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History and sunshine go hand in hand during urban Zakynthos holidays. Find your bargain break with TravelSupermarket…
The Greek island of Zakynthos is also known as Zante, the name bestowed upon this green and hilly isle by the Venetians. They also gave it the moniker, the “Flower of the East”. It is clear from this that the ruling Venetians of the Middle Ages thought of the island as a true gem, a paradise in the Ionian Sea: they were not wrong. Zakynthos is peppered with fragrant pine trees, lemon trees and olive groves, while sands as white as sugar draw eyes toward the magnificent 75-mile coastline. It is not a large island, but its bountiful supply of attractions ensures that it remains a firm favourite with holidaymakers seeking sun, sea, sand and an authentic look at island life in Greece.
Head for a hotel in the island’s main port and capital on a Zakynthos holiday and you will get a real feel for what it’s like to live like a local (a quarter of the island’s population lives in Zakynthos Town, which is also known as Zante Town or ‘Chora’ – Greek for ‘town’). This is a place where fishermen haul in the catch of the day, and families attend mass in one of the stunning churches. It is where bar workers catch a few rays on the beach before opening up one of the town’s lively nightspots, and where everyone – from office workers to young mums and pensioners – gather in cafes on flower-speckled public squares or among the cool backstreets to chat over a punchy Greek coffee.
This authentic atmosphere is one that the island’s main holiday resorts, such as Tsilivi and Laganas, simply cannot conjure – despite all their other charms. Chic and cosmopolitan Zakynthos Town has much to offer to visitors, so consider booking your next break amid the Venetian splendour of Zante.
Finding cheap holidays to Zakynthos Town is straightforward; simply use the TravelSupermarket search tool to compare deals on a range of breaks and book your favourite one.
Figure out when to book your break with our guide to Zakynthos weather...
The mercury rises beyond 20C during May, when the main holiday season begins on the island, and average daytime temperatures do not fall again until October. Sunny, dry days are guaranteed between late June and early September, with July and August claiming the hottest weather and the largest crowds. Temperatures during the day can reach beyond 30C at the height of summer; it is wise to look for a hotel with air conditioning.
There is always something happening in Zakynthos Town, the lively capital and cultural centre of the island...
Loggerhead turtle nesting season; peaks June-September: The beaches of Laganas Bay are only 15 minutes by road from Zakynthos Town. As well as hosting party town Laganas and a set of simply divine beaches, this area is known for numerous nesting sites for loggerhead turtles. You will be advised where you can and cannot step, but to see these babies hatching is once-in-a-lifetime stuff.
The Feast of the Assumption of Mary; August 15: This is a big holiday on the island, in fact all over Greece, so expect dancing, drinking, and a plentiful feast of local produce on this holy day.
St Dionysios Day; August 24: Island monk St Dionysios is celebrated twice a year, though the December event is usually locals only. Join the crowds in August when a huge street market marks the start of the ritual. The pinnacle of the festival is on August 24, when the saint’s body is paraded through town during a long and well-attended procession. Fireworks round off the day.
There is much to see and do during Zakynthos holidays. Here are just a few ideas to get your adventures started…
Grown-up families: There is an abandoned Venetian fort at the peak of the Bohali/Bochali hill, which stands behind Zakynthos Town. The walk uphill is steep (there is a tourist train if you cannot manage it), but the views of the bay below are glorious. Evening drinks above the lights of the town are pretty special here too.
Free and cheap: Visit Agios Dionysios Church, near the harbour, for a fine show of art and architecture. The body of the saint rests here. On the days when the glass-fronted casket cannot be opened, he is said to be off healing people. You cannot miss the bell tower, which gives away secrets of the town’s Venetian past.
Nightlife: There are bars aplenty in Zakynthos Town, serving a happy crowd of tourists and locals. For buzzing nightclubs and international DJs, Laganas is a sure thing (it is 15 minutes by road from town), while the endless bars of Tsilivi are perfect for lively resort nights. Tsilivi is just 10 minutes by road from Zakynthos Town. If all you desire, however, is local wines, beers and cocktails in friendly bars, you don’t need to leave the town.