Zante holidays open up centuries of history to the classically minded visitor, although the island also has a more-recent reputation for partying that brings it bang up to date. The third-largest Ionian island, it’s situated 20 kilometres from the Greek mainland and was first documented by the Greek poet Homer in the Iliad and the Odyssey. A long history of invasion followed, and Zante’s picturesque towns and villages are a monument to numerous civilisations gone by. Incredibly, you can visit Ancient Greek ruins or Venetian aqueducts one day and 18th-century markets and medieval monasteries the next.
The southern part of the island is a popular destination and is known for its resorts and vibrant nightlife. Away from the busy centres, however, the island’s natural beauty distinguishes Zante holidays from many others. If you venture north, you’ll find verdant forests and quaint rural villages, while to the west the rugged landscape gives way to towering cliffs and waterfalls.
Zante is home to numerous beautiful expanses of sand, including Instagram favourite Navagio Beach (also known as Shipwreck Beach), which has still turquoise waters, platinum-sand beaches and atmospheric caves. Wildlife lovers will be delighted to discover that the Bay of Laganas is the main nesting area for loggerhead sea turtles in the Mediterranean. From ancient culture to contemporary nightlife and natural wonders, Zante is a fantastic destination all round.
Cape Skinari views
The farther north you go, the wilder the scenery, but nowhere more so than Cape Skinari, the island’s most northerly point and home to the Skinari Lighthouse.
Monastery of St George
The Monastery of St George’s tower was built in 1561 to guard against pirates – the monks would hide inside and throw boiling olive oil down on their intruders.
Just off the south coast of Zante is the tiny island of Marathonisi, also known as Turtle Island, as its beach is the main turtle-nesting site in the area.