The Flower of the Ionian Sea, the famous Flower of Levante, is undoubtedly an island with a unique personality and style. From the traditional villages and stone villages to the long golden beaches and the fantastic sea wealth, and from the local Zakynthian “mantinades” (local folk songs) to the incredible local flavors, the visitor is overwhelmed by images, flavors, and aromas, which compose the ultimate holiday destination. As you will often hear them say… in Zakynthos, you fall in love with life!
The coastal village of Agios Sostis, located in Laganas Bay and within the National Marine Park, is a very picturesque destination and brings visitors close to a genuinely authentic natural environment. The beautiful fishing village has several tourist facilities, such as taverns and restaurants with traditional cuisine, while several of them have a program with Zakynthian music.
The calm and shallow waters on the beach of Agios Sostis make it an ideal choice for families with small children. As the sea turtles Caretta Caretta breed in this bay, there are restrictions on water sports, which are not allowed. Boats and private boats depart from here, which offer excursions to nearby beaches, the famous lake Keri and Marathia.
At 2.5 km distance, there is the beautiful, stone-built traditional village of Lithakia, with its tall palm trees and the Faneromeni Church, in the main square. The capital of Zakynthos is only 10 km away.
The endless blue of Zakynthos is an unexplored paradise, which reserves incredible images. Besides, this maritime wealth is one of the main reasons why Zakynthos is a popular holiday destination. There are dozens of choices for swimming, from calm sandy beaches with shallow waters to impressive caves and rocky shores with crystal clear waters. The sandy beaches of the east coast [Tsilivi, Vasilikos, Argassi, Agios Nikolaos, Alykes, Alykanas], are top-rated and full of tourists, with many water sports, skiing, paragliding, jet skiing facilities.
The beaches of the south [Agios Sostis, Laganas, Gerakas], as they are included in the National Marine Park, require special attention and respect for the sensitive ecosystem and are therefore governed by restrictions on water sports. Of course, do not forget to dive in Navagio Shipwreck beach [access by boat from Porto Vromi or Ag. Nikolaos] and in the Blue Caves [access by boat from Agios Nikolaos] in the western and northeastern part of the island.
Two hills and two squares should definitely be included in your walk within Zakynthos Town. In the city, entertainment is centered around the squares of Solomos and Agios Markos, while outside the city, but at a close distance, you will visit Bohali with its Venetian castle and Stranis Hill, where our national poet Dionysios Solomos inspired the Greek national anthem.
In Agios Dionisios Church, the island's patron saint, you will easily find it in the port, from the high bell tower that reaches a height of 40 meters. You can visit the interior to admire the beautiful paintings, the stained glass windows, the wood-carved iconostasis, and the silver shrine where the relics of the Saint are kept. The neoclassical building of the Museum of D. Solomos and Other Eminent People of Zakynthos, the statues & busts of influential personalities born in Zakynthos [of the national poet Dionysios Solomos, of the Italian poet Hugo Foskolos, of the composer Pavlos Carrer & the Agios Markos Church in Agios Markos Square, magnificent buildings such as the Post-Byzantine Museum, the Cultural Center, the City Hall, and the Municipal Library as well as the historic Venetian Church Agios Nikolaos of Molos, in the central square of Solomos, will impress you.
The aristocratic Bohali with the traditional style is one of the must-visits to the Chora. It dominates on a verdant hill, from where you will have a magnificent view of the port. If you follow the cobbled street from the square, it will lead you to the Bohali Castle where you can walk, admiring ancient ruins of the 15th and 17th century, parts of the Command and barracks, as well as part of the imposing walls.
Zakynthos was also called "Florence of Greece”, as it hosted churches and hagiographies that were excellent examples of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Art. Inside the town is worth a stop at the reconstructed Panagia Faneromeni Church, which was built in the 15th century but was destroyed in the earthquake of 1953 and today has been declared a historical monument.
Outside the city, we suggest a visit to the Monastery of Panagia Anafonitria [25 km. NW of the capital], where the miraculous Byzantine icon of the Theotokos Anafonitria is kept. The historical Monastery of Agios Georgios Krimnon in Meso Volima also worths a visit, dated from 1535 and in its glebe, the monastery of Agios Andreas, whose frescoes were walled off and now are housed in the Post-Byzantine Museum of Zakynthos.
POINTS OF INTEREST
A small paradise on earth, accessible only by boat, is Marathonisi in the bay of Laganas, in the sea area that is part of the National Marine Park of Zakynthos. A sandy beach, a pebble beach, a cave, and the most transparent emerald waters you have ever seen, compose magnificent images on this small island, whose permanent inhabitants are the Caretta Caretta turtles. Before visiting it, you should have food, water, sunscreen, and a hat with you.
It is necessary to get acquainted with this picturesque village, where the Panagia Keriotissa church dominates, with a panoramic view of the village. If you arrive in the afternoon, continue to the Keri Lighthouse to enjoy an incredible sunset overlooking the two imposing, conical, white rocks called Myzithres that will take your breath away.
On the NE side of Zakynthos, you will admire the green mountain villages, Ano Volimes, at the top of Mount Vrachiona and Kato Volimes on the beach. They are ideal for cycling or hiking explorations in winter but also for swimming on the beaches of Xigia, Makris Gialos, and Agios Nikolaos, from where you will be able to take a boat trip to the Blue Caves. Boats for the Navagio Shipwreck start from the magnificent Porto Vromi beach.
- The Venetian Fortress [17th century] in Bohali will give you beautiful images and a trip to the years of Venetian rule when the castle surrounded the entire city of Zakynthos. During your walk, you will see the ruins of the church of St. John the Theologian (15th-17th century), the fortress Minotto (1646), the prisons, a small powder keg, and the Grimani Bastion.
- Dedicated to the memory of the victims of the civil war is the vast concrete cross, on a steep promontory 350 m. Above the bay of Schiza, in the village of Kambi. Here are the ruins of a Mycenaean cemetery of 14 tombs carved in limestone rock.
- In Argassi, your attention will be drawn to the half-submerged Venetian stone geyser of 1800.