Zakynthos - Abbey Travel, Ireland



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Welcome to Zakynthos


The Ionian island of Zakynthos (also called Zante) has been colourfully billed as 'the green island of poetry, song and love', mainly because it was the home of Dionysios Solomos, who wrote the Greek national anthem, 'The Hymn to Liberty'. Arriving in Zakynthos by ferry is certainly a poetic experience: the picturesque town curves around a bay dominated by a Venetian Fortress and the St Dennis Cathedral. Zakynthos town is reminiscent of Venice with its historic St Mark's Square and Solomos Square, lined by reconstructed neoclassical buildings. The Solomos Mausoleum is a museum dedicated to the island's aristocracy of bygone days, while the Byzantine Museum sports splendid icons and frescoes salvaged from the island's beautiful medieval churches, destroyed in the massive earthquake of 1953.

The main attraction for visitors, however, is the triangular shaped island's 57 miles (92km) of coastline, particularly on the eastern and southern flanks, which are blessed with beautiful bays. Favourites are the white sandy beaches of Lagana and Geraka, also renowned for being the nesting grounds of the Caretta-Caretta sea turtles. Inland, the mountain villages lure holidaymakers away from the beach to sample some local hospitality and good food and wine, and to explore monasteries tucked away among the greenery. Tourism has become the main income earner for this popular resort island, but the rapid development of infrastructure in recent years has not depleted its traditional charm - Zakynthos remains pleasantly poetic.

Information & Facts


Zakynthos enjoys a typical Mediterranean climate with mild winters and warm summers. Summers are gently cooled by breezes, called 'Meltemia'. Zakynthos experiences a fairly heavy rainfall during winter which, together with the fact that it has a number of underground springs, is what makes it greener and more fertile than many other Greek islands.

Getting Around

Getting around Zakynthos is not a problem - the island has a good road network and a reliable bus service. There are buses to almost every destination on the island leaving from the central bus station in Zakynthos town, near the waterfront (42 Filita Street). At the station there is a board displaying prices, departure times and destinations. Tickets are available on the bus. Taxis are available from taxi ranks throughout the island and rates are fixed. There is also a radio taxi service (+30 26950 48400). There are various companies on the island providing car, motorbike, scooter and bicycle rentals. Taxi boats leave from Zakynthos harbour and other island ports to various destinations including Alykes, Limni Keriou and Laganas, while cruises are available to the Shipwreck and the Blue Caves.

Greek is the national language, but English is widely spoken.

The Euro (EUR) is the official currency, divided into 100 cents. Banks and bureaux de change are widely available and travellers cheques and major credit cards are widely accepted. ATMs are widespread and are generally the cheapest and most convenient method of obtaining euros.


Zakynthos nightlife offers visitors a variety of entertainment including pubs, bars and nightclubs. The trendies spots are on the south end of the island, mostly in Laganas, Argassi, Kalamaki, Tsilivi and Alykes. Q Bar in the Laganas resort has good music and even better cocktails, while Molly Malone's Irish pub in Tsilivi has big screen TVs for sports. In Argassi, Red Lion serves draft beers and shows all the latest movies. Two Brothers in Tsilivi is also very popular. Argassi's Barrage nightclub is a great place to hear some techno, house and commercial dance music, and Ghetto in Laganas has a massive sound system. Also in Laganas, sip exotic cocktails and watch the fire show at Rescue.


Shopping in Zakynthos will not go unrewarded; the island has a vast array of goods to entice visitors. The main shopping area is Alexander Street in Zakynthos town, but there are also gift and souvenir shops at many of the holiday resorts. Shoppers in Zakynthos will find everything from designer labels, jewellery and leather goods to embroidery, olive wood carvings and ceramics. The most popular Zakynthos souvenirs include locally produced mandolato(nougat) and cheese.


Zakynthos is a wonderful destination for a relaxing holiday, its main attraction being the gorgeous, unspoilt beaches and turquoise waters. The Vassilikos area has some of the best beaches, including St Nicholas and Gerakas. Loggerhead sea turtles can be seen at the National Marine Park in Laganas Bay. The Smugglers Cove Shipwreck is a must-see, as are the Blue Caves near the village of Volimes.

On the west coast of Zante, near the village of Volimes, visitors will be enthralled by stunning views of the Blue Caves. The water in the caves captures and reflects light in every imaginable shade of blue, a surreal phenomenon to experience. The caves look best at sunrise and sunset, or from under the water while scuba diving. The Blue Caves are only accessible by sea but there are many boats that make this excursion.

Built shortly after the 1953 earthquake, the Byzantine Museum exhibits a selection of wooden carvings and paintings, some dating as far back as the 12th century, as well as Hellenistic, Early Christian, Byzantine and Post-Byzantine sculptures. There are also a few utilitarian implements and vessels on display to interest visitors.

Marathonisi is a small, turtle-shaped island in Laganas Bay, completely unspoilt by human inhabitants. There are two main beaches on this island; the white sands of the larger beach are the nesting area of the endangered Caretta Caretta (Loggerhead) sea turtle, and the smaller pebble beach is home to a couple of interesting sea caves. The natural pine, olive and green oak forests on the island are another beautiful attraction. There is no development on the island, part of National Marine Park, and visitors are advised to take water and supplies for the day.

The Smugglers Cove Shipwreck is one of the most popular sights on Zante, attracting thousands of visitors each year. The 'Panagiotis' was wrecked in 1982 while smuggling a large cargo of cigarettes and trying to evade a customs patrol in stormy weather. There is a view point (of somewhat dubious stability) from which the wreck can be seen, and there are also boat trips available to the beach where the ship lies.

The region of Vassilikos has some of the best beaches on the island and a favourite is St Nicholas, which has great watersports facilities. Gerakas is also very popular, voted one of Greece's best beaches. Many of the holiday resorts have their own beaches for visitors to enjoy. The Navagio, Kalamaki, Porto Zoro and Laganas beaches are all great; Loggerhead sea turtles can be seen at Laganas Bay, home to the National Marine Park.

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