Many of the best things to do in Zakynthos revolve around taking a boat tour. Cruise around coastal highlights such as the famous shipwreck beach at Navagio along with the luminous Blue Caves. Look for endangered loggerhead sea turtles at Cameo Island, too.
Take a private or small-group day trip to see the island’s outdoor wonders in just half a day. Stop at a viewpoint for panoramic views of Navagio, then visit Kalamaki, the Keri Caves, Marathonisi, and Cameo Island.
1. Visit the Monastery of Agios Georgios Krimnon
Zakynthos’ pristine beaches and crystal-blue sea are a big draw, but the island also offers a lush mountainous experience. The western part of the island is dotted with picturesque villages, pine forests, and high cliffs that offer breathtaking views. A visit here can include a tour of the Monastery of Agios Georgios Krimnon, or you can take a hike up to the summit for a view back across the harbor.
The most popular things to do in Zakynthos involve water activities, but there are also lots of tours that allow you to explore the rocky underwater topography that makes the sea around Zakynthos so unique. For example, a turtle spotting tour is one of the most popular excursions on the island. Look for a company that follows best practices when it comes to seeing these endangered animals, as it’s important not to stress out the turtles with too many boats crowding them.
One of the most dramatic things to do in Zakynthos is exploring the Blue Caves on a boat tour. These caves are a little off the coast of Zakynthos and are only accessible from a small boat, making them somewhat of a hidden gem. The emerald blue waters of the caves are electric, and they’re a photogenic site from both above and below the water.
Another must-do activity on Zakynthos is visiting Shipwreck Beach, which is a great place to see the sand dunes, turquoise waters, and crystalline cliffs that the area is famous for. It’s a little difficult to get to, but it’s worth the effort for the stunning scenery and the chance to snorkel in an underwater world of beautiful fish and coral.
If you want to learn about the island’s culture, history, and traditions, head to the main square in Zakynthos Town to see the purpose-built museum. It features a collection of icons, frescoes, and sculptures from the island’s churches and monasteries, dating from the 12th century onwards. There are also two rooms that showcase 18th-century oil paintings and a scale model of the town before the 1953 earthquake.
2. Take a Boat Tour
One of the most popular activities to do on a vacation to Zakynthos is take a boat tour around the island. It’s a fantastic way to see the beautiful coastal scenery, such as the famous shipwrecks at Navagio Beach and the luminous Blue Caves. Plus, there’s a good chance you’ll get to spot some sea turtles while snorkelling around.
The best place to do this is at a company that follows the guidelines for safe interaction with animals. That means they’ll keep the numbers of people snorkelling at any one time low so it doesn’t stress out the wildlife. You’ll also want to make sure the company has a good track record of protecting the environment in general.
A great option is Mario’s Turtle and Sea Caves Boat Trips, which operates from close to Navagio Beach. This tour has a number of benefits, such as free pickup from your hotel or apartment, and the price includes snorkelling equipment and the chance to visit the nearby Monastery of Mario. It’s one of the few old buildings that survived the 1953 earthquake, and inside you’ll find period furniture and paintings of the area that give a sense of what life was like for local aristocrats.
Another popular option is to book a private boat tour that allows you to explore the beautiful coastline of Zakynthos at your own pace. This is especially ideal if you’re travelling with kids, as it gives you more flexibility to go at your own speed and avoid larger groups of people. The boat will come with everything you need to snorkel and swim, and can even include lunch at a top-notch taverna on the shore.
This particular tour is a full day out, so you’ll have plenty of time to relax and enjoy the scenery while on the water. You can also stop for a coffee break on the shore and explore the little coves along the way, which are a perfect spot to soak up some sun. Just remember to bring a waterproof camera for this activity, and some water shoes for navigating the rocky shoreline.
3. Visit the Dionysios Solomos Museum
The former home of 19th-century poet Dionysios Solomos—who wrote the Hymn to Liberty that became the national anthem of Greece—doubles as a museum. The house itself may not look particularly impressive (its many formal portraits and leather-bound books might not hold your attention for long), but it’s a place to learn more about the life of this famous local figure. Among other exhibits, you’ll see the desk at which Solomos worked and a collection of his manuscripts.
On the northern tip of the island, at Cape Skinari, you’ll find the spectacular so-called Blue Caves—a series of limestone sea caves that glow azure and sapphire thanks to the sun’s light reflecting off their surfaces. Take a boat tour to get a close-up look at the caves, and don’t forget your swimwear to enjoy the crystal-clear waters that surround them.
Zakynthos is also a major breeding ground for the endangered loggerhead sea turtle. To see these gorgeous creatures in their natural habitat, book a small-group day trip to southern Zakynthos and cruise its marine park in a glass-bottom boat—great turtle pictures are guaranteed. Then swim at pretty Cameo Island, explore the Keri Caves, and unwind on Marathonisi (Turtle Island).
This private tour showcases Zakynthos by land and water, including a visit to Shipwreck Beach and Anafonitria Monastery as well as lesser-known gems like a centuries-old olive tree. With a guide who treats you like a friend, this is a fun and relaxed way to experience the island’s highlights.
Zakynthos Town, rebuilt in the Venetian style after a 1953 earthquake, is a hotchpotch of elegant architecture, cool cafes, and streets crowded with boutique stores. One of the town’s best sights is the 17th-century mansion of Alexander Roma—former president of the Greek parliament—near Solomos Square, which houses family portraits and period furniture.
Kids will love this animal park, which features deer, raccoons, peacocks, tortoises, and much more. Askos Stone Park is located in the north of the island, 30 kilometers from Zakynthos Town, and is a great option for families with young children. Entrance is free, but a donation is suggested to help support the park’s care and feeding of these adorable animals.
4. Go Hiking
Whether you’re an avid hiker or just looking for a good way to get some exercise, Zakynthos has something for everyone. The island’s hills, mountains, and wetlands offer plenty of opportunities for hiking. You can also take a stroll on one of the many beaches or go to one of the popular boat tours. The best time to visit Zakynthos for hiking is between July and August. These are the hottest months of the year, so you’ll want to pack extra sunscreen and water.
The best hiking trails on Zakynthos are located in the hills and mountains of the island, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the coastline. There are several trails that lead to the island’s most famous landmarks, including the Keri Lighthouse and the Navagio Beach.
Another great option for a hike is the Vrahionas Hike, which takes you through the island’s highest peak. This trail offers beautiful views of the surrounding islands and is a great place to spot local wildlife. The Navagio Beach Trail is another favorite, as it takes you to the beach where the famous shipwreck occurred.
Other popular hiking options on the island include the Xigia Beach Trail, which is a charming pebbly beach that’s known for its natural healing powers. It’s believed that the salty waters at Xigia can relieve pain and cure illnesses.
Lastly, you can also explore the cliffs and caves on the island’s northwest coast on the Turtle Island tour. This is a great place to see Caretta-Caretta turtles, although you’ll need to go with a company that practices safe snorkeling with these endangered animals.
If you’re bringing children, make sure to bring them along for some of these activities. There are many kids’ attractions on the island, such as waterparks and various water sports. Additionally, there are plenty of beautiful beaches for the whole family to relax on. Zakynthos is a very safe place to travel, and you can expect the Greeks to be very hospitable. Just remember to follow normal safety precautions and you’ll have a great trip!