Zakynthos

9 best things to do in Zakynthos, Greece

Frequent readers can probably guess that Greece is one of our favorite countries. We absolutely love the culture, atmosphere, weather and, of course, the food. On top of that, we absolutely adore the amazing and vibrant island vibes that are so common in Greece. That’s why this year we really wanted to visit Zakynthos. This island is definitely one of the best places to visit in Greece. Despite being a rather small island (compared to Crete, Lesbos or Rhodes, that is), you can do a lot of cool things here. The viewpoints all around the island are absolutely breathtaking and the island is blessed with crystal clear water that almost looks photoshopped. Read our travel tips to discover 9 best things to in Zakynthos so that you can make the most of your time on the island.

1. Rent a scooter to explore the island

Rent a scooter

First things first: to discover the island, we recommend renting a car or scooter. This ensures you have the freedom to discover all there is to see on the island, because what’s the fun in staying inside all day? Since Zakynthos is not that big (its length is approximately 40km), we decided to rent a scooter for 10 days.

In retrospect we would rather go for a car, and let us tell you why. The roads in Zakynthos are very poorly constructed. There are a lot of sharp bends and the roads are full of sand. On the first day, 3 hours after completing our 10 day rental at the rental office, we already fell with the scooter. As a result we had a sore scraped knee our entire vacation. 🤕 To clarify, this had nothing to do with excessive speed or being reckless, but everything with the condition of the bad roads on Zakynthos. This was quite a bummer but we did not let this ruin our vacation!

Everywhere we went, the locals pointed to our knees and asked “quad or scooter?” To which we then replied “scooter”. Almost every single one of them then kept rambling on about the bad conditions of the roads. All of them told us we were not the first and will definitely not be the last. If you have the option: pick a car!

Where to rent a scooter or car

We rented our scooter from Anatoli Rentals (in Amoudi Bay) and are very happy with this amazing service! They came to pick us up at our hotel for free so we could choose which scooter we wanted on the spot. This was super convenient, otherwise we would’ve had to call a cab first to take us to the rental place. This would have cost us money that would’ve not gone to discovering the best restaurants on Zakynthos. We also got a lot of tips about the island. Nothing but good things about this car rental!

2. Taste some local wines at Grampsas Winery

Must do's when visiting Zakynthos: taste some local wines at Grampsas Winery

Now we move to the best things to do in Zakynthos. Let’s start with an essential when exploring Zakynthos: visiting a winery! Greece, and Zakynthos in particular, is full of amazing wineries. Although their wines are maybe less known compared to French or Italian wines, they definitely do not disappoint! We chose to visit Grampsas Winery. The romantic setting and atmosphere here were just perfect. We went for the wine tasting with five different wines. The wines were served with some appetizers like olives, dips and Zakynthian cheese. We paid € 15 per person for the wine tasting.

Grampsas Winery

Wine tasting

The first round consisted of two dry white wines and one dry rosé wine. For the second round we could choose whether we wanted to taste two red wines (one dry, one semi-sweet) or one dry red wine and one semi-sweet rosé. As we both don’t really like to drink red wines, we went for the extra rosé. This was the best choice we ever made!

We were served the Oinocence wine, literally the best wine we have ever tasted and it’s not even close. As said before, it’s a semi-sweet rosé wine, with aromas of red fruits, peach, citrus, and notes of caramel. The previous three wines were okay, not bad, but when we came to the fourth one, the Oinocence, our eyes lit up. We both looked at each other as if we’d won the jackpot. And in a way we sort of did ;-). We were very happy (and lucky!) to discover this wine the first day. We took two bottles back to our hotel and could often order the Oinocence at various restaurants all around the island!

The wine itself was also not expensive at all. For only € 10,7 you could take home a bottle of Oinocence at the Grampsas Winery. The prices in restaurants varied between € 16 and € 28, so it’s a little bit hit or miss (except for the taste, of course).

We definitely recommend visiting Grampsas! Maybe the Oinocence is not for you (if you’re not into semi-sweet wines) but you’ll probably discover a great wine that will stay with you for the rest of your holidays. It sure did with us!

3. Take a boat trip around the island

Boat trip

One of the coolest things we did in Zakynthos was renting a boat. You don’t even need a driver’s license for this, which is really easy and such a fun experience. However, you must take into account that you can only sail up to certain parts in the water if you don’t have a license. This did not stop us from renting one!

Must do's when visiting Zakynthos: turtle spotting

We did some turtle spotting at Laganas Bay, such an incredible experience! We recommend doing this first, as later in the day there are more and more boats trying to spot turtles, too. We set sail at 9 AM, the later you rent the boat, the more people that will be there already.

Cameo Island

Marathonisi (Turtle Island) was our next stop, but this little island left us quite disappointed. Apart from some stalls on the beach itself there is not much to do here. You can do some sunbathing (on the semi-rocky sand) and some swimming but that’s it. What was cool was the way to it. You pass Cameo Island where you can spot the white flags from afar and all the people on it (that are packed like sardines).

Must do's when visiting Zakynthos: Keri Caves and Keri Cape

What we found very impressive were the Keri Caves. You can dive into crystal clear water and explore the caves by swimming and even do some sunbathing. The farthest point we were allowed to sail to was Keri Cape, which was also very nice. Also here you will find some caves and it is great to dive into the water and swim around. Sailing around the wonderful coastal highlights of the island is definitely one of the best things to do in Zakynthos.

Where to rent a boat

We recommend going to different places to inquire about rates, as prices can vary a lot. Some places offer a total package (with fuel included etc.). However, there are others that do not include it, which means they might seem cheaper but in the long run will cost you more (especially with gas prices being so high these days). We chose to rent a boat for four hours with a handlebar (“steering wheel”), canopy and deck. This was the second cheapest option, but we really recommend a handlebar and canopy. Otherwise it’s just that, sailing a boat and nothing else (no sunbathing or jumping off the deck).

We paid € 160 for 4 hours. Four hours is rather long, three hours is perfect if you also want to do some swimming. We recommend two hours if you want to sail from one point to another without too many stops in between. First, we were contemplating if we should rent the boat for the full day (6+ hours), but we’re glad we didn’t as four hours were plenty.

Additional tips on renting a boat

Tip 1: if you rent a boat yourself, YOU decide how long you stay and where. During our little boat trip, we often saw large tour boats that visited the same destinations as us. None of them stayed for longer that 15 minutes. Most of them don’t even let you swim around, so if that’s something on your bucket list you should definitely play captain for the day!

Tip 2: don’t sail too close to beaches, there are a lot of stones here and if you drop your anchor it can get stuck (been there, done that).

4. Navagio Beach: the famous Shipwreck Cove

Zakynthos is famous for its old shipwreck, the island’s most photographed site. With surreal views of stunning white sandy beaches and unreal blue waters, this truly is a spectacular experience. There are two ways to see the shimmering beach, either by sea or from the top of the cliffs.

Navagio Beach

We did both, and personally we find the view from the cliff a thousand times more impressive than the beach itself. This has nothing to do with the beach itself, and everything with the experience. The beach is so crowded that it is anything but magical. You don’t have a square meter to yourself to lie on the beach. Also, numerous private boats and tour boats sail here, making even taking a little swim not an option. Tourists come and go (most tours allow only 45 mins – 1 hour on the beach), and you’ll hear boats honking every 5 to 10 minutes to give the signal “it’s time to go”. Not our cup of tea 😳.

Must do's when visiting Zakynthos: Navagio Beach viewpoint

The view from above on the other hand is really an incredible experience. It is really easy to get here (any maps app will take you there) and we highly recommend doing this instead. You can follow the signs or follow Google Maps to the viewing platform, where you’ll even find little stands that sell some drinks, ice cream or snacks. We recommend going a little further than the platform to have an even better view. You do have to be careful (it’s a little bit of the beaten track) and be careful near the edge of the cliff (definitely don’t go to the edge for the perfect selfie, tourists have already died because of this). No photo is worth your life! You can already take lots of great photos without going to extreme.

5. Admire the Blue Caves 

Must do's when visiting Zakynthos: Blue Caves

The excursion we took to Navagio Beach included a stop at the Blue Caves as well. As we said above, we don’t recommend doing a boat tour to Navagio Beach, due to the crowds, this place is anything but a cozy vacation spot. Visiting the Blue Caves was also a tiny bit disappointing. This, once again, had nothing to do with the actual caves themselves, on the contrary: they are breathtaking! It’s an amazing sight to see these magnificent caves in the turquoise water.

What made it a less enjoyable experience for us is that, with the excursion we took, we literally just passed the blue caves in like five minutes, which meant we had to rush outside to take some pictures and that’s it. The touristy, organized boat-tours are really not worth it, they charge way too much for what you get for it. We spent 45 minutes on Navagio beach, 25 minutes at a small cove near the Blue Caves (not actually at the Blue Caves), and spent almost 3 hours going from the port to Navagio Beach and back (1,5 hours each way). Our recommendation is to also rent a boat (with a captain unless you have a license) that brings you to Navagio and these caves if you really want to visit them!

6. Relax at Porto Roxa Beach

Must do's when visiting Zakynthos: Porto Roxa Beach

Porto Roxa Beach is a little hidden paradise in Zakynthos. This is not really a beach, as there are large rocks everywhere and (almost) no sand. It is hidden away from tourists, which makes it the perfect spot to relax a bit on the cozy sunbeds and sun swings. You can swim, snorkel and dive here, there even is a springboard board to plunge into the sea. There are also some restaurants that serve you from the sunbeds, you can order delicious mojitos here! You don’t have to pay anything for the sunbeds, but it is mandatory to order something to drink or eat. It’s definitely amongst our top things to do in Zakynthos.

This is your not-so-typical beach day!

7. Take some pictures in front of Cameo Island

Must do's when visiting Zakynthos: Cameo Island

Cameo Island is the second most photographed place in Zakynthos. It is a picturesque private island, connected by a wooden bridge in the harbor of Agios Sostis. We didn’t visit the island itself. You have to pay an entrance fee of € 5 here and it gets really crowded really quickly. The bridge to the island is also beautiful to see and a very nice photo spot!

Make sure you look underneath you in the sea, as you can find countless sea-urchins here! Don’t fall in or you’re gonna have a bad day. 😉

8. Enjoy the impressive views of Mizithres

Must do's when visiting Zakynthos: Mizithres viewpoint

If you are looking for a breathtaking view, we recommend visiting Mizithres viewpoint. Here you have a truly spectacular view of the two rocks, often used in pictures in restaurants all around Zakynthos. This is one of the most beautiful spots on the whole island. You can not drive to the end point as the road is not paved and in really bad condition (sandy, full of holes in the road etc.). From the starting point it is a fifteen minute walk to the actual viewpoint, really breathtaking. We recommend bringing a bottle of water for your little hike. You won’t find much shade along the way, and with the return trip included, you’ll be at least half an hour on the road in the glaring Greek sun.

9. Stroll through Zante Town

Must do's when visiting Zakynthos: Zante Town

We can’t say that Zante Town was our most favorite spot on the island, but strolling around the town is definitely one of the things you cannot miss when visiting Zakynthos. Our recommendation is to visit during the day (maybe even visit restaurant Dali) because then you’ll find some amazing buildings with beautiful architecture in great lighting. We spent some time walking around the small alleyways, which gave us an amazing Mediterranean vibe.

Small disclaimer, and the reason we said this wasn’t our most favorite spot, is that during the evening/night, it gets really busy here. Most of the times, we like busy, but in Zante town this can get annoying real quick, especially in the evening at the main square. You’ll be addressed everywhere by waiters and street vendors (most of the times small children!), which was very overwhelming. It gave us the Marrakech vibe, but in a bad way (and without the Moroccan hospitality). However, it is nice to come here during the day and to walk around in the small alleys, maybe discover a nice restaurant or something. You can also walk along the harbor. This is also nice to do in the evening whilst enjoying the sunset away from the crowd.

Where to stay on Zakynthos

More helpful Greece posts:

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