Zakynthos Travel Guide
Zakynthos (or Zante, as the Italians called it), is one of Greece’s crown jewels in the Aegean. Over the ages, it hosted several quiet monasteries.
Today, however, things are a bit noisier. With some of the best beaches in the Greek islands, it has become increasingly popular over the years.
Come check out our Zakynthos travel guide as we cover the best things to do in Zakynthos, Greek.
Start your time in Zakynthos by dropping by the History War Museum. Zante may be a peaceful holiday destination today, but in the 1940s, it was a battleground, much like the rest of Europe. This institution, which opened in 2018 in the Galaxy Beach Resort, chronicles the history of warfare in Greece.
If you’re a fan of the 300 Spartans, don’t get your hopes up. This museum focuses on contemporary conflicts, starting with the Second World War. The other two exhibits highlight the contributions of Greece in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. From mid-20th-century military hardware to dioramas depicting battlefield scenes, war buffs will enjoy this attraction.
The remainder of cultural attractions on Zakynthos are religious. If this interests you, begin by checking out Agios Dionisios Church. Its creators only built it in 1948, but it honours Agios Dionysios, a man who is now the patron saint of Zakynthos.
Agios Dionisios was born on Zante in the mid-16th century. Despite being raised among privilege, he opted for the life of a monk after his parents died. After ministering on nearby Aegina Island for a time, bad health brought him back to Zakynthos.
After recovering, he served as an abbot in the Monastery of Strofades. It was here he served for the remainder of his life. One night, however, his faith and devotion to God were put to the ultimate test. In the dead of night, a man came to his door.
He confessed a terrible sin – he had killed a man. Not just any man, but Agios Dionisios’ brother. Despite being heartbroken (and likely, furiously angry), he realized he needed to shelter the man. Otherwise, his family, who were scouring the island for the killer, would end up committing murder themselves.
Eventually, he managed to smuggle the murderer off the island. While the story would have unfolded differently today, it is still an incredible tale. Today, the church named after Dionisios is a peaceful place, with amazing paintings and stained glass.
However, the top attraction is a silver coffin, which contains the remains of St. Dionisios himself. Note that this is a Greek Orthodox church. To enter, you’ll need to cover your knees, shoulders, and chest to enter.
The Anafonitria Monastery is another significant Christian point of interest on Zakynthos. It was here where St. Dionisios ministered during his lifetime as a monk on Zante. Its creators opened the monastery during the 15th century and dedicated it to the Virgin Mary.
It gained its fame (and name) for housing the icon of Our Virgin Anafonitria. After the Ottoman Turks took Constantinople, church officials spirited this relic out of the city. Eventually, it found its way to this monastery on Zakynthos, where caretakers held it for safekeeping.
After exploring the interior of this holy place, lighten the mood by posing with donkeys. They mill about the property, and by all accounts, love to interact with visitors!
If you have time for one more church, head over to the Monastery of Panagia Skopiotissa. Of all the churches on Zante, this is the oldest one by far, as its builders erected it in 1534. Within, its paintings will impress, as will the icon of the Panagia Skopiotissa. Don’t forget your camera, as the views from here are especially spectacular.
While it has sufficient cultural attractions, the beaches of Zakynthos top everybody’s list. Early on in your trip, get Navagio Beach out of the way. Also known as Shipwreck Beach, it’s the one that’s Instagram famous. Its white sands encase a shipwreck wedged between high cliffs, hence the name.
As you can imagine, the crowds can get crazy, especially during high season. Access is made possible by boat, and when you arrive, the beach itself is quite small. While it is a beautiful place, don’t plan on spending an entire day here.
If that’s your plan, pencil in a stay at Dafni Beach. While it doesn’t hold a candle to Navagio Beach in terms of beauty, it has room for everyone. In-season, this includes turtles – if they are nesting, parts of the beach may be cordoned off.
Want to get closer to the turtles? Go on a day trip to Marathonisi Island. Appropriately enough, this turtle-shaped isle is home to a large nesting site. When they are laying eggs, you can’t get close. At other times, however, you’ll see them in the water.
Visitors can snorkel with them, or view them via glass-bottomed boat. There is also an area where you can enjoy the beach. However, note that shade is sparse – as such, you’ll want to take a parasol with you.