Likes & Dislikes

Opinions

Zakynthos - Plalaki Rock

When it comes to the locals, as elsewhere in Greece, it’s best to come equipped with plenty of
humor and patience. Trust me! Nothing is going to go according to plan. Even at the airport, they
don’t make much effort to follow the rules. When we were there the baggage scales weren’t
working, and the security check was just for show. The only schedule you can count on them sticking
to rigorously is siesta time! This is total – from noon until about five or six in the evening life shuts
down. Nothing is open, even in the capital. We had to walk miles just for a bottle of water. On the
other hand, you can easily go shopping until eleven in the evening. Loose adherence to the rules is
particularly evident on the roads, which are extremely narrow and winding, but cars and quad bikes
roar up and down them at top speed all day long. The bus schedule is at best a rough guideline. Even
at the bus stop, it’s often written that you should simply ask the driver where the bus is going, and
when the next one will come along. Still, tickets are generally very reasonably priced: ours was €1.60
for the whole trip.
It’s unbelievable in this day and age, but the fact is that in practice it’s possible to smoke
everywhere: in bars, restaurants, hotels and boats. In our hotel, the cook who prepared out
breakfast did so with a cigarette hanging out the corner of his mouth, and when my friend got up
from the table to go smoke outside, the waitress told him he needn’t bother – he could smoke at the
table. Since Zakynthos is an island, it’s good to be sparing with the tap water, and signs remind you
of this everywhere. Electrical power, on the other hand, seems practically unlimited, and this is what
the air conditioners run off. (The local bus was about 20°C, while outside it must have been at least
30°C). The temperature drops to a surprising degree in the evening, and after dark I don’t think
anyone uses air conditioning – it’s unnecessary. The tap water isn’t drinkable, but the mineral water

tastes good, and it’s interesting that both a single bottle and a whole carton are the same price:
€1.50. The internet is unreliable, but this means that it’s never worth paying extra for: if it works, it
will work for free, and if it doesn’t money won’t make it work. Knowledge of English is equally
patchy, though they’ll usually nod enthusiastically and repeat whatever you said to them. In
restaurants and hotels there are many members of staff who speak good English, and are happy to
chat with a tourist.

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Zakynthos – Opinion

July 2022: We have just returned from Zakynthos. We planned the trip ourselves, with all that that entails. I booked accommodation on Booking.com, and there were no particular problems with that. The biggest problem was with Laganas. Of course, I also tried to gather information in advance. I read a lot of reviews, and spoke personally with people who had already been there. Several people said we could certainly book accommodation there, it would be hassle-free. But what does hassle-free mean? Bottom line: I would never go to Laganas again! Only those who want to party day and night should book accommodation there. And I mean that literally. 90% of people in Laganas are British teenagers. I will try to be diplomatic about them so this post isn’t deleted. These young people can't behave. During the day they are still restrained (or maybe they sleep a little), but they start up in the evening. They go about in very skimpy clothing, they are drunk, and high on who knows what else. It’s unlikely to be sucking the helium from balloons. Their antics and screaming are continuous until the morning, and there is no chance to rest. I couldn't sleep peacefully for a single night in a week, even though our accommodation was a 10-minute walk from the main street. They are constantly making noise, riding about on mopeds and quad bikes. They leave terrible garbage behind, and even the few trash cans are overturned and smashed. Barbarians would be more civilized than them. Not to mention that they don't even respect their hosts enough to learn 1-2 words in Greek (at least to say hello, etc.) If you want to relax, DO NOT book accommodation here. I rented a motorbike and we went to other parts of the island. Zakynthos is beautiful, if you haven't been there yet, you should definitely visit, just don't go to Laganas. It isn’t easy to spot turtles around Turtle Island. I rented a boat (no license required) which cost 110 euros for 3 hours plus fuel. It takes 3 hours to comfortably see the islands of Marathonisi and Cameo. The boat rental is worth it – it’s a great experience. If you really want to see a turtle, this is the island to visit. The entrance fee is 5 euros/person (that's why you get a key ring – if you hand over your entrance ticket to the photographer he’ll take a picture of you, and after a while, your key number will be displayed on a board, where you can either hand it in or buy a larger print of the picture). Go to the section of the coast between the island and the port, where there is a small blue pier. I swam in with a snorkel and goggles and saw a turtle, about 30-50 meters from the shore, near the pier. They rarely come to the surface of the water, which is why you need goggles. I swam really close to it, and it was a fantastic experience to literally swim with a turtle! It is also worth paying for a boat trip to the wreck bay and blue caves, but NOT with a big boat! Unfortunately, we went with it, and only later found out that we would not be visiting the wreck bay, on account of the waves. The smaller ships all went there, but not the larger ones. However, we did stop at the blue caves. I have never swum in such beautiful, turquoise water! Not to be missed.

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“It’s a real shock when you come from a land of tyranny, inflation, and austerity, and then you meet the Greeks. They screw up EVERYTHING, the vendors smoke in the shop, there are no traffic rules or schedules, and the continually honk the horn and shout. Yet everyone is cheerful, friendly, and hospitable. Respect!” (BC, 2022)

Practicals

Transport



“ At the airport, I thought we would be able to call a taxi driver, but instead we had to stand in line waiting for the taxi. It was written on the board that they would take me to Laganas for 17 Euros, but I had read before that that they often ask for 20 euros. When it was our turn, there were not enough of us for the taxi, so he motioned to a couple more people to join us, making seven of us in the five-seater car. But it wasn’t a problem for us – we held our children in our arms, and it obviously made the ride cheaper. The other family was also Hungarian, so we agreed to split the fee. I made a mistake because I didn't specifically tell them to pay a maximum of 10 euros, because in principle the taxi driver has to take me to the place for 20 euros.

They got out first, and I didn't hear how much he asked for them, but there was no dispute, they paid and left. When he dropped us off, he wanted 20 euros from us. I told him no, I would pay 10 at most. Then we started arguing on the street, and we explained to him that since we came on the same road as the couple, we shouldn’t all have to pay him 20 euros each. We exchanged a few more words, then he told us to go to hell and left, so we were fine after all.” (2022)


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“We rented an almost brand new 450cc quad from Gold Vip for 100€ for two full days. Performance is important, as smaller quads struggle uphill, on steep mountain slopes (of which there will be a lot) with two people on the back.
95-type gasoline without a price cap is €2.56, and if you go hard all day, you can easily burn through 10-13 liters.
When you park, wedge the wheels with stones, because even if you put it in park mode, it will roll off into the great beyond before you know it.
Definitely rent a luggage rack, because you have to hold on while you're on the road, and you can’t really hold your bathing suit at the same time.
The roads are no worse than at home (in fact they’re better), and there is almost no traffic outside the towns.
I think I could count all the traffic signs on the whole island on two hands, and there is maybe one set of traffic lights at an intersection, also in the main town.
So drive sensibly, don't drink, and wear a helmet.” (B.C. 2022)



Food

“The local flavors are unmissable! Be it food or drink, sweet or savory, there are many delicacies. I am a proponent of eating out everywhere in Greece, since you can enjoy local specialties at an affordable price. It is worth going to places visited by Greeks, where you can have a fantastic taste experience and service. If we didn't have to move so much because of the attractions, and if we couldn't swim in the sea, then we’d have to be shipped home as heavy freight.” (n.c., 2019)

Zakynthos - Mountain of Gyros

Fun

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Zakynthos - slide

Health

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Zakynthos - When your mom is too lazy or a painter

Others


Things you should definitely try:

Speedboat rental
Quad bikes and jet skis
Boat trip around the island
When walking the streets, note that there are no sidewalks at all in many places.

What should you bring?

A flashlight, because the streets at night are unlit in many places
If you’re staying in an apartment, then beach towels
Mobile charger, possibly a small pillow
Drinking water in bottles
Mosquito repellent

At family accommodations, you might want to bring some liquor or a non-perishable delicacy from your home country as a gift.
You have to be careful in touristy, party towns, especially in Zante, because there are Albanians who try to trick holidaymakers in one way or another. You don't have to talk to them. You also have to be aware that some little children are taught to steal. It’s awful, as though the Oliver Twist story has come to life.
Since the sewage network on Zakynthos is weak, most toilets draw attention to the fact that it is forbidden to flush toilet paper down the toilet – instead you have to collect it in a container placed next to the toilet. People generally don't like this solution, but we have to adapt.
"We are on vacation in Laganas and I just came home from the doctor not long ago. I know I'm very unlucky, but I was just floating in the water and as I stood up, suddenly it was like an electric shock hit my foot pad. My family and I walked to the beach (It was about waist-deep anyway, so we weren't deep) and by that time my toes and feet, and in fact the whole bottom half of my leg, was in agony. There were no visible signs of external injury, it was just slightly swollen and red. We talked to our tour guide, who suggested calling a doctor to go in and see what could be wrong, so there wouldn’t be any complication. In about 20 minutes the intense pain was gone, but the numbness, hot feeling and slight pain remained. They weren't surprised at the doctor’s, but just asked me what had happened and where, and immediately said it was some kind of dragon fish. So far, there haven't been many of them, but this year there are a lot of them and, unfortunately, this kind of thing happens a lot.
So they recommend wearing shoes. These dragon fish dig themselves into the sand and if a person steps on them, they bite their 2 teeth into the foot and inject poison. It is painful, but it can only be fatal if a person gets an anaphylactic shock from it.” (h.zs, 2021)
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What to bring?

Plastic paddling shoes (can also be bought there)
snorkel mask (same, but it’s cheaper to buy back home)
lots of sunscreen (no matter what you do, you're going to burn)
bank card (accepted almost everywhere)
sunglasses (you will only take them off when sleeping)
hat or scarf (you'll get sunstroke immediately without it)

What not to bring

For us, it was completely unnecessary to bring long pants (it's very hot), a sweater (it's very hot) and shoes (you're almost always in flip-flops) (b. c. 2022)
 
Just wear loose clothes, no need for hoodies/long pants.
• We didn't have plastic paddling shoes, so while all the beaches are still possible, it’s not the most comfortable. Recommended for rocky coasts!
• You can get sunburned even if you apply SPF 50 sunscreen every 2-3 hours, and don't count on a lot of shade. A hat or shawl will come in handy!
• In some smaller places (bars and buffets) they pulled a face if we wanted to pay by card instead of with cash, but otherwise there were bank card terminals everywhere.
• We mostly paid with Revolut.
• Have enough cash to pay for the car/motorcycle/quad rental, the taxi from the airport, and the organized programs. (This was about 240 euros in total for us.)” (2022)

Background

Destination in brief

Zakynthos (also called Zante) is a Greek island, a popular vacation destination in the Ionian Sea. The island is situated at about the same height as Sicily, opposite the western side of the Peloponnese peninsula. The southernmost part of the Greek mainland is an hour's travel away by ferry (about 20 km).

Size: 405.6 km² (156.6 mi²) - The longest distance on the island is just over 46 kilometers, and driving distance of about 80 minutes. The total coastline is 123 kilometers.

Population (in 2020): 42,000

The island is relatively small, easy to navigate, and green enough. It has prime sandy beaches and exciting rocky shores with secluded, beautiful coves. The seawater is everywhere, slowly deepening, bright, super transparent, beautiful colors (dark, intersecting blues). According to many, it is one of the most beautiful islands in Greece.

Laganas is more for party people because there are a lot of nightclubs
Kalamaki is a bit quieter place, the beach is beautiful, and there are many taverns and restaurants. 
Tsilivi and Agasi are great for swimming, and these places are not full of noisy pubs
Zakynthos (Zante) city is more to visit, shopping, sightseeing, not worth living there
There are no long airport-hotel transfers, in the worst case, no more than 35 minutes.


Climate

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Zakynthos - like a tornado in the making, but it didn’t become - r.t. photo

People

“I had not yet experienced this form of the Greek mentality, even though I have been to Crete, Athens, and Thessaloniki before. The whole island is aware that they make a living from tourism, and this has both good and bad sides. The advantage is that they are very friendly, cheerful, and try to please everyone. However, it is also a fact that they make a business out of whatever they can. You can't take a step on the beach without 3-4 people trying to sell you something, from jewelry to hair braiding.
When dealing with Greeks you need patience and a sense of humor. They don't follow the rules at all. Not even at the airport. The scales weren’t working, and the security check wasn’t very strict. The only rule they follow is siesta time.
It's quite amazing, but in Greece, you can still smoke practically everywhere: in bars, restaurants, hotels, and on ships. In fact, the chef in our hotel prepared the breakfast with a cigarette in his mouth. And the cleaning lady waved frantically so that my friend would not leave the breakfast table to smoke, but stay at his place.
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The local people are kind, hospitable, open, silly in a good way, cohesive, and really enjoy life. The most important things for them are family and family events, huge gatherings, and festivals. Almost everyone is related to almost everyone else. I say they live in a very Greek way but mixed with a little Italian and Arabic style. They don't really spend money on their houses, exteriors, or cars. There are, of course, beautiful houses and gardens, but there are also many dilapidated buildings and neglected lots.” (n. c, 2019)

Attractions

Navagio Bay (Shipwreck Beach)

Zakynthos - Navagio Bay (or Shipwreck Beach), seldom so empty - i.v. photo

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