Zante is one of the seven Ionian Islands which lie off the west coast of mainland Greece. The island is served by an airport, which lies 1.25 miles southwest of the capital, Zante Town. Zante Town is also the island’s chief ferry port, lying 18 nautical miles west of the mainland port of Kyllini.
Zante is a hilly island, with land rising up to 2,480ft. The most developed holiday resorts lie along the south and east coasts.
The island of Zante is renowned for its unspoilt natural beauty. Hillsides are covered with pine forests, the fertile valleys support olive groves, vineyards and orchards of citrus fruits, and the southeast coast boasts several idyllic beaches. Zante was struck by an earthquake, in 1953, that destroyed many of its finest buildings, though the capital, Zante Town, was rebuilt as best it could be. Today the island’s busiest and best-known resort is Laganas, 7 miles south of Zante Town, on the south coast, which has now established itself as one of Greece’s top 24-hour party resorts for the 18-30 age group. Laganas lies within Zakinthos National Marine Park, where protected wildlife includes some 1,300 sea turtles and Mediterranean monk seals. The other top holiday resorts are Argassi, 2.5 miles south of Zante Town, and Tsilivi, 3 miles north of Zante Town. Other attractions here are the magnificent sea caves, notably the Blue Caves and Keri Caves, accessible only by boat from the sea, and the stunning Shipwreck Beach in Smuggler’s Cove.
Through July to August, when temperatures can exceed 38°C, Zante is alive with holidaymakers. However from May to June and September to October, the weather is a lot is warm and the island is less crowded. From November to April, most tourist facilities shut down completely.
Zante’s best sand beaches lie along the east and south coasts. The island’s longest beach is Laganas, with a stunning 5.5 miles of golden sands. Watersports are prohibited here as this is a protected site where rare loggerhead turtles nest. For the island’s best watersports facilities, visit Argassi, a long, narrow shingle beach just 2.5 miles south of Zante Town. North of Zante Town, Tsilivi is a mile long stretch of golden sand, while a little further north lies Alikes (Alykes), another pleasant sandy beach. Argassi, Tsilivi and Alikes have each been awarded the Blue Flag for cleanliness. On the northwest tip of the island lies Zante’s most photographed beach, Shipwreck Beach in Smuggler’s Cove. This is a dramatic cove with an idyllic beach backed by plummeting cliffs and can only be accessed by boat from the sea.
Zante’s unspoilt sandy beaches are perfect for children. The Water Village at Sarakinada, 6 miles from Laganas on the road to Zante Town, has pools, slides and a lazy river. The Luna Fun Park in Tsilivi, has a bouncy castle, bumper boats, inflatable slides, a rodeo bull, paintball and laser shooting. The Peligoni Club, near Agios Nikolaos on the northeast coast, is an upmarket family beach club aimed at teenagers, with excellent water sports facilities.
The Byzantine Museum
The Byzantine Museum (Solomos Square) displays frescoes and religious icons from between the 12th and 19th centuries and is well worth a visit. On a hill 2 miles above Zante Town, in Bohali, the 17th-century Venetian Castle offers fantastic views back to town and out to sea. Zante’s sea caves, which can be visited by boat, are also a major attraction with the best being the Blue Caves (on the island’s northeast tip) and Keri Caves (near Keri, on the island’s southwest tip). It is also possible to join an organised jeep safari, which involves a convoy of Land Rovers touring the island’s sites of historic interest, rural areas and inland villages.
Zante’s nightlife centres on Laganas. Here revellers will find countless pubs and nightclubs. The top dance clubs are Zero’s and Rescue Club, both on Laganas’ main strip (which runs down towards the sea, perpendicular to the beach). Laganas is renowned for the infamous ‘dentist’s chair,’ in which participants sit back and have alcohol tipped directly down their throats. Argassi and to a lesser extent Tsilivi also offer reasonably lively bars and clubs.