Zante is a glimmering jewel in the Ionian Sea, where families come to relax, clubbers come to party and sea turtles come to nest.
Zante’s stunning coast is lined with sandy beaches, rocky coves, dramatic cliffs and hidden sea caves. Further inland, lush olive groves and lemon trees give way to rolling hills.
Every summer, loggerhead turtles swim all the way from Africa to Zante to lay their eggs in the island’s golden sands. Visit in July or August and you’ll stand a good chance of spotting one.
Smuggler’s Cove is the most spectacular beach on the island (and some would argue in all of Greece). Backed by steep white cliffs, its sands are accessible only by boat and are home to a mysterious shipwreck. Makris Gialos Beach comes with lots of little caves to explore. Garakas, Kalamaki and Laganas beaches are all good for turtle spotting.
Marathonissi – or Turtle Island – is a must-visit for nature buffs. Not only is it shaped liked the animal it’s named after, but it’s also one of the top nesting spots for loggerhead turtles. You can take a boat to it from Keri and Laganas.
To get a glimpse of traditional Greek life, stroll around the cobbled streets and stone cottages of Keri, a hillside village on the south of the island. At the bottom of the hill is a beautiful lake where you can see wetland plants and birds.
Zante is a great place to sample authentic Greek cuisine, from meze to moussaka. Seafood-lovers won’t want to miss the catch of the day, especially when grilled swordfish is on the menu. If you have a sweet tooth, try the sticky walnut and cinnamon dessert called kataifi, one of the island’s specialities.
After authentic local gifts? Head to the hillside village of Volimes, which does a strong line in carpets, lace and other traditional handicrafts. Foodies won’t want to leave without a stash of the local olive oil and honey. For a fashion fix, hit the shops in Zante Town where you’ll find everything from designer boutiques to international high street brands.
Hard-partying Laganas is famous for its Ibiza-worthy clubs and pumping beach parties. Tsilivi on the east coast is a good spot for bar-hopping. Zante Town likes to take things a bit easier, with after-dinner cocktails overlooking the harbour.
Zante is an island in the Ionian Sea, just off the south-west tip of mainland Greece.
Time differenceGMT +2 hours
Beer€3 a bottle
3 course mealfrom around €25