Beautiful Zakynthos, also known by its Italian name Zante, has become dominated along its southern and southeastern shoreline by heavy package tourism. Once you leave the long sandy beaches of those regions behind, however, and set off to explore the rest of the island, you'll discover plenty of forested wilderness and traditional rural villages. Some attractive lower-key bases lie just beyond the larger, run-of-the-mill resorts, including Keri and Limni Keriou in the remote southwest, and Agios Nikolaos and Cape Skinari in the far north, but it’s the spectacular scenery of the rugged west coast, where mighty limestone cliffs plummet down to unreal turquoise waters, that’s the true highlight.
Sandwiched between steep wooded slopes topped by a ruined Venetian fortress and a huge harbour cradled between two long jetties, Zakynthos Town is the pulsating capital of the island. Famous for its glorious ensemble of Italianate architecture until an earthquake struck in 1953, it was subsequently reconstructed in fine style, with arcaded streets and gracious neoclassical public buildings. Recent years have seen the restoration of its showpiece waterfront square, the dazzling Plateia Solomou. The hubbub of everyday life centres on the newly pedestrianised streets behind it, leading to smaller Plateia Agiou Markou.