The flower of the East
Zakynthos: It’s lush with numerous beaches, and turquoise blue crystal clear waters. It is famous for the sea turtle Caretta-Caretta as protagonist, the Venetian nobility as decor and the “Shipwreck” beach as a trademark, Zakynthos is an island with numerous aspects.
Beyond the tourist resorts such as Laganas Bay, which attracts among others foreign tourists seeking parties on the beach, it is worth discovering the other Zakynthos, that justifies the formerly designation as "Levant flower" (the flower of the East).
Besides the exotic beauty rocky coves and the sandy beaches, you will climb the Lighthouse of Keri and you will visit the Ano Gerakari village for panoramic views, you will discover villages (such as Exo Chora, Orthonies and Volimes), and lost in the middle of the pine forests.
“The hinterland, is full of olive groves, vineyards and vegetable gardens. Over the last years is in progress an unprecedented agrotourism development: the new generation of stone built houses -and the offered benefits- will satisfy even the most demanding visitors. Finally, in the town of Zakynthos, you will wander around the castle of Bochali and the green hill of Strani where Solomos -our National poet- wrote the "Hymn to Freedom".
Zakynthos is located south of Kefalonia and west of the northwest side of the Peloponnese with a minimum distance of about 9 miles.
The oldest finds of fossils in Laganas Bay belong to the Paleolithic era. According to Homer, the first inhabitants of the island was King Zakynthos, son of King Dardanos of Troy, who arrived here between 1600 and 1500 BC. Then Zakynthos was conquered by King Arcissus of Kefalonia and later by the famous Ulysses King of Ithaca.
After the return of Ulysses to Ithaca, signed the treaty autonomy and democracy on the island, the first in the Greek area.
During the Persian Wars, Zakynthos remained neutral, but in the battle of Plataea took part against the Persians.
From 455 BC Zakynthos was allied with Athens and Corfu, and they faced together the Corinthians.
After the defeat of the Athenians in Sicily- during the Peloponnesian War-, Zakynthos was conquered by the Spartans, who imposed an oligarchic status. Later, the inhabitants rebelled and re-established democracy. During the Macedonian War, the island was conquered by the Macedonians, and later by the Romans. During the Byzantine era, Zakynthos becomes the province of Illyria.
At this time the island suffered raids by pirates and then by the Crusaders, passing from East to West.
In 1084, the island was occupied by the Venetians and by the late 12th century until 1357, by the French. In 1485, the Venetians occupied the island again and called back the inhabitants who were immigrant, to their homes and properties. In the famous Libro d'Oro they recorded the names of the nobles of the island. At that period the island developed and the city acquired a special architectural character. Due to these special features, Zakynthos named as "Florence" of Greece. The population was divided into "nobili" (noble), "civili" (bourgeois) and "Popolari" (folk). The popolari rebelled against nobili. Revolution is also known as the "Revolt of Popolari".
The French Revolution in 1789, brought the ideals of social equality and justice on the island. On July 4, 1797, the French flag was raised at the Castle of Zakynthos.
In October 1798, the Turkish fleet occupied Zakynthos. On March 21, 1800, a treaty was signed between Russia and Turkey, which concerned the establishment of the first independent Greek state of the Ionian Islands, which was implemented for seven years. In 1809, the British fleet occupied Zakynthos, and then became the honorary capital of the Ionian State. At the same time, the rest of Greece was under Turkish occupation. In Zakynthos created and vowed the "Society of Friends" (Filiki Etaireia), which promoted the rebellion against the Turks. In 1830, Greece became independent. Finally, on May 21, 1864, the Greek flag was raised on the island.
During World War II, the Italians and the Germans occupied Zakynthos until its liberation on September 12, 1944.
Weather in Zakynthos
The climate of the island is very mild, and characterized by mild wet winter and cool summer. The climate does not have strong temperature changes or high winds. It is particularly damp, with an average annual relative humidity above 65% and plenty of sunshine.
By car and boat:To visit Zakynthos you have to drive, to the port of Kyllini and then take the ferry boat to the port of Zakynthos.
The distance from Athens to Kyllini is 286 km. And the journey time approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes.
The distance from the port of Kyllini up Zakynthos is 18 nautical miles and the journey by boat about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
By air: Zakynthos International Airport "Dionysios Solomos" is located in Laganas, 6 km from the town of Zakynthos. It is the fifth airport in employment in Greece, with many visitors each year. It is 1 km from the famous area of Laganas. The journey by plane from Athens takes about 45 minutes. To Zakynthos do not performed night flights in order to avoid bother the turtle Caretta Caretta. During the summer season charter flights from various European countries, especially from Germany and England arrive on the island.
Attractions and places to visit
Beaches: The east side is appropriate for family holidays because of endless coastline with clear blue waters and tavernas on the beach. The west is full of steep cliffs, resulting in rare beauty, but more difficult access bays.
Two of the famous beaches, is Gerakas, with its wonderful sandy beach, the huge natural clay sculptures and the nests of the sea turtles Caretta-Caretta (required enormous attention to see where you step!), and the rocky Limnionas, with the “Mediterranean fjord” coastline, the submarine caves suitable for diving and the tavern with the panoramic view.
Very picturesque is the leeward Marathiás beach with white pebbles and clear blue waters, Xigia beach with its hot sulfur waters and the hot marine sources and the 'protected' -due of Caretta-Caretta- sandy beach of Dafni, with the taverns reminiscent of Greece in the 60s. One of the most magical beaches, with beach bars and sports facilities, is Banana, Tsilivi, Alykes, Alykanas and Porto Zoro.
Shipwreck and Blue Caves: You can go by boat or private boat. One of the most photographed Greek landscapes, the “Shipwreck“. The wild beauty of the landscape and the rusty hull have been circling around the world as the ultimate Greek postcard. Do not miss a dive in the spectacular Blue Caves, which are also accessed only by boat.
Stone Park Askos: In a wooded ravine area of 500 acres, in Volimes, will provide you the opportunity, by following the stone path, to see 45 species of animals (goats, turtles, deers, raccoons and llamas! etc) living freely in special areas.
Agios Markos Square: With Venetian glamor, is the heart of the social life of the island. Exactly there was taken place, the revolution of the popolari in 1797, who burned the famous Libro d'Oro, thus abolishing the hereditary privileges of the nobility in the island. There you can also enjoy your morning coffee or a late drink in the cafes and bars, but you can also make a visit to the Museum of Dionysios Solomos.
Museum of Dionysios Solomos and Eminent Zakynthians: In the two floors of this folklore museum located in Agios Markos Square, besides the manuscripts of our national poet (Dionysios Solomos) and the first edition of the "Hymn to Freedom", is exhibited artwork of the 17th century (furniture, embroidery, prints, jewelry and musical instruments from the mansions of this era, coats of arms and figureheads).
Arekia, Bohali, Gaitani: If you want to hear the famous zakynthian serenades by local musicians, then Arekia in Repara and The House of Lata in Bohali is their natural setting: wooden tables and benches are set up in the open courtyards - accompanied, by live music-. Don’t miss the local cuisine.
Excursions: From the uninhabited islets surrounding Zakynthos, Marathonisi is a rare beauty landscape, with idyllic coves and ... unexpected encounters both by turtles Caretta-Caretta as well as seals of Monachus-Monachus, which have nests in one of the caves of the island.
The endangered turtles Caretta Caretta, are inextricably linked to Zakynthos after lay their eggs on the beaches south of the island, and specially around the bay of Laganas. Zakynthos is an enormous environmental importance for the turtles as “they have lost” many beaches in the Mediterranean because of commercialization (the beaches in Greece and especially in Zakynthos is the place where can the baby turtles to hatch).
Another species that lives in the waters of the island is the endangered monk seal -Monachus Monachus (often called the Mediterranean monk seal).
Zakynthos provides wide range of accommodation to suit all tastes. Hotels in Zakynthos town and the surrounding areas, rooms, hostels will meet your needs all year round.
In the mountain villages, from Kiliomenos up to Agios Leontas and from the Louha up to Agia Marina, you will find family taverns and traditional cafes. There, under the plane trees and the pergolas you will enjoy the tasteful Zakynthian stuffed rabbit, local veal or lamb, the delicious papatoli (veal shank) and sofigadoura (veal meat, garlic, vinegar and gruyere), oil cheese, handmade pastels and “fritoures” (semolina pancakes) as well as local fruity Verdea wine.
Zakynthos provides something for everyone, regardless of age and preferences - from music cafes, trendy shops and evening dance clubs to cinemas, bars, restaurants, and traditional taverns.
No holiday experience, can not be considered as complete without at least one visit to a glamorous bar or beach clubs on the area. The sounds of famous Greek or International DJs and live bands give the rhythm for endless hours of fun.
Laganas is renowned for having a colorful and happening nightlife. After midnight the larger clubs really get pumping. Clubs, such as Rescue, Zeros and Medousa are among the many found mainly on the Main Street in Laganas, which are popular to the youth. The larger Clubs in Laganas have a guest capacity of up to fifteen hundred people.
In all tourist resorts of the area there are bars and clubs with all kinds of hearings, perfect for a drink accompanied by relaxing sounds or enjoying a drink and nonstop dancing until dawn.
Zakynthos and generally all Greece is in the Eastern European Time Zone (Greenwich Mean Time plus two hours during daylight saving time, all over the year).
In Zakynthos and throughout Greece, the euro is the standard currency. This converterallows you to determine the value of other currencies compared with the euro.
Of course, there are so many places where you can exchange your currency for euro such as Banks, Currency exchange offices etc.
Zakynthos is a popular holiday destination and generally a quite safe place for visitors. Use common caution and be careful when walking around after dark and you won't face any problems while staying on Zakynthos.
Power sockets in Greece deliver 220-240 volts at 60 hertz, and you may need a converter to use your electrical and electronical devices here.
If you have a laptop or a tablet with you, wireless Internet is available throughout Zakynthos, including in many hotels, coffee shops, parks, etc. At some locations, you have to pay for WiFi.
The drinking age in Zakynthos —and throughout Greece—is 18, and smoking is banned in public places throughout the Town, including bars, restaurants, Public Transport and taxis. Cigar smoking is permitted at cigar bars that register with the Town. In Zakynthos, those who are 18 or older can purchase tobacco and cigarettes.