Intertwining indulgent nightlife with spectacular natural beauty, Zante is a Greek island destination that appeals to a multitude of holidaymakers at once.
Holidays in Zante
Between a three and four-hour flight from the UK, Zante, or Zakynthos (its Greek name), is the jewel in the crown of the Ionian Sea - a triangular island inhabited since the Neolithic Age but today encapsulating travellers young and old.
Nicknamed The Flower of the East, Zante is a super versatile holiday destination catering to 18-30 clubbers, archaeological enthusiasts, beach loungers and beyond. The island's four main resorts of Tsilivi, Argassi, Kalamaki and Laganas are distinguished by their extensive sandy beaches while boat trips allow visitors to appreciate the stunning white cliffs and pretty coves the island is renowned for.
Visit Shipwreck Beach, made famous by countless travel catalogues, enjoy a private party on Cameo Island or catch a ferry to Killini on the Greek mainland.
Alternatively, stare at the stunning Blue Caves that belong to Skinari Cape, enjoy sightings of local loggerhead turtles on a water excursion or amble past ruins of a Venetian Castle that transports visitors back in time to Zante's medieval past.
Receiving around 3,000 hours of sunshine each year, Zante is a scorching holiday destination during peak season. Experiencing average temperatures of 23-26°C between June and September, summer begins early in Zante with average temperatures not dipping beneath 13°C between March to May.
While the Mediterranean climate means winter temperatures are mild, sun seekers are advised to travel outside of the October to March period which represents Zante's rainy season. Receiving an average peak of 170mm rainfall in December, this is part of the reason why Zante's pine-covered mountains and olive greens are a deep, verdant green.
Things to do on holiday in Zante
Much of Zante's charm lay in the fact that both youthful crowds and elder generations can both find a wide range of memorable day trips and activities to enjoy during their stay on the island.
Party 'til dawn
Laganas, on Zante's south coast, has long been established as one of Europe's most popular 18-30 holiday destinations, and boasts everything to satisfy international party crowds.
Essentially a long strip teeming with adrenaline-pumping nightclubs, neon-lighted cocktail bars and internationally-themed pubs, some late bars stay open as late as 6am with Rescue Club, Plus Club and Cherry Bay having kept the party going for many years now.
Parties don't simply take place along the Laganas strip however. Every year, Cameo Island - connected to the coast by a short rope bridge - throws an iconic white party (all white dress code) in secluded, private surroundings - sure to live long in the memory.
Indulgence reigns supreme here with two-for-one drinks deals, late fast food bars and day-time boat trips drawing in thousands of 20-something's every year who want to enjoy the carefree days of their youth.
A respected destination on the DJ circuit, electronic dance music is extremely popular in Laganas but the strip also features R&B, indie and funky house-orientated bars and clubs that allow visitors to party long into the night, whatever their musical persuasion.
Obtain alternative angles
You cannot visit Zante without enjoying a series of boat tours that allow visitors to appreciate the island and its assets from the best angles.
The island's famed Blue Caves are only discoverable by boat and this is a tour you certainly won't regret. With the most spectacular caves sited at the northern tip of Zante, they earn their name from the rich azure-coloured waters that surround the beautiful naturally eroded arches. Smaller boats are even able to sail into and beneath the pretty hollows.
Then there are boat trips to Shipwreck Beach, often the idyllic cover photo for holidays to Zante at large. The azure waters here are almost neon-like and glass bottom boats allow visitors to appreciate local sea life up close. The famous ship wreck itself has been moored here since 1980 and is an iconic centrepiece between the tall cliffs guarding the cove.
Zante's surrounding waters feature a plentiful supply of loggerhead turtles that have fascinated visitors for decades. An endangered species, these marvellous creatures are a joy to spot with tours overseeing eco-friendly considerations while the appropriately named Turtle Island (Marathonisi) underlines their regional importance.
Although Zante's road network is good, going off the beaten track is the best way to obtain the most stunning vantage points the island has to offer.
An off-road Jeep safari isn't only thrilling given the true sense of adventure that comes with climbing aboard these tough purpose-built vehicles. The beauty of these tours is that they traverse rural, less touristy regions - yielding a reassuring sense of exclusivity.
As opposed to the touristy southern reaches of the island, northern Zante is mountainous so kick up some dust as you hurtle up and down steep dirt roads with tremendous views of the coast and vast pine-covered plateaus. You'll also get up close to landmarks of historical significance such as Yperagathos Monastery which is one of the oldest buildings of its kind in all of Greece.
Explore Zante Town
In addition to the resort areas that make up the island of Zante, the island's capital, of the same name, is another intriguing place to explore.
Sited on the island's east coast, Zante Town is a great place to appreciate beautiful Venetian architecture, enjoy a horse drawn carriage ride along the seafront or peruse the many handsome churches, museums and city square that fringes the town's active port.
You cannot miss the impressive tall tower belonging to the Church of Saint Dionysios - reminiscent of Venice's famous San Marco Campanile. Actually withstanding an earthquake that shook Zante in 1953, the church is named after Zakynthos' patron saint and is arguably more breath-taking at night with lights illuminating the spire.
Don't forget to take a stroll through Solomos Square - Zante Town's primary open space. A great place to people-watch while enjoying a spot of lunch, sit in the shadow of the Museum of Post Byzantine Art and capture photographs of the State of Solomos and Statue of Liberty.
Outstanding beach lazing
While Zante is scattered with tiny cove-based beaches, when it comes to all day beach lazing, the sands that fringe the resort areas are truly outstanding.
The soft sandy beaches in Tsilivi and Laganas are characterised by being both wide and long and offer the classic beach holiday experience abroad. Families, couples and honeymooners are all able to top up their tans while being within easy reach of souvenir shops, convenience stores, bars and restaurants that fringe the seafront.
The exotically-named Banana Beach is Zante's biggest beach and sits in the south-eastern reaches of the island. Here, holidaymakers can enjoy quieter surroundings with few amenities meaning that peace and tranquillity can be sought far easier - a beach towel and sunscreen is all you'll need!
Alykes Beach is another popular east coast beach community with crystal clear waters that belong on a postcard. While most of Zante's beaches offer a variety of water sports such as jet-skiing, banana boating and canoeing, bold types can rent out small motor and speed boats here to explore the surrounding coast at their own leisure.
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