Our Favourite Things to Do in Zakynthos

Don't waste a minute on this unforgettable island

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A bird's eye view of the shipwreck on Navagio Beach by the clear blue sea and grassy cliffs, Zakynthos, Greece

Zakynthos is the epitome of a laid back hotspot. Also known as Zante, it might be best known for its party scene, but trust us when we say there’s a whole lot more to this popular island than that. Surrounded by the gorgeously blue Ionian sea and swathes of sea turtles, there are both natural wonders and cultural sites waiting to be explored. Zakynthos is also the birthplace of revered Greek poet Dionysios Solomos, who wrote the country’s national anthem, so who knows, you could be struck with a bolt of cultural inspiration while holidaying here. Here at Plum Guide, we hope to inspire you too, by going above and beyond to give you all the information you could ever need. So without further ado, here is our pick of the top things to do in Zakynthos.

Discover Zakynthos' rich culture

A view of the Agios Dionisios Church from across the blue water, Zakynthos, Greece

A view of the Agios Dionisios Church from across the blue water, Zakynthos, Greece

It should be illegal to visit Greece and not explore some of its excellently beautiful churches. Agios Dionisios church is a perfect example - it’s been home to the relics of St Dionysios since 1717. The sarcophagus is opened daily just before noon for worshippers, and on August 24th (his saint’s day), the relics are carried ceremonially around the town - a cultural experience not to miss. The church museum also has four works by 18th-century painter Nikolaos Koutouzis, an eminent artist. History fans, this one’s for you. Another unmissable stop is the Byzantine Museum - found in a pretty mansion facing the sea on Solomus Square. It’s an important archive of both Byzantine and post-Byzantine art, and houses frescoes, carvings, paintings, and crucifixes, among many other kinds of art. The museum also gives visitors a glimpse into the past with a scale model of the city pre-1953, when Zakynthos was struck by a catastrophic earthquake.

Angeliki, Plum Guide home in Zakynthos, Greece

Angeliki, Plum Guide home in Zakynthos, Greece

Visit the famous Navagio Beach

A bird's eye view of people by the shipwreck on the sand at Navagio Beach, Zakynthos, Greece

A bird's eye view of people by the shipwreck on the sand at Navagio Beach, Zakynthos, Greece

One of the best things to do in Zakynthos is visit Navagio Beach - also known as Shipwreck Cove. Found on the northeastern side of the island, this picturesque cove is surrounded by towering limestone cliffs. It’s famous for the container ship which ran aground here in the 1980s, the MV Panagiotis, which now lies stricken on the sandy stretch. Best viewed from the water (although the cliffs above provide a view that you won’t forget in a hurry), you can explore the wreck and marvel at the blue shade of the sea. Speaking of blue, you also simply must visit the Blue Caves. At the northern tip of the island and only accessible by water, you don’t want to miss floating through the awe-inspiring natural arches and sea caves found here. The water is a pure shade of milky blue, caused by the sun beating down onto the white rocks and reflecting into the water.

Melody and Harmony, Plum Guide home in Zakynthos, Greece

Melody and Harmony, Plum Guide home in Zakynthos, Greece

Enjoy a trip to Turtle Island

A bird's eye view of white sand and clear blue sea at Marathonisi, Zakynthos, Greece

A bird's eye view of white sand and clear blue sea at Marathonisi, Zakynthos, Greece

Turtle Island, also called Marathonisi, is a classic day trip activity, and undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Zakynthos. Hatching grounds for the loggerhead sea turtle, this small, uninhabited island is the perfect place for a turtle-spotting adventure - don’t miss picnicking on this unspoiled nature reserve, either. The Panagia Skopiotissa Monastery also makes for a fantastic day out - perched atop Mount Skopos in the southeast, it’s a gruelling climb to reach the top of the mountain. It is hugely worthwhile though, once you see the 15th-century church up close - the walls are covered in frescoes. You also must leave time to check out the Virgin Mary icon, which was made in Constantinople.

Lucid Dreams, Plum Guide home in Zakynthos, Greece

Lucid Dreams, Plum Guide home in Zakynthos, Greece

Dig into traditional Greek cuisine

A bowl of Greek salad and a bottle of olive oil on a balcony near Navagio Beach, Zakynthos, Greece

A bowl of Greek salad and a bottle of olive oil on a balcony near Navagio Beach, Zakynthos, Greece

Along with Greek classics such as salad and the world-famous yogurt, Zakynthos has its own local specialities. We recommend sofigadoura, a beef stew in a richly delicious tomato sauce, and the sweet treat mantolato, made from egg whites and almonds. And one thing you should definitely look to bring home with you, is the olive oil. Foodies should head to Aristeon Ecological Olive Press, the local olive oil museum, where you can take a wonderfully informative tour that describes the region’s oil production. Dating back to the 1700s, you're will discover how the technology that produces the oil has changed. Plus, of course, you get to taste it and pick your favourite - this is a great gift option to bring to loved ones back home.

Rock of the Bay, Plum Guide home in Zakynthos, Greece

Rock of the Bay, Plum Guide home in Zakynthos, Greece

Sample the wine at Prolio

Three glasses of wine on a barrel next to grapes at a vineyard

Three glasses of wine on a barrel next to grapes at a vineyard

Zakynthos Town is a great place o embrace the nightlife if you want to have a good time without getting too wild - although no judgement from us if you do. A charming muddle of different architectural styles, there are cute cafes and fun bars aplenty. Head here in the evening to stroll the streets and take in the nighttime sights. For nightlife which is a little more high-end, we highly recommend Prolio, a restaurant and wine hub which serves a modern interpretation of the island’s cuisine. The wine list stretches to more than 100 different labels, many from Greek wineries. Try the tartare made with the catch of the day.

Embark on a day trip to Bohali Castle

A view over Zakynthos with the sea in the background from Bohali Castle, Zakynthos, Greece

A view over Zakynthos with the sea in the background from Bohali Castle, Zakynthos, Greece

Climb to Bohali Castle for some of the best views of the harbour in Zakynthos Town. The road up to the castle is steep and winding, but the chance to wander the ruined battlements of a 15th-century castle (repaired by Venetians) is unmissable. For an activity more suited for adrenaline junkies than culture vultures, try the Subwing. Zakynthos is the birthplace of this boat-towed underwater board, which allows you to glide effortlessly through the ocean - head over to the Peligoni Club to try it out.

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