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The best of Zakinthos

04/04/2016

If you’re wondering about the best things to experience on Zakinthos, look no further. Artist Anna-Sophia Soulis reveals why the Ionian island is such a rich source of inspiration and the ultimate place to relax and unwind

There’s something about the Greek island of Zakinthos that inspires and delights the senses. Artist Anna-Sophia Soulis was born in Athens and now splits her time between the Greek capital, London and the island. Here, she tells us why her ancestral home is a constant source of inspiration and we point you to some of the best things to do in Zakinthos to soak up some island magic.

 

My Zakinthos

My father was an admiral in the Greek Navy and came from Zakinthos. I have lots of family there and when he died, I inherited a piece of land with an olive grove that he owned. He had always wanted to build a house there so I built one in his memory to keep his dream alive. It’s a special place.

 

Whenever I arrive on the island, I feel a huge sense of relief and a sense of total upliftment and fulfilment. It’s just so beautiful. Sitting in a beachside tavern on a summer’s evening watching the sun setting over the ocean is joyful and inspiring. It’s good for the soul.

 

Local life

Life on Zakinthos is simple and rooted in traditional ways, such as celebrating family values, culture and not forgetting where you came from. The people are open and warm-hearted. The islanders have a reputation for being quite wild – they love playing the bouzouki, music and dancing, and are famous for their festivals. No matter where you’re from, you will be welcomed with open arms and treated with care and respect. And watch out for our sense of humour. If someone starts to tease you or gives you a nickname based on your physical characteristics, take it as a compliment. My uncle has curly hair and is known as Konopedes, The Cauliflower.

 

Zakinthos is very green and has an amazing abundance of wild flowers. Its olive groves are famous, too. When you arrive, you see so much greenery: the valleys and olive groves are dotted with wild flowers. It’s as if a beautiful cosmos has landed on earth. This is something that inspires my work.

 

Then, of course, there are the amazing beaches and the sea is a clean clear-blue. One in particular, Marathonisi, is shaped like a turtle and turtles actually breed there. It’s a magical place. There are also lots of little islands dotted along the coastline that make for lovely boat trips.

 

Island idyll

On Zakinthos, the light, colours, peacefulness and the sense of space and balance in the world are inspiring as an artist, but you see how it affects visitors to the island, too. They arrive looking stressed out and tired, and after a few days you see colour and smiles return to their faces. It’s a combination of the food, wine, sun, beauty and the spirit of the place… you can feel this force if only visiting for a day.

 

Our food will feed your soul, too. It is simple because it’s based on tasty, fresh ingredients that you don’t need to mess about with. Everything grown on Zakinthos is small-scale and organic. The land is extremely fertile so things grow easily and are of superior quality. The island’s tomatoes are particularly amazing.

 

I’d recommend trying kokinisto – a lamb stew with potato and spices. The fish is fantastic, too. Lobster, shellfish, calamari… all caught fresh and grilled by the sea. At Daphne beach, they cook it for you served with fresh salad and vegetables, followed by huge fruit platters and excellent local cheeses.

 

What would I say to tempt you here? If you want a warm welcome and total relaxation, visit Zakinthos. Its calm Mediterranean waters will soothe you and you will become rejuvenated by good food and wine, and a spirit of joy, happiness and peace.

 

Anna-Sophia Soulis is an artist and filmmaker based in London, Athens and Zakinthos. See her work at www.annasoulis.com

Shipwreck Cove, Zakinthos

Shipwreck Cove, Zakinthos

Explore Zakinthos

If you’re feeling inspired by Anna’s words, you can make the most of your time on the island with our range of shore excursions:

 

Beaches and boat trips

The Blue Caves and Shipwreck shore excursion takes in the Blue Caves and dramatic Shipwreck Cove. Sail under natural rock formations and marvel at the colours of the sea before visiting the famous shipwreck beach surrounded by imposing cliffs. Alternatively, relax to the max on the Beach Break shore excursion to the golden sands of Aghios Nikolaos Beach.

 

Island flavours

The Zakinthos Olives and Wine shore excursion begins with a guided walking tour around historic Zakinthos Old Town and a transfer to the lofty village of Bokhali to enjoy magnificent views.  Then it’s on to Lithakia to visit an olive factory and see how the island’s famous olive oil is produced before visiting one of the island’s wineries to sample local wines.

 

Local culture

On the Anafonitria Monastery and Handicrafts shore excursion, you can potter around the traditional white-washed village of Anafonitria and visit the Monastery of Anafonitria to see impressive 15th-century frescos. Then on to the mountain town of Volimes, which is renowned for its quality local handicrafts such as rugs, embroideries, pure honey and olive oil.

 

Find out more about cruises to Zakinthos >

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