The third largest island in the Ionian chain, Zante – or Zakynthos as it is also known – is quintessentially Greek: a place of myths, friendly locals, shipwrecks and miles of gorgeous beaches. If that wasn’t enough, the island is also blessed with an unspoilt hinterland and lively capital in Zakynthos Town.
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Just 123km long, completing a lap of the island can be done in a day although you’d be missing out if you didn’t make a pit stop or two. Awash with ancient olive groves and jagged hills, the thyme-scented countryside of the interior is simply lovely, while villages such as Keri offer a taste of the Greece of years gone by. Bochali in the south also has a crumbling Venetian castle, while the small islet of Marathonissi boasts tropical forest, turquoise water and the chance to catch sight of a turtle.
The coastline between Keri and Skinari is home to a network of ‘Blue Caves’, most of which are only accessible by boat. Discovered in 1897, boats can be chartered (or tours joined) in Zakynthos and Agios Nikolaos at any time of day, although the best time to go is early in the morning when the strong sunshine casts magical shadows and reflections on the cerulean water. A trip to the Blue Caves is undoubtedly one of the highlights of a holiday to Zante from Glasgow Airport.
Located in the northern part of the island, Navagio, or Smuggler’s Cove, is one of the most photographed spots in Greece thanks to the wrecked ship half submerged in its sugary white sand and the spectacular tree-fringed mountain that backdrops it. Access is by boat from Agios Nikolaos or, if you’re happy to look on from afar, from the viewing balcony on the slopes above.