The Greek Islands. Yep, they’re pretty great. So great, in fact, that we ended up back among them for the second year in a row, and third time in total. And not just so that Laynni could spend another month gorging on authentic Greek salads. The island options are practically endless but eventually we decided to start in spectacular Zakynthos, known as one of the most naturally scenic places in all of the Greek Islands. We then spent several days touring, debating and ranking all the best Zakynthos photo spots.
Also called Zante (the Italian/English name), Zakynthos Greece has been a big tourist destination for a long time but its popularity has soared in recent years since its impressive Shipwreck Beach (Navagio Beach) became one of the photography darlings of Instagram. And, fair enough, that is one stunning viewpoint. The area directly around that viewpoint, well, that’s another matter, and something we’ll discuss in more detail a bit later.
But the fabulous scenery certainly doesn’t end with Shipwreck Beach, as this stunning, hilly island is lined with outrageous cliffs, unique beaches and superb sunset spots. Coming up with an extensive list of Zakynthos Instagram spots wasn’t really the hard part, that was it narrowing it down to a manageable number.
Zakynthos, Greece has a permanent population of around 40,000 but the total number of people, rental cars and iPhones increases significantly during the May to September high season. However, most of the tourist infrastructure is limited to the sandy beaches along the south coast, leaving the exceptional cliff and ocean scenery of the west and north coasts feeling much less overrun. And this is where you’ll find most of the best places on Zakynthos and the best Zakynthos views.
And then there are the central highlands, a collection of small, traditional villages that offer a completely different Zakynthos experience. We haven’t included any specific viewpoints from these villages in our list as they tend to be more subtle (rural life / classic villages) and lack the dramatic wow factor of our other favourite Zante photo spots. However, those looking for a bit more solitude and authentic Greek life would do well to find a place to stay in one of these villages up above the fray.
Zakynthos Photo Spots Map
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The 17 Best Zakynthos Photo Spots
So, without further ado, here is our personal list of the best Zakynthos photo spots, bearing in mind that a) Zakynthos is a pretty big island and it would take months to explore every nook and cranny, and b) the quality of any given Zante photo spot can change significantly depending on weather and time of day.
Finally, these best Zakynthos photo spots are NOT listed in order from best to worst, or most popular to least popular, or even by their proximity to beer stands. Nope, we’ve just started in Zakynthos Town, where most people arrive, and worked our way around the island counterclockwise.
Like many capital cities in the Greek islands, Zakynthos Town is backed by picturesque hills and features a lovely malecón and some pleasant pedestrian streets. There is also an old Venetian fortress, the impressive Church of Agios Dionysios and, obviously, one of those tiny trains that aren’t really trains but actually run on wheels like any other car but are made to look like trains to feel more like a fun adventure for cruise shippers looking for a very brief version of the city tour. We’re definitely taking one sometime soon.
Heading north out of town you first pass through some low-key British package resort areas – low-key as in small hotels and apartments, we make no promises as to the vibe in one of the local sports pubs on Premier League Sunday – before civilization starts to fall away and the road starts to get more winding and scenic.
Pika’s Corner, named for someone I’ve never met, presumably, is the best of several good spots along the coastal highway. Looking back south you can enjoy expansive views of Alykes Bay, Lapada Beach and all the way along the coast to Zakynthos town, plus get a good look at the central highlands.
This charming little fishing village is an important port and the jumping off point for a lot of the Blue Cave and Shipwreck Beach boat tours. It is a nice place to stop for a wander, then be sure to stop at the top of the hill on your way north out of town to enjoy this pretty view back across the harbour.
One of the most popular outings on the island, the Blue Caves of the northeast coast are also among the very best Zakynthos photo spots. The caves aren’t particularly deep but the water is electric blue, making them extremely photogenic (both inside and out).
Plus, the cliffs are a sight unto themselves and the boat trips to see them are very good value for money. You pretty much need to see them by boat, although I suppose there are a couple places you could clamber down the rocks and swim to the caves, although they are pretty spread out so it would be an unnecessarily strenuous endeavour trying to see them all this way.
Especially considering you can book a 1-hour boat trip for €10 per person (roughly the price of pork souvlaki and fries) and even get a further discount if you buy a Shipwreck Beach combo ticket. We went with Potamitis Boat Trips because they leave from a private dock on the very north end of Zakynthos, which meant less time spent getting to and from the caves.
Because we arrived just as they opened we ended up with a private tour of the Blue Caves, with Captain Giannis doing a great job of explaining them to us. Although we never did quite understand the story behind “Batman Cave” at the time. Apparently, the cave is simply shaped like Batman, it isn’t called that because it contains all the famous superhero’s hidden secrets, dirty laundry and suspiciously competent butlers, like I was hoping before we found just more blue water. Still cool, just not as cool as finding out which direction Batman loads the toilet paper roll.
You can swim also, even if you don’t really want to, maybe because you eventually feel sheepish about your cowardice in the face of Captain Giannis’ repeated urgings. You were right, Cap’n, the water was lovely. I should never have doubted you. Although maybe if he was as generous with diving tips as he was with photo tips, my balls wouldn’t have had such a painful entry…
Shipwreck Beach (Paralia Navagio)
This is by far the most popular Zakynthos photo spot, although it is certainly more impressive (and Instagrammable) from above. Nonetheless, it is still a beautiful place up close as well, featuring a small half-circle of rocky beach hemmed in by sheer cliffs and, as you may have guessed, an actual shipwreck.
In 1980, the MV Panagiotis was smuggling cigarettes from Turkey to Italy (because the Italians were somehow low on cigarettes?) when it ran aground in a storm. In true smuggler fashion, they abandoned ship very quickly and made themselves scarce before the Navy could show up with a bunch of suspicious questions and official-looking notepads and stern facial expressions and such. And there the rusting hulk sits to this day.
Originally called Agios Giorgios Beach, from then on it has been known as either Shipwreck Beach, Navagio Beach or Smuggler’s Cove. Navagio is simply the Greek name for “shipwreck” and you can probably guess how they came up with Smuggler’s Cove.
Update (June 2023):
Access to Navagio Beach has been suspended for the summer of 2023 in the interests of safety, as authorities are concerned about the volume of tourists and the possibility of landslides from the sheer cliffs. For the time being, all visitors will be limited to swimming in a small area at the entrance to the bay, along with the main viewpoint.
The same companies that tour the Blue Caves visit Shipwreck Beach, usually for €20 per person, although you normally get a reduced rate if you sign up for both (we paid €25 per person to see both).
So that’s the good news. The bad news: we arrived at the beach at around 11 am and it was an absolute shitshow. Hundreds of people on this tiny beach, the crowding made even worse by the fact we were all trying to squeeze into the tiny sliver of beach that was actually in the sun already (most of the beach was still shaded by the cliffs). Merry, I suppose, although in true Greek fashion, despite Shipwreck Beach being the top attraction on the island, there were absolutely no facilities.
Nowhere to buy water, or food, or to get shelter from the sun or, most importantly, I think, no place to go to the bathroom. One inclined to defend the Greek authorities might say, well, they don’t want to disturb the natural order of the place. However, one might then counter by saying, well, maybe don’t let thousands of people visit it everyday then.
Still, it is a nice place, and quite festive, with everyone trying to make full use of their allotted hour by taking shipwreck photos, soaking up the sun and swimming in the bright, blue water. It was actually named the Best Beach in the World in 2018 by no less an authority than Flight Network. Ok, fine, maybe that’s not quite like getting the nod from one of the big publications like Lonely Planet, CN Traveler or Routinely Nomadic, but it is still a decent honour.
A deserved honour? Well, not in our opinion. But, c’mon, the world is a very big place with a LOT of beaches (probably too many, 9 out of 10 dermatologists agree) so calling it the best in the world is a bit optimistic. Especially with all of us pissing in the water (he admitted slyly).
Anyway, our main recommendation would be to visit a bit later in the day. It was already much quieter when we were leaving at noon, plus the sun was higher in the sky and would soon reach the shipwreck itself. And by the time we got to the cliff viewpoint an hour later you could see there were barely a quarter of the boats and people.
However, bottom line, Shipwreck Beach is beautiful. And unique. And famous. And people visit a lot of beaches for worse reasons than those.
Shipwreck Beach Viewpoint
Now, for the big Zakynthos photo spots highlight. Probably the most impressive viewpoint on the island, and definitely the most famous, the Shipwreck Beach Viewpoint unfortunately gets mixed reviews from us as well.
Yes, the sight of that white beach with its rusty shipwreck nestled between those dramatic cliffs – luminescent aquamarine water in front and the deep blue of the ocean on the other side of the cliffs – is fantastic. On the other hand, the official – and heavily regulated – viewpoint is, honestly, a complete joke.
It literally consists of a single little metal platform jutting out from the cliff, and not even quite far enough out to get a completely clear view. Plus, you can only see the beach at all from the very end of the platform where there is only enough room for two people. Which means a long line of eager amateur photographers lined up to wait patiently (for about half an hour in our case) to enjoy around 10 seconds of viewing time.
Obviously, there would be many spots along the same cliff where you would normally be able to see Shipwreck Beach from various angles but the entire area is alternately fenced, taped or guarded to ensure everyone is funnelled out to the same woefully inadequate platform. Which would maybe make sense if they were charging for the view but they don’t. Instead they pay around a dozen people to stand around smoking and occasionally blowing a whistle when anyone gets close to one of the off-limits areas.
Now, if we want to give Zakynthos tourism the benefit of the doubt here (sure, why not?) we’ll guess that safety concerns are the root of all this absurdity. If so, however, then here’s a thought: make it safer! Thousands of people visit Shipwreck Beach Viewpoint everyday in high season.
So why not build some platforms and trails, add some railings, and for the love of god do whatever needs to be done to open up the inexplicably boarded-up bathrooms so we are no longer subjected to those nasty port-a-potties. Then charge €5 per person or something, whatever. Everyone wins.
Now, having said that (well, ranted it, really), you definitely need to go. It is a VERY cool viewpoint. Plus, after you’ve sullied yourself by participating in the whole ludicrous process, you can sneak off north out of the parking lot and take on the 10-minute cross-country hike to reach the “Shipwreck Beach Flag Viewpoint”,where you can enjoy an even more panoramic angle of Shipwreck Beach, without any of the hot queues or stressful time constraints.
There is also a memorial, presumably for someone who died there, which is one of the reasons that we assume this viewpoint is also off-limits. The other hint was the bit of torn security tape we saw dangling in the bushes at one point.
However, for me, even though the view from the flag viewpoint is marginally less impressive, as you are a bit lower and the cliffs don’t look quite as absurdly sharp, the other benefits still apply. And soon after leaving the parking lot we crossed to the other side of a ridge and were out of sight until reaching the end, where we awkwardly army-crawled up to the edge like clumsy snipers who didn’t fancy our chances in a shootout. Then we backed up out of sight and enjoyed our lunch. All in all, we felt pretty clever.
We also read that you can also hike all the way out to the far point to the north but we didn’t try it. I’m not sure it would actually be better – maybe you’d have a slightly more direct angle but would also be farther away and it was obviously a lot harder to reach. Worth considering if you have time and energy to kill, though.
Monastery of Agios Georgios Krimnon
There is a cross on the hill just behind the monastery with nice views of the coast. Not awe-inspiring or anything but it is very close to Shipwreck Beach Viewpoint anyway, and the old monastery is worth a look.
Kampi Sunset Tavernas
Known as the best Zakynthos photo spots for sunset, this nice group of tavernas perched atop the Kampi cliffs offer a variety of angles where you can enjoy the view, a beer and maybe some souvlaki all at the same time.
The scenery is terrific at any time of day even if you can’t make it up for sunset or don’t want to drive back to your hotel in the dark. Although, if possible, at least show up later in the day when the sun has made it over the island and is shining on the cliffs.
We had a great meal at Sunset Michalis Taverna, enjoying incredible views from our cliff-edge table. In October the sun is a bit farther south and you can’t actually see it go down from there (it might be different in mid-summer), although the sight of the cliffs lit up all along the coast to the north were more important to us than the actual sunset.
Porto Schiza Attraction can be seen from Michalis – my guess is you’d have a better angle of the sun from there but not as good a view of the cliffs. Cross Taverna is farther up the hill and offers a bit more of a panorama but also not as direct a look at the cliffs.
Porto Limnionas Beach
Now, to start, we should probably clarify that this a pretty loose use of the term “beach”. But that’s Greece for you, any place near the water with at least a metre of flatness where you could (technically) lie down – beach!
Anyway, semantics about sand and rocks and boulders aside, Porto Limnionas is still a very pretty spot. A nice, sheltered inlet with good snorkelling, a bar/restaurant, lots of space and, most importantly, good photo ops.
Korakonissi Sea Cave
Have you always dreamed of swinging from the end of a filthy, tattered rope hanging from a natural rock arch with bright, blue water beckoning below? Well, I haven’t, so I didn’t, but we did scamper around on the rocks for awhile and took a bunch of photos. I suggest you do the same.
Of course, if you want to make a day of it, although there isn’t any “beach” there are more flat rocks at Korakonissi than most places on the west coast and lots of places where it is easy to get into the water.
Plakaki Viewpoint and “Beach”
Harder to reach than the other Zakynthos photo spots, Plakiki is correspondingly quiet. It is a steep 15-minute hike down to the water from the parking area, slippery in a few spots before switching to rough rock stairs for the final 5 minutes. There are even railings. Sort of. Depending on how you classify loose rebar tied to trees or connected by rubber hoses.
Nonetheless, once you make it to the bottom, the entire area is gorgeous. Bright white rock, brilliant blue water, looming cliffs. It is a little trickier to swim here than some of the other places but there are a couple entry spots and some nice alcoves where you can enjoy some privacy.
Keri “Lighthouse” Restaurant
As you probably guessed from the quotation marks, it isn’t a real lighthouse. There IS a real lighthouse, but you can’t go there. The restaurant, on the other hand, will welcome you with open arms. The beef and rice were delicious, the beer was oh-so-cold and the views were delightful. Although you’ll only get a cliff-front table if you’re staying to eat, as the drinks-only crowd are apparently relegated to the less in-demand middle tables.
Ionian Sunset Café
Just a short drive or 5-minute walk uphill from Keri “Lighthouse” Restaurant, this unique little spot is a great place to watch the sunset. It is more snack shack than café, really, but there is lots of space to choose your spot once you’ve made the obligatory purchase (two Mythos, please, he said with an eager grin).
There are even stacks of plastic chairs that can be taken to whatever spot you decide is best, or you can just sit on a rock like a chump, your choice. Considering they don’t charge an entrance fee beyond the cost of your purchases, the prices were very reasonable (€3.50 for a beer). Make sure you walk to the corner of the fenced area to the north for the most dramatic views of the cliffs and caves in the next bay.
A truly spectacular spot, Myzithres deserves to be in the same conversation as Shipwreck Beach when it comes to choosing the best Zakynthos photo spots. Of course, it doesn’t have the remains of any smuggler’s vessels or a crowded, pee-stained beach, so maybe it falls just short, but for sheer beauty it is definitely comparable.
It features dramatic views of a sharp, rocky isthmus and impressive islet and, more importantly, you can enjoy the view from a variety of spots along the cliff edge, blissfully unsupervised. Obviously, you’ll want to be very careful, as most of the edge looks pretty sketchy – lots of loose, breakable-looking rock – and just peering over the edge was enough to cause me several uncomfortable bouts of nutflies*.
The rocky dirt road up to the viewpoints is very rough and probably not recommended in a small rental car (naturally we did it anyway) but you can easily park along the road at the bottom and walk up (approximately 10 minutes).
* That sinking feeling you get in your testicles when staring down into the abyss (or dropping your phone in the toilet).
One of the more bizarre Zakynthos photo spots, Cameo Island, just off Agios Sostis Beach, is completely geared toward Instagram photos. It is cheesy, kitschy and odd, perhaps just odd enough to be a worthy addition to your Zakynthos itinerary.
The island features a tiny, sheltered beach with nice views across the bay, but people mostly come for the half-dozen giant white sheets tied to a cable above the beach, waving in the wind and creating some strangely memorable photos. Weird, but memorable. Or maybe weird IS memorable. In any case, Cameo Island is unique.
Of course, it doesn’t stop there. Before you even get down to the beach and its groups of chunky package tourists you’ll be waylaid by a friendly young man hoping to take a photo of you from the top of the stairs with the curtains in the background. He will then use that photo to make an impossibly campy keychain* so you can keep your epic Cameo Island experience with you for years into the future.
* Pro-Tip: Even if you show up as a couple you still get TWO dumb keychains that you’ll never use.
This tiny island is also connected to the mainland by a rather photogenic little footbridge, then you head up a small set of stone stairs to the entrance where a jovial man will relieve you of €5 per person (I’d be jovial too if I somehow convinced thousands of people to pay for photos with old bedsheets).
Pineapple Seaside Suite Terrace
Pineapple Seaside Suite is the place we stayed in Zakynthos town and it was a terrific choice. Despite being a bit of a splurge for us, it was more than worth it for the fascinating panorama of the harbour. We spent plenty of time on the spacious terrace (some with beer, some without) enjoying front-row views of special sunrises in the morning, bustling port scenes throughout the day and glowing lights of the harbour at night.
Expensive yacht parking was, evidently, directly in front of us, too, which gave us a look at the daily comings and goings of the Zakynthos yachting scene. It was like watching a reality show about pretentious tourists who always wear belts with shorts, just without sound. Which is why we’ll never know for sure if that frantic late-night cleanup aboard “Therapist” was simply a messy spill or dead-prostitute-related.
Looking Back from the Ferry
While you can get a similar angle from the end of the breakwater, the view was even better looking back from the ferry as we left on a beautiful, sunny morning. You get an expansive look at the gorgeous bay and its elegant waterfront backed by colourful buildings as they climb up the breathtaking hills. Almost certainly enjoyed while surrounded by a dozen Greek people smoking.
How to Get to Zakynthos
Not by road, that’s the only thing I can tell you for sure. The island thing and all. But there are daily ferries and you can bring a car on those if need be. Four daily Levante ferries go back and forth between Zakynthos port and the mainland port of Kyllini. They take 75 minutes and run all year round. From Kyllini, you can take a bus to Athens or a ferry to a number of other islands.
In the summer high season (mid-May to mid-October), Ionion Lines ferries also run twice per day between Agios Nikolaos (Zakynthos) and Pesada (Kefalonia).
FerryScanner has one of the best ferry networks in the world and is the most user-friendly site we’ve come across. It is the site we use to book all our own ferry trips.
How to Get Around Zakynthos
There is a system of KTEL buses that can get you between the main town and a few of the beaches but to reach most of the top Zakynthos photo spots you’ll need a car. As we have on several Greek islands, we got a great deal to rent a car through Discover Cars for our entire stay. We went with a car from Wheego, were met at the port and the whole process was very fast and easy. You can also pick it up or drop it off at the airport.
It wasn’t a particularly new car but it was in good shape, got excellent gas mileage and was nice and small, which is essential for driving on those tiny Greek roads that only seem to get tinier the closer you get to the best Zante photo spots.
It didn’t have a built-in Bluetooth system but someone had installed a separate one that worked well enough through one of the FM frequencies with the only oddity being that it somehow changed GPS Judy’s normally business-like tone to a bit of a sultry, suggestive drawl. Intriguing, sure, but not necessarily helpful when trying to concentrate on manoeuvring down a set of classic Greek hairpins.
Where to Stay on Zakynthos
Everywhere on the island is accessible within 1-1.5 hours by car so there is no particular place you need to stay to reach all the best Zakynthos photo spots. We stayed in Zakynthos town in an apartment with an exceptional view of the harbour and found it conveniently central. It also had all the amenities (shops/restaurants) we could want and there were some interesting sights nearby as well.
Beach lovers might want to base themselves at Gerakas Beach or Laganas Beach and those looking for a bit of seclusion could choose a resort up in the hills in the middle of the island or near one of the more remote spots along the western coast.
Pineapple Seaside Suite is a huge, immaculate apartment with a fabulous deck for not that much more money than we usually spend in Greece. While the location is ideal for enjoying the view, seeing the town or finding a restaurant, the parking situation can be pretty grim. Other than that, though, no notes.
Cactus Hotel is one of the best value options on Laganas Beach with a huge swimming pool, beach loungers and an outstanding breakfast.
Close to Gerakas Beach, Areti Orfeas Studios are great options, especially if you like to make a few of your own meals. These well-equipped apartments have kitchenettes, comfortable seating areas and excellent outdoor space.
The best (relatively) budget option in Zakynthos Town is Bella Vista Apartments, where you can get a nice studio with A/C and a kitchen within easy walking distance of everything in town (including the beach).
And for those who aren’t concerned about being close to the beach, the beautiful stone apartments at Agrikia Villa are the perfect choice. Located up in the hills in the centre of the island, this quaint place features incredible views and a gorgeous pool.
Zakynthos Photo Spots Summary
Famous Santorini has some pretty classic views and up to this point Crete had been the most naturally impressive Greek island we’d seen. But considering how much smaller Zakynthos is, it packs arguably more scenic punch than either, all in a very accessible package.
We spent basically our entire visit seeking out amazing Zakynthos photo spots, then murmuring appreciatively. It’s kind of our thing. Yet it still felt like we only scratched the surface. But these 17 options should cover the top highlights and keep you busy for a few days. But, by all means, feel free to let us know if you’ve found some other great Zante photo spots that deserve to be added to the list!
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