The Ionian Islands in Greece are a group of beautiful, green islands including Zakynthos, Lefkada, Kefalonia and Ithaca. Here are some travel tips for the Ionian islands, including what to do and how to get there.
Ionian Travel Guide
If you're putting together an Ionian Island Itinerary, you've come to the right place! I've been living and travelling around Greece for the past six years putting together guides and itineraries to help people just like you.
This guide to the Ionian Islands in Greece will help you plan your own travels to these gorgeous destinations.
I’ve included travel tips on the Ionian islands, where to go, what to see, sightseeing, how to travel to the Ionian islands, and a lot more.
Whether you have been to the Ionians before, or you are a return visitor, this Greek island travel guide to the Ionians will hopefully be useful.
You can click on an island name below to jump through to that particular section in this blog post, or read the entire guide from top to bottom. Whatever makes you happy!
Ionian Islands List
Where are the Ionian Islands in Greece?
In Greek, the Ionian islands are known as “Eptanisa”, which literally means “seven islands”. The name refers to the seven biggest islands, but there are many, many more.
The majority of the Ionian islands are located to the west of mainland Greece, in the Ionian Sea. You might also hear them referred to as the Western Greek islands.
Being Greece, nothing is every straightforward of course. Kithira and the tiny Antikythera are quite far away from all the others, located between the Peloponnese and Crete, just at the intersection of three separate bodies of the Ionian Sea, the Aegean Sea and the Cretan Sea. Many Greeks don't even think that these are Ionian islands!
Ionian Islands Map
Let’s have a closer look at the Greek Ionian islands map:
Corfu, one of the biggest and most popular Ionian islands, is located to the north, close to Albania. Following the coastline all the way to the south, are Lefkada, Ithaca, Kefalonia and Zakynthos. All around them, you will notice more islands and islets that you might have never heard of.
Although most of the Ionian islands are close to each other, direct connections between them are not always available. More information on this will be provided in individual island sections. I recommend Ferryhopper as a place to look at Greek ferry routes online.
If you are planning a longer itinerary in Greece, here’s my advice. Combining the Ionian islands and other Greek island groups, like the Cyclades, is often a logistical nightmare as it will involve multiple flights and / or ferries. It’s best to either stick to the Ionian islands alone, or to combine them with the mainland instead.
Best Time To Visit the Ionian Islands
Generally speaking, Greece is a popular summer destination, but it can be surprisingly warm and pleasant in spring and autumn.
In my opinion, it’s best to avoid the Ionian islands during the second half of July and August. This is when they get more crowded, and accommodation prices go up.
If you can, try to travel in either June or September, when there is enough action and the temperature is more pleasant overall. I think that autumn in Greece is probably just about the best season to travel.
You could also consider visiting during spring. For people interested in Greek traditions, Greek Easter is one the best times to visit the Ionian islands. Corfu, Kefalonia, Lefkada and Ithaca will offer a unique cultural experience.
If you have been to the Cyclades islands, you have probably experienced the strong Meltemi Winds. These seasonal winds can make it difficult to swim – or even dangerous, on certain beaches. You will be pleased to know that the Ionian islands are not really affected by those northern winds, which are local to the Aegean Sea. On the flipside, they tend to be rainier, which explains the lush vegetation.
What’s so special about the Ionian islands?
To answer this question, we’d need to go a little back in time and explore European and Greek history in the last millennium. Here’s a very brief summary.
In the 13th century, the Venetians took over from the Byzantine Empire, conquering many areas of Greece. One of the first areas, due to their proximity to Italy, were the Ionian islands.
In subsequent centuries, most of Greece was invaded by the Ottoman Empire. However, the Ionian islands, apart from Lefkada, mostly remained under Venetian rule. Many of the castles and monasteries built during those times are still in good condition.
In the beginning of the 19th century, the Ionian islands were briefly conquered by the French, followed by the British Empire. In 1864, they finally became part of the newly founded Greek State.
As a consequence, the architecture on the Ionian islands is very different from that in other areas of Greece. Similarly, their culture is quite distinctive, with unique customs and celebrations.
To a certain degree, their unique history might explain why the Ionian islands are popular destinations for both the Brits and the Italians!
Flying to the Ionian islands in Greece
There are international flights to the three biggest Ionian islands. Many of them are seasonal and may vary from one year to the next.
- Corfu – Corfu International Airport (IATA: CFU, ICAO: LGKR)
- Zakynthos – Zakynthos International Airport (IATA: ZTH, ICAO: LGZA)
- Kefalonia – Kefalonia International Airport (IATA: EFL, ICAO: LGKF)
These airports will also have domestic connections to Athens and Thessaloniki. Kithira, the island south of the Peloponnese, has a domestic airport offering connections to and from Athens (IATA: KIT, ICAO: LGKC).
I've a guide here to Greek islands with airports for further information on flying to islands in Greece.
Ionian Ferry Travel
You can also travel to the Ionian sea islands by ferry from mainland Greece or from another island. As you would expect, all the inhabited Ionian islands have at least one port.
The main ports in mainland Greece from where you can travel to the Ionian islands are Igoumenitsa, Patras and Kyllini. More specifically:
- There are connections from Igoumenitsa to Corfu, Kefalonia and Paxi
- You can get to Corfu, Kefalonia and Ithaca from the port in Patras
- Kyllini port in the Peloponnese offers connections with Kefalonia, Ithaca and Zakynthos
- Kithira is accessible from Piraeus, Gythio and Neapoli in the Peloponnese, and Kissamos in Crete.
In addition, international travelers can get to Corfu by ferry from Italy or Albania.
Unlike the Greek ferry network for the Cyclades, information isn’t always easily available or easy to find. Furthermore, itineraries and ferry companies may differ year by year!
Generally speaking, Ferryhopper is a great place to see ferry schedules for Ionian Greece.
One final note: Lefkada, the fourth biggest Ionian island, is accessible by land from the mainland.
How many inhabited Ionian islands are there?
The number of Greek islands in each group seems to be a bit of a mystery. Even for the better-known Cyclades, there isn’t exactly a definitive answer. The Ionians seem to be even more complicated.
Currently, the number of inhabited Ionian islands is 15. These are the islands that visitors can get to on some form of transportation, where there is somewhere to stay overnight.
Apart from those islands, there are a few dozen more where visitors don’t have access to. In fact, some of the remaining Ionian islands are currently private. The best-known is Skorpios, once owned by the famous Greek tycoon Aristotelis Onassis. It appears that a few other uninhabited Ionian islands are currently up for sale…
Special mention goes to the tiny Stamfani Strofadon, south of Zakynthos, which is home to an impressive 13th century Monastery. A Greek monk, Father Gregory, spent the last 38 years of his life there, until his death in 2017. The monastery was seriously damaged by an earthquake in 2018 and is currently uninhabited. You can see a video and some cool photos here.
Ionian island Guide
Here's a look at the Greek Ionia islands one by one
If this name sounds familiar, you are right. This is where the famous Antikythera mechanism was discovered. But what else do you know about this little island?
Antikythera is the southernmost Ionian island, located between Kithira and Crete. With only a few dozens permanent residents, it gets comparatively lively in summer, when visitors arrive to experience an off-the-beaten-track Greek island.
Antikythera is great if you are looking to relax and connect with nature. Here are the best things to do in Antikythera:
- Swim and snorkel at beautiful wild beaches like Xiropotamos, Halara and Kamarela
- Hike all the way to Apolytara Lighthouse at the south of the island, built in 1926
- Visit the archaeological site of Kastro, a well-preserved town from the Hellenistic Era, and stay for sunset
- Experience the panigiri of Agios Mironas on 16-17 August, a popular traditional festival celebrated with lots of local food, wine and music
Getting to Antikythera can be fairly time-consuming. The island is connected with Kithira, Piraeus, and certain ports in Crete and the Peloponnese.
A tiny island with a permanent population of 20 people, Antipaxoi is also seen as Antipaxos or Antipaxi. It is often visited as a day trip from the nearby Paxi, its bigger sister. They are both close to Corfu, and the western coast of mainland Greece.
There isn’t much to do on Antipaxoi other than enjoy nature and amazing beaches! Despite its faraway location, Antipaxoi is quite popular with both private sailing boats and day-trippers from Paxi. It might be best to avoid peak season.
Some of the best things to do in Paxi include:
- Swim on two of the most photographed beaches, Voutoumi and Vrika
- Snorkel around the beautiful turquoise waters and the underwater caves
- Look out for native species such as the monachus monachus seal and the caretta caretta turtle
- Walk around the pretty green island
- Hike to the lesser visited beaches, Rodovani, Sarakiniko, Mesovrika and Skidi
Corfu, known in Greek as Kerkyra, is the second biggest Ionian island. With about 100,000 permanent residents, it is also the most densely populated island in Greece. Its unique charm, cosmopolitan vibes, incredible architecture and stunning nature make it a popular summer destination.
The Old Town of Corfu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a mix of Venetian Castles and neoclassical houses. In fact, the town was modelled after the city of Venice, just without the canals. Many of the forts and buildings were rebuilt and refurbished over the centuries. During their relatively brief occupation, both the French and the British built impressive palaces and other buildings.
There is a variety of incredible beaches with crystal-clear water all around Corfu. Some of the resort areas, like Sidari and Acharavi, have been developed around beautiful sandy beaches. Corfu is very green and mountainous, and you will see olive groves and citrus trees everywhere.
Some of the best things to do in Corfu include the following:
- Stroll around Corfu Town with the amazing Venetian forts and the impressive Spianada square, where you may even see a cricket match
- Explore the wonderful neoclassical buildings such as Liston and the Palace of St. Michael and St. George
- Spend some time at the numerous museums, like the unique Museum of Asian Art, the Archaeological Museum, the Byzantine Museum, or the Serbian Museum
- Visit the Monasteries of Palaiokastritsa and Pantokratoros and the beautiful churches on the island
- Explore small, quaint villages like Kaminaki, Kalami and Afionas
- Taste the Venetian-inspired dishes and delicacies such as sofrito, bourdeto, savoro, bianco and mandolato
- Visit during Easter and experience the local custom of clay pots being thrown from windows
The easiest way to get to Corfu is by plane. In addition, there are ferries from mainland Greece, Italy and Albania.
Ereikoussa, also seen as Erikoussa, is the northernmost Ionian island, located north of Corfu. Along with Mathraki and Othoni, they form the subgroup of Diapontia islands, which are part of the municipality of Corfu.
Ereikoussa is round and relatively flat, with its highest point at just 130 metres. Its small size makes it ideal for hiking, swimming and relaxing.
The island is full of over 300 types of trees, shrubs and plants, including olive trees and cypress trees. It’s a perfect little paradise for nature lovers who want to get away from the crowds.
The main settlement and port town, Porto, is where you will find most of the life on the island. This includes tavernas, a few shops, rooms to let, and also a pharmacy and medical centre. The main beach of the island is here.
From Porto, you can take one of the hiking paths that lead around Ereikoussa. They are well signposted, so you won’t get lost. Hike to Braghini, a beautiful beach to the north, or the equally secluded Fyki, Ereikoussa’s old port. Don’t forget your snorkel!
During summer, there are frequent ferries to Ereikoussa from Corfu. They normally run from Corfu Town, and also from the north of the island, Agios Stefanos, Sidari and Acharavi. Ask around for the latest information, as it tends to change year by year.
Ithaca, the homeland of the mythical Odysseus, is a beautiful, verdant island. Known in Greek as Ithaki, it is ideal for people who are after relaxed vacations. Still, there is plenty to explore, including beautiful beaches all around.
Ithaca is an irregularly shaped island, with a north and south part. The capital town of Vathy is located in the south part, and it’s the best place to stay if you are looking for something that resembles nightlife.
The quaint town is built right on one of the most protected bays in the Ionian islands and is really pretty. Take your time to stroll around, have a meal, and visit the archaeological and folklore museums.
The north part of the island is quieter, and impressively green. Among the highlights are Katharon Monastery, and the smaller coastal villages close to lovely beaches. This is also where you can see some ruins of a building that might have been the palace of Odysseus. You can see a model of the palace in Stavros village.
When spending time in Ithaca you can:
- Explore Vathy town, the picturesque capital with beautiful traditional houses
- Visit smaller villages, such as Kioni, Frikes and Stavros
- Enjoy the pretty beaches, like Aspros Gialos, Ai Giannis, Filiatro, Afales, Skinos and Gidaki
- Visit the impressive Katharon Monastery up on the mountain, for incredible views of the island
- Relax and enjoy the quiet, unhurried pace of life
You can get to Ithaca by ferry from Kefalonia or mainland Greece. I've a dedicated guide here on the best things to do in Ithaca.
Just off the western coast of Greece, and north-east of Lefkada, lies a small mountainous island named Kalamos. With only a few hundred permanent residents, it’s a great destination for nature lovers who are looking for some quiet time.
The landscapes on Kalamos are quite dramatic. Even though the island is small, the tallest mountain is 745 metres, and is covered by a thick, verdant pine forest, which is unique by Greek standards. In fact, the only similar pine forests in Greece can be found in the Sporades islands. The best way to enjoy the forest is to hike the trail connecting the two main settlements on the island.
Kalamos, the port town, is where you can find most of the tavernas and cafes, as well as a handful of rooms. The traditional stone houses and friendly people will make your stay unforgettable.
Episkopi, to the north, is a much smaller village. Nearby, you can see the ruins of the Castle of Kalamos, known as Kastromonastiro. It is estimated that it was built around the 13th or 14th century. Nearby, you can visit the small chapel of Agios Donatos.
Kalamos has some amazing beaches with white pebbles and crystal-clear waters, surrounded by the pine forest. They are all ideal for relaxed time and unforgettable swims. The two most easily accessible beaches are Agrapidia and Myrtia, both walking distance from the port.
Other beaches on the island include Asprogiali, Pefki, Kefali, Kedros, Alexaki, Kipi and Trahilos. The easiest way to explore them is by sea. If you have your own boat, you can dock at the small marina named Gerolimionas.
Kalamos is accessible on a small passenger ferry from Mytikas on mainland Greece. There are also boat connections with Lefkada and the nearby Kastos.
This small, long-shaped island is close to Kalamos and mainland Greece, not far off Lefkada. There are no cars, few roads, and even fewer rooms to let, which makes this little paradise a unique island to visit. In fact, the old residents used to say that God created Kastos in order to have a place to stay when on Earth. It’s one of those low-key quiet islands where time seems to have stopped.
The little island is fairly flat and full of olive trees. It provides a safe refuge for boats and yachts travelling around the Ionian, but also for people who are tired of the city life and want to leave everything behind.
Most of the houses in the main settlement, Kastos, are built in large plots and are surrounded by olive trees. The materials used are stone and wood, giving an impression of Greece in the 1960s. As there are no cars on the island, the few families that live here have their own boats, which they use to do their shopping from the mainland.
The majority of the beaches in Kastos are on the east side, and you can approach them on foot or by sea. Some of the best beaches are Abelakia, Vali, Kilada, Kamini, Limni and Fyki to the south. You can also visit Agios Emilianos, where you will find Fokotrypa, a sea cave where seals hide sometimes.
In terms of sightseeing, check out the temple of St John the Martyr, with the interesting artwork, and the chapel of Agios Emilianos. Also, it’s worth visiting the windmills, one of which is considered to be the best preserved in the Ionian.
You can get to Kastos on the small passenger ferry from Mytikas on mainland Greece, which passes by Kalamos on the way. There are also connections with Lefkada.
The largest of the Ionian islands, Kefalonia or Cephalonia, is located between Lefkada and Zakynthos. Despite a strong earthquake in 1953, which destroyed most of the houses, the island grew into a popular tourist destination, while retaining its authentic character.
10 years before I moved to Greece, I spent some time in Kefalonia grape picking. Here's the result of my hard work!!
Kefalonia is a mountainous island with dramatic landscapes, famous for its outstanding beaches and impressive sea caves. Offering a variety of activities for everyone, it’s ideal for both cosmopolitan and relaxed holidays.
Among the most important attractions in Kefalonia are its beautiful beaches. Arguably the most famous one is Myrtos, an incredible sandy beach surrounded by cliffs and a thick forest. However, there are many others that you should include in your Kefalonia itinerary, such as Antisamos, Skala and the somewhat oddly-named Xi. They all offer crystal-clear waters, tourist amenities and beautiful, wild nature.
Apart from the beaches, the best things to do in Kefalonia include:
- Walk around the island’s capital, Argostoli, and visit the historical and archeological museums, the Agii Theodori lighthouse and the ancient city of Krani, with the Cyclopean walls
- Enjoy the local atmosphere in the quaint town of Fiskardo
- Explore Assos village, and visit the Venetian castle built up on the hill
- Take a boat tour to the famous Melissani cave
- Visit Drogarati cave with its incredible acoustics. If you are lucky, you may even catch a concert!
- Follow one of the hiking paths on the impressive Ainos mountain
- Taste the local dishes, like the meat pie, cod pie, the garlic sauce called aliada and the local cheeses – or consider taking a food tour
- Try the awarded local white Robola wine, and consider visiting some of the island’s wineries, such as the Robola cooperative or Gentilini winery.
There are direct flights from several European airports to Kefalonia as well as ferries from Igoumenitsa on the Greek mainland. Plan where to stay with my guide on where to stay in Kefalonia.
Kithira, also known as Kythera, Kythira or Cythera, is located south of the Peloponnese. According to one version, this is where Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty, was born.
Due to its geographical location, the island has a rich and unique history. In addition, its architecture and culture will remind you of other parts of Greece, especially Crete and Mani.
Some of the best things to do in Kithira island include:
- Explore the beautiful beaches. While many of them are fully organised with umbrellas and loungers, you will also find quiet areas all around. Don’t miss Kaladi, a wild beach where you can walk down through a few dozen steps. Other popular beaches are Kombonada, Fourni and Lagada, but just explore as many as you can and find your own favourite.
- Visit the impressive lighthouse of Moudari, the largest lighthouse built in Greece by the British. On a clear day, it is possible to see Cape Tainaron in the Peloponnese!
- Spend some time at the picturesque capital of the island, Kapsali. Don’t miss the newly renovated Archaeological museum
- Explore the island’s diverse architecture in villages like Aroniatika, Avlemonas, Kalamos and Logothetianika
- Check out Potamos village on a Sunday morning, when the weekly street market takes place, and experience local life at its best
- Visit the stunning monasteries of Panagia Myrtidiotissa and Agia Elesa
- Venture out to Mylopotamos village, where you can visit the Venetian castle and the Agia Sofia cave. You can also hike to the nearby Neraida waterfall, and see a series of old watermills.
- Try the local products, such as the superb honey and the famous local rusks.
You can get to Kithira on a flight from Athens. There are also ferry connections with Piraeus, the Peloponnese and Crete.
Lefkada is the fourth biggest Ionian island. It is mostly famous for its incredible, world-famous beaches, like Egremni and Porto Katsiki. It is also a hotspot for windsurfers and kitesurfers. However, there is a lot more to it.
The picturesque Lefkada town, the capital, was originally founded by the Venetians. After a big earthquake in 1825, much of the town was rebuilt following the British anti-seismic regulations. Materials used include stone, wood and sheet metal, which is very typical of Lefkada town. Among the colourful houses and other buildings, you will see shops, tavernas and a few interesting museums.
You can also hire a car an explore the lovely mountain villages and towns. The local architecture and pleasant mountain climate might make you forget that you are actually on an island! Don’t miss out on trying the local lentils, that are among the best in Greece.
Here are the best things to do in Lefkada:
- Swim on gorgeous beaches like Egremni, Porto Katsiki and the lesser known Pefkoulia and Gialos
- Visit the Archaeological museum and the Aggelos Sikelianos museum, dedicated to a famous Greek poet, in Lefkada town
- Drive up on the mountain, and explore the traditional villages of Karya, Poros and Eglouvi
- Visit the Folklore Museum and the Museum of Gramophones in Karya
- Explore the impressive castle of Agia Mavra, originally built by the Frankish in the 14th century
- Visit the monastery of Ai Giannis Prodromos, which celebrates on 24th June
- Lefkada is the only Ionian island that is accessible by land from mainland Greece, through a causeway. This makes it a popular choice with Greeks and other Europeans travelling by land.
Lefkada is connected to mainland Greece by a short bridge. Here is some more information on things to do in Lefkada.
Mathraki is a low-key, quiet island located west of Corfu. Together with Ereikoussa and Othoni, they form the subgroup of Diapontia islands, part of the municipality of Corfu. Mathraki is the smallest of the three.
You can easily walk all around this pretty little gem of an island and get to the lovely beaches. In fact, there isn’t much more in terms of things to do in Mathraki. Just enjoy the beautiful nature, golden beaches and laid-back pace of life.
The island has two main settlements, the port town of Plakes and Chorio, with picturesque traditional houses and minimal infrastructure. There is some accommodation as well as a handful of tavernas.
The largest beach in Mathraki is the long, sandy Portello beach to the north-east of the island. Other beautiful beaches include Arvanitiko to the south-east, and Fyki and Apidies on the west coast. These are some of the best beaches in Greece if you want to avoid crowds, and a paradise for snorkelling.
You can get to Mathraki on a ferry from Corfu Town or Agios Stefanos on the north coast of Corfu. As ferries tend to vary by year, ask around for the latest information.
Lefkada’s smaller neighbour, Meganisi literally means “Big island”. It has an impressive coastline with several sheltered bays and fjord-like coves and inlets. According to one legend, it used to be home to the Cyclop’s cave, as mentioned in the Odyssey.
The pretty island combines authentic houses and beautiful nature with modern tourist infrastructure and a cosmopolitan feel. There are three main settlements in Meganisi, which is where most of the tourist accommodation and other facilities can be found.
Spartochori, the main port, is a lovely village with narrow cobbled streets and traditional stone houses, overlooking the sheltered bay. Vathy is a picturesque fishing village and marina, popular with yacht owners. Finally, the capital of Meganisi, Katomeri, is a mountain village offering beautiful views all around.
Meganisi is a paradise for yacht owners and everyone who likes the sea. You can discover dozens of small beaches with white pebbles hidden all along the coastline. Don’t miss Spilia, Ampelakia, Fanari, Elia, Pasoumaki, Limonari and the beach of Ai Giannis, with the small historic monastery.
An area worth exploring in Meganisi is the southern elongated peninsula with its barren, wild landscape. Here, you can visit the interesting sea caves of Giovani and Papanikoli. It is said that, during WWII, this cave was home to a navy submarine called Papanilkolis. Towards the southern edge of peninsula, you can also visit the old Agios Grigorios chapel.
You can get to Meganisi on a ferry from Nydri in Lefkada. The route passes close to several other islands, including the famous Scorpios. Day trips from Lefkada are also available.
Located north-west of Corfu, Othoni or Othonoi is the westernmost point of Greece. It is the biggest of the three Diapontia islands, the other two being Ereikoussa and Mathraki.
Othoni might have been the mythical Ogygia, where Odysseus was kept by Kalypso for seven years. This paradise on earth is definitely fit for a daughter of the Titan. It combines gorgeous beaches, transparent, turquoise waters, beautiful rock formations, a verdant landscape and small, traditional settlements.
Most of the few tourist facilities on the island can be found in the port town of Ammos. There is a second settlement up on the mountain, called Chorio.
Hiking trails and dirt roads lead you to sandy beaches and remote coves around the island. You will see olive trees, cypresses and fig trees all around. The Diapontia islands are part of the Natura 2000 network, so the island is rich in both flora and fauna.
Easily accessible beaches around the island include Fyki, Kanoula and Vathi Portello. However, since much of the coastline is rocky, the best way to explore Othoni is by sea. Check out the beautiful Aspri Ammos beach and explore Kalypso’s cave.
Ferries to Othoni depart from Corfu Town or Agios Stefanos, on the north coast of Corfu. As itineraries change now and then, it’s better to check online for the latest information.
Paxi island, also seen as Paxoi or Paxos, is located south of Corfu, and is often visited as a day trip together with its sister island Antipaxoi. However, this small gem in the Ionian absolutely deserves more than a few hours.
Paxi offers a unique combination of lush vegetation, primarily olive trees and vineyards, along with exotic beaches, and impressive seacaves. Because of the unique sea colour, it is often referred to as “the Greek Caribbean”.
Gaios, the capital and main port, is protected by a couple of small islets, which only add to the picturesque setting. There are two more villages on the island, Lakka and Longos. The island gets rather crowded in summer, so try to visit outside the peak season if you can.
Here are some of the best things to do in Paxi:
- Rent your own boat and explore some of the best beaches in Paxi, like Kipiadi, Marmari, Mogonisi, Harami, Levrehio and Pounda
- Stroll around the main towns and observe the venetian architecture and the traditional houses
- Visit the Folklore Museum in Gaios, and learn about the island’s traditions
- Enjoy the hot springs in Paxi
- Join the music festivals in the beginning of July and September
- Attend the local panigiri on 15th August
More here: How to get to Paxos island in Greece
Zakynthos, also known as Zante, is perhaps the most famous Greek island in the Ionian sea. In recent decades, part of its reputation is connected with late night bars and wild partying. However, there is much more to the pretty Ionian island.
First and foremost, Zakynthos is home to an important National Marine Park, which has a focus on nature conservation and cultural heritage preservation. This is where the loggerhead sea turtles known as caretta caretta lay their eggs. Other species, such as the monachus monachus seal, can also be found.
Like all of the Ionians, Zakynthos has an abundance of beautiful beaches, with Shipwreck being the most famous. In addition, there are several places of interest, where you can learn a lot about the island’s long history and enjoy the architecture.
Some of the best things to do in Zakynthos include:
- Venture out to the famous Shipwreck beach, which took its name after a ship got swept away
- Take a boat tour to the Blue Caves, often combined with Navagio Beach
- Relax on a boat trip to Marathonisi island and Keri caves, where you may come across the caretta caretta turtles
- Find your favourite among dozens of beaches, like Tsilivi, Argasi, Kaminia, Sekania, Dafni and Makrys Gialos
- Explore Zakynthos town, with the impressive Catholic church of Agios Markos, the museum of the Greek poet Dionysios Solomos and the church of Agios Dionysios
- Stroll around the Venetian Castle in Bohali area, and stay for an evening drink with a beautiful view of the Ionian Sea
- Visit Kampi village with the Mycenean tombs, and look out for a large cross in memory of the victims of the civil war.
There are several international flights from many European airports to the pretty Ionian island. You can also take a ferry from Kyllini port in the Peloponnese.
With this many islands, there are almost an endless number of combinations you can put together when creating an itinerary. Added to that, it depends how long you want to spend in this part of Greece island hopping.
I would suggest you spend 2-3 days on each island you decide to visit. This means if you have a week to travel, just choose two or three islands as a maximum.
Ionian islands Greece
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You might also want to read: Biggest islands in Greece
Ionian Island Hopping FAQ
If you're looking to put together an itinerary for traveling in this region of Greece, these questions and answers might be useful to read:
Which is the best Ionian island to visit?
The Ionian Islands are known for their beautiful beaches and crystal-clear waters, and they include such well-known islands as Corfu, Zakynthos, Kefalonia, and Lefkada. Ithaca, Paxos, and Antipaxos. If you can only visit one, consider either Corfu or Kefalonia.
How do you travel between Ionian Islands?
The best way to travel among the Ionian islands is by taking a ferry. Ferry connections link islands in the Ionian group together, and also to ports in Western Greece and the Peloponnese.
What are the Ionian islands known for?
The Ionian islands are located on the western coast of Greece and are known for their beautiful beaches and lush green vegetation. Corfu, Kefalonia, Zakynthos, and Lefkada are among the most popular destinations for visitors from overseas.
Which is better Corfu or Kefalonia?
Kefalonia can be less crowded than Corfu, and despite being bigger, has only half the number of hotels. If you prefer fewer tourists, Kefalonia would be a great choice.
Dave is a travel writer who has been living in Greece and writing about the country since 2015. As well as creating this Greek Ionian Island guide, he's written many other guides about Greek islands and destinations in Greece. Follow Dave on social media for travel inspiration from Greece and beyond: