Choosing where to stay in Zakynthos will have a huge bearing on the type of holiday you’re going to have. This large island off the west coast of mainland Greece has been a popular holiday destination for generations, with tourists coming from across the globe in search of beautiful beaches and a relaxing island atmosphere.

    From bustling areas targeted at teenage revellers to quaint, ambient villages, Zakynthos is renowned for the diversity of its towns and resorts. Whether you like to dance all night long or prefer relaxed island solace, this selection of the best towns and resorts in Zakynthos is sure to help you plan your next Greek adventure.

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    Zakynthos Town

    Ancient ruins, Venetian architecture and great shopping

    Zakynthos Town is the capital and commercial hub of the island. For centuries, the city was ruled by the Venetians and there remains a distinctly Italian ambience in many of the quaint squares and cobbled streets around town.

    The Venetian Castle, which overlooks the city, serves as a reminder of the island’s history and is a must-see for history buffs, who would also do well to visit the Byzantine Museum and its collection of Greek art from the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries. Nearby, Solomos Square serves as the geographical and cultural centre of the city and is best visited at dusk, when locals gather to enjoy coffee and ice cream in one of the many cafés that line the square.

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    Argassi

    Relaxing beaches and a lively nightlife close to the airport

    Argassi is a resort town in Zakynthos located close to both the island’s capital and the airport. Known for its mix of peaceful days and pulsating nights, Argassi is a hotspot for families and young people visiting Zakynthos. One of the main draws in town is the sprawling Argassi Beach, which boasts crystalline waters and a mix of both pebble and sand. Home to a variety of water sports opportunities such as jet skis and paragliding, this lively beach offers sunbed and parasol rental. For those who prefer to explore local culture, the Church of the Virgin Mary of Skopiotissa is a stunning 17th-century structure set amid ancient ruins above the town.

    By night, Argassi comes alive as bars and restaurants fill up with tourists. Granada Taverna is a traditional Greek restaurant owned and operated by a local family serving classic dishes such as lamb kleftiko and spanakopita. Later on, local nightclubs like Magik The Club become a hotbed for revelling well into the early hours.

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    Vassilikos

    Unspoilt coastline and first-class accommodation

    Vassilikos is a relaxed resort in southern Zante, famous for its variety of beaches and lush surrounding countryside. Ideal for those seeking a truly peaceful island retreat, Vassilikos boasts some of Zakynthos’ finest hotels and resorts, with a focus on luxury options aimed at families and couples. Located on a peninsula of the same name, Vassilikos is perfectly situated as a base for excursions to several stunning beaches nearby.

    Start by heading to Kaminia before taking in majestic Porto Zoro as well as Ionio, Banana, St. Nicholas, Porto Roma, Gerakas and finally Daphni beach. Due to this entire area acting as a key breeding ground for the endangered loggerhead turtle, beaches tend to be pristine and untouched by development, making Vassilikos perfect for those in search of tranquillity.

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    Kalamaki

    Golden sands and clear, shallow waters

    Kalamaki is a tranquil resort on the island’s south coast that is known as a key breeding ground for the loggerhead turtle. This means that Kalamaki has retained much of its relaxing charm and the area remains popular with couples in search of a romantic holiday. Kalamaki Beah itself is a sprawl of powdery sand dotted with sunbeds and parasols for rent.

    A large chunk of the beach is off-limits due to its importance for the turtles, with water sports completely banned here for the same reason. Away from the beach, Kalamaki offers a relaxing combination of traditional Greek restaurants and low-key bars serving local wines, beer and spirits. One of the best is Oceanic Chill Out Bar, which provides a refined take on the classic beach shack theme and serves some of the best cocktails in Kalamaki.

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    Laganas

    Buzzing nightlife and Zakynthos’ longest beach

    Laganas is Zakynthos’ busiest and most popular resort town. A haven for young holidaymakers, days in Laganas are spent soaking up the sun while evenings revolve around the dozens of bars and nightclubs that hum with activity throughout summer. Laganas Beach is a 9-km-long stretch of golden sand and clear, shallow waters that are perfect for swimming. Although water sports are outlawed due to the presence of turtles in the area, Laganas Beach is by far the island’s busiest and most developed coastal area.

    Nightclubs in Laganas are in plentiful supply, with Rescue and CherryBay among the largest and most popular. For those who prefer a quieter place to enjoy a drink, Republic Beach Club is widely considered the best place in town for cocktails right on the sand.

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    Limni Keri

    Traditional village life and quaint beaches

    Limni Keri offers a tranquil slice of Zakynthos that's as close to the island’s original way of life as it’s possible to get. The main draw is undoubtedly the gorgeous Limni Keri Beach, an arcing pebble bay blessed with shallow turquoise waters and backed by lush green pines. Nearby Marathonissi Island is just a short boat ride away from Limni Keri and offers deserted beaches along with enchanting caves and turtle-spotting in crystalline waters.

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    7

    Tsilivi

    Beaches, bars and amusement parks

    Tsilivi is among the most family-friendly resorts in Zakynthos. By day, Tsilivi Beach offers water sports and relaxation along over 2 km of golden sands, while nearby Bouka and Gaidaros Beach provide a more tranquil place to swim amid shallow, calm waters sheltered from the crowds. Tsilivi is home to mini golf, an amusement park and a waterpark, making this resort popular with families who need variety in their vacation.

    By night, Tsilivi comes alive with restaurants such as Benikos and Olive Tree serving traditional Greek salads and grilled meats to tourists. While there are not many nightclubs in Tsilivi, beach parties are a nightly occurrence in summer and provide ample opportunity for revelling into the early hours.

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    Alykes

    A vibrant town centre, water sports and a convenient location

    Alykes is one of the main tourist towns in western Zakynthos, providing a relaxed yet well-catered-for base that's popular with families. The stunning Alykes Beach stretches for several kilometres and is renowned for water sports such as jet skis and banana boats in addition to paragliding. In the town, restaurants serve traditional Greek fare to families and older couples, while there's no shortage of international options with Chinese, Mexican and even British food on offer.

    The Alykes bar scene revolves around modest pubs such as Iris Bar that host karaoke and quiz nights fuelled by affordable cocktails and imported draught beers.

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    Volimes

    Rural village life and mountain scenery

    Volimes is a town located in the verdant mountains of northern Zakynthos. A historic mountain settlement, Volimes is a great place to visit for those wanting to get closer to the traditional rural way of life on the island. The sight of multicoloured houses against craggy limestone cliffs is characteristic of Volimes, which is surrounded by pine forests, olive groves and vineyards.

    A visit to traditional Greek restaurant Kaminaki is essential for foodies who find themselves in Volimes, with homemade bread and oil served alongside impossibly fresh meat, fish and vegetarian options.

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    Agios Nikolaos

    Quaint bays and luxury accommodation

    Agios Nikolaos is a tiny port tucked away in what might just be the most picturesque corner of Zakynthos. A visit to Agios Nikolaos should centre around the beautiful beach of the same name, a sheltered curving cove of pebbles lapped by transparent waters.

    Ideal as a jumping-off point for excursions to Navagio ‘Shipwreck’ Beach and the Blue Caves, Agios Nikolaos boasts some stunning luxury hotels such as St. Nicolas Bay Resort Hotel and Villas. This 5-star resort is famous across the island for the quality of its rooms and restaurants, while views across the Ionian Sea are among the best in Zakynthos.

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    James Connolly | Guest Writer

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