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Die berühmte Navagio-Bucht auf Zakynthos, Bild: StockBrunet / shutterstock

Zakynthos – The Turtle Island

Almost everyone has seen a postcard or poster of what is probably the most beautiful Greek beach. The famous Navagio Bay with the shipwreck is one of the most photographed motifs in the whole country and is located on Zakynthos in the Ionian Sea.

Zakynthos is the southernmost island of this chain and is characterized by a special harmony: lush green, turquoise sea, impressive cliffs and beautiful sandy beaches. Zakynthos, the tenth largest island in Greece, has become one of the most popular holiday areas in Hellas in recent years. Due to the rather manageable size of only about 40 km long and 20 km wide, the island can be easily explored with a rental car or scooter. There are many different beaches, so that every holidaymaker can discover his or her own personal favourite bathing spot.

The beaches of Zakynthos

The famous Navagio Bay is only accessible from the sea. To get to it, you simply take part in one of the many boat tours offered. The shipwreck lying there is not, as many tourists believe, already ancient. It only ran aground on Zakynthos in 1980. Since then, it has been the most popular attraction on the island among holidaymakers. If you value a wide range of entertainment, the 9 km long Laganas Beach is the right place for you. Party-loving holidaymakers meet here during the day to party.

Zakynthos, Dafni Beach
Dafni Beach, Image: Mila Atkovska / shutterstock

On the other hand, things are quieter at Dafni Beach on the Vasilikos peninsula in the southwest. Since only a narrow road leads into this nature reserve, this beach is not visited by crowds of tourists. In summer, the Karetta turtles breed and hatch here. To protect them, wooden and metal racks have been set up, to which you should definitely keep your distance so as not to disturb them. The same applies to Kalamaki Beach, where these endangered animals can also be found. The Karetta turtle is the mascot of Zakynthos and can be found in the souvenir shops in every conceivable form. In the west of the island is the picturesque bay of Porto Limnionas, which is particularly popular with divers and snorkelers due to its crystal-clear waters. It is definitely worth visiting more than just one beach during a stay in Zakynthos.

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Excursions on the island

A boat trip is an essential part of every holidaymaker’s excursion programme. The beauty of the island can be discovered particularly well from this perspective. For example, trips on glass-bottom boats are very popular. With a bit of luck, these tours also give you the opportunity to observe turtles in their natural element. A trip to the caves of Keri in the southwest of the island should also be undertaken.

Small boats can be used to navigate the larger caves and sail around the striking rock arches and cliffs of the coast. In Keri there is also a lighthouse, from whose “terrace” there is a fantastic view of the sea. Especially at sunset time, romantically inclined holiday guests gather here every day and enjoy the magical atmosphere. From the seaside resort of Agios Sostis in the south, you can walk over a long wooden walkway to the offshore island of Cameo, which was separated from Zakynthos during an earthquake in the 17th century. Those interested in environmental and nature conservation will be delighted to visit the Karetta Karetta Information Centre in Dafni.

Attractions in Chora (Zakynthos Town)

Chora / Zakynthos Town
Chora / Zakynthos Town, Image: Iuliia Azarova / shutterstock

The vast majority of guests take at least one trip to the island capital of the same name, which is often called Chora by the locals, as is the case on many other Greek islands. Unfortunately, a large number of historic buildings were completely destroyed during the severe earthquake and the subsequent major fire in 1957. Over time, however, it has been possible to restore most of the houses and churches, so that a stroll through the picturesque alleys and along the harbour promenade is a wonderful holiday experience. The landmark of the village is the magnificent Agios Dionysos Church. In it, the bones of Saint Dionysus, the patron saint of the island, are kept in a silver sarcophagus. The interior of the Byzantine-style church impresses with ornate frescoes, colorful paintings, and Venetian chandeliers.

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A 17th-century building houses the important library of Zakynthos, which houses around 50,000 historical writings of inestimable value. If you are interested in the exciting history of the Ionian Islands, which have been under Byzantine, Venetian and British rule over time, you should visit the archaeological site on Kastro Hill. The ancient ruins that can be seen here include the remains of an acropolis, a temple of Apollo and a stadium. However, the Venetians later used many of the old stones to build their mighty castle complex.

A stay on the beautiful island of Zakynthos is sure to delight beach holidaymakers and culturally interested travellers alike.

Important information about Zakynthos

  1. Geography: Zakynthos is the third largest of the Ionian Islands and is located west of mainland Greece. The landscape is characterized by breathtaking beaches, rocky coasts and green hills.
  2. Tourism: The island is a popular destination for tourists from all over the world, especially in summer. The most famous beaches are Navagio (also known as Shipwreck Beach) with its iconic shipwreck and the Blue Grotto.
  3. Culture and history: Zakynthos has a rich history that dates back to ancient times. The island was under different rulers, including the Venetians, the Ottoman Turks and the British. Their culture is characterized by a mixture of Greek, Venetian, and Ottoman influences.
  4. Nature: The island is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including the famous Caretta Caretta turtles that nest on the beaches.
  5. Economy: In addition to tourism, agriculture plays an important role in Zakynthos. Olive oil, wine and citrus fruits are some of the island’s agricultural products.