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Interested in exploring the Greek island of Zakynthos? I’ve got all the information you need to enjoy your next trip to this idyllic island.
After spending a week exploring some of the lesser known Greek Islands in the east with MDFV, I posted a status on Facebook saying that I needed a vacation from my vacation so I decided to take a weekend trip to the Greek Island of Zakynthos.
Now that I have returned to Athens I think it’s about time that I give you a full breakdown of how incredible this trip was and hopefully I’ll be able to inspire you to visit Zakynthos (also known as Zante) the next time you find yourself in Greece.
Use Uber in Athens
If you’ve used Uber in the past you would know that it’s pretty much the most convenient way to move around any city these days. Fortunately, Uber is now operating in Athens so you can be picked up from the airport and dropped directly to the doorstep of your hotel in the city. If you’re already in Athens and you’re looking for a cheap and reliable way to get to/from the airport, be sure to take advantage of Uber.
Fun Fact: UberTaxi in Athens is 20% cheaper than a standard taxi.
If you’ve never used Uber before then there’s no better time to start. Why? Well, you can save €10 off your first Uber ride by using the Uber Promo Code: MVCZK
Note: This Uber Promo Code can be applied and used worldwide, not just in Greece. Uber first ride discounts depend on your home location set in your profile when you register using the promo code above. Sign up now and score yourself a discount!
How to Get to Zakynthos
Here are the two websites I use to plan all of my travels. My best advice is to use both to compare prices and find the best deal.
The best way to get to Zakynthos (Zante) is to fly. I booked my last minute flights from Athens to Zakynthos on Aegean Airlines.
Because I choose to travel somewhat spontaneously, I sometimes end up paying a little more than I normally would for flights. As many of you know, saving money on travel is generally my forte but sometimes you just need to accept that spontaneity can be a little more costly.
Flight cost: €152.89 round-trip
The flight from Athens to Zakynthos is a short hop and only took approximately 55 minutes to get there. In order to make the most of the weekend I booked the early morning flight out to Zakynthos on Friday morning (DEP: 5:30AM — ARR: 6:25AM).
Accommodations in Zakynthos
When it comes to accommodations these days, no matter where I am in the world, my go to choice is always Airbnb. I’ve been using Airbnb for a couple years now and I’ve had nothing but great experiences renting through them time and time again.
While I’m normally content with renting apartments in the $40-100/night range (depending on the destination), I decided to splurge a little more than I usually do when it came to my stay in Zakynthos.
I searched high and low around the island for the perfect apartment and after some debate between two different properties, I decided to go with this luxury beach villa situated on the coast just some 12 km from Zakynthos town and 17km from the airport.
Villa Rental: $230/night including Airbnb fees.
Note: If a private villa isn’t in your budget and you’re on the hunt for something cheaper, you’re in luck because there are plenty of alternative accommodations available for you on the island.
What really set this Zakynthos villa rental apart from any other apartment or room that I’ve rented through Airbnb was the excellent line of communication and almost concierge like service I received from the hosts, a mother and daughter team throughout the booking process and throughout the stay. Trust me when I tell you that this isn’t your typical Airbnb. These women really know how to take care of their guests and to be honest when you’re renting a villa like this it’s somewhat expected to receive a higher level of service than your typical check-in and check-out in a basic apartment anywhere else in the world.
Upon arriving to Zakynthos at 6:30AM, we had a taxi driver waiting for us in arrivals. It’s not often that this happens, but I sure do enjoy the luxury of hopping off a flight and directly into a taxi to get me to my destination.
Taxi Cost: €35 (Zakynthos International Airport to Paradisso Villas)
Booking Hotels in Zakynthos
If you don’t happen to find something to your liking on airbnb my next recommendation would be to take a look on Booking.com.
Booking offers a wide variety (675 and counting) of accommodations in Zakynthos for you to choose from. From budget hostels to 5-star hotels, they’ve got you covered.
After a 15-20 minute cab ride we arrived at Paradisso Villas and we were in absolute awe when we got our first glimpse of the property from afar. One of the staff members greeted us and gave us a brief walkthrough of the property, showing us the private sunbed areas down by the sea, our day bed, the shared outdoor spaces and more.
We were then lead to our villa which blew our mind as soon as we entered. I have to say I’ve had good luck when it comes to Airbnb rentals actually looking like the photos but this villa exceeded all expectations. The photos on the Airbnb listing, while nice, really didn’t do this place any justice. You can see more photos of the villa here.
Now, here’s yet another thing that sets Paradisso villas apart from most Airbnb experiences I’ve had in the past — they actually cooked and delivered us breakfast to our villa within 15-20 minutes of checking in. The timing couldn’t have been any better as we were exhausted and just starting to get hungry.
Did I mention they stocked the fridge with some deli meats, cheeses, bread, orange juice, water and a bottle of rosé? Yeah, this place is on point.
After breakfast I took a bit of a power nap in the hammock while my friend Annika caught up on a work project for about an hour or so. Afterwards we took a walk to the local mini market down the road to grab some food and drinks for the weekend ahead.
Now that we had the villa stocked, it was time to head outside to get a closer look at some of the many amenities that come along with renting this villa of ours.
Of course, for research purposes, I needed to test out the day bed.
The photos below shows our private sunbed area with steps that lead directly into the Ionian Sea.
You’re probably wondering if I took a dip in the sea — well, of course I did! I mean how could you not want to jump right in after soaking up the rays for a couple of hours. It wasn’t until I stepped into the sea that I realized that the Ionian Sea was was the third sea that I’ve swam in over the course of the last week after sailing the Mediterranean and the Aegean just a few days prior.
After we finished up with the sun beds we made our way back up to the villa to shower, relax and I caught up with some photo organization and editing (a daily ritual of mine) while Annika finished getting ready, I popped open a couple of tasty Cayman Jack margaritas and got down to business. They were so refreshing after a long day in the sun.
After finishing up some work, I packed my trusty Tortuga Daypack with my camera gear (Canon G7x, GoPro HERO4 Silver, iPhone 6 Plus, and a Joby Gorillapod), as well as a brand new flag that Cayman Jack sent me out.
From Paradisso, we made our way north along the coastal road and then turned down a dirt path that lead to the coastline.
After snapping a ton of great photos on the cliffs, we headed back to the villa and then to dinner.
For dinner, we dined at Amoudi Taverna, a local seaside restaurant located just 2 minutes walk from Paradisso Villas. We grabbed a table close to the sea and enjoyed a nice meal as the sun set in the distance.
Recommended Restaurants in Zakynthos:
Amoudi Taverna and Kritamo. Both restaurants can be found on TripAdvisor if you’re interested in taking a closer look before you visit. In my opinion, they both have delicious food options and are pretty similar when you compare the dishes and prices on their oversized menus.
Note: In order to really get the full experience at just about any restaurant in Greece, you must order a variety of dishes and share them; as the Greeks do.
By the time we got back to the villa the sun was just about to set over the mountains in the distance and our daybed down by the sea was glowing with shades of yellow and orange.
Daytrip to Shipwreck Beach
The following morning we were picked up at our villa by the staff of Golden Dolphin Cruises. Our Airbnb host had organized a tour for us to Navagio Beach (better known as Shipwreck Beach) located on the north west shore of Zakynthos. Shipwreck Beach happens to be the most famous beach in Zakynthos thanks to an alleged smuggler ship that wrecked on the beach back in 1983. For more information on Shipwreck Beach, click here.
The boat trip out to Shipwreck beach took about 35-40 minutes and was pretty smooth for the most part. Once we turned the corner around the cliff on the north west side of the island the whole boat let out a sigh as if it was the most amazing thing that they’ve ever witnessed in their lives. Cameras were flying in all directions in hopes to get the first shot of the day of what is by far the most commercialized and tourist laden beach on the island.
After Annika and I managed to snap a few good photos of the ship we wandered over to the opposite side of the beach to take a swim and do some serious people watching. Boy, were there some characters out that day.
My Thoughts: Shipwreck Beach is a beautiful little cove surrounded by giant cliffs and plopped right in the middle is this big ol’ rusty ship that was fortunate enough to wreck where it did. Do I recommend you go there? Yes, you will enjoy it. That being said, be prepared to be surrounded by hundreds of tourists who are all trying to take the same photo as you are.
Shipwreck Beach Tour Cost: €22/per person — Please note that this was a no-frills tour. There were no food/drinks on board and no tour guide to tell us more information about the beach. If you want to do it up in style, enjoy a nice meal and have a more informative experience, I suggest you check out this Shipwreck Beach Tour.
Final Day in Zakynthos
The following morning we awoke early to pack our bags and checked out of Paradisso around 11AM. We purposely booked a late night flight (9:05PM) out of Zakynthos on Sunday in order to maximize our weekend to the fullest.
We had the entire day to burn so we decided to rent a car and explore more of the island. We rented our car from Giant Rentals which is conveniently located at the top of the driveway that leads down to Paradisso Villas. That being said, there are tons of rental car and motorbike rental companies available for you to choose from on the island.
Rental Car Cost: €40 including airport drop fee — When inquiring about our rental we asked the owner if it would be okay if we dropped the rental car at the airport and he said it was no problem. There was an additonal charge of €5 for the drop-off fee. This was a key component to us renting a car from him considering the airport is located on the south of the island and we were headed down to the nearby beaches for the day. Plus, it saved us a €35 taxi ride from Paradisso to the airport so it worked out great.
After a quick pitstop for gas we headed to Zakynthos Town for an early lunch. We dined at the Spartakos Tavern and really enjoyed our meal. The service was excellent as well. I would highly recommend you dine there if you ever find yourself in Zakynthos town.
Once we finished up lunch we drove down the the windy coastal roads until we reached Gerakas beach. We meant to make a short stop here but we ended up renting sunchairs and loving it so much that we burned the majority of the day lying on the beach.
Sunchair Rental at Gerakas Beach: €4/per chair (includes an umbrella).
After leaving the beach we made our way back into Zakynthos town and climbed the smallest, windiest roads up into the hillside to capture views of the city and the port from above. The views were incredible. I highly recommend you make the hike up there even if you don’t have a car.
Well, that just about wraps up this trip report on my weekend in Zakynthos. I hope you guys enjoyed it and I’m hoping that some of you will find this useful for when you begin to plan your own trip to Zakynthos. Have I inspired you to visit this beautiful island yet? If so, leave a comment below.
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This experience was made possible thanks to my partnership with Cayman Jack. As always, all content and opinions are entirely my own.