Zakynthos: A Stunning Greek Island Worthy of Your Bucket List
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One of the most beautiful and culturally rich European countries,Greece has always charmed us. The birthplace of democracy, the capital of Athens is a mix of old and new, with a heavy sprinkle of Greek hospitality. Pristine beaches, rugged mountains, monasteries which seem to float in the sky, and mouth-watering dishes, all come together to create the Greece we love to explore.
Blessed with over 1400 islands and a total of 16000 km of coastline, it is no doubt that Greece is proud of its beaches. If you are ever so lucky to have a chance to visit the Greek islands, Zakynthos should be part of your itinerary!
The third largest island in Greece, it is also known as the ‘Flower of the East’ and it is amongst the most beautiful and popular islands of the Ionian. What makes it even better is that it is the home of Villa Spiros, a spectacular yet warm family owned villa that offers a range of exciting culinary holidays that will surely delight any food lover.
Why did you choose Greece – more specifically Zakynthos – as your travel destination?
I’m part Greek, my father was originally from Athens. I have spent most of my life visiting Athens for various periods of time. When I was a child, I took longer holidays when I would go island-hopping and visit a number of islands. But I had yet to visit Zakynthos.
My main hobbies and interests are travel, photography and food, so this trip seemed the perfect combination. If it wasn’t for Villa Spiros’ culinary vacation package, I probably would not have chosen it given its reputation as a ‘party island’. I’m glad I did though, as through this holiday, I found out that it has so much more to offer!
Image credit: Dimitri Nicolaidis
At Villa Spiros, travelers are given the golden opportunity not only to enjoy delicious Greek dishes but also to learn to cook from the experts. Please tell us about this experience.
What can I say? I was fortunate to have Tony, the owner and chef, (almost) all to myself for the whole week! He certainly knows how to cook and great at teaching others how to cook. I’m happy to have had brought back some culinary skills to use at home!
I particularly enjoyed seeing that the traditional ways still remain alive in this fast-paced world. From the moment I arrived, I was made to feel part of the family, which made being a solo traveler so much easier. At the same time, I was also given the space and time to enjoy exploring Zakynthos on my own.
Delicious Greek food awaits! Image credit: Villa Spiros
During your holiday, you also had the chance to participate in various culinary related activities (olive oil tasting etc.), what were they like?
Having done these before (wine tasting, olive groves and pressing) in my previous travels, it was definitely interesting to see the different processes from country to country.
Your trip’s itinerary also includes a visit to a traditional taverna. Did you enjoy it?
Traditional Greek tavernas are some of my favorite places to visit and spend time at actually. Though the ones in Zakynthos weren’t among the best I’ve been to, for those who are not Greek it’s a great opportunity to be introduced to various local dishes . Especially if you might not have seen nor tasted before. For example, Yemistas, which is a traditional dish of stuffed vegetables with rice and the village stuffed chicken.
The village stuffed chicken. Image credit: Athina Pilarinou of Pournari Taverna
What was the most memorable part of your vacation in Zakynthos?
There were so many, to be honest. I really enjoyed having my personal guide for the week. I loved meeting some great locals and getting out and about in the stunning country side in the sunshine. I also had plenty of opportunities to do some people watching and taking lots of photos of landscapes and the wildlife.
A breathtaking aerial shot of Zakynthos’ crystal blue water. Image credit: Dimitri Nicolaidis
Now that you’ve had experienced what Zakynthos has to offer, in your opinion, which are the ‘must do and see’ activities and places you would recommend to other travelers?
I would recommend travelers to stay clear of tourist ridden bars and restaurants and opt for more traditional, authentic places instead. This way, they’ll be able to get a true feel of the local’s way of life. They should also make time to see the turtles as the Bay of Laganas, as Zakynthos is home to the endangered Loggerhead Turtles (Caretta Caretta).
Last but not least, be sure enjoy at least a meal with a stunning view at sunset. It’s simply unforgettable. I definitely recommend all travelers to visit Zakynthos at least once!
The Turtle of Zante. Image credit: Herodotosstudios.gr
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