly the only people there (obviously due to the weather) but that didn’t stop us enjoying what was a beautiful stop!

thewelltravelledman porto limionas zakynthos

Although it wasn’t calm, the water was a gorgeous colour and you could only imagine what it would look like if the weather wasn’t so stormy!  There is a diving board there you can jump off in to the water and you can even swim over to the cave to see what it was like inside.

thewelltravelledman porto limionas zakynthos

thewelltravelledman porto limionas zakynthos

There is a little beach tucked away around the corner.  To get there, you have to climb over a few rocks but it is a fairly secluded beach and quite nice if you want to take a dip without jumping into the deep water!

thewelltravelledman porto limionas zakynthos

thewelltravelledman porto limionas zakynthos

There is this lovely restaurant there where you can order some food and drinks at a very good price!! From memory, the cocktails were only €5 and the beer €2.  You can hire sun lounges and umbrella’s there which looked perfect and if you get there early enough, you can get your chairs in the front so you have uninterrupted views of the water!  You can easily spend the entire day here!! Again, it is such an easy place to find, you just type in Limnionas Port in to your GPS and away you go!

thewelltravelledman porto limionas zakynthos

thewelltravelledman porto limionas zakynthos

Hint:  You can see both Navagio Beach from the viewing platform as well as Porto Limnionas in one day if you have a car as they are both on the west cost of the island.  The drive is around 1 hour between the two destinations.

Porto St Nicholas

We stopped at this port as our day trip to Navagio Beach left from here.  I would necessarily recommend coming here to spend time here as a tourist without doing a boat trip.  However, it is nice watching the boats come and go from the port and the water is still very clear and I’m sure would be nice for a swim!

thewelltravelledman navagio beach zakynthos

Mikro Nissi

We actually found this little beach as a result of looking at recommended restaurants on trip adviser and this beach is attached to a restaurant!

thewelltravelledman mikro nissi zakynthos

It was such a beautiful spot to spend a couple of hours swimming.  From El Sueno, you walk down a lovely stairway to get to the rocky beach where you can either jump off the rocks in to the water, or you can go in via a small ladder to the right.

thewelltravelledman mikro nissi zakynthos

The water is crystal clear and there are so many little fish swimming around!  Make sure you take your snorkel so you can enjoy what this area has to offer!

Xigia Beach

After we stopped at Mikro Nissi, we started our journey back to Zakynthos, with a stop along the way to Xigia Beach.

thewelltravelledman xigia beach zakynthos

This beach is something different to all other beaches on the island.  This beach has an underwater sulphur source so there is a strong smell a this beach.  It is believed that the water is good for your skin so many people decide to spend some time in the water!

thewelltravelledman xigia beach zakynthos

thewelltravelledman xigia beach zakynthos

Hint:  You can visit Porto St Nicholas, Navagio Beach (by boat), Mikro Nissi and Xigia Beach in one day as these are all located on the east cost of the island.

Laganas Beach

After reading about Laganas Beach (aka Turtle Beach) I had to make sure I went there for the chance to swim with turtles!

Having done some research, I quickly realised that this wouldn’t be possible, but we went for a drive to the beach anyway.  We parked the car, walked down to the beach and very quickly realised that there was going to be zero chance of seeing any turtles. The beach was filled with tourists on sun beds, water sports and many boats…  We spoke with one of the locals who said that Kalamaki Beach in the Nature Reserve is the best spot, but usually only before 7am or after around 7pm as this is when the turtles nest.  We quickly hopped in to the car and drove around 10 minutes to get to Kalamaki Beach.

Kalamaki Beach

At Kalamaki Beach, you can see many timber huts that have been built to protect the turtle nests.

thewelltravelledman kalamaki beach zakynthos turtle beach

We were hoping for some to hatch while we were there, but no such luck unfortunately.  We spent some time on the beach sunbaking and making the most of the incredibly clear water!

There are national park staff walking up and down the beach to ensure people aren’t sitting too close to the nests and the greek government have banned flights between these times to protect and promote the nesting of the turtles.

thewelltravelledman kalamaki beach zakynthos turtle beach

Keri beach

We were looking to go and see the lighthouse at Keri, however we stumbled across the beach instead!  The beach was absolutely gorgeous with views to Marathonisi Island (Turtle Island).

thewelltravelledman keri beach zakynthos

It is given this name because it actually is in the shape of a turtle!  There are plenty of trees around to give you shade from the piping hot sun and the water temperature is lovely!  There is a little kiosk there so you can buy snacks, drinks and ice cream as well.

thewelltravelledman keri beach zakynthos

Hint:  You can visit Keri Beach, Kalamaki Beach and Laganas Beach in one day – they are all at the south of the island.

Zakynthos Town:  We stopped by Zakynthos town one afternoon just to take a look.

thewelltravelledman zakynthos town

To be honest, it wasn’t really worth seeing.  There are a few restaurants and shops there, but there is so much more to the island than this, so unless you have a heap of spare time I wouldn’t worry about stopping in.

Turtle Spotting (loggerhead sea turtle, or Caretta Caretta in Greek)

Zakynthos is famous for its turtles!  If you go in the right season and at the right time, you might be lucky enough to see some turtles hatch and make a run for it to the ocean!  Given how busy the beaches are and how unlikely it is to see this for ourselves, we decided to take a half day trip out and go turtle spotting!  We pre-booked our tickets at a local tourist centre in Argassi, however the boat was completely fully booked up for the next 4 days…  The staff person kindly rang and spoke with the company who advised that they had just put a last minute extra boat on for the Saturday afternoon and had two seats spare!  Phew!  The company we booked with was CruiseMar.  It was by far the BEST option if you’re looking to get out on the water.

thewelltravelledman zakynthos turtle watching cruisemar

The boat was incredible and the staff super friendly and funny.  There is a glass bottom section of the boat, but I think the best spot is up next to the skipper!

thewelltravelledman zakynthos turtle watching cruisemar

Because we seemed to have the best boat on the water, we seemed to get prime spot for the turtle spotting.  Within 5 minutes out on the water, we were lucky enough to see a turtle!  It was pretty amazing… they are such beautiful creatures.. and surprisingly big. The loggerhead sea turtles (caretta caretta) have a lifespan of up to 67 years, on average measure 90cm long and weigh around 135 kg when fully grown!

thewelltravelledman zakynthos turtle watching cruisemar

thewelltravelledman zakynthos turtle watching cruisemar

After turtle watching, you stop by some caves and then lastly stop Marathonisi Island, also known as Turtle Island for a swim stop.  On the island, there is a guy selling ice cream, beer and chips etc so if you feel like a snack, you will find what you need.

thewelltravelledman zakynthos turtle watching cruisemar

thewelltravelledman zakynthos turtle watching cruisemar.

Where to stay

There are so many locations on the island you can stay at so picking a place can be tricky!!  We decided to stay at Argassi which is located on the south east of the island, just 20 minutes away from the airport.  The hotel we picked was the 4* Ionian Hill Hotel as it was a pretty good price for a 5 night stay.

thewelltravelledman zakynthos ionian hill hotel

The pool area overlooks the Ionian Sea which is perfect, and next to the pool is the restaurant and bar.  They serve breakfast from 8am until around 10.30am and then have snacks available to buy from around midday until 6pm and then a dinner menu from 6pm – 11pm.  The rooms are fairly basic, they provide you with towels and sheets, although the flat sheet is only folded so you need to make that part of the bed for yourself. Upon request, the hotel can provide guests with a pool towel, although we didn’t know this at the time of our stay.

Where to eat

We had been told how cheap Greece is for food and drinks, but we never expected it to be as cheap as it was.  In any given restaurant along the main street, if you paid more than €10 for a main meal, that meal would be considered expensive!  Of course there are ‘fancy’ restaurants around which are more expensive, but on the whole you can get incredibly cheap food and drinks.

Anadalis: We wanted to book one really nice dinner during our stay in Zakynthos to celebrate the end of our 2 years living in London.  There are a lot of restaurants in the area, but not a lot of them are actually on the beach.  We came across Anadalis restaurant.

thewelltravelledman zakynthos anadalis restaurant

It is part of the Windmill Bay Aparthotel and is situated right on the beach front.  We pre-booked a table for the Saturday evening, and asked to be seated along the water as it was a lovely atmosphere.  If you arrive just before sunset, you can enjoy eating your meal or sipping a cockail while watching the sunset.

thewelltravelledman zakynthos anadalis restaurant

For starters, I tried stuffed eggplant, it doesn’t look great, but it was delicious!

thewelltravelledman anadalis zakynthos

We both ordered the steak (you have no idea how much we were craving one by this stage of our travels) and Jenna enjoyed some delicious passionfruit cocktails.  The restaurant also has live music in the evenings, it is really a perfect setting!!

thewelltravelledman zakynthos anadalis restaurant

thewelltravelledman zakynthos anadalis restaurant

thewelltravelledman zakynthos anadalis restaurant

El Sueno:  We came across this restaurant after looking on Trip Advisor for nice places to eat.  When we realised it was close to one of our stops, we knew we had to try it out!  The restaurant is fairly popular and it was pretty busy when we were there, and it was just outside of their peak season too..  They do take reservations so it might be a good idea if you know you want to go there.  However, the food comes out quickly so you probably wouldn’t wait too long for a table.  The bonus with this place is the view!  You’re looking right out at the ocean with picture perfect water, ideal for snorkelling (so make sure you take your stuff!).  There are even some sun beds available for guests to use after their meal!  Now, on to the food.  It was lunch so we ordered something casual – a burger!  We got between us a beef and a chicken burger.  The service was fantastic and the food equally as great.  Definitely recommend stopping in if you’re on this side of the island!!

thewelltravelledman el sueno

Al Nur Restaurant   We ate a couple of meals at the Al Nur Restaurant, which is part of the Ionian Hill Hotel, which is where stayed.  The service was good, you could eat your meal by the pool, in the restaurant area (both overlook the ocean) or you could take it to your room if you wanted to.  Between us, we ordered the greek salad and spaghetti pomodoro.

thewelltravelledman ionian hill hotel

thewelltravelledman ionian hill hotel
Papillion Restaurant:  We ate at this restaurant which is linked to the Papillion hotel, also in Argassi.  They had a dinner special which was super cheap, around 10 EUR for a starter and a main plus a beer or wine.  We chose a garlic bread and a grilled cheese plate for starters…

thewelltravelledman pavilion restaurant zakynthos

Jenna then ordered Spaghetti Bolognese and I had Beef Yiouvetsi.  The service was quite quick and the food was delicious, especially for what we paid!!!

thewelltravelledman pavilion restaurant zakynthos

thewelltravelledman pavilion restaurant zakynthos

Piccadilly restaurant:  We stumbled across this restaurant when walking down the main street in Argassi.  It looked welcoming with tables and chairs on the grass surrounding the large fountain.  We looked at the menu and quickly decided on the roast lamb (for Jenna) and I had the Beef Yiouvetsi. The restaurant was busy, so the service was a bit slow from time to time.  In terms of drinks, they didn’t top them up, but this seemed to be the case in most restaurants in the area!  Despite the slowish service, the food was delicious and the portions were big.  Would recommend visiting if you’re in the area and have a spare night free!

thewelltravelledman piccadilly restaurant zakynthos

thewelltravelledman piccadilly restaurant zakynthos

“I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” – Mary Anne Radmacher

 

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31 Comments on “5 days in a Greek paradise – Zakynthos (Zante)

  1. Pingback: 28 countries and counting … – thewelltravelledman

  2. Pingback: 38 countries and counting … – thewelltravelledman

  3. Hi, i am from Brazil and looking for tips from Zakynthos and i have to say that your blog is amazing!
    Congrats!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Our top 16 must visit European destinations! – thewelltravelledman

  5. Hi, I am also a travel blogger and have been searching for a while to find a cool itinerary for my 3-week honeymoon in Greece! We are going to Zakynthos for approximately 5 days and when I stumbled upon your itinerary, it couldn’t be more perfect! It includes a little bit of everything! Will definitely be using this as a guide to exploring the island. Thanks so much!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Bec! That is amazing, we love it when what we really enjoy doing helps someone else. Thank you so much for stumbling across our page and congratulations on the wedding and what sounds to be an even better honeymoon 😁

      Like

  6. It’s a beautiful island. Many years since I was there, but we saw many of the islands when our son was small. Enjoy your life! 🙂

    Like

  7. Hi, we are planning our 3 days stay in Zaskynthos before heading to Santorini. Your blog is so informative and your advice does answer most of our questions in the planning stage! Thanks so much.
    In addition to the CruiseMar tour you recommended, would you please recommend the other tour company for a day trip around Nagavio beach area? Thanks so much!

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      • Thanks a lot!! 🙂
        And just now I realise that we have booked the same hotel – lonian Hill ! We love the modern style of this resort. Hope to see more post from you guys very soon ! 👍👍👍😁

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    • Thanks a lot! By the way, when do you recommend us to go see Navagio beach from top? as it seems that you went twice?

      For turtle island, did you go twice? i wonder if we shall go in the morning or afternoon. tks tks !!

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      • Hi JuGu, you’re welcome! We went twice simply because it was overcast and rainy the first time. Although that didn’t impact the beautiful colours! We went in the afternoon the first time and morning the second. We preferred the afternoon because there was less of a shadow over the water and the sun was in a better spot 🙂 we only did turtle island once, I don’t think it matters too much about time of day for that one! I hope that helps 🙂

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  8. Pingback: A day at Navagio Beach, Zakynthos – Greece | thewelltravelledman

  9. Hi, love the blog post! Most helpful one out there for this island by far!
    Just wondering what time you visited the island? I’m looking into going in September but I’m a little worried cos I’ve seen some posts that say it can be overrun by Brit tourists on packaged holidays

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    • Hi CC, thank you so much for your kind words. I am so pleased you found the blog helpful. I know we struggled finding info when planning our trip too! We went in the beginning of August and didn’t find it too bad in regards to Brit tourists or packaged holidays. I’m not sure what September would be like though…. I hope you have an amazing holiday!! 🙂

      Like

  10. Thanks a lot 🙂 very informative!! I have followed you on Facebook. Share more exciting places with us! Big support!!

    Like

  11. A very nice blog for a very nice place. I would very much like also to go here! I just want to ask, how much did you spent on your trip? Would you provide a breakdown? It will be very helpful! Thank you and more travels to you!

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    • Hi Ned, thank you for the comment!! We were living in London when we visited so the amount we spent may be relative to where you’re flying from as well as the currency! It’s definitely worth looking at the links section on our site to click through car rental places and accomodation to see what deals you may be able to get!

      Like

  12. Pingback: Guide To: Zakynthos Island, Greece –

  13. Hello there! I loved reading this blog! I will be in Zakynthos for three nights this summer. I just had two quick questions: 1. What time of year were you there? You probably said this and I may have missed it. 2. I read somewhere that just recently the government of Zakynthos authorized the construction of a footpath that actually goes from the Shipwreck Beach up to the top so that tourists don’t have to make two separate trips to see it, both from the top and the bottom. Is this true?

    Thanks!

    Like

    • Hi there! I hope you have a great trip, we were there in August and it was great!

      Interesting re: the footpath, I haven’t seen this myself, but I can say it’s a 200m sheer drop, so it would be quite a steep climb if a walkway/staircase was to be installed. I honestly hope they don’t as arriving by boat also helps limit the number of visitors at any one point in time.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Hi, what camera did you use? Amazing photos!!! Please tell me your secrets! I want to be able to take pics like yours!!

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    • Hi Sarah- glad you like our photos!! The camera is actually the Sony NEX-6! We’ve been very impressed with it as well, we’re due for a new one this year but will be staying with the Sony mirrorless range 👌🏻

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  15. Thank you so much for recommending port limnionas . This was my favourite swim spot on the island and never heard of it before your blog. Stopping at il sueno after our boat tour was also perfect – fantastic advice.
    We went paddle boating today on Laganas beach today and saw two turtles. One coming up for air and swimming a metre from our boat for a good 5 minutes.

    Like

    • Hi Alicia – I am so glad that we were able to help you! We also loved Porto Limnionas as well and we pretty much had it to ourselves when we were there! Il Sueno was delicious and I am glad you liked it too! I hope you stopped for a swim there too. Enjoy the rest of Zakynthos! Very jealous of your turtle spotting 🙂

      Like

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