The island of Zakynthos in the Ionian Sea is not for nothing popular with hundreds of thousands of tourists who visit the island off the coast of Greece every year. Zakynthos is absolutely beautiful and has a lot of sights to offer. Great beaches, cliffs, coastal roads and breathtaking bays are there to discover.
But which Zakynthos highlights are the most beautiful and must not be missed? We tell you the best things to do on Zakynthos!
We are Sabrina and Andreas, two adventurous travelers who never miss an opportunity to discover the world. Whether by plane to distant countries or with our campervan Bruno, we just love to travel. We hope to give you helpful tips for your next trip on our blog.
Sabrina & Andreas Globetrotters, Travelers, Adventurers
Zakynthos – Things To Do
On the following map you can see all Zakynthos highlights in an overview. In the following chapters the Zakynthos sights are described in detail.
Shipwreck Beach is probably the most famous thing to do on Zakynthos and probably also the most frequent photo motif on the island. The special thing about this (generally already beautiful) beach is the shipwreck, which was washed up there decades ago and has been rusting away ever since.
The contrast between the light powdered sugar sand, the turquoise sea and the rusty brown remains of the ship is really outstanding.
You can admire the Shipwreck Beach from a viewing platform on the several hundred meters high cliff, as well as from a boat to visit the beach itself (Navagio Beach).
Attention: Since 2023 the beach is closed because of a high risk of falling rocks. So you are allowed to go by boat or ship only a few hundred meters to the beach, but you are not allowed to enter it.
If you want to take an organized boat tour to see the beach from the sea, you should book a tour here*
If you want to visit the viewpoint – which you definitely should – then head to the free parking lot from Navagio Beach Viewpoint (Google Maps). In the past, you could easily walk along the cliff to the furthest point of the cliffs to get a fantastic view of Navagio Beach.
Today, unfortunately, this path is officially closed and there is a large fence where you used to be able to get to the unofficial viewpoint. However, there has been a huge hole in the fence for some time and the authorities don’t seem to care.
So it is still possible to get to the unofficial viewpoint. To do so, you just have to walk from the parking lot to the cliff and then turn right. There is the passage in the fence, which is also used by thousands every day. The way to the viewpoint is then self-explanatory and also not dangerous, if you do not go too close to the abyss. There are numerous photo opportunities here and the rock is wide enough to move safely.
The official viewpoint, on the other hand, is located not far from the parking lot directly behind a small food truck. This viewpoint consists of a metal platform rising a few meters above the cliff and does not offer a really nice view of the beach. We would recommend you to go to the unofficial viewpoint.
One of the best activities on Zakynthos (and on the Greek islands in general) is to rent a motorboat. For this you don’t need a boat license in Greece (unlike in Germany)!
Smaller motorboats (with 15 hp) you get on Zakynthos from about 100-150€. There are several places on the island where you can rent your own motorboat. We would recommend the small village Keri in the south of the island. From there you can go by boat to Myzithres Rock, Keri Caves and Cameo Island.
In Keri we can recommend the following boat rental: Caretta Caretta Motorboats
But beware: The seabed around Zakynthos consists mostly of large stones, which can make it very difficult to set the anchor. Anchors can easily get caught between the stones and you will not be able to get rid of the anchor. So be careful!
There are many caves in Zakynthos, most of which are called Blue Caves because they are located on sea cave and the turquoise blue water is reflected in the rock walls. Thus, the caves appear at least approximately bluish. Especially popular are the Keri Caves in the southwest of the island. You can only get there by boat!
Either you rent a motorboat (see above) or you go there with an organized tour. Professional boat captains usually come much closer to the caves or even drive into the middle of them, which usually looks extremely adventurous.
Of course you can also swim into the caves, but you should be careful because of the many boats.
Myzithres is a big rock in the turquoise sea on the west coast of Zakynthos. You can go here with a self-hired boat and go to a super small, but therefore hardly visited beach and marvel at the rock from below.
But it is much easier to visit the rock from above. On the cliff directly opposite there is a wonderful viewpoint from which you have a spectacular view of the sea and the Myzithres Rock.
It is not so easy to get here, because the road is really in a desolate condition. The mogul road is only a few hundred meters long, but full of stones and potholes. Nevertheless, we made it with our small car. If you don’t dare, park at the beginning of the gravel road. The viewpoint can be found here on Google Maps.
If you don’t want to drive along the gravel road, you should park here.
Damianos Caves are a not very spectacular, but still a worth seeing sight in the southwest of the island. By car, the caves, which are both located one above the other, are very easy to reach. At the free parking lot there is a restaurant from which a narrow path leads downhill to the caves.
The caves are not very deep, but as a small special feature you can climb up to the upper cave and have a great view of the surroundings from up there.
Porto Limnionas Beach
Porto Limnionas Beach is actually not a beach at all, because there is neither sand nor pebbles here. It is actually a small bay where you can swim wonderfully. The way into the water is not always easy, because in some places temporary stone steps lead into the water, in other places you have to jump from the rocks into the sea
There are also not really many possibilities to lie in the sun here. There are some asphalted sections or possibilities to lay down a towel. But all this is not optimal. Alternatively, you can rent a sunbed at the bar in the bay.
Nevertheless, this small bay is one of the highlights of Zakynthos and a complete contrast to the beaches on the east side of the island. By the way, on the other side of the bay there is a possibility to jump from rocks into the sea and swim into a small cave.
Porto Roxa Beach
Porto Roxa Beach is actually not a beach in the real sense either. It is a small but very fine bay on the rocky west coast of Zakynthos. There are several bars and restaurants and you can park directly at the beach on an asphalted area. The way into the water here is again not so easy, because you have to climb from the rock into the sea or go over a slippery road, on which boats are let into the water.
The special feature of this beach is a wooden diving tower from which you can jump into the cool water.
Porto Vromi Beach
Porto Vromi Beach is a tiny little beach in the northeast of the island and is located at the end of a winding road in a small bay. The pebble beach is partially covered by rocks and there is also a small harbor in the bay. Nevertheless, it is easy to swim here even if the water is a bit colder than on the east side of the island.
Potamitis Windmill is located in the very north of Zakynthos. And even if the windmill is not the real highlight here, it is at least visually very impressive. When you pass the windmill and go down the stairs, you will immediately see why this place is on of the best things to do on Zakynthos. First of all you have a beautiful panorama from the stairs.
At the bottom of the stairs you will find some free loungers and – as a real highlight – several possibilities to jump into the sea. There are two diving boards from which you can jump into the cold water, if you dare. But let me tell you, it’s a lot of fun!
Right around the corner there are also caves (Blue Caves), which you can theoretically reach by swimming.
Makris Gialos Beach
Xigia Sulfur Beach
There are 2 popular sulfur beaches on Zakynthos that are right next to each other and are even called the same thing, Xigia Sulfur Beach. So it’s easy to get confused there. Nevertheless, these two beaches are very different.
The northern sulfur beach
The northern Xigia Suflur Beach (Google Maps) is a small and mostly extremely crowded pebble beach in the east of Zakynthos. It is a well-known sulfur beach of Zakynthos and accordingly well visited. You can park at the top of the road or a few meters further down on a paid (3€) parking lot. Then it’s a few meters downhill until you reach the small pebble beach.
The beach is about 50 meters wide and so it will be quite difficult to find a free place. You will not notice a strong smell of sulfur on the beach. But if you swim around in the sea, you will find some places with a clear smell of sulfur.
On the left side of the beach there is a small cave with a small beach inside. You definitely should not miss it.
The southern sulfur beach
The southern Xigia Suflur Beach (Google Maps) is a bit hidden from the road and you will have to drive down a rather steep dirt road. At the bottom there are several parking spots and a beach bar. From this bar, a rickety wooden staircase also leads to the beach, whose special feature is its pyramid-like shape, which is especially visible at low tide. As a little extra, a pair of geese also lives here, walking proudly and always in search of food across the beach.
This beach is usually very crowded and you can also have drinks delivered to the beach blanket from the nearby beach bar.
If you need a little more peace and quiet, head south along the beach and after crossing some large rocks you will come to a completely deserted beach called Xigia Pigadi Beach. Alternatively, you can get there by not walking to the beach bar from the parking lot, but by following the signposted path down to the beach.
Porto Niova Beach
Porto Niova Beach is a nice little pebble beach on the east side of the island and is located at the end of a fairly steep dirt road. Down at the beach there is a beach bar with lots of goodies and paid sunbeds and umbrellas. Even though the beach is very narrow, it was never super crowded here, so you can really enjoy the beach.
Zakynthos Town (Zante)
The capital of the island is called the same as the island itself (and is sometimes simply called Zante) and is located not far from the airport. Even though Zakynthos Town is not a tourist stronghold, it is still worth a visit.
There are beautiful churches, squares and an interesting shopping area. Very nice is also the promenade, which leads curved along the harbor. On Sundays the city is almost deserted, but during the week there is some hustle and bustle. If you have only little time on Zakynthos, then you can skip the place.
Gerakas Beach is a very elongated beach in the extreme southeast of Zakynthos. It can take a long time to get there because of the many curves, but the beach is usually very crowded. By the way, the back part of the beach is separated, so that the turtles living on Zakynthos can lay their eggs in peace.
The special feature of the beach, besides the beach itself, is a limestone formation called Jason’s Bite in the back part of the beach. Additionally there are the White Sandstone Mountains in the front part of the beach. You can get there by walking to the right when you arrive at the beach. We didn’t find this limestone formation super interesting.
Cameo Island is a small island very close to the capital of Zakynthos Town and is one of the most popular attractions on the island. The island is privately owned and so the entrance fee is also 5 Euro per person. To get to the island you drive to the large and free parking lot in the south of the island and then walk over a 100 meter long wooden bridge to the island.
Once you have entered the island you can walk to the beach on the other side, which is located in a small bay. The special thing here are the fabric panels, which are stretched across the small bay and give the whole thing a boho charm.
Marathonisi is an island in the large Laganas Bay in the south of Zakynthos. The big highlight here is the large curved beach where hundreds of boats dock every day. So the beauty of the island is also its biggest disadvantage. Every day it is really crowded with visitors, most of them coming with their own motorboat.
Therefore, it is not really easy to find a place to land, but employees of the boat rental companies are on site to assist you. Unfortunately you are not allowed to enter the interior of the island. However, there is a very small beach and caves on the other side of the island that you can explore by boat.
If you want to visit the island, then you should rent your boat in the nearby town of Keri.
Is Zakynthos very touristy?
Of course, Zakynthos is extremely touristy and almost crowded, especially in the high season. But this is no wonder, because Zakynthos is beautiful. Nevertheless, there are ways to avoid mass tourism on Zakynthos.
This starts with the choice of the hotel (more about this below) and goes to the choice of the right beach. There are areas that are virtually overrun by tourist crowds and others that can be almost idyllically quiet.
Where should I stay on Zakynthos?
Zakynthos has real tourist strongholds and also areas that are relatively quiet and secluded. It always depends on what you want. If you want to be in the middle of the hustle and bustle and have everything from restaurants, bars to excursions in the immediate vicinity, then you should stay somewhere else than if you prefer to have your peace and quiet.
Staying in the middle of the hustle and bustle
The most popular and hustle and bustle places on Zakynthos are all located in the south-east of the island. If you want to have all kinds of restaurants, bars and stores within walking distance and you don’t mind loud music and a lot of hustle and bustle until late at night, then you should choose one of the following places for your overnight stay.
You can find the most beautiful hotels in the above mentioned places at Booking.com*
Overnight stay off the beaten track
If you prefer to have your peace and quiet – at least as far as the hotel is concerned – and don’t have a problem to depend on your rental car, then you should look for a hotel outside of the places mentioned above.
Take a look at our hotel recommendation below, because our hotel was really quiet and yet not far away from the most beautiful Zakynthos highlights. We were really satisfied and could enjoy the peace and quiet by the pool here even in high season.
Hotel Recommendation for Zakynthos
Orea Superior Rooms
– only 3 apartments
– own, large pool
– modern furnished
– Restaurants and supermarket within walking distance
Which Rental Car for Zakynthos?
In our opinion, a cheap and small car is sufficient on Zakynthos. It is even helpful to drive a small car, because many streets and alleys on the island are so narrow that it is difficult to fit 2 large vehicles side by side. So you are definitely better off with a small and maneuverable vehicle.
Difference between east and west coast on Zakynthos
The big and popular beaches of Zakynthos are all located in the east and south of the island. Here there are mostly pebble beaches, but also very many beautiful sandy beaches. The west coast of the island, on the other hand, looks completely different. It is characterized by steep cliffs and rough coastal sections. You will hardly find any sandy beaches here.
Here you can go to many small bays to go swimming and the coastal roads on the west coast of Zakynthos are perfect for an extended road trip across the island.
Turtles on Zakynthos
Zakynthos is very famous for the Caretta-Caretta turtles that lay their eggs on many beaches here. Unfortunately, tourism does not stop at this endangered turtle species and so the populations have already declined somewhat. The Greek nature conservation authorities are trying to counteract this, of course, and so you will find separate areas for the breeding grounds of the turtles on many beaches
These areas are separated from the normal beach so that tourists do not accidentally enter the nests or even destroy them. Unfortunately, it is not really likely that you can watch turtles hatching, but still you should keep an eye out for them, because it is not completely improbable.
The incubation period of Caretta-Caretta turtles is about 50 days and on the small wooden signs, which are stuck in every nest, the time of egg laying is also marked. If you calculate well and are in the right place at the right time, you might be lucky and see baby turtles hatching.
We hope you enjoyed our report on the best Zakynthos highlights. Please leave us a comment if you have any questions!