Some of the world's most photographed beaches
Zante's 92 kilometres of coastline is scattered with coves and caves that are just waiting to be discovered. Smuggler's Cove is the island's most dramatically beautiful beach. Its white sands and imposing cliff faces that surround a marooned shipwreck has made Smugglers Cove one of the most unique and highly photographed beaches in the world – make sure you get your snap in too.
The beaches at Laganas and Gerakos are famous nesting grounds for the Caretta Caretta turtles, otherwise known as Loggerhead turtles. In July and August each year up to 2,000 turtles come ashore each evening to lay their eggs in the sand. In fact, Mediterranean Loggerhead turtles have come to the Bay of Laganas to lay their eggs for over 10,000 years. It's your chance to get up close to this endangered species and see turtles in their natural habitat – just make sure you don't disturb them. Flight times are also restricted to daylight hours in Zante so as to not disrupt the turtles' breeding pattern, which is great news for you as there won't be any sleepless night flights.
If you prefer lively nightlife to wildlife, Laganas plays host to a young crowd; its main street is suitably stacked with restaurants, bars and clubs that will have you dancing from dusk 'til dawn. The great thing about Zante is that the nightlife is good but it doesn't take over the island. During the day you can saunter down to Laganas Bay, the longest beach on the island, and join the other twenty-somethings sleeping off the sins from the night before.
Zante Town, with its reconstructed neoclassical buildings and squares, is reminiscent of a little Venice. After the earthquake of 1953 that destroyed most of the town, little white buildings with terracotta roofs have popped up all along the coast, and Zante Town's waterfront cafes are a lovely place to sit and watch the little fishing boats bob on the harbour as the sun sets over the sea. All sorts of shops, from designer boutiques to stalls selling handcrafted shoes, leather and jewellery, are concentrated around Alexander Street, but if you want to bargain a better deal and support the local people then head out to the village market stalls.
Explore caves and monasteries, or hit the waterpark
If you're looking for a relaxing retreat, check out Kalamaki on the south east coast. This small and sophisticated resort is quiet and traditional, but is just 5 kilometres from Zante Town, if you fancy a wander during the day. Tsilivi is bustling, but caters more towards families than the young and lively crowd. Whether you choose to skim the waves on a banana boat, make a splash at the waterpark or practice your putting skills in a game of mini golf, there's plenty to keep the clan entertained. Alykes and Alykanas are full of character. They're home to authentic Greek sugar cube houses and a sprinkling of tavernas, and the famous salt pans.
Most resorts are backed by lush green mountains. Villages here will welcome you with good hospitality, great food and even better wine and a little exploration will reveal monasteries hiding amongst the lush foliage. For history buffs, the monastery of St George in Gremon is worth a visit, and Olympia and the Temple of Zeus are just a 90 minute boat ride away.
Speaking of boats, one of the most popular excursions in Zante is to the Blue Caves. On the north of the island, these spectacular natural rock formations, sea arches and sea caves shimmer all shades of blue. They're best seen at sunrise or sunset, or from underwater – grab your snorkel and take the plunge.
Zante comes alive in February with the Apokries Carnival, which celebrates life through theatre, dance and song. This tradition has taken place since ancient times, when Greeks gods were worshipped ahead of the spring and summer months. In modern day Zante, it's more of an excuse to dress up, drink wine and be merry.
Location of Zante
Average monthly temperature (°C) for Zante