Zakynthos – Explore the flower of the East
A breathtakingly beautiful island in Greece, Zakynthos is a Greek Island in Ionian Sea. Spreading on an area of 410 km2 of land, the island boasts of 123 km long coastline and has a total population of 40,759. It is a separate regional unit and is believed to have been named after Zakynthos, who was the son of Dardanus, a legendary Arcadian chief. The history of the island goes back to the Neolithic age and historians believe it to have been inhibited by Zakynthos, the son of King Dardanos of Troy. The island was under the rule of Byzantine theme of Cephallenia. Before becoming the part of Greece in 1864, the island was ruled by French, Ionian state and the British during some time in history. The island is prone to earthquakes and some of the most prominent ones which hit the island were the great earthquake of 1953 and the earthquake swarm in April 2006. While Greek is the national language, English is also spoken and understood.
The island is served by Zakynthos International Airport which is also known as Zakynthos International Airport, "Dionysios Solomos". It is located close to the town of Kalamaki and 4.3 km from the major tourist destinations. Please note that the airport does not land or depart from 12 am to 4 am due to endangered loggerhead turtles which lay their eggs at night on the beaches. Currently the airport operates passengers as well as charter flights to many cities in Greece. The island experience Mediterranean type of climate and remains warm and moderate for most part of the year. While July is the hottest month with temperature averaging around 26°C, the month of January is the coldest with average temperature around 11°C. Rainfall occurs mostly in winter. While the island can be visited at any time of the year, the most popular tourist season is between March and May. While there are many local as well as religious festivals that are celebrated with great pomp and glory, tourists should plan their visit during the Feast of Agia Mavra on 3rd May, Feast of the Virgin Mary on 15th August, Wine Feast from August to September and Feast of Spiliotissa on 8th of September.
Having along shoreline, the Zakynthos Town is an attraction in itself. This is the capital of Zakynthos and is filled with many churches, monuments, restaurants and boutiques. Most of the monuments in the city were destroyed during the earthquake but whatever is left allows the tourists to catch a glimpse of the city’s rich history. Byzantine Museum which houses religious icons, frescoes, and sculptures is another major attraction. When in Zakynthos, do not skip the Roma Mansion which is among the few historical building to have survived the earthquake.
Shipwreck beach which is also known as Navagio beach is at the Smuggler's Cove on Zakynthos' west coast and the taxi boat ride that needs to be taken to reach this spot is also a popular attraction. Keri Caves are a scenic delight and here you can enjoy snorkeling and diving. The crystal clear water of the Sea here is simply mesmerizing. Zakynthos National Marine Park in Laganás Bay has some of the best beaches on the island along with a few luxury as well as budget resorts. Askos Stone Park is a perfect place for children. When in Zakynthos, you can simply relax and unwind at the long stretches of white sand beaches that merge with turquoise water to create picturesque scenery that you will remember all your life. Blue Caves, Cape Skinari, Agios Nikolaos beach and Alykanas are also major sightseeing places on the island.
Eating and Shopping
The cuisine of the Ionian Island is very similar to the Greek cuisine and also has an influence of Italian as well as Venetian cuisine. Boutridia, Sofigadoura, Zante currant, Frigania, Fritoura, Tsouknidopita, Omeletta, Kreatopita, Savoro and Riganada are some of the local delicacies which you can savor here. This island is not a major city and offers decent hotels and restaurant where you can have a wonderful meal. The Squid & Octopus which serves authentic Greek cuisine, Mikri Plateia, Porto Roma and Stamiris Bakery are the popular eating places in Zakynthos. The island is filled with bars and pubs and local village wines like the metaxa brandy along with the standard Ouzo are a must try.
A charming town, Zakynthos does not boast of glamorous malls and luxury stores and shopping here is confined to village markets, street shops and local vendors selling variety of trinkets. Leather good, jewellery, handmade ceramics, table cloths and carpets are some of the things that you can buy here. Do not miss picking the local wine which is sold in most of the shops in Zakynthos.
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