Insider Guide to the Port of Zakynthos | Full Travel Guide

Porto Roma, Zakynthos

The port of Zakynthos is the gateway to Zakynthos, one of the most beautiful Greek islands nestled in the heart of the Ionian Sea, around 20 km west of Peloponnese and 15 km south of the island of Kefalonia.

It is one of the seven principal Ionian islands and the third largest one. The capital city of Zakynthos and its main port is Zante Town (aka Zakynthos Town), situated in the southeast of the island, at the foot of Bochali hill.

I had the opportunity to work in Zakynthos as a tour guide, which allowed me to discover both landmarks of the islands and hidden gems that not many tourists know!

In this Zakynthos travel guide, I share Zakynthos port info, practical tips, and the 5 best things to do in Zakynthos, including the best beaches and shore excursions.

Visit also our cruise port guides to Corfu, Santorini, Mykonos, Athens (Piraeus), Rhodes, Chania, Heraklion

Port of Zakynthos

Zakynthos cruise port is located in Zante Town (aka Zakynthos Town), the island’s capital. There are no docking facilities, so cruise ships anchor in the bay in front of the town and use tender boats to transfer passengers to Zakynthos Marina located within a 5-minute from the town center.

Zakynthos Marina is a picturesque dock lined with pleasure boats and yachts. This is also the main ferry terminal and the starting point of the island cruises.

A beautiful seafront promenade and downtown Zante are located within a short walk from the pier. Souvenir shops, boutique stores, and the main attractions are located within a short walk from the dock.

ATMs and currency exchange are available in the town center. You’ll also find plenty of local tour operators and car rental agencies nearby.

Solomos Square in Zante (Zakynthos) is located within a 5-minute walk from the port of Zakynthos.
Solomos Square is the main square, located within a 5-minute walk from the port of Zakynthos.

Getting Around Zakynthos & Practical Info

  • Zante Town is flat and easy to navigate on foot.
  • If you want to explore on your own and hit the beaches, renting a car is a perfect option. There are many car rental agencies within a short walk from the pier, but you can also check out the Zakynthos car rental deals online. However, keep in mind that traffic can be congested in high season and it may be difficult to find parking.
  • Besides car rentals, motorbike rentals and quad rentals are also an option. During the high season, it can get crowded, so motorbikes make it easier to get around and find a parking spot in extremely busy places, such as Navagio Viewpoint. The prices are also cheaper compared to car rentals.
  • Of course, getting around the island on a shore excursion is a great option if you want to learn about the history of the island and visit its main landmarks in the company of a professional guide.
  • Zante Town is well connected by public buses with Tsilivi, Argassi, and Vasilikos, other popular destinations on the island. Vasilikos is best known for its gorgeous sandy beaches known for golden sands and turquoise, crystal-clear waters.
  • The summer season in Zakynthos is long, from May to early October, due to the island’s mild Mediterranean climate and sunny, hot weather. The cruise high season is from June to August/September.
  • Some of the major cruise lines sailing to Zakinthos Greek Islands include MSC Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, Norwegian Cruise Line, Costa Cruises, Azamara, Seabourn, and SeaDream.
  • Zakynthos Airport “Dionysios Solomos” is located 5 km from the capital of Zakynthos, and it takes a 10-15 minute bus ride to reach it. During the tourist season, which means from June to late September, there are many direct charter flights to Zakynthos.
  • If you’re staying in Zakynthos for more days, the best places to stay include Laganas, Tsilivi, Argassi and Vasilikos. Check out Zakynthos hotels

5 Best Things to Do in the Port of Zakynthos

1. Zante Town

Visiting the capital city of Zakynthos is a must! The town is a 5-minute walk from Zakynthos Marina, so you don’t need an organized excursion unless you prefer a guided visit of the main attractions.

Upon crossing the street from the exit of the pier, you’ll spot Solomos Square, named after the Greek poet Dionysios Solomos, who wrote the Greek national anthem. It’s a bustling area with cafes, shops, and a statue of the poet.

Less than a 15-minute walk along the scenic waterfront promenade, you’ll reach St. Dionysios Church, the symbol of Zante and its main religious landmark. Dedicated to the patron saint of Zakynthos, this Orthodox church houses the relics of St. Dionysios and features impressive architecture.

Also within a short walk from the church, Alexander Roma Street is the main pedestrian street flanked by both sides with colorful souvenir shops, designer stores, traditional Greek taverns, cafes and bars. It is a lively hub of the city offering amazing shopping opportunities!

At the end of August, there is a 3-day celebration dedicated to St. Dionysios, Patron Saint of Zakynthos
At the end of August, the Greeks celebrate St. Dionysios, the patron saint of Zakynthos. 

If you want to enjoy stunning views of the town, you should climb to Bochali Hill, a hilltop district offering spectacular panoramic views of the town, the harbor, and the Ionian Sea. It’s a great spot for sunset views and has several cafes and restaurants where you can try fresh seafood and traditional Greek food.

The hill is best reached on foot (a 30-minute walk), or by taxi/car (a 5-minute drive).

On Bochali Hill, you can also visit the Venetian Castle, also known as the Castle of Zakynthos, a historic fortress that dates back to the 15th century. While much of it was destroyed in an earthquake, parts of the walls and ramparts remain, offering a glimpse into the island’s past.

Among many cultural and historical monuments, Zante Town also offers many hotels and private apartments, where you can find decent accommodation at affordable prices in case you’re staying longer.

Zante also has a nice beach further down the town center, so you don’t have to move from the city to take a dip into the sea.

The view of Zante Town and Port of Zakynthos from Bochali Hill.
The view of Zante Town and Zakynthos Marina from Bochali Hill

2. Zakynthos Beaches

The beaches in Zakynthos are beautiful and worth spending a day if you’re looking for some quality beach time. The majority of the beaches are located on the island’s east coast and boast calm, crystal-clear azure waters. Below is the list of the best and most popular beaches in Zakynthos!

2.1. Navagio Beach

Also known as the “Shipwreck” beach (“Navajo” means “shipwreck” in Greek), this spectacular beach was named after the ship MV Panagiotis which wrecked, due to the storm and bad visibility, in a shallow cove on the west coast of Zakynthos in 1980.

The ship was, according to the legend, pursued by the Greek Navy as it was thought the ship’s crew was smuggling cigarettes. Even though the official story denies it, the legend says that local inhabitants have been smoking cigarettes on the island of Zakynthos in the following years for free.

The shipwreck has stayed in the cove and today is one of the main attractions of the island.

Navagio beach, Zakynthos
Navagio Beach can only be accessed by boat.

Navagio Beach ranks among the top 10 most beautiful beaches in Europe. It is surrounded by high white cliffs and can be accessed only by boat. It is a white pebble beach with crystal clear waters that gradually become deeper.

The beach is almost always packed with people (except for the early morning when not many people are around) and boats, so you can’t really enjoy it in peace. Most people try to take as many pictures as they can in front of the shipwreck, and you’ll see many of them climbing the shipwreck which is not very wise and recommended, as it can be dangerous.

Both cruise lines and local tour operators offer boat cruises to Navagio Beach.

Navagio beach in Zakynthos
Navagio Beach in the early morning

Now, you’ve probably seen that picture-perfect photo of Navagio Beach from the hilltop. To get to the viewpoint, you should either rent a car or book a guided island tour. Almost all guided island tours include a stop at Navagio Viewpoint, so you can enjoy the spectacular panorama from the bird’s perspective.

Keep in mind that Navagio Viewpoint gets extremely busy in the high season, so you’ll probably need to wait in line for your turn to see the beach. The viewing platform is small, so not many people can fit.

You’ll also see people climbing the surrounding cliffs to take the best shots of the beach, but please don’t do that, as it can be extremely dangerous!

Navagio shipwrech beach in Zakynthos
The view of Navagio Beach from Navagio Viewpoint
Navagio beach - viewpoint - Zakynthos
The viewing platform is narrow and usually gets crowded in the high season.

2.2. Vasilikos

Vasilikos is a peninsula in the southeastern part of the island, where you can find fabulous sandy beaches and luxurious hotel resorts.

The best way to reach Vasilikos is by a local bus from Zante Town, by car, or by motorbike. It takes at least a 30-minute drive to reach the nearest beach.

Vasilikos doesn’t have fancy resorts like Laganas and Tsilivi. It is a mountainous area of breathtaking beauty and intact nature, so if you decide to stay in Vasilikos, you would pretty much be stuck in your hotel (if you don’t take a car) because there is nothing around, just nature.

Vasilikos is ideal for those who are searching an ultimate peace and want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the town and everyday life.

The beaches in Vasilikos boast soft, golden sands and turquoise, calm waters perfect for swimming and soaking up the Mediterranean sun. The best beaches include:

  • Banana Beach
  • Porto Zoro Beach
  • Port Azzuro Beach
  • Porto Roma Beach
  • Agios Nikolaos Beach
  • Gerakas Beach
Porto Azzuro beach, Vasilikos, Zakynthos
Porto Azzuro Beach
Porto Roma beach in Zakynthos
Porto Roma Beach

2.3. Kalamaki Beach

Located close to the airport, within a short 10-minute drive from the port of Zakynthos, Kalamaki is renowned for its natural beauty, tranquil atmosphere, and stunning sunsets.

The beach is part of the National Marine Park of Zakynthos and is known for being a nesting site for the endangered loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta Caretta).

The beach boasts soft sand and crystal-clear waters offering scenic views of the coastline and nearby islands. Like in other beaches on the island, amenities such as cafes, restaurants, and water sports are available.

Kalamaki beach, Zakynthos
Kalamaki Beach
Kalamaki beach, Zakynthos sunset
Kalamaki Beach sunset

2.4. Laganas Beach

Laganas is known as the party destination, packed with younger crowds and clubs open until dawn. The beach is sandy and long, full of beach bars, and gets crowded during the tourist season.

The main street is full of restaurants, cafes, bars, shops, clubs, and hotels. For those in search of an active holiday, parties, noise and crowds, this is the best place to go. Laganas is located a 15-minute drive from Zakynthos port.

2.5. Tsilivi Beach

Tsilivi is a couple-friendly and family-friendly resort, located only a 10-minute drive from Zante Town. It is also packed with tourists in the high season, but the place is generally calmer in comparison with Laganas.

Tsilivi Beach is sandy, long, and beautiful, ideal for families with small kids. The water is warm and crystal clear, ideal for swimming and water activities. Many hotel resorts line the beach, offering all-inclusive service for a memorable vacation.

Tsilivi beach, Zakynthos
Tsilivi Beach
Tsilivi Zakynthos
The view of Tsilivi in the background

2.6. Argassi

Argassi is a popular resort located between Zante Town and Vasilikos, only a 10-minute drive from the port. The road to Vasilikos goes through Argassi, which can be congested in July and August as there are many tourists around.

Argassi is full of restaurants, shops, and bars, and on the road from Zante Town to Argassi there are some of the best nightclubs on the island: Barrage, Minima, and others.

Accommodation in Argassi is quite decent and you can find some really good deals in case you’re staying longer.

Unlike other beaches on the island, Argassi Beach is narrow and not the best beach on the island, but the place is generally lively so a lot of people like to come here.

Argassi also has nice beach hotels with pretty private beaches, so if you are staying in one of those, you won’t be affected much.

2.7. Alykes and Alikanas

These are the two resorts situated toward the north of the island, a bit further than Zante Town, Tsilivi, Laganas, and Argassi. It takes about a 20-minute drive to reach the resorts from Zakynthos port.

Alykes and Alikanas have very nice beaches, many beach bars, tavernas, villas, and apartments to stay, so you might consider these resorts as an option as well.

2.8. Xigia Beach

This is a small, rocky beach located a 30-minute drive north of Zante Town. It is usually packed with people due to its popularity and health benefits.

The main attraction is a marine cave with a sulfur spring that has healing and therapeutic properties. Sulfur is said to be extremely beneficial for the skin and health in general, so many people come here just to inhale the sulfur.

The water here is quite cold and a bit green, and there is a very intense smell of sulfur coming from the cave. If you don’t mind, you can go snorkeling as well or just cool off in deep clear waters.

3. Boat Cruise Around the Island

Full-day cruises are typically offered by cruise lines and local tour operators. Not only do you get the chance to swim in the remote beaches and caves, but you also get to learn about the island’s history and culture as these cruises are usually narrated.

Pirate boat at Navagio beach
Pirate boat at Navagio Beach

One of the cruises I joined (and used to guide when I worked as a tour guide in Zakynthos) is the Pirate Ship Boat Cruise. The boat features the pirate ship theme, it is authentic, and even the crew members are dressed in pirate costumes. It’s quite large and can fit several hundred people.

These full-day cruises usually start by sailing along the east coast toward the north, passing by Tsilivi, Alykes and Alikanas. They make the first swimming spot at the Xigia Beach that I mentioned earlier.

Continuing up to the north, the next place you’ll pass along is Agios Nikolaos or St. Nicholas, a picturesque port in the north, a starting point for the boat trips to Blue Caves and Navagio Beach.

Already from there, you’ll be able to spot the island of Kefalonia in the north, which you can reach by taking the ferry boat in Agios Nikolaos to Kefalonia.

Blue Caves, Zakynthos
Blue Caves
From the Blue Caves in the north of Zakynthos, you can already spot the island of Kefalonia in the distance
From the Blue Caves in the north of Zakynthos, you can spot the island of Kefalonia in the distance.

After you pass Agios Nikolaos, you’ll reach breathtaking Blue Caves, one of the must-see attractions on the island. The best way to visit the caves is by small boat because the small boat can enter inside the caves.

Unfortunately, the Pirate Boat is very large, so you’ll manage to get close enough only to take pictures. Normally, the captain tries to approach as close as he can. The pirate music is usually played on this occasion, so the whole impression is truly magnificent.

There is usually no stop for swimming in the Blue Caves, as winds can be strong in this area. Swimming is possible only if you are coming on a small boat weather permitting), but not with the Pirate one as it can be too risky.

The Blue Caves are the most beautiful when viewed from the sea. It is also possible to reach the area by car and jump into the water from the land, but it’s not as impressive as when you come by boat.

Blue Caves, Zakynthos
Blue Caves

The cruise continues down along the west coast of Zakynthos. This is the part where most of the passengers get hungry, so you may enjoy the delicious Greek barbecue on board the ship.

You’ll admire the rocky sceneries of the west coast and upon reaching the south, you’ll get to Keri Caves – this is the moment when you’ll be blown away by the extraordinary beauty of Zakynthos island! Keri Caves are spectacular, and the best way to visit them is by small boat as you can get inside the caves and go swimming.

With the pirate ship, you’ll only get the chance to pass by, but even in that case, it’s absolutely worth it!

Keri caves, Zakynthos
Keri Caves

The cruise continues toward the southern Bay of Laganas, where you’ll spot Laganas resort in the distance. The bay is part of the protected area of the Marine National Park which spreads along the southern coast of Zakynthos.

It is known for Mediterranean Seals Monachus-Monachus and Caretta-Caretta turtles which lay their eggs in the warm sands of Laganas Bay. You might be able to spot some, but rarely, as the pirate ship is large and they run away from it! If you come on a small boat, turtle spotting is almost guaranteed!

Caretta Caretta Zakynthos
Caretta-Caretta turtles

Following Laganas Bay, the cruise will continue along the coast of Vasilikos, where you can admire the golden sandy beaches of the peninsula. Soon after that, your cruise will finish in Zante Town.

This is a full-day tour that I suggest you book at the beginning of your Greek Islands cruise to ensure your spot on the boat.

Explore Zakynthos cruises & sailing excursions

4. Marathonisi Island and Caretta-Caretta turtles

Most of the local tour agencies in Zakynthos offer boat trips to Keri caves, including a stop at Marathonisi Island, also called turtle island due to Caretta-Caretta turtles which lay their eggs in its sands.

The island itself has the shape of a turtle and is a part of the Marine National Park. You’ll find many barriers on Marathonisi Island with the main purpose of protecting turtle eggs, so please be respectful and don’t get too close to them.

Marathonisi island Zakynthos
Marathonisi island

Caretta-Caretta tour is nice and very family-friendly. It normally starts in Laganas Bay where you embark on a small boat and start to cruise along the bay of Laganas in the direction of Keri caves.

Once you reach Keri caves, you’ll get a swim break so you can enjoy the spectacular views of the cliffs, take a dip in the crystal-clear turquoise waters, or go snorkeling inside the caves.

Keri caves, Zakynthos
Keri Caves

On the way back, you normally stop in the middle of the bay and the captain does his best to find the turtles. If you are lucky, you might get a very knowledgeable tour guide who will share a lot of stories and information on the turtle’s nesting process and life in general.

This tour normally includes the swim break at Marathonisi island, after which you’ll finish your tour in Laganas.

This tour is usually a half-day option, and it’s ideal for families with small kids.

Explore Caretta Caretta turtle trips

5. Zakynthos Island Tour

If you are adventurous and want to soak in the history and culture of the island, this tour is perfect for you. Both cruise lines and local tour operators offer full-day and half-day island sightseeing options. Different itineraries are offered, but roughly these are the places that the tour usually includes:

  • Alykes Viewpoint, from where you can admire the view over the salterns and Alykes and Alikanas beach. Alykes in Greek means “saltern”, and this area supplies salt to the entire island.
  • Agios Nikolaos and boat ride to Blue Caves. Tours may include a stop at Agios Nikolaos port in the north of the island, from where you take a boat ride to Blue Caves. Weather permitting, there will be a break to swim and snorkel inside the caves.
  • Navagio Viewpoint: From this famous viewpoint, you can enjoy the spectacular panorama of Navagio Beach. Several kiosks are available on-site, where local people sell refreshments and snacks. The place is packed with buses and cars, so if you are coming by car you might have difficulty finding a parking space.
Blue Caves in Zakynthos
Blue Caves
  • Volimes – This is the most important town in the northern part of the island, well-known for local handicrafts. Volimes is not equipped with tourist facilities, it is a quiet place with only several snack bars and mini-markets for local people. You’ll find stalls selling local products such as honey, oil, and spices, but also tablecloths, carpets, and other hand-made products. For those of you who would like to explore authentic Zakynthos countryside and see how locals live, this is the best place to go!
  • Anafonitria Monastery: Zakynthos is a very religious island and there are many cultural monuments all across the island. The monastery dates back to the 15th century and holds the icon of the Virgin from the 15th century, coming from Constantinople. The monastery is also important because St. Dionysios, the patron saint of Zakynthos, took refuge and lived in the monastery as a monk. The monastery is old and beautiful, and in my opinion, an absolute must-see place on the island!
  • Exo Hora – This is the village where you can admire traditional Zakynthos houses and Agios Nikolaos Church from the 17th century. The main road is passing by the square, where you’ll come across the oldest and biggest olive tree in Greece, more than two thousand years old. Its twists and curves are truly impressive, as well as the legends and stories connected to it.

The island tours may include several other stops for lunch or shopping. The itinerary mainly depends on the tour agency offering the tour.

Island tours are really nice if you want to get to know the soul of the island, its countryside, nature and beautiful sceneries that you will remember for a lifetime!

Check out Zakynthos island tours

Anafonitria monastery in Zakynthos
Anafonitria Monastery

Inside the monastery of Anafonitria is the icon of Virgin dating back to the 15th century, coming from Constantinople

Donkeys in Zakynthos
Donkeys in Anafonitria village are its permanent residents, ready to pose for a photo any time!

Wrapping Up

To conclude, I would like to say that Zakynthos is one of those islands and holiday destinations where you feel so welcome that you already feel like a local after only a few days spent there.

The island’s countryside, traditions, gorgeous beaches, and welcoming locals make you feel at home and that’s why Zakynthos is one of the favorite, less known though – stops in the Mediterranean cruise itineraries!

You may also like our cruise port guides to the Mediterranean, Caribbean, Western Europe, Baltic & Scandinavia, USA & Canada, Australia & New Zealand

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