The great majority of Zakynthos´visitors are particularly attracted by the vast selection of dazzling beaches that the island has to offer. The Flower of the East though, manages to keep the holidaymakers entertained with a lot more options, ranging from museums to architectural beauties or ancient ruins. Covered by lush Mediterranean vegetation, the area that stretches along the southern coast from the promontory of Marathia’s Cape to the beach of Gerakas, has been designated as a National Marine Park, housing many engendered species and several walking trails.
This small church, built in 1925, contains the silver-encrusted sarcophagus of St. Dionysios, the island’s patron saint. It survived the 1953 earthquake – proof, say devout islanders, of the Saint’s miraculous powers.
The main attraction is the collection of fine Orthodox icons and wall-paintings collected from the churches and monasteries that were leveled by the devastating 1953 earthquake. A model of Zakynthos Town prior to the disaster shows what the town looked like before the unhappy event.
This modest museum celebrates the life and works of Dionysios Solomos, the Zakynthian author and poet who penned the Greek national anthem along with other notable islanders. The museum houses 18th or 19th century paintings and ancient instruments among other local artworks.
A long and scenic 4 kilometers long climb will lead you from Argassi Village to the remains of Panagia Skopiotissa, through a walking trail surrounded by unspoiled nature. The monastery, located on top of mount Skopos, was constructed in 1624 and still features beautiful murals.
Excursion boats leave daily (buy tickets the night before at the quayside or at your hotel) from all the island resorts and throughout the whole summer. The trips head to the Blue Grotto, a marine cave carved out of thousand years old white limestone cliffs, and to the so-called Smugglers Wreck, the rusty hulk of a Syrian cargo vessel that ran aground in the 1980’s on a spectacular white beach overlooked by towering cliffs, which, for its secluded location, is almost impossible to reach if not by boat.
The spectacular ruins of ancient Olympia, birthplace of the Olympic Games, are located only an hour away from Killini, the small port on the Greek mainland opposite Zakynthos. The ferries to Killini are frequent and the journey takes approximately 90 minutes.
There are no direct ferries from Zakynthos to other islands but you can choose to hop on one of the sea-planes operated by Hellenic-seaplanes. The trip might be on the expensive side, but the experience is certainly worth it.
The ultimate water-park experience is in Tsilivi, among beautiful landscapes and lush vegetation. The Water Park comprises colourful slides and themed swimming pools, in a family friendly environment that both grown-ups and kids will love.