Reviews of resorts, beaches, apartments, tavernas and all aspects of holidays from people who have visited the island of Zakynthos (Zante). I welcome all opinions on holidays in Zante
If you would like to add your comments please email Greek Island Postcards
Good: Fruitful Zante offers itself to the tourist like an artfully balanced and beautifully prepared meal. Not too big and not too small . . . the beaches, in particular, are among the best in Greece, especially for children.
Bad: Zante's main drawback is its popularity and the dominance of organised tourism . . . the rough, friendly charm of shambolic Greek life has suffered on an island that seems increasingly like a production line.
Good: Much of the island is still green and unspoiled . . . and the southerly Vassilikos peninsular has the best countryside and beaches.
Bad: Zakynthos . . . teeters between underdevelopment and indiscriminate commercialisation. The competing video and music bars can make Laganas at night resemble the set of Bladerunner.
Good: The quake of 1953 . . . did nothing to diminish the soft, luxuriant charm of the landscape and its fertile green hills and mountainsides, the valleys planted with vineyards and currant vines, olive and almond groves and orchards, or the brilliant garland of flowers and beautiful beaches.
Bad: The once politically progressive Zakynthos has bellied up to the trough of grab-the-money-and-run tourism that doesn't do the island justice.
We had a lovely week with Pigi at Plessus Palace, Alykanas, but this was totally spoiled by the airport experience. The queuing and getting ripped off for food by an arrogant bartender. We travel every month but wont go back to Zante until we hear it's sorted and the food is edible. A ham sandwich went straight from his counter to the bin after I asked where the ham was and he totally blanked me. Please pass this on to anyone who has influence as I can't find anywhere to complain.
Most people on this site seem to slag off Zante. I'm only 17 but I had a brilliant time. I have stayed in both Laganas and Argassi. Laganas is very loud and not really for a family holiday but the people are friendly and welcoming - a perfect resort for students as it is close to Kalamaki which has a very big club up in the hills.
In the past I have travelled to Zante with my parents and younger siblings and we all really enjoyed ourselves. Argassi is the perfect distance from the airport and the town is generaly quiet but still has lively bars and tavernas. The food was good and the scenery was very nice. The weather was even better.
This year i am travelling with a group of friends for my 18th and sure I will have a great time. I have decided to go back to Argassi but will probably travel to other places such as Laganas and Kalamakie.
Many people feel it is very loud and lacks authenticity but I disagree. Take a 5-10 min travel into Zante town and you can see just how wrong people are - a huge gold church! I would encourage anyone to go to Zante at least once.
These other comments are very biased against Zante and it does not really reflect the island. People that give comments such as these I would think come from an older generation (a lot older). The island has something for everyone and I would recommend it to anyone.
I last visited 20 years ago and it was somewhat quieter then. However when my wife saw your review after we had booked, she thought it was going to be nightmarish! Luckily it wasn't and therefore I thought I would email you with a few comments.
1) Went to Zante Town twice, never thick with petrol fumes, as for scruffy, don't agree, clean and nicely turned out.
2) Tsilivi, where I stayed. Most of the tourists are not at Planos, but equally spread. The worst thing about the beaches was the cigarette ends on the main beaches. The best beach was the quiet one below the Alexandra beach. Set in a small cove, it was great for snorkeling and the beach was regularly cleaned of weed etc throughout the day by the elderly female who took the money 6 euros for sun beds. The restaurants etc are much of a muchness but the food was always well prepared and very cheap. It's well worth it, if you drink wine, to drink the house reds. They are quite drinkable, and a third of the price of bottled stuff. The roads aren't as bad as you say in the resort itself. It's a different matter around the island where the roads can be great all the way to ridiculous, but isn't that half the fun of driving on holiday?
3) The water park is at Sarakinada, not Farakino, and is very good but a bit pricey, about a dozen slides of varying types, the best time to go is from 2.30pm when the coach trips are gone and entry fee is reduced. It closes at 6pm.
4) Volimes is a quiet little town with lots of houses selling their wares. Not a market as such. Again, it's great when the coaches aren't there. We arrived as they were leaving. There's a nice little cafe opposite the school.
5) Keri is very pretty, you can hire boats, but if you want individual motor boats book early, we were disappointed to find that they were all booked when we arrived and it was the last day of our car hire so we couldn't come back. Come in the early morning to avoid crowds.
6) Gerakas, Again come early as we did, the beach was almost deserted. It is a protected area and you are only allowed on the beach for 3 hours and only to sit in specific areas where the sun beds are. we did not see anyone charging for these, but there are people policing the back of the beach where the nesting sites are. A fantastically beautiful natural place totally unspoiled at the moment. lets hope it stays like this.
7) Porto Roma, took your recommendation and loved it, arriving after Gerakas. the sand is not as golden or fine but it is a beautiful spot. There are 2 beach bars now and lots of accommodation back behind the beach. Even so, it was not crowded and I would love to come back here for a holiday. We then went on to Aghios Nikolas and Plaka, a little farther up the coast. Again beautiful, restful and with a nice beach bar. There are new places being constructed back behind the beach.
8) The Blue Caves were visited from the other Aghios Nikolas. Again arrive early. We did and caught a small boat out with another family. Only seven of us on a boat designed for about 25 for a trip that lasted about 1 1/2 hours. We did all the caves going in etc and had a swim stop in the deep water. Fantastic. Far better than catching a large boat with 200 people on it which is unable to even get in the caves. My son aged 15 was even allowed to drive for a while by the captain! As for the shipwreck cove, we took your advice on that and went up above for the most spectacular views rather than take a boat out. The beach was teeming with people when we saw it.
9) Exo Hora is a small hill village where the oldest olive tree in the island is. It is estimated to be 2,000 years old. There is a wonderful little cafe in the village square where they provide you with local sweets following your food for free!
10) Limnionas is on the west coast and well worth a visit after your lunch at Exo Hora. The road down to it is a bit of an experience, but when you get there it is beautiful. A deep water cove where you jump into deep water from the rocks at the side. You can swim into the caves and the snorkeling is fantastic and very safe We were advised not to do a jeep safari as they are apparently illegal in Zante at the moment. Hence probably not insured. Apparently a stop was put on them because of East Europeans coming into the area and taking over. They had little training etc. They still exist but are probably operating outside of the law, so be careful.
All in all a great holiday, the food has obviously moved on from what you have said. We went self catering as we like to eat good food, not lots of chips and fry ups. However we were pleasantly surprised with the food and although there were lots of kebabs and steaks if you wanted them, there were also lots of stuffed vine leaves and tomatoes, Zante rabbit and beef, fish of all types etc. We ate out every night, and very reasonably at that. Hope this is of some assistance.
Just back from first visit to Zakynthos (Zante) - an interesting mixture of over and under development as regards tourism. The island abounds in the south with half completed building projects and semi - developed resorts. In the north development is more sparse, as is transport - but the coastal and mountain villages are host to some spectacular scenery. The beaches around the western mountain side of the island are scenically spectacular but many (i.e. the famous `Shipwreck' Cove ) are only accessible by boat. The resorts are:
Laganas - we stayed on the edge (fortunately). It would be more appropriately named Lagalout. It is full of noisy bars, enough tavernas to accommodate Manchester and, in the season, populated by half a million plonkers with IQ's that wouldn't seriously challenge a retarded pineapple, doing wheelies up and down the main drag on their Honda fifties. This goes for most of the resorts and inland areas between Laganas bay and the main Zante town. Laganas bay is home of the famous `caretta - caretta' turtles who are infinitely less stupid than the average visiting Brit that can be found yodelling up his last night's donner and chips at 3am on the beaches where they nest.
Much quieter is St Nicholas (southern end) which has a superb beach and water sports centre, beach apartments, a taverna etc., but is quiet after 7 pm, yet only 4 miles from the very lively resort of Argassi.
There are also Alikes and Tsivili on the north eastern coast with good beaches, a reasonable choice of tavernas. bars etc. but not shoving it up yer nose. Also less likelihood of being mown down by morons on scooters.
Lots to see and lots to do on Zakynthos. Whole island can be seen in a day by car / tour bus / boat trip but there's lots to go back for and see at greater leisure. Road system bears only a passing resemblance to local maps. Motorways unknown, two lane roads are rare. If you hire a bike / scooter beware of potholes / craters / yawning chasms in most roads - even main roads. Suzuki jeeps are popular and I'd pay the extra for one next time - definitely worthwhile.
Zante town is a working town but tourists are well catered for. A bit scruffy but `sights' are well looked after. Not much old ('53 earthquake etc.) except churches and monasteries inland and especially up in mountains. Village crafts, local wine, etc. at reasonable prices. Direct flights but airport is reminiscent of a WWII Spitfire station and apt to be very uncomfortable in the heat especially when waiting for the often delayed flights.
Day trips to Olympia (mainland) and Kephalonia Island from Zante town. Round the Island cruise stops off at six / seven sites including three blue, blue, blue swimming bays - good for snorkelling - sure as hell beats the Gravesend to Tilbury ferry and a hundred yards of muddy Thames estuary. I'd go back ... except that there are hundreds more other Islands to see.
Laganas for twenties, thirties, Millwall fans, silly old buggers in mid-life crisis and older couples who should know better.
Argassi is lively but more select. IQ's here of rentabike-man actually reach double figures.
Alikes and Tsilivi would suit most folk especially families wanting a decent beach, reasonable choice of bars and tavernas and not too much touristy stuff.
St Nicks (northern end) undeveloped and select. Boat trips round to inaccessible bays and across to Kephalonia and goat safaris up into mountains to run gauntlet of black shrouded widows determined to sell you enough hand sewn tablecloths to supply the Hilton. Beware of annual olive scrumping championships and locally produced retsina - unless you are looking for a good sump cleaner.
St Nicks (southern end) - No don't bother. Definitely not worth going to. Dreadful place. Haunted! Nothing happens, nowhere to stay, nothing to do Don't believe any of the pictures, it's a hole . . . (I'm keeping St Nicks for myself, so sod off!!)
I just wanted to say that Zante is a beautiful island has something to offer for everyone. I have visited the island 3 years in a row and loved it this site really slags off the island and it really does not reflect all the good qualities it has to offer. People with these opinions I can only imagine are a great deal older and very simple minded. I would recommend this island to anyone and everyone! It's brilliant! Most people on this site seem to slag off Zante. I'm only 17 but I had a brilliant time. I have stayed in both Laganas and Argassi. Laganas is very loud and not really for a family holiday, but the people are friendly and welcoming. It's a perfect resort for students( as it is close to Kalamaki which I've heard has a very big club up in the hills).
In the past I have travelled to Zante with my parents and younger siblings and we all really enjoyed ourselves. Argassi is the perfect distance from the airport and the town is generally quiet but still has lively bars and taverns. The food was good and the scenery was very nice. The weather was even better! This year I am travelling with a group of friends for my 18th and am sure I will have a great time. I have decided to go back to Argassi but will probably travel to other places such as Laganas and Kalamaki. Many people feel it is very loud and lacks authenticity but I disagree. Take a 5-10 min travel into Zante town and you can see just how wrong people are (a huge gold church!)
I would encourage anyone to go to Zante at least once. These other comments are very biased against Zante and it does not really reflect the island. People that give comments such as these I would think come from an older generation (a lot older). The Island has something for everyone and I would recommend it to anyone.
Returned from Zak and it's not as bad as it's painted - really! The thing is to avoid the hotspots, which are indeed packed with tattooed youf, mostly Brits we'd guess. Zakynthos Town was very good on the Saturday night -- bustly, friendly and fun -- with a good mix of Greeks and tourists and fine entertainment in the main square. The main shopping street has useful cloisters for cool shopping by day. The mountains are surprisingly quiet and remote for such a small island and thank goodness the UK's health-and-safety paranoids haven't got round to posting warnings at every clifftop: one slip and you're doomed, so stay awake there!
Up north there are pleasant boat trips to the blue caves and afterwards, you can all jump in the sea to cool off before returning to Ag Nikolaos. Great fun. There are restored windmills for rent on a clifftop which I have noted for a long weekend's laptop work some day. Louros Beach hotel is pleasant (with very good poolside snacks) though next to final approach at Zak airport, but there are not really enough planes to spoil things too much. All in all we preferred Kefalonia (which we loved last year) but provided you are mobile and choose your outings carefully Zak's OK. A big bonus are the (huge) turtles, which are now an eco-draw and looked after very well indeed.
We've taken our little boy to Greece every year since he was 8 months old, he's now 6 years old and he loves everything about Greece even trying to speak the language. As everybody says the Greeks simply adore children and you'll be made welcome everywhere. A lot of people have this concept of Greece being dirty! but we've never had any problems. We do try to steer away from touristy areas but went to Alikanas in Zante last year. Yuk!! very commercialised and catering for the British masses that go there - not very Greek!
Whatever you do don't go to Zante! It is one of the most commercial islands we have ever been to and is geared far too much towards the British.
Zakynthos is not a great windsurfing island. You can do it there but why, when there are so many good islands like Naxos? If you prefer the Ionian group then Vassiliki on Lefkas is probably the best place. Unique thermal conditions stir up the winds when everywhere else is calm. I think this is mentioned on the site on the Lefkas page.
April is a bit early for northern islands like Zakynthos - you may have better weather further south. April can still be a bit dodgy though weatherwise and you could be unlucky and get a bad week for rain on either island. May is a much better bet if you can manage it and the later obviously the better. Average temperatures in Zakynthos in April are only 59°F and the month averages 2ins of rain. In May it is 66°F and 0.8ins, so May is obviously much more settled. The Ionians are known for their wet winters so the later the better.
I found Argassi to be a good place to chill out. It's got a bit seedy of late but not too bad - certainly nothing like the pit at FaIiraki. There's lots of bars and restaurants and its a good base to explore the island. The clubs looked rubbish so we missed them out. The beach isn't much either - dark sand and not much of it so it gets really crowded.
We hopped on a free bus to St Nickolas beach most days. Catch it at the Avalon 10.30 -11. St Nick's is a terrific beach.. Zante is a popular island so its all a bit crowded for my taste but Argassi is OK. Busy but not too noisy and nowhere near as bad as places like Laganas. More families and couples than lughead louts and dizzy birds.
I had a fantastic family holiday in the Villa Denise at Argassi, The beer academy was a little bit noisy but I would no way say it was a loud-young persons only place, but this was not the height of the season? If I had the money I would def go there again! I think Laganas bay is far more club 18-30! I don't even think that is FaIiraki style. I was very nervous about Argassi as it saying it's a lively resort but honestly I would go back!
I was in Laganas and I have to say it was one of the best holidays I ever had, The person who constructed this site gave a totally biased view of Laganas, which I feel is undeserved. I'm 20 and did go there for the nightlife, which I heard was great but not Ibiza style - Ibiza is a little too mad for me. I also went to see the many sights that I read about and also to see the turtles as I am a wildlife fanatic. There is a lot of conservation going on in Laganas now and the turtles have lots of protection from the turtle watch and also most of the beach is out of bounds and planes aren't allowed to fly at night so they don't disturb the turtles.
I am certainly not a lager lout but Laganas does attract them. However, I experienced no ill feeling and their drunken behaviour is good natured if a little loud. If you stay in an apartment a little away from the town centre there is no noise at all. I stayed in the Nicholas Studios and it was like being in the countryside. Laganas has all the best options - best nightlife ( but it's easily avoidable); best transport; best choice of excursions; lovely dining - I could go on. I am going back this year and I cannot wait to see the beautiful turtle island and scenery/tranquillity which is no more then 15 minutes walk from all the hustle and bustle. In short Laganas has something to offer everyone and I hope this site does not put you off visiting.
Just come back from Laganas and thoroughly enjoyed it. Some people slag it off but we thought it was an excellent holiday. Perhaps its just that they are too old or perhaps are just sad guys who go nowhere but spends a sad life in cyberspace because they have no friends or living relatives who care! Anyway try to get a life before it's too late!
Laganas is for the brain dead. No tradition or anything Greek. Loads of building going on. Crammed with tourists. Shops all sell similar rubbish, fake designer clothes, model turtles, key rings, loutish t shirts etc, It is built just for tourists, especially British, so no taste of Greek life at all. You go on holiday for a different culture not to mix with a load of fat oiks and their brats having a good old larf. Go anywhere else - even Faliraki. Laganas is as worse a place as I've ever set foot (and I used to go on holiday to Lowestoft!)
At long last the Greeks look like getting rolled over for their criminal lack of action over the disappearing Loggerhead turtles of Laganas. The EU is taking the Greek government to court and threatening a hefty daily fine for failing to protect the unique turtle nesting grounds from the thousands of holiday Brits that pour in there every year and scare nesting turtles off with their jet skis, shove umbrella spikes through eggs, trample nest sites and confuse new born hatchlings with neon lights into heading inland instead of out to sea.
The EU court condemned Greece three years ago for failing to protect the breeding grounds and the government was inundated with 11,000 protest emails at their inaction. Since then - nothing. The WWF say it is not acceptable that the nesting sites of protected turtles are now the domain of sunbathers, swimmers and ice cream salesmen. DO NOT HOLIDAY IN LAGANAS until something is done to protect these creatures - better still DO NOT HOLIDAY IN ZAKYNTHOS. This beach is one of the most important nesting sites in the Med with up to 900 turtles each year heading there. They only lay eggs once every 30 years and Loggerhead turtles make one of the longest migratory journeys of any species.
Well maybe there is not a lot going on in Laganas to protect the turtles but in nearby Kalamaki there certainly is. At the entrance to the beach there is an observation platform manned by volunteers with binoculars keeping watch on what is happening on the beach. We are all warned not to place ourselves on the dry, soft sand parts of the beach as this is where the turtle eggs will be. Unfortunately,this has only been in place for the last two years. Many turtles may have been lost before then. The ironic thing about it all is that I have been to Zakynthos 13 times (going again in May) and I have yet to see one loggerhead turtle!
Me and my husband booked a last minute trip (booked Saturday afternoon and flew following Monday morning) to Tsiivi Zante after just having spent a week in Play Del Ingles.
We arrived mid-morning and were dropped off (coach from airport) in the middle of the road which looked like the main road through this 'town?' The driver pointed to a bar and mumbled something so we made our way with suitcases in tow across the road where we were met by a cheerful English chap who owned the bar. He went around the back of the place and called out for Angelina and a Greek lady appeared. Very cheerful very pleasant and helpful.
The apartment was above the bar, and one of about 10 I think, very clean and recently refurbished. Angelina told us if we ever needed anything her husband was there every day between 5 and 6 pm and we had only to ask. We thought it might be too noisy there as right opposite there was a car/bike hire place. We couldn't have been more wrong. We had a lovely week there. Two minutes from the main 'drag' which was full of nice bars and restaurants gift shops and small grocery stores a chemist shop and tourist trip booking office. We were about five minutes walk from a small beach with lots of sun beds and brollies.
Our apartment block did not have a pool but we were informed we could use any pool at any hotel in the area for free providing we did not take in our own drinks/food. We enjoyed a different pool area every day and enjoyed every minute of our holiday. The only drawback? There has to be one - the airport - not a pleasant experience at all infact the attitude of the staff there rather spoilt what had been a wonderful holiday. They were rude and abrupt and treat us like we were inferior. Such a shame.
I have been to Corfu and recently Zakynthos. I stayed in Tsilivi, but as soon as our jeep arrived we were hardly ever seen there again. The first stroll down the beach was infested with cheap British estate fodder drinking Special Brew and talking with their cigarettes attached to their lips dressed in an array of football strips, (Thankfully I didn't see one Arsenal shirt).
I can speak fluent Italian and so for the rest of the trip I pretended to be Italian as I was so ashamed of the vomiting British lager families who insisted that a traditional meal was shepherds pie not kleftico, and assumed that they were such fine ambassadors of Britain that they should all wear a St George's flag, in cap or shirt form. My dilemma is this. Can someone suggest an island in Greece where these people do not exist? I want to be proud to speak English when I eventually move out there.
The water park opened to howls of criticism - mostly over how long it took to build. Then they had plenty of problems - hopefully sorted now. It's about five miles from Argassi and taxis will get you there quite cheap. It has 8 slides and a couple of pools. It is great fun but gets boring after about three hours so you should drive or get taxi rather than go through reps as you can get stuck there for the whole day. It opens until late and is far better when the coach crowds have gone and you get lots more room and more fun. There's a water park in Laganas but it is just a big pool with 4 slides. I think it part of the Perkes Hotel.
The new waterpark is at Sarakinado. It's owned by the same people who own the enormous Aqualand one in Corfu but it's smaller than that one. The rides are very enjoyable though, lots of chutes and slides and lots of amenities, there is plenty to do and the family had a fun day out. There is also the Water Village where I haven't been but there is info on it at Just Zante.
All Greek island airports are hell. They are like WWII bunkers. We went to Zante in June and it was a nightmare. The airport is much too small for the volume of traffic. Arrival is not so bad, although we had a 30 min wait for our bags. Going home is awful. We had to be there nearly four hours early and stand in line. Fortunately there is now some shade but its still an arse ache. Thursday and Sunday are the worst and don't expect to find a seat - you will end up on the floor like everybody else. We kept water bottles in the freezer the night before so we had a cold drink and advise you to take your own food as airport prices are ridiculous. Hope and pray your flight isn't delayed three hours like ours was.
I've been to Zante a few times. Monday is definitely the best day for the airport and Sunday most definitely the worst. It's much the same on other islands though - Greeks have no concept of customer care, it's like a sheep market but then the 'customers' do so behave like sheep anyway. I've given up being herded around by tour reps. I always make my own way to the airport and get there early before the coaches arrive. I book in the bags then clear off to the nearest taverna - though of course there isn't one on Zante. At any rate I refuse to join the queues (what is it about the British and queues?). If you must travel on the reps coach my advice is to take off somewhere when you arrive at the airport - preferably a cafe - and wait until the queues have disappeared. Get your bags and saunter slowly across to the empty desk in your own good time. If you are first in the queue you only get a longer wait inside anyway.
We went to Zante in August, just prepare yourself for a long wait to collect your bags when getting off the plane, there's only one carousel and numerous number of flights landing around the same time, but as long as you're chilled out you'll be ok don't get worked up do what I did just sit and wait (patiently) and laugh at the other passengers getting wound up. When you're leaving Zante it is a nightmare, but now you know you'll be prepared (again trying and keep chilled). The airport prices for snacks etc are expensive and the departure lounge is packed - the only tip I can give is go downstairs to the toilet area, it's very cool down there and when we were there there weren't many people (you're not actually in the toilets - it's a corridor outside). Good luck
Zante airport is the pits. Visitor numbers have shot up in recent years - 70 per cent I read somewhere - but nothing has been done to improve or expand the airport. Get there at least three hours before your flight to avoid the queues and whatever you do, don't go near the toilets.