ZAKINTHOS
the island of Navagio
Zakynthos is the third largest island in the Ionian archipelago. Zakynthos can be covered in a day by car, but there is enough entertainment for a long holiday. The roads on the island are good, so travel will be a pleasure; there are bus services between towns and villages.
The capital of the island is Zakynthos, or Chora. Ferries and large ships land here. At the harbour there is the church of Agios Dionysios, consecrated in honour of the patron saint of the island, Saint Dionysios. Here the relics of the saint are kept in a silver shrine. The local museums, the Byzantine Museum and the museum of Solomos, author of the Greek national anthem, are also worth a visit. From the city centre it's easy to walk to Strani Hill, which offers beautiful views. From the Venetian fortress you can see the mainland.
The Monastery of Anathonitrias (16th century) in the north west of the island, 25 km from Zakynthos, is worth a visit. A miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary, dating back to the 15th century, is preserved there.
There are many natural attractions on the island. Navaio Cove with a shipwreck is probably one of the most photographed. The cove is surrounded by sheer cliffs and the views from the observation deck are spectacular.
At the northern tip of Zakynthos one can see the picturesque Blue Caves, the most notable being the Blue Grotto. The sea water here has an indescribable blue colour! You can get here only by sea - by boat or by sightseeing boat.
Zakynthos is the birthplace of the rare loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta). These sea giants can weigh up to 180 kg! They come to Zakynthos to lay their eggs. Fenced areas can be seen on the beaches - this is one of the conservation measures for the species. The local shops are filled with souvenirs of turtles.
One of the most popular resorts in Zakynthos is Laganas. The longest beach on the island is found here. There are nightclubs, restaurants and cafes and a large choice of hotels in Laganas. Explore the bay in a transparent-bottomed boat - there's a chance to see turtles floating in the sea water! Other famous resorts on the island are Tsilivi and Alykes on the east coast.
In Zakynthos, be sure to try the specialties, like the dish "sarza" (beef cooked with tomatoes, garlic, cheese and oregano), the local cheese "mizitra", the sweet dish "mandolato". The island produces delicious olive oil and wine.
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