5 days in Zakynthos: Our Optimal Itinerary. Zakynthos road trip

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In this article, I’ll share our optimal itinerary for 5 days in Zakynthos, visiting some of the best beaches, the main highlights, and even taking a boat tour! This road trip itinerary requires renting a car for at least 4 days, as public transport in Zakynthos is pretty much non-existent and visiting some of the places on this itinerary would be impossible without a car or a quad bike!

Without further ado, let’s get started!

Is Zakynthos worth it? Who is Zakynthos for?

Before we start with the itinerary, I just wanted to answer a few frequently asked questions about the island. Is Zakynthos worth it? And is it for families, couples, groups of friends? Well, I’d say Zakynthos is a perfect island for couples and groups of friends. It can also be a great option for families with older kids (e.g. teenagers), who prefer staying in self-catering apartments or hotels, as there aren’t many resorts in Zakynthos.

If you’re looking for an all-inclusive resort with a sandy beach and a kids club, Zakynthos probably won’t be the best island for that. In this case, Crete or Rhodes would be a much better option.

Zakynthos is a great island for spending 3-5 days there: renting a car and discovering the main highlights of the island. It has unreal blue water, stunning viewpoints and fun beach clubs and bars. However, what it doesn’t have is beautiful traditional photogenic towns – we haven’t seen any while driving around the island (both Crete and Rhodes have stunning towns and villages and so do Santorini, Mykonos and plenty of other islands).

Zakynthos itinerary by car

Can you explore Zakynthos without a car?

A lot of people don’t want to drive while being on holiday, and I totally get it. Unfortunately, it’s very hard to discover a lot of beautiful spots on the island without having a car or a quad bike. Of course, you can take a tour that would bring you to the main highlights of the island, however, they would pack everything in one day and you won’t get to enjoy these places.

Moreover, Zakynthos has some hidden gems that you can’t visit without a car at all, and no tours would bring you there. Unless you’re happy to pay for taxis (and they are quite pricy, there would be no way to complete this itinerary without having a vehicle).

Unfortunately, public transport in Zakynthos is pretty much non-existent (buses operate 5-6 times a day on weekdays and don’t work on Sundays at all), so using buses to get to these locations wouldn’t be an option.

Where to rent a car in Zakynthos?

There are two ways to rent a car (or a quad bike) in Zakynthos – upon arrival at the airport (pre-booking is essential) or in the town where you’re planning to stay.

If you decide to rent a car at the airport, I recommend using Rentalcars – they also have an option of their 3rd party full insurance, which is way cheaper compared to the insurance provided by the car rental companies themselves.

Another option would be to use one of the smaller local car rentals scattered all around tourist towns like Argassi, Kalamaki etc. In this case, you can just walk there and rent a car from there directly. During the busy summer season (especially in August, when all of Europe basically has their holidays), a lot of car rentals actually run out of cars, so you might need to visit a few before you actually find one with cars left.

Not convinced about renting a car in Zakynthos? Here are some of the best tours on the island!

There are plenty of great tours available in Zakynthos and most of them offer pick up from pretty much any hotels in the tourists locations. Here are some of the best-rated tours in Zakynthos:

Shipwreck and Blue Caves full day tour

Private tour of Navagio Shipwreck >

Vineyard and Vinery tour >

Off-road jeep tour >

Half-day boat tour to Keri Caves and Marathonisi >

Where to stay in Zakynthos: the best areas to stay. Do you need to stay in multiple locations throughout your trip, or can you drive everywhere from one town?

Another important question is about where to stay in Zakynthos. Good news: you don’t need to move hotels to be able to explore all parts of the island because Zakinthos is a small island. Bad news: there are so many towns to choose from! When I looked for a hotel in Zakynthos, I was totally overwhelmed! It took me some time to find something that worked for us.

In the end, we picked Kalamaki, as it had a lot of restaurants, nice beaches, and it was just a short drive away from the airport (less than 10 minutes). It was quiet and peaceful and actually very conveniently located. Best places to stay in Kalamaki: Anagenessis Suites and Spa, Meandros Boutique Hotel.

If you want to be able to party a lot, consider choosing Laganas. Laganas has a great sandy beach and a lot of bars and nightclubs. Best places to stay in Laganas: Castelli Adults-Only, Cactus Hotel.

For nice beaches and a lot of fabulous dining options, you can pick Argassi. Some of the best places include Hotel Palmyra, Maria Mare Apart-Hotel.

Tsilivi is also a nice option for a quiet break in Zakinthos. There are plenty of apartments and resorts to choose from! Some of the best places to stay: Andreolas Luxury Suites, Contessina Hotel

There are other places to stay all around the island, including Vasilikos, Keri, Marathias, Agios Nikolaos, but in my opinion, they are a bit more remote and would require a lot of driving to get to the main highlights of Zakynthos. Also, Zante town or Zakynthos town would be another option, however, it’s a bit too busy and doesn’t have nice beaches nearby.

Luxury hotels in Zakinthos

If you want to treat yourself and stay in a luxurious hotel in Zakinthos, these are some of the most stunning hotels in Zakinthos:

Lesante Blu, Olea All-Suite Hotel, Hotel St. John Suites Adults Only, Sueño Luxury Villa.

Shipwreck Beach Navagio Zakynthos

What to pack for Zakynthos?

Besides regular essentials like reef-friendly SPF, beachwear and comfortable sandals, I recommend bringing special swimming shoes as a lot of beaches in Zakynthos have pebbles. These shoes would make entering the sea 1000 times easier, so I definitely recommend bringing those with you!

A lot of beaches, especially some small lagoons, don’t have loungers or umbrellas, so if you have a chance, make sure to bring a compact beach umbrella with you. Moreover, this inflatable sun lounger (doesn’t need a pump, only some wind), will help to make your stay on the “wilder” beaches of Zakynthos more pleasant!

5 days in Zakynthos: Our Itinerary for a Zakynthos road trip

Alright, now that I’ve answered a lot of questions that I get asked on Instagram and YouTube, it’s time to talk about our actual itinerary for 5 days in Zakynthos! This itinerary can’t be described as relaxing as it involves a fair bit of driving, however, it isn’t very tough either and includes a lot of swimming and relaxing on different beaches!

Here’s the short overview of our itinerary for 5 days in Zakynthos:

Day 1: Arriving in Zakynthos. Checking in at our hotel Meandros. Day in Kalamaki

Day 2: Picking up our rental car. Porto Limnionas, Porto Roxa, Korakonissi

Day 3: Mizithres, Marathias Beach, Lithies and Gerakas Beach, Argassi

Day 4: Agios Nikolaos, boat tour to Navagio (Shipwreck beach), Shipwreck viewpoint (was closed), Porto Vromi, Laganas

Day 5: Zakynthos town, relaxing at the beach in Tsilivi

Day 6: Early morning flight to Athens

Day 1: Exploring Kalamaki

On our first day in Zakynthos, we decided to take it easy (we had a night flight which meant zero sleep at night). Luckily, our hotel Meandros allowed an early check in, so we checked in, slept a few hours and went to explore Kalamaki. Since we decided to rent a car for 4 days and not 5, we decided to look for a car rental in Kalamaki directly and booked the car for the next day with the company called Hermes.

We explored the main street of Kalamaki, which has a lot of shops, restaurants and even health & testing centres (very convenient if you need a fit-to-fly certificate). The main commercial street of Kalamaki is heading all the way to Laganas, so if you are feeling like you need some walking or running, you can walk all the way to Laganas (and maybe even back to Kalamaki). There is a very nice sidewalk that goes pretty much all the way to Laganas, so you don’t need to walk on the road!

Kalamaki High Street

Kalamaki Turtle Beach

We spent most of the afternoon on the Kalamaki beach. Kalamaki beach is lovely – it’s sandy and has a lot of private sunbeds you can rent for the day. We paid 10 EUR for 2 sunbeds and the umbrella. The water temperature in Kalamaki is probably the warmest on the entire Zakinthos. Also, it’s worth knowing that Kalamaki Beach is a nesting beach. Turtles lay eggs right on the beach during the nesting season and later, July to September, most of these eggs hatch and well, there are suddenly more turtles in this world 🙂

Hatching occurs at night, and the beach closes at night to protect wildlife, so most probably, you won’t be able to see turtle eggs hatching, but you will be able to see a lot of small constructions built on the beach to mark the locations of turtle eggs!

Where to eat in Kalamaki

Surprisingly for us, Kalamaki had a lot of dining options scattered across the town. From the “fine dining” Essence (which was a huge disappointment for us, by the way), to stunning Zakanthi with live music and delicious Zepou close to the beach, there are plenty of options to try in Kalamaki for lunch and dinner!

Day 2: Picking up our rental car. Porto Limnionas, Porto Roxa, Korakonissi

Fighting with our car rental

On our second day in Zakynthos, we picked up our car from Hermes Car Rentals (we had an issue with them, as they didn’t have the car they promised and instead, wanted to give us a 1999 Peugeot Cabrio with broken seats that was probably brought in from a car cemetery earlier. After a long and tiring fight with them, we got a Fiat 500, which we had to return later at night to pick up the car we originally rented (Hyundai i20).

Heading to Porto Limnionas

On our first day of driving in Zakynthos, we decided to explore the South-West of the island. We headed to Porto Limnionas – a lovely cove with a beach club located circa 45 minutes driving from Kalamaki. Unfortunately, our car rental process took a while (fighting with the car rental office for a correct car or at least the car that has seats that are not broken and preferably a roof), so we arrived to Porto Limnionas at around 11am. That was way too late for the lagoon and all the beds in the beach bar were taken.

Staying near the lagoon and sitting on the stones wasn’t an option because of the heat (33C) and very strong sun with no shade around (as a Northerner, I get burnt very easily), so we just had a quick dip and decided to drive to a location nearby called Porto Roxa.

5 days in Zakynthos: Our Optimal Itinerary. Zakynthos road trip

Visiting Porto Roxa instead

Porto Roxa has 4 taverns, each with its own “beach”. There is technically no beach at all, just rocks with a small ramp to enter the sea, however, there are plenty of sun loungers and even proper sunbeds near the sea. We opted in for the first tavern, Ionion tavern. The use of their beach is completely free of charge if you order something from the beach bar (e.g. a coffee or a juice or even a bottle of water). You get 2 loungers and an umbrella and you can use them all day!

If you want a proper bed, that costs just EUR 8 extra (for the bed), however, it’s so comfortable that it was definitely worth it! Also, it was the cheapest bed we ever got in a beach bar / club!

The coolest beds are the ones on the rocks close to the sea, however, those were taken by 11:30. If you want to get one of these beds, arrive earlier! I would recommend arriving at 10 – 10:30 if you want to take one of the beds.

We stayed in Porto Roxa for almost 5 hours, reading books (I brought my kindle with me and was amazed again by how convenient it is for reading in the sunlight), swimming and having lunch in the tavern.

This was probably my favourite beach in all Zakinthos and if you have a chance, I definitely recommend spending a day in Porto Roxa!

Swimming and enjoying the golden hour in Korakonissi

We left Porto Roxa at around 5pm and headed to the next destination, Korakonissi. It was just about 20 minutes driving from Porto Roxa and we got there by 5:30pm. In order to get down to the lagoon, you need comfortable sandals (it’s definitely harder and more dangerous to use flip flops and trainers would be uncomfortable) if you want to swim.

Korakonissi is not so crowded anymore around 5pm as a lot of people leave, so it’s generally a much nicer experience to relax and swim there. There are also a few spots to dive in the water from the rocks nearby.

In total, we spent around 1.5 hours in Korakonissi. We also had a beer with the most stunning views at the cafe near the parking lot (a wonderful cafe to enjoy sunsets in Zakynthos).

Day 3: Mizitres, Marathias Beach, Lithies and Gerakas Beach, Argassi

The most stunning viewpoint in Zakynthos: Mizithres

On our third day in Zakynthos, we went to Mizithres viewpoint first thing in the morning. In my opinion, Mizithres is the most beautiful viewpoint in all Zakynthos – the view is absolutely unreal! I’ve never seen such blue water in my life, and all the boats down below looked like they are floating in the water. However, make sure to be extra careful, as it’s very easy to slip, so don’t approach the edge of the cliff. I’m not scared of heights but in Mizithres, I felt really uneasy because it’s very easy to fall there. Be extra careful!

Marathias Beach

Another location we really wanted to visit was Votsalo tavern located on the Kero peninsula just a short drive from Mizithres. Unfortunately, the tavern was closed that day, so we didn’t have a chance to visit it, but we went to a very small and private beach instead called Marathias Beach. It’s a pebbled beach with crystal clear water and a lot of small fish!

Lithies Tavern and Gerakas Beach

As it was still pretty early, around 2:30pm, we decided to explore another part of the island, Vasilikos. Before heading to the Gerakas Nesting Beach (very similar to Kalamaki turtle beach), we had lunch in Lithies Tavern. We drove around the peninsula and checked out a few beaches before finally settling in at the Gerakas beach for about an hour or two.

Gerakas beach has loungers and umbrellas, and it’s also pretty large. Despite the fact that it gets quite crowded during the day, you will be able to find a spot on the beach for sure.

On the way back, we drove through Argassi, another seaside resort in Zakinthos. We stopped and went for a short walk. However, just at that moment, a fire has started in the hills above Argassi, so there was a huge traffic jam, a lot of fire trucks and a helicopter flying above us, so we decided to head back to Kalamaki.

Gerakas Beach

Day 4: Agios Nikolaos, boat tour to Navagio (Shipwreck beach), Shipwreck viewpoint (was closed), Porto Vromi, Laganas

Boat tour to the Shipwreck beach

The day started early with us skipping lunch at our hotel, heading to Zakynthos town for a coffee and pastry and driving all the way to Agios Nikolaos (circa 45-50 minutes driving) to buy a tour to Navagio (aka Shipwreck beach). We wanted to get there early to grab the 10:30 small boat tour to Navagio and the Blue Caves. However, you can also pre-book your tour in advance here. Check the availability and prices now >

Alternatively, there is this much cheaper tour from Porto Vromi. Check the availability here >

We were very glad that we arrived in Navagio relatively early, as it was already pretty crowded but not as crowded as when the large tour boat arrived around 12:30pm. If you have a chance, arrive at the shipwreck beach even earlier!

We paid 20 EUR per person for the tickets and the boat tour lasted for about 3.5 hours – we arrived back at 2pm. Besides spending 1 hour in Navagio, we also stopped near the Blue Caves and spent 20 minutes swimming in the open sea.

Navagio Viewpoint

Unfortunately for us, the famous shipwreck beach viewpoint was closed because of the pandemic restrictions, however, we were planning to visit another viewpoint located a short hiking distance from the official one. In the end, we couldn’t visit it either, as the entire road to Navagio was closed because of a fire hazard.

Porto Vromi

It was too early to head back to Kalamaki, so we decided to head to Porto Vromi, another lovely lagoon with a beach, small port (a lot of small boats go from Porto Vromi to Navagio) and a food shack (very handy if you’re hungry).

We managed to swim in Porto Vromi for a couple of hours before heading back to Kalamaki.

Walking to Laganas. Dinner at Sclobou Tavern (Disclaimer: the best dinner we had in Zakynthos!)

Once we got back to Kalamaki, we changed, took a shower and decided to walk all the way to Laganas. There are two ways to get to Laganas – through the beach and via the highway that also has a cycling track / pedestrian sidewalk. We decided to pick the latter one as it was supposed to be a walking workout for us! We got to Laganas in about 45 minutes and headed to Sclobou tavern located at the edge of Laganas (another 30 minutes walking from the start of Laganas).

Walk from Kalamaki to Laganas

I must admit that Sclobou had the BEST food we’ve tried in Zakinthos and if you have an opportunity, I definitely recommend visiting the tavern!

Afterwards, we just spent some time exploring the best spots on Laganas beach – there are plenty of quiet beach bars, where you can sit and sip a cocktail or two! On the way back to Kalamaki we took a taxi, which was circa 8 EUR.

Day 5: Zakynthos town, relaxing at the Seacret beach bar in Tsilivi

Zakynthos town

On our last day in Zakynthos, we decided to explore Zakynthos town, so we headed there early for breakfast! Zakynthos town isn’t like the traditional Greek towns with white houses and churches, however, it’s still definitely worth visiting! Zakynthos town has plenty of cafes and brunch spots to visit and a nice promenade to walk around!

Relaxing on our last day at the Seacret Beach Bar in Tsilivi

After visiting Zakynthos town, we headed to the town located just a short drive away (circa 12 minutes) called Tsilivi! I found a very lovely beach bar a few days earlier and really wanted to visit it. The beach bar is called Seacret and it’s incredibly photogenic! It reminded me of stunning beach bar interiors we’ve seen in Tulum earlier this year! It also had comfortable beach loungers and good music!

Moreover, the beach itself was great, so there was absolutely nothing to complain about! We stayed there until 6pm, when we headed to our room to have dinner and start packing for an early flight the next day!

Summary of 5 days in Zakynthos by car: our optimal road trip itinerary featuring the best things to do in Zakynthos

Alright, I hope you enjoyed our 5-day itinerary for Zakynthos by car! Zakynthos is not a typical island with a lot of resorts and countless animation teams – it’s much more quiet and private and targeted towards couples and groups of friends!

We really enjoyed Zakynthos – it was very different from the other Greek islands we visited before and it had the most beautiful watercolour I’ve ever seen! Unfortunately, we couldn’t hire a private boat for the day to enjoy the caves (e.g. Keri caves and more) and private beaches accessible only by boat, as we didn’t feel confident navigating a boat plus it was a bit too hot in August.

Overall, I think 5 days is a good number of days to spend in Zakynthos if you want a combination of sightseeing, swimming and relaxing. You will be able to see the main highlights and also enjoy the best beaches Zakynthos has to offer!

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