Zakynthos is the third largest of the Ionian islands found in the Ionian Sea. The island is said to have been named after the son of Arcadian chief Dardanus. In Greek mythology, Dardanus was the son of Electra and Zeus. Homer’s Iliad and the Odyssey both mention Zakynthos. They state that the first inhabitants of the island are Zakynthos and his men. Before being renamed Zakynthos, the island was believed to have been called Hyrie. Zakynthos Island’s nickname is “the Flower of Levant.” This nickname was given to the island by the Venetians. Zakynthos participated in the Trojan War and is listed in the Homeric Catalog of Ships.
The capital of Zakynthos is a town of the same name, but also called Chora. Chora means “the town,” and is often used when the name of the island and its main town are the same. The western half of the island is mountainous while the southwest is mostly steep cliffs. The eastern part of the island is densely fertile plain with long sandy beaches.
In 1953, Zakynthos was hit by a magnitude 7.3 earthquake that destroyed most of the buildings on the island. After the earthquake, buildings were fortified to protect them from future tremors that may occur. In 2018, a 6.4 magnitude earthquake hit just south of the island. Except for damage to a 13th century monastery and a pier, there were no injuries or other damages.
During World War II, the mayor and bishop refused to turn in a list of the town’s Jewish community for deportation to death camps. They would instead hide the Jewish people in rural villages of the island. It was reported that all the 275 Jews of Zakynthos survived the war.
Administrative Region of Zakynthos Island, Greece
Area of Zakynthos Island, Greece
405.55 km2 (156.58 sq mi)
Population of Zakynthos Island, Greece
Top Atractions in Zakynthos Island, Greece
Art & Wine Winery – Located on beautiful grounds with gorgeous scenery. Tours are always offered, with or without a reservation. Wines and hospitality at this winery both receive good ratings.
Navagio Beach – Also known as shipwreck beach as a shipwrecked boat sits on the sand. Beach is located on the western side of the island. The unique feature, crystalline waters, and lovely sand make it worth visiting.
Kalamaki Beach – If you’re into water sports, you’ll want to spend time here. Snorkeling and scuba diving are available. An organized beach with plenty of facilities.
Turtle Island – Take a boat trip to this island where turtles live, swim, and nest. The beach is secluded and there are caves around to explore (via boat). Laganas Beach is nearby and worth visiting as well.
Museum of Solomos – Located in Zakynthos Town. The museum features memorabilia of a local personality named Dionysios Solomos (1798 – 1857) who was a Greek poet. The museum houses interesting items such as the bones of another poet, Andreas Kalvos, and Kalvos’ wife.
Porto Vromi Beach – Located between Exo Xora and Maries villages. A more secluded beach for a quiet, relaxing afternoon. Not many facilities around, so come prepared.
Zante Water Village – Located in the middle of Zakynthos. A family friendly water park. Enjoy rides, kiddie slides, rafting, and pools.
History War Museum – Founded in 2018 and located in Laganas. Guided tours are available. History and war buffs will enjoy this museum.
Anafonitria Monastery – Minutes from Navagio Beach. An authentic Greek monastery. Tour is available.
Keri Lighthouse – While the lighthouse is closed to the public, the area is not. Explore the outside of the lighthouse and surrounding area. Wonderful views, especially at sunset.