The Greek Island of Zakynthos

One of my favourite parts of exploring is finding a good view to sit and admire the beauty surrounding me and think wow…

I knew where this spot would be on the Greek island of Zakynthos so I hired a car and headed off to Navagio Beach.

Navagio Beach

The Greek island of Zakynthos, otherwise known as Zante, is the most southerly of the Ionian Islands. With green valleys and lush picturesque countryside, the drive to my destination was an enjoyable one.

Zakynthos hills

Overview 

Zakynthos is one of Greece’s largest olive oil producers and the drive through the shaded olive groves was a pleasant rest from the midday sun. Olive oil is a key source of income for the local farmers.

With around 1,700,000 trees the islanders are kept busy collecting the olives around the month of November. They each take the picked olives to their local processing plant. Here the traditional manner is still used to make the oil. 

olive trees Zakynthos

There are many beaches on Zakynthos island, including Laganas, Tsilivi, Kalamaki, and others, there are plentiful opportunities for organized water sports at centres in these areas.

The countryside on the island offers numerous chances for hiking. Although there are not many signposted hiking trails, there are other old footpaths that lead to mountainous villages, to monasteries and Medieval towers.

The island is known for its excellent nightlife scene, which has been increasingly popular with lots of bars and clubs to offer. 

Zakynthos island

Monasteries, Castles and Churches 

There are lots of historic and interesting churches and monasteries on the island, some of which are mentioned here.

The Castle of Zakynthos is set on a hill above Zante Town, in the region of Bohali. Constructed in the 15th century, probably around 1480, this Castle protected the island from many pirate raids and enemy attacks.

Zakynthos island building

One of the islands monasteries worth visiting while you are there is The Monastery of Panagia Skopiotissa and is located on the slopes of a hill above Argassi. Although the monastery is half-ruined, it is worth visiting for the gorgeous view around the island.

The Monastery of Panagia Eleftherotria is located in Lagopodo, next to Maherado and very close to the church of Santa Mavra. Its architecture looks more like a castle than a monastery. The location gives an amazing view to the countryside of the island.

The church of Agia Mavra in Maherado was built in the 14th century and it is among the most important churches in Zakynthos. It has an imposing Venetian bell tower next to the door. The church celebrates the memory of Agia Mavra on May 3rd.

Museums

The Naval Museum of Tsilivi includes aquarelles which presents the history of the Greek Navy from the 18th century until today, ship models, nautical uniforms, books, and photographs. A very inspiring museum to discover on your visit. 

The Helmis Museum of Natural History is located in the mountainous village of Agia Marina, which can be found in the center of Zakynthos. It was established in 2000 by a private initiative and aims to present the rare flora, fauna, and sea life of the island.

In the village of Pigadakia, 2 km from Katastari, there is a small cultural and agricultural museum. It was Established in 1998, this museum exhibits the life of a traditional Greek village. A true Greek inspiration.  

A quick stop off for lunch in the capital town of Zakynthos.

An earthquake in August 1953 along with fire and tidal waves destroyed the old town. Its history awasrchitecture were lovingly rebuilt by the Zakynthos people to replicate the original buildings that once stood. Today they blend into the hills around as if they had always been there.

I recommend Ammos Taverna in Ammos square for a delicious freshly cooked fish dish. Overlooking the harbour and shaded under the eucalyptus trees it makes a tranquil setting to dine.

sea view at dinner

You are made very welcome and the owner happily chats away about his family owning the Taverna for 80 years, rebuilt by them after the earthquake. In the town you can find many interesting things to do.

The Byzantine Museum can be found in Solomos Square, further along in the medieval square of St Mark, Solomos Museum with the impressive tombs of Dionysios Solomos and Andreas Kalvos are worth a visit.

Time to head back to the car and carry on to Navagio Beach.

Zakynthos bay

The Greek way of enjoyment, restoring a VW Beetle.

Greece VW Beetle

Located on the north-west shore of Zakynthos is Navagio beach, now famous for the shipwreck it’s also known as Shipwreck Cove or Smugglers Cove.

The story told that the ship was being chased by the Navy in 1980 due to suspicions of contraband, wine and woman on board.

Navagio Beach cove in greece

The ship hit rocks in the stormy weather and eventually lay to rest on the beach. The isolated cove is sheltered by the limestone cliffs hosting stunning white sand and crystal-clear waters.

cliffs at Zakynthos Navagio beach

There are plenty of boat trips to the shores of the shipwreck, leaving you to explore the wreckage, swim in the turquoise sea or relax and enjoy the sun, but I wanted to take in the view from up above. Ship wreck (just under the bushes on the left, in the pic above) surrounded by sun seekers.

Zakynthos Navagio beach

The car park was easy to find and there was plenty of space to park. You will find an information centre a few stalls selling drinks, olive oils, and local produce. I made the short walk to the viewing platform to see what it was all about… I wasn’t disappointed.

I left the busy viewing point and walked along the cliff edge to take in more of this spectacular sight.

There are lots of pathways along the cliff edge. So, you can walk and explore the cliffs at your own pace. There is no way down to the beach. Jumping is not recommended.

sea island in greece

I find a quiet spot and sit down on the rocks; it’s here I will leave you whilst I admire the view…. Wow…

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