The main town of Zakynthos is considered one of the prettiest in Greece, with historic and architectural elements from different eras forming an enchanting mosaic of cultures and backgrounds. Roman, Byzantine, Venetian, French, Russian, Ottoman and British rule have all left their mark on the island. Explore the town by visiting the Strofades and St. Dionysios Monastery, and admire the painted icons in the churches of the virgin Phaneromene, St Nicholas of the Mole and Virgin of the Angels, all built in the 17th century.
Stroll through the charming buildings, elegant arcades and lovely town squares to get a feel of life in this idyllic community. In the afternoon head to the Venetian Fortress at Bochali Hill to admire the town below and enjoy a lazy coffee or desert.
For a cultural twist on your vacation, visit the very varied museums on the island to get an idea of its art, civilization, personalities and religious heritage. The Solomos & Kalvos Museum in town pays tribute to Dionysios Solomos, famous poet and author who composed the Greek National Anthem. The Greigorios Xenopoulos museum honors this Greek novelist and playwright's work through his personal manuscripts and artifacts. The impressive Naval museum in Bohali sheds light on the island's strong maritime character, while the Town Hall Library is home to many rare books and manuscripts. There's also the Naval museum of Milanio in Tsilivi, showcasing intriguing watercolors that trace Greece's sea-faring tradition. (For museums related to local traditions, folklore and nature, visit the Eco Zakynthos section of our site).
Beyond the town, the Blue Caves or Blue Grotto near Cape Skinari represent one of the best attractions of the island. These two interconnected caverns are famous for their sapphire hues created by the sunlight. A little further south is the cave of Xygia where sulfurous waters are set to heal many ailments.
The island is big enough to offer a variety of different colorful villages worth exploring, most of which are surrounded by greenery. Visit the village of Keri on the southern edge of the island with its impressive cliffs, lighthouse and church of the Virgin Keriotissa dating from 1745, before heading to Lake Keri nearby.
In the centre of the island aim for the village of Mahairado and church of Saint Maura, as well as to Melinado where there are remains of an ancient temple built to honor the goddess Artemis. In the North you must drop by Katastari and the church of Agios Giannis (Saint John) of Lagada. Even further north, passing through Orthonies and the Monastery of the Virgin Spiliotissa, you will come across the village of Volimies with its Venetian churches. On the western side aim to visit the villages around Mount Vrahionas such as Maries, Kambi, Agios Leon and Anafonitria (with a very notable monastery and medieval tower).
Needless to say, the beaches around the island are all superb, from the many organized ones with umbrellas to the hidden romantic coves. To the north of the main town lie the beaches of Planos-Tsilivi and Kryoneri that are relatively close and lovely. On the south side, in the Gulf of Lagana, you will come across the beaches of Argasi, Kaminia, Porto Zoro, Vasilikos, Porto Roma and Gerakas. More south, in the Gulf of Lagana, there's the very long beach at the shores of villages like Kalamaki, Lagana and Agios Sostis. This popular and busy vacation spot is also a hatching ground for the rare Caretta caretta turtle, so care is advised when visiting. The island's prize-winning beach is Navagio on the west coast, considered one of the most stunning beaches worldwide.