the greek island of zakynthos is also known to thousands of summer visitors by the Italian name, zante. the Venetians called her “fioro di levante”, and it’s easy to see why. this green gem of an island, covered in lush vines and olive groves, is beautifully set in the turquoise Ionian sea off the western peloponnese mainland of Greece, surrounded by golden sandy beaches. with its international airport and several friendly, well-established resorts, zakynthos is beginning to rival its more famous sister island, corfu, as a popular holiday destination.

around the resorts

many independent travellers choose to stay in the attractive capital, zakynthos town, with its excellent choice of restaurants and tavernas and a lively arcaded shopping streets. there is a man-made town beach and good road links to all the main resort areas. argassi, a bustling resort area with lovely views from the hillside overlooking the narrow beach and several popular bars and tavernas, is just south of the capital on the road to the glorious beaches of the vassilikos peninsular, such as gerakas, porto zoro, dafni, porto roma, banana, golden bay, plaka, ag. nikolaos. probably the most picturesque part of the island, offering a good choice of country tavernas either set among olive groves or overlooking the ionian sea and a good choice of hotels and villas. ideal place for country walks and relaxing by the sea. laganas, on zante’s south coast, is the largest and liveliest resort on the island , with a huge swathe of sandy beach and countless tavernas, bars and restaurants. the holiday accommodation is spead out across the coastal plain and runs along to kalamaki, at the eastern end of the beach, now a thriving resort in it’s own right. tsilivi, is a favourite resort for families, with a lovely yellow sand beach and lots of accommodation scattered among the olive groves. alikes and alikanas, are twin resorts on the northeast coast, sharing a long beach of pale fine sand and make a choice for a somewhat quieter holiday base.

out and about

zakynthos offers plenty of opportunity for excursions, including boat trips around the island and to several sea caves including blue grotto and keri. there’s also the much-photographed smuggler’s cove, with its shipwreck on the white sand beach. zante’s road network, as on so many greek islands, is a mixture of well-maintained routes between the resorts, and meandering tracks which never seem to match the map! car hire is readily available and away from the resorts , the island’s charmong villages are surprisingly undeveloped. the mainland is well served by regular car ferries, for day trips to classical olympia.