Before you switch to fall colors and curl up under a cosy blanket… let me take you to one of the dreamiest destinations in Greece – Zakynthos!
Zante has a reputation for being mainly a party island, but I believe that you see what you choose to see, so if you’re looking for a raging nightlife you’ll definitely find it there, but Zante has so much more to offer, it’s also an ideal destination for a romantic break or a family holiday.
We went to Zakynthos at the beginning of September and the weather was just perfect, not as hot as mid-summer but still very warm. The island got quieter, beaches became emptier, the sea was still warm enough to swim in.
From paradise beaches to my first earthquake, scariest storm during our boat trip and Thomas Cook bankruptcy – yep, been though it all during one trip BUT survived, got tanned, came back home with millions amazing memories and was lucky enough to be one of the last passengers of Thomas Cook airlines. Such an adventurous trip it was!
I love Greece for its beautiful beaches, food and culture. This time I picked Zante mainly because I traveled with my younger brother who loves to sleep till noon, party all night and doesn’t necessary understand why on earth would anyone (me) wake up at 6 am just to chase the sunrise. I wanted to make the most out of our stay and decided to book accommodation in two different parts of Zante: Tsilivi and Kalamaki.
Tsilivi is a small, adorable village in Zante’s northeast coast. It’s a place for those looking for quiet, relaxed holiday. From its golden beaches and lush olive groves to quaint taverns with authentic, Greek food and local wine to delight all year round. Tsilivi has this traditional Greek town feel you’ll instantly fall in love with.
We’ve stayed at St.John Resort suite and absolutely loved it! Modern, spacious interiors decorated in a rustic style, with a beautiful terrace overlooking the sea and a private pool (the pools aren’t heated, so unfortunately you won’t be able to use them during fall & winter). The staff was so welcoming and there is a ”mini market” located in hotel’s reception with everything you may need during your stay i.e. drinks, snacks, cosmetics, alcohol etc. Mini-market was SO convenient as we constantly needed fresh bottled water because tap water at St. John isn’t safe to drink.
In large towns in Greece, tap water is drinkable. However, in most islands and in few mainland towns, bottled water is recommended in order to avoid health issues during your trip to Greece. Always ask at the reception if the tap water is potable.
Kalamaki is is located approximately 3 km northeast of the busy resort of Laganas (know as the main party area in Zante) but Kalamaki has a completely different vibe than Laganas, I’d say it’s comparable to Tsilvi. A quiet, little town with easy access to a beautiful beach and picturesque landmarks.
Although Kalamaki town is really tiny, it has everything you need, from car/quad rentals to travel agencies offering Island tours and cruises. A cruise is something you should definitely consider during your stay in Zante, we’ve picked a 2-stop cruise to Shipwreck (Navagio beach) and Blue Caves and the views were insane!
We booked Meandros hotel at the very last minute, mainly because of its location and private hot tub. I was afraid that the sea & pool might be a bit too cold during September but I was SO wrong! The sea was so pleasantly warm that we spent most of our time swimming in clear, turquoise waters of Ionian Sea.
Unfortunately, due to overbooking we didn’t have a chance to soak in a hot tub’s bubbles. We’re given a room that was completely different from what we’ve booked. Instead, we ended up in a room with private pool – we don’t spend that much time at the hotel anyways, so not a big deal – I only mention this because overbooking is a common issue in Greece, so don’t be surprised if you arrive to the hotel just to find out there’s no space for you or your room is no longer available – this usually happens in peak-season and when booking at the very last minute.
I would still very much recommend Meandros Hotel because of its typical Greek atmosphere, it’s a great place to experience authentic Greek culture. Also, the location is just perfect, a stone’s throw from the airport and few minutes walk from Crystal Beach.
Best way (and the only way, really) to move around the island is renting a quad/car. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to see much without your own transport, unless – of course, you’re visiting Greece to purely relax and stay at the hotel. The good news is that in Tsilivi and Kalamaki you can easily find car rentals and they’re not enormously expensive either.
Kalamaki, Vasilikos, Alikanas and Keri are places for those who prefer a quiet holiday away from the hustle. A little more happens in Argassi and Tsilivi, while Laganas is famous mainly for its nightlife.
There were 111 earthquakes in Zakynthos between 1900 and 2019, the last of which was strongly felt during our stay on 19th September 2019.
Navagio Beach (Shipwreck) is one of the most glorious beaches I’ve ever seen but it’s also very unsafe. Navagio was closed in 2018 due to cliff collapse and reopened in 2019, and even though it was given a ”green light” by authorities, unexpected earthquakes may still occur. But that’s not the main issue. The ”white, soft sand” that makes the water so crystal clear is mixed with a grit and pebbles hence it’s easy to hurt yourself, it’s also very difficult to swim in – even if you’re a great swimmer – as it literally sucks you in. I saw people being swept away by giant waves and tragically hurt, so just please be careful.
Zante highlights & places worth visiting
- What is Zante most famous for? Turtles, of course! The Caretta Caretta turtle is an endangered species and Zante is the most important breeding ground for the loggerhead turtles. In theory, you can see them anywhere in Zante but Laganas is the place where they usually lay their eggs.
- Banana Beach
- Shipwreck – Navagio beach
- Blue Caves
- Keri Caves
- Porto Limnionas
- Zakynthos National Marine Park in Laganás Bay
- Agios Sostis
- Paralia Porto Vromi
- You can also take a day trip to Kefalonia
And last but not least – a beautiful, wild beach, created by nature and sadly… cluttered by people. All those public beaches are usually well taken care of, but wild beaches are filled with rubbish. The beach is incredibly beautiful and completely empty, so if you dream of a day out in a tourist-free place, go go go! 🙂
Put ”Paladino Sea View Apartment” onto your sat nav and follow the directions. Once you arrive to the apartment, you’ll see the port in front of you, the beach is on the right side.
Plenty of parking spaces available by the port. Don’t forget to bring plenty of water and some snack as there are no shops around.