The Venetians used to call Zakynthos the “Fioro di Levante” (Flower of the East), as there are over 7,000 species of flowers on the island!
Zakynthos in a Nutshell
An island with a turbulent historical course, traditional villages, old monasteries, beautiful churches, and picturesque beaches. Start exploring the city of Zakynthos from the coastal road. Strata Marina, the squares and the narrow streets with the few old imposing buildings that were saved from the strong earthquake of 1953. Visit Saint Markos Square and the Museum of Dionysios Solomos. In Solomos square the Byzantine Museum and the renaissance church of Agios Nikolaos. In the port, you will see the church of Agios Dionysios with the exceptional frescoes and the relics of the Saint. From the hill of Stranis, south of the city center the view is wonderful.
Solomos drew inspiration from Zakynthos to write the National Anthem of Greece
In today’s beautiful city of Zakynthos, there is a diffuse Ionian atmosphere in the squares and galleries, in the bell towers of the churches, and the picturesque streets with the flowered balconies. A special idyllic place, ideal for walking. Here Dionysios Solomos, seeing the view, had the divine inspiration and wrote the National Anthem of Greece.
Zakynthos the island of Music, Poetry, and Hospitality
The beauty of the island is inexhaustible and there are many surprises. Clear blue waters, and cosmopolitan but also quieter beaches each with its beauty. Of the forty-four villages, most are utilized but have retained their traditional character. Mountain villages and wild rocky slopes alternate. Zakynthos is rightly called the island of music, poetry, and hospitality. Homeland of Dionysios Solomos, Andreas Kalvos, Ugo Foscolo, and Gregorios Xenopoulos. The island has always had and still maintains a very high cultural level. The music flows in the veins of the Zakynthians.
The Acclaimed Beaches of Zakynthos
Beaches of Zakynthos by Car
Start exploring the island by driving north. First stop at Tsilivi beach, an attraction for Greek and foreign tourists. In recent years it is constantly evolving and stands out for the purity of the sea and is the ultimate destination. Further north is Alykes, one of the most popular beaches on the island. With fine sand and shallow safe waters, Alykes becomes a pole of attraction for family tourism. Next to the beach of Alykes is Alikanas, a constantly developing place. Continue your route, Katostari, Xigia, Makris Gialos, Agios Nikolaos. The beautiful beaches don’t end there as you must also visit Tragaki, Kypseli, and Gerokario.
The Famous Laganas Bay
Laganas is one of the most famous beaches of Zakynthos. Young people from many European countries arrive by charter. Night and day parties in bars and beaches are endless. The main road leading to the beach is full of clubs that are (suffocatingly) full every night.
Laganas Bay is where the protected loggerhead turtles come to lay their eggs. All visitors to the island must not forget it and behave accordingly. In 1999, the Zakynthos National Marine Park was established to protect the turtle.
Beaches of Zakynthos by Boat
The starting point for a different voyage, this time by the sea. Disembark by boat and get to know two places of unique beauty. The Shipwreck and the Blue Caves. Navagio beach is the most beautiful part of the island. A magnificent landscape that is simply too hard to describe with words! One of the most famous and most photographed beaches. Rocky and steep slopes, fine sand, crystal clear waters, and in the middle the old ship.
But also, the Blue Caves were formed by the erosion of the rocks by the sea. The boats stop in the caves. You will admire the unique beauty and swim in the emerald waters. The light rays of the sunbeams are reflected in the water. You will often see loggerhead turtles next to you. Returning to Agios Nikolaos, see villages such as Volimes, Louha, Gyri, Machairado, and many other picturesque landscapes.
A Gastronomic Journey through Zakynthos
Well-Known Products of the Island
The pure olive oil of Zakynthos is famous for its taste and aroma. Since 2010 it has been certified as a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI). Its vineyards, although they produce remarkable wines, are not widely famous. Verdea and Avgoustiatis are the most famous varieties of wines with fine aroma and refined taste. The verdea white-dry wine is made from rare varieties, such as goustolidi, skiadopoulo. Mustellada: The red semi-sweet dry wine usually from a variety that exists in most homes of the island.
A special product of Zakynthos is the black raisin with the big nut, wonderfully delicious. A PDO product. The Union of Zakynthos standardizes and promotes the products of the island inside and outside Greece. At the same time, independent small producers are active in promoting their products.
Another well-known product of the island is “ladotyri”. This cheese is from goat and sheep milk. Ladotyri has a salty and spicy taste and they keep it in oil. “Prenza”: Fresh cheese with a creamy texture. Other fine cheeses are fresh gruyere and fresh mizithra, salty and unsalted.
They use citrus fruits in the preparation of local desserts, jams, as well as liqueurs. A typical recipe is a molasses, a spoonful of various fruits, and citrus fruits.
Traditional Recipes of Zakynthos
Another strong point is its local cuisine. Influenced by the Venetians, the Zakynthian dishes are truly authentic. The Zakynthians cook all these recipes to date. Some perhaps adapted to the modern era with influences from other local cuisines of Greece.
Savory Dishes of Zakynthos
Rabbit stew, rooster spaghetti, with thick spaghetti. “Sauce”, is a recipe with braised meat usually, beef, or some poultry with thick red sauce. Moreover, we have the “Sgatzeto”. The Zakynthian take on the spleen, mainly from goat or lamb drizzled with egg-lemon. Steamed meatballs with plenty of mint and simply boiled broccoli with lemon. Furthermore, we have “Sofiagadoura”. A type of “yachni” with potatoes. Yachni with greens, legumes, and potatoes is one of the most common dishes in Zakynthos. Finally, we can talk about the “Tlilikourda” It is the traditional “mageiritsa” that Greeks eat at midnight on Holy Saturday. Garlic eggplants, deep-fried eggplants, baked with crushed garlic, tomato, oil, and oregano.
Firstly, the flagship in its sweets is the nougat that comes from the era of Venetian rule. The nougat is a sweet that is in all the Ionian Islands, however, the Zakynthian variant is chewier. Its name is from the Italian word (mortorla) almond. The original recipe allows only almonds and no other nuts. Today, however, nougat contains various nuts, oranges, etc. Nonetheless, there are several local dessert recipes. For example, the “Frigania”. It is a light cool dessert reminiscent of ekmek. Additionally, we have the “Fritura”. This sweet is offered mainly at weddings and festivals. These are fried bites with semolina, sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon.
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