Zante

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Getting to Zante

Ionian map

Where is Zante? Located off the north-west coast of Greece, Zante is one of the Ionian group of islands that include Corfu, Kefalonia and Lefkas. It is a relatively easy island to reach with its own airport which, as well as the usual charter flights from Europe, takes daily domestic flights from Athens and from Corfu, Kefalonia and Thessaloniki.

Zante also has ferry connections to Patras and Kilini on the Greece mainland as well as a boat service to Kephalonia but not much else.

Roads are good and there are daily KTEL bus services from Zante to Patras and to Athens on the mainland. Other direct bus routes from Zante go to Nafpaktos, Larissa and even as far as Thessaloniki.

Zante has good accommodation all over the island, although most hotels and apartments in the more popular resorts may be booked well inadvance by tour operators.

Updated for 2016

Zante flights: travel by air

Zante Airport, known officially as Dionysios Solomos Airport, is located on the south coast near the Kalamaki holiday resort and about six kilometres from the capital port of Zakynthos Town.

A new airport building is now fully operational and there are regular charter flights from all main UK airportes throughout the summer, including Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Luton, Newcastle, Manchester and Stansted. EasyJet now has summer flights to Zante from Gatwick.

Visitors will find only two operational carousels in the airport and the seating is not great. Thursdays and Sundays can bring major congestion as charter flights arrive and leave. No planes are permitted to land on Zante at night.

Domestic flights leave two to three times daily to Athens, even in the winter, with a flight time of about 60 minutes. There are also domestic flights to Kefalonia, Corfu and Thessaloniki but these are not daily.

Approximate coach airport transfer times from the airport to the major resorts are Alikes (75 minutes), Argassi (30 minutes), Kalamaki (15 minutes), Laganas (25 minutes), Tsilivi ( 45 minutes) and Vassilikos (90 minutes).

Zante ferries: travel by sea

Most ferries from Zante go to Killini on the mainland Peloponnese coast just to the south-west of Patras.

Ionian Ferries run services to both Killini and to Poros on Kefalonia. There are six sailings a day, from 5.30 am in the summer, with a journey time of around 60 minutes. Sailings drop to four times daily in the winter.

There is no need to book in advance but it is best to buy a ticket from a local agent to ensure a place. Ferries also link up well with bus services, so passengers can buy tickets on Zante to get to Patras and/or Athens.

Kefalonian Lines runs a daily service to mainland Killini with connections from there to Poros on Kefalonia and to Ithaka.

Levante Ferries also runs daily services to Killini, usually three-a-day in the summer from 5.45am Monday to Saturday and from 7.30am on Sundays.

The Ionio Pelagos ferry sails for the port of Pessada on Kefalonia from the Zante port of Agios Nikolaos in the north of the island, with two ferries a day in the summer. The trip lasts about 60 minutes.

European Sealines runs the ferry boats Apollon and Bridge between Brindisi, in Italy, and the islands of Paxos and Zante. The service only operates once a week in the winter but sailing are daily in the summer. The company does not appear to have a working website.

There are scores of boat trip excursion on offer from most Zante resorts. Most head for the 'Blue Caves' and to 'Shipwreck Beach'. Those boats offering turtle spotting trips should be avoided as they cause unecessary stress to the shy creatures that are an endangered and protected species.

 

Zante map: getting around

Zante, also called Zakynthos, is one of the more southerly islands in the Ionian chain that lies off the west coast of mainland Greece. It's about 40 kilometres long by 19 kilometres wide and lies just 12 kilometres off the Peloponnese coast.

Roughly triangular, Zante is the third largest of the Ionian group and has pine-covered mountains to the north while the rest is mostly rolling hills planted with vines, olives, almonds and vegetables. Mount Vrahion is the highest peak at 758 metres.

The island has suffered several major earthquakes; the biggest, in 1953, flattened the capital of Zakynthos Town. Most holiday resorts lie on the east and south coasts. The north and west is mostly sheer cliffs peppered with sea caves.

Zante gets around 3,000 hours of annual sunshine, on a par with Rhodes, but there's quite a regional variation with the south warmer than the north. Heavy winter rains help keep the island green all summer.

The summer starts early in Zante with spring temperatures averaging 15°C to 18°C. The summers are hot and dry, although cool sea breezes help temper the heat. Temperatures stay in the high 20s to the mid 30s and rainfall is rare. Northerly meltemi winds are most common in August.

Zante stays relatively mild in winter with some warm days but it's mostly cloudy with periods of heavy rain. The winter storms can be quite severe. December is the wettest month with an average 200mm of rainfall.

Zante transport: travel on land

Car rental

Zante has a good road network that serves all the major holiday resorts. Away from the main roads, though the conditions can deteriorate quickly and it is not unusual to end up on a rough unmade track.

There is a year round bus from Athens to Zante and it's a cheap way to get there but the journey takes around 5-6 hours. It links with the Kyllini ferry. There is also a daily bus to the mainland port of Patras.

Zante bus services

Buses are cheap and efficient with regular daily services from Zante Town to the main resorts. Detailed timetables are posted in the bus station in Zante Town and you pay the driver. Bus services run from Zakynthos Town to Argasi, Xerokastelo, Vassilikos, Porto Roma, Tsilivi, Planos, Tragaki, Kipseli, Alikanas, Alikes, Katastari, Orthonies, Anafonitria, Volimes, Exo Hora, Kambi, Agios Leon, Agios Nikolaos, Maherado, Galaro, Gyri, Limni Keriou, Agalas, Lithakia and Laganas.

Click here for KTEL Zante bus timetables but beware, the site has been 'under construction' for years - but the local routes are listed in English.

Zanteweb has a good timetable for both local routes and long distance buses to the mainland.

Zante taxis

There are taxi ranks in all the main tourist resorts on Zante and charges to the most popular resorts are fixed. For other destinations there is a meter. Taxis can be booked for the day or for an island tour. You can check out latest taxi rates on Zante RadioTaxi

Zante rooms: places to stay on Zante

Rooms

Zante has plenty of accommodation right across the island, although most hotels and apartments in the more popular resorts are block-booked by tour operators for the summer.

Zakynthos Town is more a working town than a tourist resort so the independent traveller is more likely to find rooms here than in somewhere like Laganas. The main town is also the place to stay for those intending to tour the island using public transport as most bus routes start and end here.

The dominance of organised tourism in the main resorts leaves little in the way of accommodation for the free traveller unless it is in early or late season. Resorts are much less busy at this time and accommodation both plentiful and considerably cheaper.

Those on a budget have several camping sites to choose from. There is a large camp site near Ampoula beach, not far from Tsilivi, and more camping just outside the resort of Alykes. In the south are a couple of camping sites near Laganas Bay. The Laganas Camping site at Agios Sostis has an Olympic size swimming pool but no website.