Zakynthos Travel Guide

Navagio Beach © Heather Cowper

The Ionian island of Zakynthos (also called Zante) has been colourfully billed as 'the green island of poetry, song and love', mainly because it was the home of Dionysios Solomos, who wrote the Greek national anthem, 'The Hymn to Liberty'. Arriving in Zakynthos by ferry is certainly a poetic experience: the picturesque town curves around a bay dominated by a Venetian Fortress and the St Dennis Cathedral. Zakynthos town is reminiscent of Venice with its historic St Mark's Square and Solomos Square, lined by reconstructed neoclassical buildings. The Solomos Mausoleum is a museum dedicated to the island's aristocracy of bygone days, while the Byzantine Museum sports splendid icons and frescoes salvaged from the island's beautiful medieval churches, destroyed in the massive earthquake of 1953.

The main attraction for visitors, however, is the triangular shaped island's 57 miles (92km) of coastline, particularly on the eastern and southern flanks, which are blessed with beautiful bays. Favourites are the white sandy beaches of Lagana and Geraka, also renowned for being the nesting grounds of the Caretta-Caretta sea turtles. Inland, the mountain villages lure holidaymakers away from the beach to sample some local hospitality and good food and wine, and to explore monasteries tucked away among the greenery. Tourism has become the main income earner for this popular resort island, but the rapid development of infrastructure in recent years has not depleted its traditional charm - Zakynthos remains pleasantly poetic.

Although not exactly a party island, the Zakynthos nightlife offers visitors a variety of entertainment including pubs, bars and nightclubs. The trendiest spots are on the south end of the island, mostly in Laganas, Argassi, Kalamaki, Tsilivi and Alykes.

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