Travel Guide: Zakynthos, Greece.

Greece is somewhere I've visited in varying different forms over the years: Last year, I spent a week in Halkidi on the mainland, when I was about 13 we holidayed in Crete and this year I had the pleasure of staying on the island of Zakynthos... or Zante as it's probably better known. However at this point I should probably stress that I was not there on a 'lads' holiday and much to the surprise of my parents didn't even get drunk once. A bit later on in the post I'm going to talk about the expectations versus reality of Zakynthos because I think it gets a pretty poor rep, or at least in England it does. 

Within this post I'm going to discuss my accommodation for the week, my thoughts on Zakynthos town, the islands beaches and some places I'd recommend to eat at. So sit back, because in true lilyolivia style, this post may be a long one!


- Accommodation -

We stayed at the Cavo Mare Deluxe Villas near Tragaki, about a 20-25 minute drive from the airport. One thing I would definitely recommend is hiring a car, for us it was included in the price of the villa (which I will come to a bit later on) but if you want to do anything, see any of the tourist attractions like the blue caves or the shipwreck it makes your life so much easier when you don't have to order taxis back and forward. And to be honest my opinion of Greek taxi drivers isn't fantastic. We've only gotten one - on my parents anniversary meal 'cause they wanted to drink - and honestly he was such a reckless driver. He spent the majority of the drive telling us how no taxi drivers abide by the laws and 'sometimes [he] forgets that if you hit someone you actually get in trouble'. Not something you want to hear as he weaves along at 70mph narrowly missing tourists. So yeah, definitely get a car unless you plan on staying within your hotel complex. 

But back to the accommodation: the Cavo Mare Deluxe Villas. Would I recommend this as somewhere to go if you're looking for a beautifully aesthetic and totally Instagrammable location? Yes. The whole villa is exclusively black and white with massive windows and a floating staircase. It's gorgeous. One thing I would say is that as beautiful as it is it's not hugely practical; the sun loungers were quite uncomfortable and if you're looking for somewhere cosy to curl up with with a book in the evening, you're not gonna find it. However from a photographers point of view it ticks all the boxes. 

For complete transparency I won't lie this villa is certainly at the pricier end of things with a week here plus flights and a hire car coming in at about £6000. However it sleeps six so that's something to bear in mind and prices do go down in off season. 

- Zakynthos Town-

One morning we spent a few hours wandering around Zakynthos Town before ending up having lunch at The Red Rock Cafe on Solomon Square. After parking our car and attempting to find the harbour using Apple Maps (isn't the fact you can use your data in the EU an absolute game changer?!) we stumbled upon the church of St Dennis. Firstly I would say where something that covers you up because I got given the dirtiest look by an elderly Greek woman for wearing shorts. she all but threw a piece of cloth at me and frankly she made me feel really uncomfortable. So yeah, shorts are a no go in the Greek Orthodox churches. 

Before coming to Zakynthos I like the majority of Brits had it down as a party island, where those of us er inclined to one or ten drinks likes to go for a week of booze and beaches. However that is such a narrow minded impression of such a beautiful island and I would highly recommend giving it a shot. 

We eventually made it to the harbour and had a wander along in the boiling midday heat. Zakynthos is definitely worth a trip though I probably wouldn't stay in the town itself because it's super busy and not akin to the relaxing holiday a lot of people are after when they head to Greece.

- The Food - 

Because we were staying in a villa we were lucky that we had options in terms of where we wanted to eat. Some days it was nice to just cook a simple pasta dish in the villa but others we wanted to go out and see what Greece had to offer. The answer? Cheese, lots of cheese. Before I get into specific places there are two main things to consider when it comes to eating out in Zakynthos. 

1) It's quite meat/fish orientated. I'm pescatarian and even I struggled to find things in some restaurants which is quite rare. So if you're vegan I do think you would really struggle, as all the vegetarian options usually contain cheese of some form.

2) And secondly, food in Zakynthos is pretty inexpensive. We went to a lot of places that came out at about €40 for four people which works out at about £9 each for drinks, a main meal and chips on the side. So you don't have to spend extortionate amounts.

- The Red Cafe, Zakynthos -

The Red Rock Cafe in Zakynthos Town: The best pizza ever. End of. It was deep-pan and so cheesy and oh my god I'm craving it so badly! This is the perfect restaurant if you're out and about exploring town and need somewhere to chill for a couple of hours. It's on the main square and has massive sun umbrellas which trust me, you'll need. I would also suggest sitting inside because they have air con which is just everything

- Ambula Beach -

Perfect if you want good, inexpensive well cooked food. They offer a massive selection of pasta, pizza and salads and as it's right on the beach the views are pretty beautiful. I'd highly recommend the tortellini (pictured above) and on top of all of that, customers get free access to their beach loungers which are in a really great position. 

- Basia - 

My favourite of all the restaurants we visited. Still not horrifically expensive but the quality of food was impeccable and the setting was beautiful. I won't lie this is a bit of a maze to find so if you you end up down a dirt track thinking: "this can't be right!" trust me, it is. 

- Al Nur at the Ionian Hill Hotel -

If you're looking for somewhere special and upmarket I would recommend Al Nur. We went here to celebrate my parents 27th wedding anniversary and it was a really lovely night with a chance to dress up and make an effort. Lots of Greek restaurants tend to be pretty chill and dress code is casual so it was nice to be able to put on a pair of heels. The food wasn't the best I've had but the presentation and the cocktails were impeccable. 

- The Beaches - 

We we lucky in that our villa was a sort 15 minute walk to the beach as the sea around Zakynthos is insanely beautiful. It's one of those places where you just can't help but think: I didn't realise the ocean could be so blue. There's a number of beach bars and restaurants including Ambula Cafe as mentioned above and it's perfect for spending a morning or afternoon relaxing. 

So there we have it, my Zakynthos Travel Guide! I hope you enjoyed this post and let me know if you have any questions about this area. Our travel agent was Simpson Travel and as usual they were fantastic. 


1 comment

  1. Lily these photos are gorgeous, all that blue!! I've never been to Greece myself but this looks the dream - like that villa looks insane! Glad you had a lovely time (despite the flight home :(!) xxx


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