Zakynthos has a typically Mediterranean climate, with warm dry summers and mild wet winters. One of the sunniest places in Greece, temperatures reach average highs of 32°C in the summer months, dropping to 15°C from December through to February. The hot summers are tempered by cool breezes from the Ionian Sea, which stop the heat from becoming unbearable, while the high rainfall in the winter months keeps Zakynthos lush and green.
When to fly to Zakynthos
The busy season in Zakynthos runs from May through to October. Summer temperatures can be very hot, although the winds from the meltemi provide a cool relief. The winds, which blow from north to south, are particularly strong around August, and can make the sea a little rough to the north of the island.
The winter months, from October through to March, tend to be mild but wet. With the island population at just under 40,000, the departure of most of the tourists means the island relaxes in the winter. Although this is the best time of year to pick up a bargain, much of the tourist infrastructure shuts down off-season, particularly in the smaller resorts and towns.
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Getting around Zakynthos
There is a small airport on Zakynthos, which has daily flights to Athens. Many people also travel from the Greek mainland to Zante by ferry, which departs from Killini, in the Peloponnese, about a four-hour drive from Athens. It is possible to use the ferries to island-hop between the Ionian Islands, a simple and popular way to travel around and sample a taste of the varying cultures that exist on all the islands.
An easy and cheap way to get around Zakynthos itself is by bus. The good road network on the island can also be utilised by hiring a car, with vehicle rental companies based at the airport and larger resorts.
Some areas of the island, such as the famous Shipwreck Bay, are only accessible from the sea and it is possible to catch taxi boats to these locations, or even to rent your own boat. The taxi boats depart daily from Zante Town, the island’s capital, and various other points around the island.
Zakynthos insider information
- Known as Zante to tourists, the islanders themselves refer to their home as Zakynthos, after the son of King Dardanus of Troy, who supposedly settled there around 1500 BC.
- Shipwreck Bay (also known as Navagio Beach) is the most famous beach in Zakynthos. Accessible only by boat, the bay owes its name to the shipwreck of a boat smuggling illegal cigarettes, which washed up onto its shores in 1983. The shipwreck lies in the middle of the beautiful sandy beach and is best viewed from a platform built above the cliffs that surround the bay.
- Zante Town, the capital city of the island, is brimming with diverse architecture and cultural sights. The various occupations of the island have left their mark and despite the severe earthquake of 1953, a few Venetian buildings still exist from the era when Zante was under Venetian rule. There are many beautiful churches and historical monuments including the Orthodox church of Agios Dionysios, the patron saint of the island, which is an impressive mix of the Byzantine and Occidental. There is also a good selection of museums, with the Museum of the National Resistance and the Museum of Dionysios Solomos being two of the most note-worthy. The latter is a museum dedicated to Solomos, poet and author of the National Anthem of Greece. For a stunning view over the city, a trip up to the Venetian castle ruins should not be missed.
- The beach of Gerakas is beautiful and unspoilt, and will continue to be soas it is located in the National Marine Park of Zakynthos. This protects the local wildlife and particularly the endangered loggerhead sea turtle, which swims near the island.