Zante, or in Greek, Zakynthos, is the third-largest island in the Ionian Sea. Boasting stunning natural beauty and a rich culture steeped in history, there are lots of things to do in Zante. However, the island has earned a reputation over the years for its vibrant nightlife scene, particularly in Laganas in the south. Hence, it has become known as just an 18-30 party-going destination. This is a shame because those who aren’t interested in clubbing may overlook Zante as a holiday destination. With some really low-cost holiday packages available, they’d definitely be missing out!
Things To Do in Zante
I spent a week in Zante towards the end of the season in 2016 (end of August, early September). I found it to be a great place to unwind and I enjoyed some particularly beautiful Greek coastline views. The Greek islands in general are known for their hospitality and friendliness. I personally loved the delicious Greek food with all the ripe olives, humous, pitta bread and kebabs. Visitors not interested in clubbing can find plenty of things to do in Zante. With so much on offer, the island is the perfect holiday destination for families and couples, not just party-goers. I stayed in a small town called Kalamaki which was really only ten minutes from Laganas. Yet it was really quite quiet and not ‘clubby’ at all. I found the whole island to be beautiful, peaceful and relaxing.
Here are 5 things to do in Zante, (that don’t involve clubbing or alcohol):
1. Visit Zante Town
Zakynthos, also known as Zante, is the main city on the island of the same name (it’s all a bit confusing!). This is a great place to visit for history buffs and culture vultures. The castle ruins above the city reveal centuries of Venetian rule. The main square of Zante town is encircled by a number of prominent buildings such as the Byzantine Museum of Zante. This is home to an impressive collection of renaissance paintings which artsy types will adore.
Solomos Square features the statue of Greek poet Dionysios Solomos and is a lovely area for both locals and visitors to relax on sultry summer evenings. Visit the Museum of Solomos and Eminent People of Zakynthos, which also hosts their Mausoleum. Here you’ll find original artefacts of the island’s gentry along with their seals. The church of Saint Nikolaos on the Mole was built in 1561 and is the oldest surviving Venetian building in the city. The patron saint of Zante, Saint Dionysios, once held residence here.
The coastline of Zante town is particularly stunning. In fact, an early evening walk along the waterfront was one of the highlights of my visit. I particularly enjoyed having a nosy at all the incredible yachts mooring up. There are some fantastic restaurants with beautiful views across the bay too, so stay for the evening and really soak up this delightful city’s atmosphere.
2. Go Turtle Spotting
The island of Zante is known for Loggerhead turtles. They nest and lay their eggs on the beaches along the southern shore of the island and there is a massive conservation programme in place. In the evenings, female turtles can, at times, be seen resting in the shallow coastal waters after their journey to the island. Though you do have to be very lucky to see them. The main conservation areas are closed off from visitors to allow them to go un-disturbed.
Those with a keen interest in the natural world can seek out one of the many tours offering opportunities for turtle spotting. There are lots of glass bottom tours, though these are somewhat controversial. Some say they can be harmful to the turtles. We went on a non-glass bottomed turtle spotting tour of Turtle island, just off the coast of Zante. We got to see these beautiful and intriguing creatures and observe them close-up as they were swimming very close to our boat. This was definitely the highlight of my whole holiday!
3. Water Sports and Beaches
There are some incredible sandy beaches all around the coastlines of Zante perfect for sunbathing and taking part in water sports. Alikes and Alikanas are particularly stunning stretches of sand that run for more than two miles along the island’s north-eastern coast. They are lined with shops, restaurants, bars and tavernas. Zante is also blessed with a number of other stretches of sand where visitors can unwind. Some of the most enchanting options include Argasi, Bouka, Geracas, Laganas and Tsilivi. Because of the crystal blue waters, Zante is a great destination for water sports such as jet-skiing, water boarding, yachting, and water-skiing. It’s also great for snorkelling and diving as the waters are so clear.
4. Explore the Blue Caves
The Blue Caves were discovered at the end of the 9th century and are located on the very northern tip of the island, close to Cape Skinari. This impressive collection of caves is admired for their dramatic nature. The caves take their name from the azure blue waters that collect in the deepest parts so they make incredible swim spots. Some of the best boat tours around the island visit the Blue Caves and stop for swim opportunities. The scenery is like something out of a movie, it’s really quite stunning.
5. Visit Navagio’s Shipwreck Bay (Smugglers Cove)
The charming coastal town of Navagio is situated in the northwest of the island of Zante. It is home to the most famous beach on the island, Shipwreck Bay, also known as Smugglers Cove. This sandy and pebbly beach is only accessible by boat so it makes an exciting place for intrepid travellers to visit. The intriguing name comes from the fact that there is a real-life shipwreck on the beach. This is the spot where a ship carrying illegal cigarettes was washed up, adding to the local smuggling legend.
To access the beach and go and see the shipwreck for yourself you’ll need to take one of the many tours which will bring you close enough for you to swim ashore. The waters around the shipwreck are especially clear and keen snorkellers and divers can spend time swimming around the bay.
If you don’t want to visit by boat you can still see Shipwreck Bay from on high. One of the most famous views in fact, is from up above. We hired a car and toured the whole island one day and went to look at Shipwreck Bay from a viewing point above. The panoramic views were stunning but you do need a head for heights. You actually have to lean out a little bit, over a railing, to get a view of the shipwreck. It’s not for the faint hearted! It’s certainly a must-see part of the island though, for the intrigue and legends alone.
There are so many things to do in Zante, that don’t involve clubbing or alcohol, and it’s a lovely island to simply explore. One of the best days I spent on the island was when we simply hired a car (costing around €45-€65 for the day) and went exploring. We drove from the south coast to Shipwreck Cove right in the north in just a couple of hours. We took our time and stopped at some lovely little tavernas, cafes and eateries. The food is fresh and simple and Greece and the olives are incredible!
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A Media Psychologist & Life Coach by profession, Honey loves to help people create a life & career that they love. She has always been passionate about travel and the incredible life enrichment it brings.
Honey is a highly experienced Brand Ambassador and Spokesperson. In her thirteen year career she has worked with some of the world's best known brands such as Virgin, Google, Disney, American Express, Jet2 Holidays, Eurostar, British Airways and many more.
Honey is founder and editor-in-chief of The Wanderlust Post. She started the mag in order to provide bloggers with an opportunity to share their travel tales, recommendations, reviews and adventures with each other and the world at large.
A self confessed 'Stamp Tramp' Honey is always happiest with her passport in one hand, and a Baileys on ice in the other.