If you’re considering your first trip to this attractive Greek island, you may well be wondering where to stay in Zakynthos, to get the most from your holiday. With such a diverse landscape, varied coastline, and assorted nightlife, deciding where to base yourself can often be a rather hit and miss affair.
In this blog we’ve earmarked 10 of the best places to stay in Zakynthos, from where you can make the most of exploring its culture, topography, coastal areas, and things to do.
More popularly known as ‘Zante’, Zakynthos is the third largest Greek island in the Ionian Sea, and one of the most popular with those who regularly holiday on the Greek Isles. Zakynthos is a holiday isle for all age-groups and interests.
Nature lovers can enjoy over 7,000 species of plants; and endangered turtles, and seals.
It was ruled by the Venetians from the 15th century until 1797, and it still has many old churches and archaeological places of interest from the Venetian era.
For the sea and sun lovers, there are over 25 great beaches dotted around the coast, all with their own unique charm and attractions. For the party people, there are fabulous local and international restaurants to be visited, and bars and clubs where you can dance till dawn.
The following is our shortlist of the best places to stay in Zakynthos.
10 Best Areas Where to Stay in Zakynthos
1. Zakynthos Town, a city with something for everyone
In 1953, the island’s capital and thriving shipping port was hit by a large earthquake and subsequent fire, which destroyed much of the infrastructure. Rebuilding was rapidly undertaken, ensuring the old town retained as much of its old style architecture and layout as possible.
Now, the town is a mix of modern port facilities, and an old town area where much of its Venetian history has been meticulously rebuilt.
Be sure to visit Solomos Square. Surrounded by traditional Zakynthos architecture, and home to the Public Library and the Post-Byzantium Museum, the centre of the square is dominated by a statue of Dionysios Solomos, the Greek national poet.
While in the square, look out for Strata Marina, the old coast road which runs from Solomos Square to the church of Agios Dionysios, the island’s patron-saint. It is one of the town’s busiest areas with myriad shops, bars, cafes, and restaurants to browse, as you stroll the cobbled streets.
Another pretty square to look out for is the Agios Markos Square, or Freedom Square, where in 1797, the Libro d’ Oro (book of Italian Nobility), was burnt, and the Tree of Freedom planted. You will also find here The Museum of Solomos, Kalvos and Eminent Zakynthians.
From the square you can join Alexandros Romas street. Lined with large shopping arcades, coffee shops, cafes, bars, and restaurants, it is the town’s main commercial area.
Other places of interest around town include the Venetian Castle, on a cliff top overlooking the port. The 17th century church of Agios Nikolaos. The Agios Dionysios Church in the port. The Catholic Church of Agios Markos, built in 1516, and the Agios Georgios Church.
The main beach area at the end of the port is favoured by both visitors and locals, and is popular with families.
There are plenty of family friendly restaurants and café/bars dotted around the cobbled streets or on terraced rooftops for dining out in the evening, as well as a large choice of local taverns.
For the 18-30s, live music, and bars and clubs open until the early hours, can be found on the edge of town.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN ZAKYNTHOS TOWN
2. Tsilivi, popular place to stay in Zakynthos for families
On the northeast coast of the island, just 5km from Zakynthos Town and 9km from the airport, Tsilivi is rapidly becoming the resort of choice for visitors of all ages, especially families.
It is a resort that in recent years has seen a major increase in its visitor facilities. Now, not only does it have a pristine sandy beach with a host of water-sports including pedalos and jet skis, but a new mini-golf course, bowling green, entertainment centre, and waterpark have been added.
The beach holds a blue flag for excellence, is safe for children, and comes with the usual sunbeds, parasols, and bars and cafes spread along the walkway.
The centre of the resort provides plenty of opportunities for a little retail therapy. Whether a new bag, flip-flops, tee-shirt or food and provisions for your self-catering apartment, you’ll find supermarkets, souvenir and gift shops, jewellers, and fashion boutiques, all mixed in with friendly Greek taverns, cafes, restaurants, and coffee shops.
In the evening you can enjoy a romantic meal for two, or choose a fast-food take-out for the family. Tsilivi has an excellent range of local and international restaurants, seafood grills, and fast-food options to suit all palates.
The majority of night-time bars are relatively quiet affairs, but you can easily find those with quiz nights, background music, karaoke, or traditional Greek music.
For the young and young-at-heart looking for something a little livelier, consider booking one of the many beach parties, where you can party till dawn.
If you’re considering Tsilivi for your stay in Zakynthos, accommodation is available across all levels from self-catering, to mid-range and luxury hotels.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN TSILIVI
3. Psarou – Amoudi, a little piece of paradise
For those looking for a sunshine holiday away from the usual busy tourist areas, where they can unwind and recharge the batteries, Psarou (next to Amoudi), by Zakynthos Town, ticks all the boxes.
Situated on the island’s north coast, Psarou Beach is just a couple of kilometres from the resort of Alykanas, and like its neighbour has managed to retain much of its Greek heritage, apart from the few apartment blocks that have been built.
It is a totally unspoilt resort area that offers an insight into how Zakynthos must have been pre-package holidays. Psarou, one of seven local beaches, is a blue flag, narrow strip of sandy beach which shelves gently into the turquoise sea, making it suitable for children of all ages.
Although not the most picturesque of Zakynthos beaches, it makes up for it with its unspoilt coastline and countryside. The only sunbeds and parasols on the beach are for use by the few apartments.
There are no shops or WCs lining the beach, there are no water-sports, and you’ll have to hunt for a local bar away from the front, so packed lunches and bottled drinks are the order of the day.
During the day, if you want time away from the beach, you can explore the villages, olive groves, and vineyards dotted around the area, visit the local towns, or drive into Zakynthos Town, which is around 20 minutes away.
Likewise evenings tend to be very quiet, with many visitors choosing to enjoy dinner, drinks, and the hospitality of local taverns, or exploring farther afield in the local towns.
If you fancy some time at Psarou during your stay in Zakynthos, there are a few apartment complexes close to the sea, with boutique hotels, villas, and complexes further away from the coast, but all within easy reach of the beach.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN PSAROU
4. Alykes/Alykanas, where to stay in Zakynthos for a relaxing family holiday experience
If you’re looking for a chilled out, forget the world kind of holiday, then Alykes/Alykanas may be worth a second look. The district of Alykes on the north coast of Zakynthos, includes the four main beaches of Alykanas, Alykes, Psarou, and Amoudi.
With warm, shallow, calm seas, sandy beaches, and picturesque surroundings, the resort is popular with families with younger children, and couples. As a general rule, other than Psarou which does get very busy, the beaches can be refreshingly quiet.
The coastal resort village of Alykes is surrounded by farmland, and you can pass through grape laden vineyards and olive groves as you explore the area on foot, cycle, or horseback.
Amenities by way of shops, bars, cafes, and restaurants are in the main good around the village areas, although one or two of the quieter beaches have just the bare essentials of a beach shack or café.
If you intend to do a little beach exploring, do your homework, and if necessary, take a cool-box or bag with drinks and a packed lunch.
A few places of interest away from the beach areas include the 16th century St John the Baptist Monastery near the village of Katastari. The picturesque Pentokamaro Old Bridge over the River Skourtis. The shipwreck on the Smugglers Cove, and a boat trip to see the Blue Caves.
The area has an excellent and varied nightlife with a good variety of restaurants including Indian and Chinese, and plenty of local Greek tavernas where you can enjoy a quiet pint or get more involved with the evening’s entertainment.
If you fancy Alykes/Alykanas for your stay in Zakynthos they have an excellent selection of hostels, self-catering accommodation, and hotels to suit all budgets.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN ALYKES – ALYKANAS
5. Agios Nikolaos (Skinari), quiet area with a small charming port
With freight traffic and ferries from neighbouring Kefalonia arriving on a regular basis, Agios Nikolaos, sitting on the north coast of the island, is more a very small but charming working port than holiday area, and attracts less tourists than many of the other nearby resorts.
Although the scenery is spectacular, a fast shelving, shingle pebble beach makes it unsuitable for young children, and the majority of visitors are families and older couples wanting somewhere they can enjoy the local culture away from the regular tourist areas.
Away from the beach area, Skinari is blessed with a number of old style Greek villages, still surviving off the sea and the land as they did before the advent of package tourism.
If you want to try local goods, a visit to the village of Volimes should be pencilled in. Here you can buy homemade cheeses, wine, and honey. As well as beautiful ceramics and lace products to take home as gifts.
A short distance around the coast from Agios Nikolaos you will find the coastal village of Makri Gialos, and its attractive sandy beach. Every year a large beach party is organised, and the local taverns and beach fill up with party people of all ages, eating and drinking under the stars into the early hours.
The water here is said to have a high sulphur content, making it ideal as a natural health spa, and a great place to ‘take the waters’ for your aches and pains – and apparently, to reduce the cellulite.
For those who prefer holiday life to be a more cultural affair, Skinari ticks all the boxes. With its rugged coastline and verdant interior to be explored during the day, local shops, cafes, and café/bars can cater for all your needs.
While local tavernas and restaurants can provide the relaxing evenings you prefer on your holidays.
If you’re thinking of booking Agios Nikolaos or the surrounding area for your stay in Zakynthos, the area has an excellent selection of self-catering apartments (including converted windmills), hostels, and budget priced hotels.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN AGIOS NIKOLAOS
6. Argassi, a holiday destination for all
Another popular resort close to both the island’s capital and the airport, is Argassi. As package holidays began to expand back in the 1970s, Argassi was one of the first real resorts on the island, and to this day remains one of the most popular places where to stay in Zakynthos with all age groups.
The beach is a narrow, one-kilometre stretch of golden sand, overlooked by the village, local fauna, green pine forests, and the majestic Mount Skopos.
Along the length of the beach you will find hotels, apartment blocks, shops, restaurants, and bars open day and night. While on the beach itself you can hire sunbeds, parasols, water sports equipment, and book boat trips.
With the main thoroughfare running through the village, and lined with all manner of shops, supermarkets, bars, cafes, and restaurants, you will find all the little extras you may need during your stay, and plenty of places to explore on your evenings out.
Even the most ardent sun lovers enjoy a little respite during their holiday, and Argassi has a number of places of interest that are well worth a day away from the beach.
Close to the small harbour, a few feet in from the shore, is an old bridge built around 1885, and which used to carry the main coast road, before time and the sea began eroding the coastline.
Another bridge worthy of mention is the Kamara at Vrysakia. Sitting 15 metres high, it was built during the British occupation of the island in the early 1800s.
A little further out of the village, and sitting on top of Mount Skopos, you can visit the Church of the Virgin Mary built in 1624, and the surrounding ruins of a once flourishing monastery.
If you fancy combining a little history with your night’s entertainment, add a visit to Barrage nightclub to your itinerary. Now a thriving party venue on the coast road outside of the village, it was once the summer home of Ioannis Kapodistrias, Greece’s first Prime Minister.
Argassi is a destination visited by all age groups and interests. You can spend your time on the beach topping up your tan and enjoying the various water-sports. You can explore the local flora and fauna, hiking into the interior, or by hire car or local transport.
You can spend quiet relaxing days browsing the shops, bars and restaurants of the surrounding villages. Evenings can be spent enjoying long meals in international restaurants, or fast food, on the way to the lively bars and music venues along the front.
If you’re thinking of Argassi for your stay in Zakynthos, there is an excellent selection of studio and apartment accommodation, as well as luxury villas and hotels to suit all pockets.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN ZAKYNTHOS IN ARGASSI
7. Vasilikos, where to stay in Zakynthos for nature
Situated on the south-east peninsular of Zakynthos, Vasilikos is more an area of unspoilt natural beauty, rather than a village tourist resort.
It is an area of steep hills interspersed with long flat areas of cultivated olive groves, pine forests, and local flora and fauna.
Groups of old Greek stone houses, many of them doubling as tavernas and restaurants, are designated as villages, while along the coast are some of the most idyllic beaches you will find on the island.
Although in areas of Vasilikos you may feel miles from civilisation, in actual fact you are never far from other villages and beach areas. Argassi, Kalamaki and Laganas are close by, and Zakynthos town is only 12km along the coast.
You can explore the area on foot or bicycle, but the favourite modes of transport are quad bikes, particularly popular with Italians exploring the Vasilikos area from other nearby resorts.
There are a number of stunning beaches in this area, some of them home to the endangered Caretta-Caretta species of Loggerhead turtles.
While some beaches have just the bare essentials, others are fully geared for visitors with sunbeds, parasols, bars, cafes, restaurants, and water-sports.
If you’re booking a private self-catering apartment or house, especially in the more secluded areas, take the basics like water, squash, and snacks with you for when you arrive. It will allow you time to explore the nearby area for your local mini-market, bakeries, cafes, etc., for your daily essentials.
The whole Vasilikos area is one of tranquillity and peaceful relaxation, and that includes the evenings.
That’s not to say things are boring, far from it. There are plenty of places to find English, Spanish, Italian, and Chinese menus, but some of the best evenings are to be had in those small, friendly, family run tavernas.
Visitors are welcomed with open arms, and drinks begin to flow as mama prepares your choice of traditional Greek cuisine in the family kitchen. By the end of your stay you will be on first name terms with mine hosts, and receiving complimentary drinks, by way of appreciation.
If you fancy anywhere in Vasilikos for your stay in Zakynthos, you can choose from self-catering studios, apartments, houses, and mid-level hotels, to high-end luxury villas, spa resorts, and opulent hotels.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN VASILIKOS
8. Kalamaki, a beach for tourists and loggerhead turtles
Just 3km from the international airport, and 6km from the island’s capital, Kalamaki is a long, golden sand beach that shelves gently into Laganas Bay, and is safe for younger children.
It is also a major nesting site for the endangered Loggerhead turtles. To ensure the turtles safety, areas of the beach are off-limits, or have various restrictions in place during the incubation and hatching season.
Although many water-sports are barred from Kalamaki beach for fear of upsetting the nesting turtles, you can hire a pedalo, and pedal out into the bay in search of these fascinating creatures swimming lazily in the ocean.
For the children, as well as learning about the turtles and playing on the beach, there are children’s playgrounds and water slides to keep them entertained.
The main street shopping area will have everything you require including supermarkets for day to day provisions, and shops selling souvenirs, knick-knacks, jewellery, fashionable and casual clothing, bags and leather goods, and a myriad other products.
If that’s not enough, the local bus service will get you to Zakynthos Town in around 30 minutes.
Although there are few local visitor attractions around Kalamaki except for the lush countryside, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy organised trips all around the island, and if you want to go farther afield, to some of the neighbouring islands.
You won’t find any nightclubs around Kalamaki, but the clubs at Laganas are just three-kilometres up the road. What you will find is an excellent selection of local and international restaurants, fast-food take-aways, and plenty of friendly tavernas.
Kalamaki is a growing and very popular resort area. If you’re considering it for your stay in Zakynthos, accommodations range from private self-catering studios and apartments to villas, and budget hotels to spa complexes.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN ZAKYNTHOS IN KALAMAKI
9. Laganas, party capital of Zakynthos
If you prefer quiet, culture, and pleasant relaxation from your holiday destination, then Laganas is probably not the place for you.
Situated in the south of the island, Laganas has been the undisputed party destination of Zakynthos for a number of years, and shows no sign of wanting to relinquish its title.
Surprisingly, the beach is also one of the nesting grounds for endangered Loggerhead turtles, and comes under the administration of the National Maritime Park of Zakynthos.
At 9km long, Laganas is the island’s largest sandy beach. With its gentle shelving and calm waters, it is also popular with families with young children, as well as the young at heart, and 18-30 party people.
Because of the Loggerhead turtles, water-sports are banned, although you can try scuba diving, hire a pedalo to paddle round the bay, or small motor boat to explore further round the headland.
Other than that, the beach is very well equipped with sunbeds and parasols; and bars, restaurants, shops, and cafes spread along the front.
For something to get you away from the beach, there is a go-kart track on the main Laganas to Kalamaki road, horse riding either in the paddock or surrounding trails, five-a-side football pitches, mini-golf, and bowling. For the little ones there are playgrounds, trampolines, and waterslides.
In the main town centre, you can purchase everything you need from the many supermarkets, grocery stores, mini-marts, clothing and shoe shops, and jewellery and souvenir shops.
The majority of retail establishments on Zakynthos don’t siesta in the afternoon like many of their European counterparts, so you can enjoy a snack and coffee without worrying about everything closing for that three or four hour break.
Although Laganas starts to tick as the sun comes up, it is in the evening that the resort really comes to life.
With eateries of all types, you can fine-dine in some of the best international restaurants on the island, enjoy a traditional Greek meal, complete with plate smashing and Greek music, or grab a fast-food takeaway to eat on your way to the next bar.
Talking of bars, Laganas has over 100, so if you just want a couple of notches over quiet, they are there. You’ve just got to find them. Most bars are geared up for lively and the party crowd.
You will find everything from karaoke bars to loud live music bars, and in the height of the summer, everywhere will be busy. Although the majority of bars stay open until the early hours, the hard-core party animals have still got some all night clubs to enjoy, until the sun rises on another day.
If Laganas sounds like your place to stay on Zakynthos, you can take your pick from hostels, self-catering apartment complexes, private apartments and villas, and budget, mid-range, and luxury hotels.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN LAGANAS
10. Keri, a great base for exploring
If you prefer quieter holidays where you can explore the local area and further afield at your own pace, Keri may be worth considering. To confuse the issue, there are two Keri’s, which are just a few minutes apart by car.
In the south-east of the island, one Keri is a small coastal village, with a tiny pebble beach, and the other, slightly inland from the coast, an attractive mountainside village, with some of the best seaward views on Zakynthos.
The beach at coastal Keri, although not the most picturesque of the Zakynthos beaches, is un-commercialised, with traditional Greek buildings and its own old-world charm.
The beach area has the most basic of amenities, with a small working fishing harbour at one end. You can hire pedalos to explore the bay, go scuba diving, or rent small motor boats to visit nearby beaches.
Dotted around the area and in the village, you will find local shops, taverns, many with Greek music and dancing, and fresh seafood restaurants, where you’ll be met with traditional Greek hospitality.
Mountainside Keri is a small village with less than 500 permanent residents. With its narrow windy streets, traditional stone cottages, and small village square, it is the epitome of Zakynthos before the advent of package holidays.
While visiting the village, you must visit the old monastery ruins and the lighthouse on the clifftop, for some of the best seascape photo-opportunities including fantastic sunsets.
Although there are some private rooms and apartments around mountainside Keri, and some hotels have recently been built, most visitors tend to book into coastal Keri for their stay in Zakynthos, where a larger choice of accommodation is available, and the nightlife a little more varied.
To explore more of the island, a hire car is pretty much a necessity. The local bus service is not the most reliable, with just two buses a day to the capital from coastal Keri, and none at weekends.
So there we have it. We hope you approve of our choices of where to stay in Zakynthos, and have a pleasant and enjoyable stay on the island.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN ZAKYNTHOS IN KERI
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