A guide to things to do in Zante
Take advantage of our cheap holidays to Zante and you’ll discover there’s just as much dramatic natural scenery to take in as there are fun attractions. As well as the usual waterparks and mini-golf, you can visit the wreck of a smuggler’s ship and spot loggerhead turtles by boat. Choose the north of the island for quiet villages and the family-favourite resort of Tsilivi, which is full of parks and games centres. In the south there’s a bubbly night-time spot, Laganas, as well as towns sandwiched between the beach and Mount Skopos, all in easy reach of capital Zante Town.
A natural wonder
Full of mountains, olive groves and seas of pine trees, the scenery on any Greek island holiday is sure to be spectacular. And that’s before we even look at the beaches.
From the coastal towns of Argassi and Kalamaki you can explore Mount Skopos and hike to the top to visit the monastery of Oanagia Skopiotissa. Horse riding is a very popular pastime in Zante and at Nana’s Horse Riding Centre in Kalamaki you can get out into the countryside on horseback or trek along the five-kilometre beach all the way to Laganas.
Another horsey treat is hiring a horse-drawn carriage to take you around laid-back Alykanas in the northeast.
The beaches around the island are renowned for their white sand and blue waters. But one such stretch – Xigia Beach – attracts visitors for another reason, too. Coming from one of the caves is a stream of sulphur – supposed to have healing properties – so you can plunge into the water for soothed skin.
The Zante coast is one of only a few places worldwide where you can spot endangered loggerhead turtles. For the best chance of seeing them, head out on a glass-bottomed boat towards Marathonissi – or Turtle Island – from the National Marine Park around Laganas Bay.
Other intriguing spots best accessed by boat are the Blue Caves and Shipwreck Beach. The Blue Caves are so called because the colour of the sea reflects on the white cliff walls around Cape Skinari. You can get up close and personal to this spectacle as the caves are big enough for a boat to enter.
Tiny Shipwreck Beach is dominated by the wreck of the old merchant vessel Panagiotis, which ran aground some 30 years ago after being chased by the Greek Navy on suspicion of smuggling. If you’re travelling with children, they will have great fun playing pirates while climbing on the ship.
Holidays to Zante are brilliant for families, as the main resorts are well set up for visitors and have lots to keep the little ones amused. The usually quiet resort of Kalamaki is home to a small waterpark, a go-karting track and a crazy-golf course. The Caretta Fun Park is also full of arcade games and rides children are sure to enjoy.
Tsilivi in the north of the island is where you can find the Luna Fun Park, with bouncy castles, fairground rides, paintballing and Zante’s only rodeo bull. Also in town is the Bowl’m Over ten-pin bowling centre, with its decor influenced by the American diners of the 1950s.
Couples and families love laid-back Alykanas, which as well as children’s trampolines, mini-golf and the ‘Trainiki’ mini-train has an extraordinary archaeological site where the ancient city of Arcadia is being excavated.
It might sound like a contradiction, but the capital of Zante Town, known locally as Zakynthos Town, is predominantly a rural community. That being said, it’s a good place to do some shopping and learn about the history of the island.
The pretty church of Agios Dionisios has a bell tower similar in shape to that of St Mark’s in Venice, harking back to a time when Zante was under Italian rule. You can also climb up Bochali Hill above Zante Town for stunning views and to see the small Venetian castle at the top.
Day trips to Zante's Turtle Island
Pack your flip flops and hop on a boat over to the beautiful Marathonisi Island for the chance to spot turtles in the sea and learn about where they nest.
The endangered Loggerhead Turtles, or Caretta-Caretta, have been nesting on Zante’s beaches for thousands of years. And with 80% of the Mediterranean population returning each summer it’s the most important nesting ground in Europe.
Situated in Laganas Bay, the peaceful pine-covered islet, often known simply as Turtle Island, is a favourite of theirs – some say the island is even shaped like a turtle.
You can go on an organised boat trip to get there or be your own captain, but it’s important that you respect these magnificent creatures or choose a tour company that does.