Zante is a Greek island that comes with a big reputation as a party destination, and boy does it live it up to that tag. But as with many party hotspots, dig a little deeper and you’ll discover a vibrant hub of culture, cuisine and traditional island life.
Zante was once called the Flower of the Orient, and as soon as you catch a glimpse of this gorgeous island you’ll see why. With a mass of olive groves, lemon trees and bougainvillaea covering the island’s many hills, Flower of the Orient doesn’t seem too far amiss today. Now equally known for its party lifestyle, there are two vastly different, yet synonymous draws for visiting Zante.
But first things first: The weather in Zante is great all year round. With the daytime temperature rarely dipping beneath 20 degrees from April to October, rain is a rarity in the summer months, so tan toppers should be set. Top tip? If you’re set on swimming in those stunning waters head to the southern side of the island. You’re shielded from the northern breezes, making this experience that little bit more magical.
In addition to the scenic wildlife (and an equally wild nightlife), there are also many landmarks that are a must-see for some amazing photos. Whether it’s the mysterious coves, the striking caves, or the many natural habitats for indigenous animals like the Caretta sea turtle, Zante is calling all fans of the natural world.
In a relatively short space of time, Laganas has transformed itself from a small fishing village to the island’s most vibrant resort. The seemingly endless strip of bars and clubs in Laganas draws those looking for a real party atmosphere from far and wide.
Soothe away the night before on Laganas’ 5km beach, which being so long, means it’s not difficult to find your own secluded spot of sand. Nature-lovers will be in their element with a day trip from Laganas to Marathonisi, which is better known as Turtle Island. It’s a well-named island as you’ll get the opportunity to engage your inner Attenborough as you walk the sands, search for, and hopefully swim with loggerhead turtles.
Those seeking a less intense experience in Zante would be more suited to spend their stay in Alykanas. This quieter resort may skip the nightlife of Laganas, but it certainly doesn’t miss out on natural scenery and character. Horse-drawn carriages clip-clop through the streets, while the even older part of Alykanas blends olive groves and orchards with the recently developed area next to the beach – a combination that has culminated in Alykanas’ truly unique atmosphere of old meets new.
Photographers (and Instagrammers) at the ready: the resort of Argassi is blessed with natural beauty, sloping hills and some seriously good views. The area is best known in relation to Mount Skopos, and there are many pine forests, lemon trees and wildflowers dotted around this beautiful site. In addition to the scenery, Argassi also offers a lively nightlife scene and has a large selection of bars, shops and tavernas making a night out super convenient.
After all that, it would be very disappointing to find out that Zante’s beaches don’t quite hit the same level of beauty, but fortunately, they certainly do match up to expectations. Whether it’s Navagio Beach (also known as Shipwreck Beach), Porto Limnionas or Kalamaki Beach, every spot on Zante has the same tempting water and golden sands.
Located just a short distance from its many beaches, be sure to get yourself to Zante’s intriguing caves, which are ripe for exploring. Two of the most popular are the Blue Caves and the Kerry Caves. The Blue Caves can be reached from Navagio Beach, and getting their name from the pureness of the water there, the sharp blue even reflects on swimmers and the ceiling above. The Kerry Caves are a great spot to swim out to, and diving is an exceedingly popular option. Reaching these caves with a tour from the beach, or rent a boat if you know your port from your starboard.
Marathonisi (Turtle Island)
Turtle Island is a huge nature lover's draw, and if you’re holidaying to this corner of the world a visit to Marathonisi goes in the ‘unmissable’ column. Accessible from Laganas Beach via boat, this amazing place offers some of the best photo opportunities you are likely to get in Zante, while also being one of the best places to get up and close with majestic turtles. Pack your swimming stuff and snorkel if you want to swim with them, and when you’re there you can even rent a quad bike to explore the island on all four wheels.
St. Denis Church
When you’re all tuckered out from water-based activities, Agios Dionisios, otherwise known as St. Denis Church, is a beautiful sight to see. Explore this church with a small monastery attached, and you’ll be treated to its Byzantine-style art. The result? A relaxing escape from the sometimes mental pace of Zante.
Greek food is internationally known as one of the finest cuisines, and there are many tasty examples of this throughout Zante. Traditional Greek dishes like moussaka, kebabs and Greek salads are in plentiful supply. When lunchtime hits, the aromas of olive oil, fresh fish and meat emanating from local tavernas will have you longing for a taste of the local flavour.
Restaurants in Zante
Bassia is a traditional restaurant with an emphasis on the fresh shellfish and fish which is in such great supply on the island. Seafood linguini and swordfish souvlaki are two of their signature dishes.
Looking for a break from the Greek food served in most restaurants? Avli is one of the first in a new wave of restaurants that serves innovative dishes with fresh produce while also taking great care to provide vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options.
For an amazing holiday that combines dreamlike colours, heady beaches and intensely vibrant nightlife, there isn’t another place quite like Zante. Add to this an extensive list of water sports, day trips and natural scenery and you’ve only merely scratched the surface of an easyJet holiday to Zante.