Zante Holidays – An island of two halves
Zante (properly Zakynthos in Greek) is an extremely picturesque island, whose touristic southern and eastern beaches and surrounding fertile plains contrast starkly with the scantily inhabited mountains and wild coasts of the west and north. The capital, Zakynthos Town, provides some cultural highlights, as well as the pick of places to stay and eat.
The resorts are firmly the territory of package holidays, ranging from those aimed more at youngsters to extremely family-friendly destinations. There are also plenty of rooms and villas dotted around the island that can provide quieter getaways to independent travellers.
When to go to Zante
Visiting Zante is pleasant any time, even during the quite mild winters, but you will find very few places stay open outside of the April–October tourist season, apart from in Zakynthos Town. Try to avoid the peak summer season of late July to late August, when both prices and temperatures reach their annual peaks. Easter is a very memorable time to come because of the atmospheric celebrations and the early summer sees the mountains coloured by spring flowers, while the sea is still warm through September and into October.
The weather in Zante
Zante is blessed with a sunny east Mediterranean climate and so daytime temperatures can climb to 35ºC in July and August and tip 30ºC anytime from April to October. Thankfully, the cooling Maestro winds blowing in from the west bring relief during the hottest months. Summer nights vary between 15–25ºC and rarely dip below 8ºC, even in midwinter.
The Ionian Islands receive more rain than most Greek Islands, especially during the winter, though it is not unheard of for showers to occur even in high summer. However, with up to 13 hours average daily sunshine, you can rely on getting a tan.
Getting the best deal to Zante
Zante has a vast choice of package deals, many of which can be booked at quite short notice, especially as the recent economic situation has seen supply outstrip demand. Even in the August peak season you might find a surprisingly good deal, although prices will still be at their highest then. Restaurant and bar prices stay fairly constant throughout the season but the economic climate means it’s worth keeping your eyes peeled for special offers at any time.
Look out for our current best deals and last-minute holidays to Zante below.
Airport and transport need to know
Zante’s airport (ZTH) is the second busiest in the Ionian Islands after Corfu’s, with many flights per day during the summer season. Although only 4km from Zakynthos Town, taxis charge a hefty €10 (£8), so it’s worth considering the 500m walk to pick up a local bus on the main road to Laganas. Taxis direct to your resort will vary from as little as €8 (£6.40) to nearby Kalamaki to €30 (£24) all the way to Alykes.
The island’s bus service, based in Zakynthos Town, leaves something to be desired. There are quite frequent services to Laganas and a reasonable number to Planos/Tsilivi but far less to the Vasilikos Peninsula or Alykes and practically none to the more interesting parts of the north and west, except for Volimes. Fares are all under €2 (£1.60), except to Volimes (€3.40/£2.80)
There are numerous outlets for car rental, such as Eurosky (www.eurosky.gr), though extra care needs to be taken on the winding mountain roads and unmarked coastal bends.
Between April and October, Zakynthos has a daily easyJet service from Gatwick, as well as charter flights from London airports, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Dublin, East Midlands, Glasgow, Manchester and Newcastle. Scheduled flights via Athens operate year round.
A selection of top resorts on Zante
Zante shares the same characteristic as its Ionian neighbours in having a stunning west coast, although it has less beaches on that side and they are mostly only accessible by boat. Consequently, all the major resorts are located on the sandier south and east coasts.
Laganas Bay boasts one the longest single stretches of sand in the Ionian Sea, centred upon the hectic resort of Laganas, one of Greece’s top four party resorts for UK youth, loaded with clubs and bars competing for your custom. Nearby Kalamaki is much more low-key and suited for couple and families. The main environmental drawback here is that the bay is an important nesting site for the endangered loggerhead turtle.
The Vasilikos Peninsula, which protrudes southeast from Zakynthos Town, has at its neck the resort of Argasi, which draws a mixture of young and older holidaymakers. It is ideally situated for exploring the rest of the peninsula, which contains some delightful sandy coves, none more so than Gerakas, another major turtle nesting ground.
The east coast to the north of the capital is home to the more family-orientated resorts of Planos/Tsilivi and Alykes, each of which offer a good range of watersports, watering holes and a variety of decent eating options.