Our list of visited Greek islands is still very short, but it is steadily getting longer lately. This time we added Zakynthos, the third largest island in the Ionian Sea, considered one of the most visited tourist destinations in Greece. This holiday was very different, as our one-year-old son Liam joined us on his first trip 😊 yes… it was our first vacation as a family!
Compared to Crete and Rhodes, Zakynthos or Zante for short – does not offer any really famous architectural or natural attractions that would draw hordes of tourists from all over the world. A good 150 years ago, a strong earthquake in the Ionian Sea destroyed practically all ancient buildings on the island. That is why Zakynthos is still best known by Navagio Beach or Shipwreck Beach, or also known as the “Smugglers’ Bay”. It is a sandy beach that can only be accessed by sea… the beach is surrounded by high cliffs, and on it lie the famous rusted remains of a stranded ship. Of course, it is usually flooded with tourists, but this summer (2023) due to the danger of the rocks collapsing from the cliffs (due to the spring earthquake), it is closed to visitors, and ships can approach no more than 40 m from the shore. However, there is another alternative that we took to get a glimpse of the beach, namely the view from the top – Shipwreck Viewpoint, where there is a viewing platform. Adrenaline enthusiasts and those who are obsessed with perfect Instagram pictures can go along the edge of the cliff for a superb view, which we really not recommended, as one step too far can be fatal quite quickly.
What else can you do on Zakynthos… well, if you leave out the nightlife on the main street of Laganas, you can find your own most beautiful beach on the island. There are quite a few of them… maybe we can suggest you to visit Banana Beach, with sunbeds (for a fee), two bars and a huge parking lot, which comes in handy if you come by car.
Then just a few kilometers away is Gerakas beach, which is mainly known for being located in a national park and where turtles hatch their eggs.
On the way to the most popular Laganas beach, you can also stop at the smaller Kalamaki beach (personally our least favourite). All beaches are mainly sandy, so be prepared that it will crunch under your shoes for a while after you get home 🙃
Of course, we cannot pass by the capital, Zante Town. If you go there by car, be prepared to hunt for a parking space, cars are parked along every narrow road, so you have to be persistent to find your space. Despite the fact that it is the capital, it is relatively very small and you can easily walk around it in a very short time. We suggest you to start your exploration at Solomos Square, where you can see the city museum, then continue to Saint Mark’s Cathedral, and finally you can buy some souvenirs at 21st Maniou Street. Many bars and restaurants will accompany you throughout the walk, so that you will definitely not leave the city hungry and thirsty. It is always a good time for a Gyros 😋
Where to sleep? You certainly have the largest selection of hotels and apartments in the vicinity of Laganas beach. We spent the first four nights in a hotel – link – by the beach of Agios Sostis – it is a smaller and much calmer place, but the beach is very small and quite polluted with a lot of sea grass (at least it was like that during our visit), so it is better to choose accommodation with a pool around here. We really liked our accommodation.
For the last three nights, we had accommodation directly on the Laganas beach – link. If you want a peaceful night’s sleep, definitely choose your roof over your head a little further away from the main street Laganas Road.
And how it is on Zakynthos with a small child? Hot 😎 well, it depends when you visit it. It was 33 – 38°C during the day. There is no natural shade on the beaches, or at least we didn’t find it. The beaches are sandy, so the access with a pushchair is quite limited. In our opinion, it is nice that the accommodation has a swimming pool. However, the island itself is small, so you can drive around it quickly by car and see the “main attractions” without any problem, even with your child. But the thing is certainly the following – the less you complicate, the better 😁
As always, the vacation passed too quickly, but this time it was just very special and unforgettable one for us. As we already mentioned, it was the first time we were somewhere abroad as the family! ❤️ Our son Liam experienced a lot of things for the first time, from the flight with the plane, which has passed unexpectedly great, to swimming in the sea, which he really enjoys abnormally, etc. Despite the fact that we initially had mixed feelings about the choice of destination, this vacation will definitely remain in our good memories.
S & B & L