Today I am giving you five reasons why you should take your summer vacation in autumn:
- Because it is cheaper, as it is low season.
- Because it is less crowded.
- Because it’s a good way to cheat a little, and make summer feel a little longer.
- Because it’s fun to be travelling when everybody else is working.
- Last but not least, because now you have the ultimate guide to one of the top destinations!
Finally the post about our Zakynthos trip is here and you will now find out all you need to know about the island and our trip. The island is the third biggest of the Ionian islands and it is a corner of contrasts for the presence of golden beaches and massive rocky coasts. It is also a very fertile island, blessed with highest quality fruits and vegetables. We had a wonderful time there, and here I am, sharing some useful tips with those of you who take their summer vacations in autumn :). And if you have already been on holidays, save the information for next year.
Here are some general tips to begin with:
- Travel by car or rent one there. The island is big and it has a lot to offer. Most of its hidden gems are only accessible by car.
- Take care at the roads. Zante does not have the best infrastructure.
- Always beat down.
- Ask your host where it is best to buy olive oil. Don’t buy on the streets, it is quite expensive. We were lucky and our host took us to the family from which they are buying it themselves.
- Do your groceries in Lidl. It is cheap and convenient.
How to get to the island
Zakynthos is very easily reachable from Athens with daily flights of 45 minutes. But if you are travelling by car (what I highly recommend) like we did, there are two companies operating ferry trips from Kyllini to Zante. The trip takes around one hour and there is a route every 2-3 hours (first one being at 4:00 and the last one at 21:00). Here’s the trick: do not book online. It is much cheaper to buy them directly from the port and you can get an open ticket, with no fixed return time, which gives you some flexibility in organizing your activities on the island.
There are several beaches we really liked, and those were mainly in the northern part of the island, which is also much less populated. It is also worth mentioning, that the island and especially the most spectacular of its beaches are not the easiest option if you have someone with mobility difficulties with you.
- Porto Limnionas
First one to be visited by us and my favorite in terms of water and view. However, it is abrupt and very slippery as you go into the water by climbing down some rocks. There are two tavernas at the top if you want some drinks or food, but people will sunbath here and there on rocks, so no real possibility for sunbeds.
- Xigia beach
The Sulphur and Collagen Spa Beach at Xigia is one of the top holiday spots in Zakynthos and in my list of preferences. The beach here is naturally beautiful, a small bay set between the cliffs, with turquoise waters. The natural spring water flowing into the sea here is filled with collagen and sulphur – great for your health and really relaxing to float about in. Also, the family run canteen at the top of the cliff offers snacks and refreshments which are wheeled down to the beach in a whicker basket from the canteen above- really inventive.
- St Nicholas beach (north)
Firstly, on the way north from Xigia to St Nicholas, we stopped at family owned Klontiraki Fish Tavern and had a wonderful meal here with a stunning view. As for the beach, it is a small white pebble beach located next to the port of St Nicholas, the largest marina in the North of Zant. The beach is very pretty, looking over a small island in the distance with ancient monastery ruins. Though it is near the port, the water is really clear and calm.
- Makris Gialos
Right between the two previously mentioned beaches, you will find the beach of Makris Gialos, which is particularly pretty with this time green waters, reflecting on the lush vegetation surrounding the beach. There are a number of sunbeds and umbrellas along the beach at Makris Gialos, perfect places to shelter from the sun in the heat of the day. If you like snorkeling, this is a place for you, as there are many sea caves dotted around the beach to be explored. My little sister was really happy for being able to explore the aquatic world here.
Sunset in Kampi
On the west coast, in the village of Kampi, you can enjoy the best sunset on the island, they say. And they are right. There are some restaurants located on the edge of the cliffs. We have tried the two first ones in TripAdvisor’s top: Cross Tavern and Porto Schiza. The day we visited Cross Tavern was cloudy and we did not have the chance to see the sun going down and nor did we have a good meal. But I can totally recommend Porto Schiza for the view, the food, and the good prices.
If you have been or have heard about the island before, you were probably wondering as you are reading the article, why Navagio is not in my list of beaches. Well, because it deserves its own spot here. When doing my research before the trip and seeing the famous pictures of the Shipwreck beach all around, I was skeptic enough to assume that those pictures have been adjusted, at least a little. Well, this is not true. This beach is stunning and definitely deserves a #nofilter hashtag on Instagram. I have never seen more beautiful waters, even in Caribbean islands. The beach is only accessible by water, but it is worth seeing it both from the above and from the beach itself. I recommend renting a boat for visiting the beach or getting there by a taxi boat from Porto Vromi. You can buy your trip mostly everywhere on the east coast, but I recommend Porto Vromi (west coast) because they have boats going to and from Navagio every half an hour and, unlike other trips that have a fixed time, you decide yourself how much you stay on the beach and when you want to come back.
Boat trip to the turtles’ island and Keri Caves
The shallow and crystal clear waters of Agios Sostis make it the perfect choice for families with small children. The beach is narrow, and not one of the most spectacular on the island. However, it offers a pretty view over to Cameo Island on the left and Turtle Island on the right. Here you can rent a private boat and travel to the turtles’ island and the Keri Caves. We spent one of the most exciting days of the vacation here. We saw the turtles and swam in the most beautiful clear waters.
Water sports on Alykes beach
If you are looking for a sandy beach then Alykes beach is always alluring. The swimming at Alykes is really enjoyable – the sea bed here declines very gradually so you have shallow swimming for a long way out to sea. This is great for children, and for adults who like to lounge around in the warm waters of the Ionian Sea.
The beach at Alykes provides a great base for enjoying a day of water sports action. There are lots of rides and activities available on the beach here, and you will watch paragliders sailing over the seas throughout much of the day. My boyfriend, my father, my sister, and I enjoyed the parasailing experience here. A little adrenaline is always a good idea, isn’t it? Also, the beach has a lot of cafes and tavernas, with nice design and very good service.
The fish market
One of the most beautiful parts of any seaside vacation is food. Besides its local treasures like olives and cheese, Zakynthos is full of seafood. In Zante, on the bay, people are selling it directly from the fishboat. The only problem is that they are selling as they arrive from the sea, so you never know whether you should buy now or wait half an hour more for better productus
That’s it for now! I hope you find this useful! Thanks for reading!