Where to Stay on Zakynthos: Ultimate Beach Resort Guide

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view of Shipwreck Beach from the cliffs

Heading to the Greek island of Zakynthos (also known as Zante) this year? Here’s a complete rundown on where to stay on Zakynthos – to help you choose which part of the island to stay in, which town, resort or beach is for you, and the best beach hotels, whether you’re booking DIY accommodation or looking for a package vacation.

This resort guide will cover:

  • which part of Zakynthos to stay in
  • where to stay in Zakynthos Town
  • Zakynthos’ main beach resorts; the best places to stay for nightlife, cheap packages and a younger crowd
  • the best resort hotels on Zakynthos
  • a rundown of Zakynthos’ quieter towns and villages; the best places to stay for couples, families and nature

ZAKYNTHOS OVERVIEW

Marathonisi island from above

Thanks to its perfect powder-soft sandy beaches, Zakynthos is one of the most popular summer holidays destinations in the Mediterranean (especially for Brits and Italians).

It’s home to some of the best beaches in Greece, coupled with incredibly blue waters and some spectacularly rugged scenery that delights visitors. And most famous of all is the iconic Shipwreck Beach, featured on postcards (and Instagram accounts) around the country.

In the decades after 70% of the island’s original buildings were damaged in the great earthquake of 1953, Zakynthos followed Corfu’s lead in embracing this model of mass-market tourism.

Unfortunately, the development that followed went unchecked and some areas – Laganas in particular – are grim and commercial, with bad ecological practices and little to recommend them except their beach (and cheap prices if that’s what you’re looking for).

On the flip side, Zakynthos is also home to some of the swankiest villas in the Ionian islands – perched on mountainsides for incredible views. And the north of the island is wild and undiscovered.

The main excursions are:

  • boat trips to Shipwreck Bay
  • boat trip to the Blue Caves
  • island bus tour
  • trip to Kefalonia or Ithaca

The public bus service (KTEL) is scant and difficult to use for touring the island but it’s possible to get between the main resorts and beaches.

Check the KTEL Zakynthos website for bus routes and timetables.

The main ferry connection is Zakynthos Town – Kyllini on the mainland. From here you can connect to Kefalonia. In high season there is also a ferry from Agios Nikolaos (north) to Kefalonia-Pessada, however, there is no public transport to Ag. Nikolaos.

WHICH PART OF ZAKYNTHOS TO STAY IN?

  • NORTH – empty and mountainous, with a cluster of luxury villas around the northern cape
  • SOUTH – busy and developed with Laganas and turtle beaches in the gulf between two scenic peninsulas
  • EAST – developed sprawl on either side of Zakynthos Town, rugged and quiet at either end
  • WEST – empty and mountainous, awesome Cliffs of Keri are a top sunset spot

Zakynthos Town and bay at twilight

ZAKYNTHOS TOWN

Of all the capital towns in the Ionian islands, Zakynthos Town was one of the hardest hit by the earthquake, compounded by fires which raged on for days. Previously, it had been known as the Venice of the South for its elegant architecture.

Unfortunately, almost nothing remains of the old Venetian architecture (only 3 buildings), although the rebuilding in the waterfront area is pleasant and retains some of its Italian heritage. The pillars of Ionian architecture are present, with smart belltowers, shady squares and pale yellow colours, converging around the main squares of Platia Solomos and Platia Agio Markou.

Overall it has the feeling of a pleasant working port town, with the two squares and the harbourfront as its focal point. Just be aware of the traffic noise if you choose a harbourfront hotel though, as that road gets busy.

The rest of town is your typical modern Greek concrete sprawl, particularly along the coast where it merges into beach resorts.

Boat trip boats leave from the harbourfront in the morning. Behind the harbour lies the main commercial streets of Zakynthos Town.

The main attractions in Zakynthos Town are:

  • Kastro/Daphni Castle –  ruins of the Venetian castle that destroyed in 1480 and restored in 1515, climb up Bohali Hill (about 1 hr from town) – worth it for the views
  • Museum of Zakynthos – focus on the Byzantine period but also has a model of the town before the earthquake and some artworks from the Ionian School of Painting
  • Solomos Museum – dedicated to famous Zakynthians (and writer Dionysios Solomos in particular)
  • Christos Negos Open Air Cinema

The KTEL bus station is at the back of town. If you plan on exploring the island by bus then Zakynthos Town is the best place to stay as most routes run out of town in a hub and spoke system.

Most of the bars are concentrated around the squares, but clubs are out on the main road out to Argassi.

Zakynthos Town promenade in early morning

WHERE TO STAY IN ZAKYNTHOS TOWN

The adults-only Avalon Hotel, with its private plunge pools and dramatic Bohali hillside setting overlooking the town, is the premier place to stay in Zakynthos.

Diana Hotel is a smart centrally-located town hotel with a rooftop pool.

Strada Marina also has a rooftop terrace pool and is right on the harbourfront.

Dali has cosy waterfront rooms.

Phoenix Hotel has comfortable rooms and a central location on Solomos Square.

For traditional rooms at a budget price try friendly Yria Hotel, Hotel Varres in Bohali,

If you don’t mind being up in the hills of Bohali, then Lofos Strani is set amongst greenery and has clean simple studios and a family-friendly pool.

Urban Living has cheap dorm beds, although it’s not really a hostel in the traditional sense and more popular with domestic than international tourists. Try Airbnb instead for budget rooms.

TSILIVI AND PLANOS

beach bar on Tsilivi beach

Keep moving north from Zakynthos Town and it merges into the first proper resort town along the coast, Tsilivi. This is package tourism central and Tsilivi is one of the quickest growing resorts on the island.

The land here is flat coastal plain, with plenty of room for family entertainment such as a waterpark and crazy golf – the foliage concealing a sprawling resort that extends back for several blocks where it blends into the village Planos. 

The 2km Blue Flag beach is sandy and organised, with shallow seas popular with families. Watersports are available, and almost every kind of amenity you can think of. Restaurants are a mix of Greek and international, with plenty of lively bars for the evening. And there’s a wide range of accommodation, from basic to luxury. It’s a good option for those with older kids as there’s plenty to do.

The small village of Akrotiri is inland and uphill from Tsilivi, Zakynthos Town is a 20-minute drive, and the bus services here are frequent.

Zante Maris Hotel and Spa (suites available too) has had an overhaul and is a TUI Sensimar hotel for 2019. It’s a large beachfront hotel with pool, Bali beds, and minimalist decor in chic neutrals. Swim-up rooms available.

The other top choice in Tsilivi is the 5 star Olea All Suite Hotel with its modernist cascading design and private plunge pools.

Traditional Andreolas Suites has a beachfront garden and clean rooms with sea view balconies.

Up on a headland overlooking the beach, Balcony Hotel has sweeping views and spacious, airy rooms.

Iakinthos is a short walk from the beach but sports fresh, modern rooms, hot tubs, and an outdoor pool.

Kymothoe Elite has a tranquil setting up in the hills, in Akrotiri, and its infinity pool makes the most of its panorama.

Caravel Suites is an adults-only complex with sleek sea-view pools, beach access, and understated decor.

Inland at Planos, you’ll find gleaming white modern studios and a friendly welcome at Danna’s Boutique Apartments – ideal for solo travellers.

Stylish Contessina Hotel has also had a minimalist upgrade and is highly rated by its guests.

There’s no shortage of traditional studios or aparthotels either. Try SeaSide or Anna’s

AMMOUDI AND PSAROU

bench by the sea in Ammoudi

Psarou and Ammoudia are two quieter beaches wedged between the bigger resorts of Tsilivi and Alykes. The sand here is a fine medium gold with a few pebbles. There are a few sunbeds but it doesn’t get too busy, making it a useful escape from the nearby resorts, however, there are a few places to stay overnight.

It’s walking distances to Alykanas for a wider selection of tavernas.

WHERE TO STAY IN AMMOUDI

Villas in the area include: Queen of ZakynthosCalypso Villas, Kavos Psarou, and Paradisso Beach Villas – to name just a few.

And you can find rooms at: Julia, Sunrise, Calypso Studios, and Psarou Studios which is just steps from the sea.

Amaryllis aparthotel also has a pool, as does Kozanos II.

ALYKES / ALYKANAS

beach bars on Alykes beach
Alykes beach bar

The main resort on the northeast is the twin villages of Alykes and Alykanas.

It’s a worthwhile alternative to Laganas for those looking for package holidays with all of the amenities without the spring break atmosphere. The 3km beach is Blue Flag rated and one of the best sandy beaches on Zakynthos. It’s also one of the cheapest places to stay.

A river channel divides the beach between Alykes and Alykanas. Of the two, the latter is windier and more low-key. Alykes has some smart beach bars with a laid-back family-friendly vibe.

Alykes is lively in the evening with a wide mix of international restaurants and bars, and watersports are available on the beach.

It’s a 25-minute drive to Zakynthos Town.

Alykanas beach through the trees
Alykanas

WHERE TO STAY IN ALYKES

TUI has some great value packages including accommodation at Potamis Studios or Alykes Garden Village.

4-star Hotel Koukounaria is one of the better hotels in the area and has facilities for kids.

For self-catered, check out the trendy decor at Kanela Studios.

AGIOS NIKOLAOS (SKINARI)

Agios Nikolaos beach from the sea

There’s not much development past Alykes, as the terrain becomes increasingly mountainous.

The main village in the north is the small port of Agios Nikolaos (not to be confused with the beach of the same name in the south). To add to the confusion, it also goes by Skinari – which is the name of the cape. During the summer, ferries leave from this port to the neighbouring island of Kefalonia. Public transport doesn’t run this far though so it will only be of use to you if you’re popping over in your car (note that most rentals don’t offer dropoffs on other islands).

It’s also worth noting that it’s not the last place where you can pick up a boat to the nearby Blue Caves, despite what anyone tells you.

Agios Nikolaos is a slightly scruffy fishing village that is in the process of being gentrified into a rather nice little resort village. It’s tiny but with an increasing number of places to stay – particularly up in the hills towards Korithies, with private villages and suites making the most of the epic sea views.

It has a small beach of white pebbles and electric blue water and is not far from the picturesque Makris Gialos And Xigia beaches.

WHERE TO STAY IN AGIOS NIKOLAOS

Agios Nikolaos is home to the upmarket Nobelos Seaside Lodge, which is arguably the best boutique hotel on Zakynthos. It has a private rocky beach area and a fancy restaurant.

There are plenty of villas to pick from. Emerald Villas might well have the best infinity pool on Zakynthos.

Villa Maia has a sleek feel and sleeps 6.

Panorama has studios with a view if you’re ok not being next to the sea, and Mikro Nisi has similar studios close to a hidden beach.

The Peligoni Club is an upmarket complex with watersports club, ideal for older children – if a little pricey.

ARGASSI

Argassi waterfront from the hills

In the other direction, the road south of Zakynthos Town brings you to the popular resort of Argassi.

Set in the foothills of Mt Skopos, Argassi is that curious thing – a beach resort that doesn’t have a beach. The seafront is mostly rocky and lined beachfront bars and tavernas. That said, there are a few small stretches of dark sand that might charitably be called a beach.

Argassi’s main attraction is its central location between Zakynthos Town and the Vassilikos Peninsula – where there are some excellent beaches – and its cheap prices. If you’re happy to explore by car (or stay by the pool) and favour international cuisine and evening entertainment then it’s a good bet.

Zakynthos Town is walkable along the main road for those with no mobility issues (4km), or you can hop on the bus or tourist train. Car/scooter rental is also available.

WHERE TO STAY IN ARGASSI

4-star offerings in Argassi include The Diana Palace Hotel, the Ionian Hill Hotel, and the Xenos Kamara Beach which has a beachside pool.

Contessa Hotel is a great option on a smaller budget.

For studios, look at Noulas or the family-friendly Windmill.

Porto Zorro beach from above

VASSILIKOS PENINSULA

The name ‘Vassilikos’ refers to the whole southeastern peninsula that juts out south of Argassi. The area is home to some of the most beautiful beaches on Zakynthos, as well as scenic views and vast olive groves.

Many luxury resorts are located in this peninsula, but there are also pockets with a more traditional agricultural feel and lovely walks – ideal for slow travel. There are a few beach bars and tavernas but mostly it’s a quiet area.

West-facing Gerekas is a big undeveloped sandy beach and turtle nesting zone. It’s popular with day visitors and here you’ll find the volunteer-run Sea Turtle Rescue & Information Centre.

The other popular beaches in the area are Porto Zorro (picturesque and loved by Italians), Banana Beach (huge and sandy), and Agios Nikolaos (popular for watersports).  There are plenty of smaller beaches to discover too, Ionio, Dafni, Kaminia, and Porto Roma to name just a few.

It’s ideal for those who are happy to rent wheels and want a choice of beaches on their doorstep.

one of the beaches at Agios Nikolaos, Vassilikos
Agios Nikolaos, Vassilikos

 

WHERE TO STAY IN VASILIKAS

Hotel Vasilikos Beach has shady gardens and a large pool and is not far from Agios Nikolaos beach. This is the best area in the peninsula if you want to be within walking distance of a few tavernas, beach bars, and small shops.

Sleek and minimalist The Bay Hotel & Suites has beachfront access.

For something a bit different, Lithes Farm Guest Houses have self-catered accommodation in traditional buildings and an on-site farm restaurant.

Hotel Daphnes Villas & Apartments is right on the beach and has its own beach bar and taverna, plus a small play area for the kids, though you’ll have to drive down a dirt track to find it.

KALAMAKI

Kalamaki has a 5km beach of vibrant gold sand and a chilled out vibe. The western end of the beach eventually becomes Laganas.

It’s popular with young families (thanks to the shallow waters) and those looking to stay somewhere quieter than Laganas but with easy access for nights out.

The beach (as with Laganas) is a nesting ground for Caretta Caretta turtles during the summer, which means that the beach is closed in the evening and powerboats are banned. So there are no watersports, beachfront bars or tavernas here.

The upside is that the beach feels undeveloped compared to other resorts. Development is concentrated along the main road set back from the beach, where you’ll find all the usual suspects – sports bars, karaoke, souvenir shops, mini markets.

It’s also very close to the airport – just 10 minutes in the car – so perfect if you’re looking for a quick transfer, but be aware of the aircraft noise on the western side.

WHERE TO STAY IN KALAMAKI

Top resort hotels in Kalamaki include the luxury Aeolos Resort, the Golden Sun Resort,  and the Meandros Boutique & Spa Hotel

Klelia Beach Hotel is a traditional 4-start AI resort.

Studios at Elena’s are bright and cheery, plus there’s a pool

LAGANAS

view of Laganas town and beach from behind

By far the biggest (and noisiest) beach resort on Zakynthos, and the best place to be for nightlife, is the town of Laganas.

It’s situated in the middle of the south coast on a broad sandy beach (which is 9km long), with the liveliest parts of the strip a few blocks back on Main Street.

Laganas is cheap package deal central, attracting the Club 18-30 crowd.

WHERE TO STAY IN LAGANAS

Unfortunately, Laganas’ rapid rise to prominence has meant that local businesses repeatedly flout the laws in place to protect the endangered Caretta Caretta turtles – which use the beach as a nesting ground – in pursuit of profit.

Don’t go there if you care about the turtles.

As long as this continues, vote with your feet and stay elsewhere.

Kalamaki is close enough to still enjoy the nightlife in Laganas, but the beach is better protected.

I know it’s tempting, but please don’t take a boat trip to see the turtles. Most visitors are unaware how damaging this is to the turtle population –  the engine noise stresses the females and means breeding success is lowered. If you do want to see turtles up close then try a kayaking trip.

AGIOS SOSTIS

On the western side of Laganas is the smaller quiet resort of Agios Sostis.

It’s 2km from Laganas so a walkable distance for some, but its proximity to two of the areas main attractions – Cameo Island and Turtle Island – mean it gets busy with daytrippers.

 Cameo Island is a picturesque islet connected by a wooden bridge to the mainland – it looks like something straight out of Mamma Mia!

In the distance is another island, Marathonisi (Turtle Island). 

Again, I recommend a kayak trip if possible so as to disturb the turtles as little as possible.

WHERE TO STAY IN AGIOS SOSTIS

The Kastelli Hotel, an adults-only complex with good dining, though is borderline Laganas in its location but a good option if you’re after a resort.

For self-catered, the lovely Lemonia has airy and comfortable studios 50m from the beach, with a BBQ area available.

LIMNI KERI

If you’re looking for a small and quiet beach resort on Zakynthos, away from the crowds and with just a handful of tavernas and lovely views, then Keri fits the bill. 

Located to the west of Laganas, near the beautiful cliffs of Keri, this is a small developed village with a narrow beach of small pebbles. 

There’s a small harbour and you can rent boats to visit the caves and rock formations in the area.

WHERE TO STAY IN LIMNI KERI

Pansion Limni has simple fresh self-catered rooms near the sea and a warm welcome.

Read more:

10 Most Beautiful Beaches in the Ionian

Where to Stay on Corfu: Ultimate Beach Resort Guide

Where to Stay in Crete: Ultimate Beach Resort Guide

Where to Stay on Kefalonia: Ultimate Beach Resort Guide

Where to Stay on Lefkada: Ultimate Beach Resort Guide

Where to Stay on Skiathos: Ultimate Beach Resort Guide

Where to Stay on Rhodes: Ultimate Beach Resort Guide

15 Best Greek Islands for Beaches

10 Most Beautiful Beaches in Greece

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Image credits:

Shipwreck Beach: © GKor / Adobe Stock

Zakynthos Town: © Feel good studio / Adobe Stock

Porto Zorro: © Samuel B. / Adobe Stock

Laganas: © milda79 / Adobe Stock

Cliffs and boat: © samott / Adobe Stock

All other images © The Mediterranean Traveller

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