Zakynthos Island is famous for its marvelous Navagio (Shipwreck) Beach and party-town Laganas, but its nickname “The Flower of Levant”, conceals a great deal more about this splendid island. If you plan your vacation here, it would be a shame to limit yourself to staying in a tourist resort and its vicinity. Rent a vehicle for at least five days and explore Zakynthos Island, Greece; you’ll be handsomely rewarded.
Roads on Zakynthos Island
Zakynthos’ road network is mostly developed on the eastern side of the island, with occasional routes on the less-accessible western side. Don’t let the limited roads prevent you from visiting the western side because these roads lead you to spectacular viewpoints. Make sure, though, to get back to “civilization” before dark because most of the island isn’t illuminated with street lights after dark. You’ll hardly be able to travel over 60 km/hour (37 miles/hour), at maximum, because the bends are frequent and Zakynthos’ roads weren’t build for use by racing vehicles. Although the roads should be better signposted, you won’t get lost because each road eventually leads to a main route.
Recommended routes on Zakynthos
Most tourist resorts of Zakynthos are located on the island’s southern end (Laganas, Argasi, Tsilivi, Kalamaki etc.), and Argasi stands out as the most convenient base for road trips. From Argasi, you have easy and quick access to the Laganas Bay, Zante Town (the island’s capital) and, most importantly, to the Vasilikos Peninsula.
The Vasilikos Peninsula is stuffed with beaches, which are located up to a few kilometers, at most, from one another. Each of them are conveniently accessible from the road, with a free parking area in its vicinity. Some beaches are “half-wild”, while others feature some sort of tourist facilities (bars, restaurants, water sports), so you are very likely to find what you are after on the Vasilikos Peninsula. Pay special attention to Gerakas, Porto Zoro and Dafni Beaches.
The Laganas Bay’s main lure for tourists is Laganas, Zakynthos’ main party hub, with neighboring beaches. From Agios Sostis, near Laganas, you can take a shuttle boat to Marathonissi Island or rent a boat for your personal exploration of the area (pay a visit to Keri Caves). You surely won’t be impressed with the long Kalamaki Beach, but you have better chances of seeing the caretta caretta turtles there than anywhere else.
If you take the northern route, you’ll pass through Zante Town and Tsilivi on your way toward the hilly North, with scattered villages, attractive countryside and Zakynthos’ most famous attractions – Navagio Beach and Blue Caves.
As you explore, feel free to slightly wander off the main road and visit inland villages (Volimes, Pantokratoras and others), where you can take a look at traditional architecture and taste and purchase extraordinary handmade local products, such as cheeses (with or without the olive oil), delicious wines, olives, delicacies and more.
Top sites on Zakynthos
Navagio Beach and the nearby cove (next to the parking lot) are truly the most amazing spots for panoramic views of the water, especially in late afternoon when the beach is mostly deserted and the light is just right. Signposts will lead you to this marvelous site through woody and hilly countryside, and once you arrive, you can examine and purchase various souvenirs (fridge magnets, for example), delicacies and beverages at the nearby booths. A viewing platform is extended above the cove, enabling undisputed views of the famous beach and the surrounding coves. Navagio Beach is located in the northwestern section of Zakynthos Island.
From Laganas Bay, the road leads you to the southwest of the island, towards Keri Village. At the end of the road, as you pass the settlement, you’ll find a vantage point that reveals attractive seaside (in the photo) comprising rock formations, steep hills and blue as far as the eye can see. Along the way, you’ll see the largest Greek flag (Guinness World Record’s laureate) at 667 sq m (7,180 sq ft).
As you head toward the north of Zakynthos, don’t miss the chance to make a stop at the Skinari Cape (the introductory photo of the article) and embark on a boat that will take you to the nearby Blue Caves in a half an hour tour. Take your snorkeling gear and enjoy the blue symphony underneath the water’s surface. You can also take a boat to Navagio Beach from the Skinari Cape.
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Zante Town, Zakynthos’ capital
Most of the roads on Zakynthos Island will lead you through Zante Town, which is full of historical landmarks, shops, restaurants, and bars. One such bar (Movida Lounge Bar) is located in Bohali, the capital’s suburb at the hill above Zante Town, offering views of the town, the Vasilikos Peninsula to the left, and the Laganas Bay with Marathonisi Island in the far background.
Plan your Zakynthos road trip
Zakynthos Island is approximately 400 sq km (155 sq mi) large and everything can be explored at an easy pace. Please do note however, that they drive on the right-hand side of the road. So if you’re used to left-hand side driving, practice quieter roads before embarking on your road trip.
If you take my recommendation and choose Argasi for your base, you’ll be minutes away from Zante Town, up to 30 minutes from the most distant of Vasilikos’ beaches (Gerakas) and less than half an hour from Laganas. The Skinari Cape and the viewpoint over Navagio Beach can be reached in less than two hours if you take the direct route.
Fuel on Zakynthos was around 1.60 EUR (1.80 USD) per liter at the time of writing this article, and rental prices for cars range up to 50 EUR (55 USD) per day, with discounts if you rent a vehicle for multiple days. However, if you don’t mind not having a CD player, air-conditioner or some other small pleasures on the road, you can rent a fuel-efficient and convenient vehicle for less than half the price of the above-mentioned rate in a rental car agency in Argasi, across from the Green Frog bar. They have a great attitude toward their customers, and react quickly and efficiently if any inconvenience (flat tire, for example) occurs.
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