Zante, also known as Zakynthos, enjoys a Mediterranean climate of long, hot summers with nonstop sunshine; and mild, rainy winters. This enviable weather is found across the Ionian Islands including Lefkada and Kerkyra (Corfu). Zante is one of Greece’s most popular tourist destinations. It is the southernmost of the Ionian Islands off the west coast of mainland Greece. There is a great deal of regional variation in the weather due to a varied topography.
Summer, from June till September, is hot, dry and sunny. It could be said to last from May till October, as throughout this period temperatures get above 20°C. The average high temperature reaches a peak of 31°C in July and August. June and September are still hot at 28°C. Summer receives almost endless sunshine. July is the sunniest month with thirteen hours of sunshine per day. Clouds are rare and rain is minimal. While most would consider this idyllic, the peak months might be too hot for some. It can spike into the mid 30s, and at night it tends to stay around 20°C. Around Zante Town the sea reaches a gorgeous 26°C in August, but in the northwest waters lapping the picture-perfect Navagio Beach remain cold. In the east, gently-sloping beaches allow shallow waters to heat up, while in the northwest cliffs plunge deep into the sea. Navagio Beach is isolated by these sheer facades and only accessible by boat. Throughout the sweltering summer Zante, and all of western Greece, is visited by cooling northwest winds. These are strongest in the afternoon and leave the island calm at night.
Autumn, in October and November, is warm but rainy. October sees an average high of 23°C which drops to 19°C in November – still warm. The sea also remains warm enough for swimming. However, rainfall quickly increases, falling in short storms every few days, and sunshine reduces. Nights become cold by the end of the season. This may sound dismal, but in comparison to more northerly Europe it's bright and warm – a fair trade for the occasional storm.
Winter, from December till February, is mild and wet. The average high falls to 16°C in December, and to its lowest of 14°C in January and February. Night times are very cool, around 8°C, but rarely freezing. December is the wettest month, receiving 170 mm of rain, after which rainfall lessens. It’s still preferable to more northerly climes, but not quite a 'winter sun' destination, and many hotels close for the season.
Turquoise water of Zante, Greece.
Spring, from March till May, sees Zante bursting to life as rain-fed plants bask in long hours of sunshine and increasing warmth. Rainfall drops quickly; May is in fact very dry. The average high climbs to 16°C in March, 19°C in April and 23°C in May. May is a great time to enjoy exceptional weather without the crowds of peak summer. However, night times remain cool and it takes a touch of bravery to dive into the sea.
The low mountains and northwest regions of Zante receive slightly more rain than the southeast due to the northwest prevailing winds. Southeast beaches are relatively sheltered and often a few degrees hotter. Greece’s islands and coastal regions benefit year round from the moderating effects of the Mediterranean Sea and avoid real extremes of temperature.
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The overall weather pattern in Zante is a typical Mediterranean experience: warm to hot summers with endless sunshine and cool but pleasant winters with plentiful rainfall providing the island with lush, dense vegetation including olive trees, currant berries, and grapevines. The mild and temperate climate makes the island an ideal destination year round. The summer remains pleasant due to gentle, northwestern winds and the accompanying breezes. These wind conditions have made Zante a windsurfing destination. The island is protected in the winter from the cold northern winds by the Central Greek mountains.
Like the rest of the planet, the Ionian Sea is sensitive and vulnerable to changing climate conditions including rising sea levels, an increasing number of extreme weather events, including storms and drought resulting in more frequent wildfires are predicted.
Warmer sea temperatures have brought an influx of large purple and orange jellyfish. They are harmless as they are non-stinging and usually are found in deeper waters. They are more of a nuisance than a threat. Annoying wasps can be plentiful in the late summer and early fall.
Zante is a destination for boats, sailboats, and yachts. There is mooring available in Zakynthos town, and also the Sostis islet, Limni Keriou, Alykes and Nikolaos. Water conditions can change quickly. The sea can be calm in the morning, but by afternoon, a brisk, cool breeze may develop making the water choppy. While not unsafe, those suffering from sea sickness may want to be advised.
Zante is located on a notorious fault, capable of producing strong earthquakes. The great Earthquake of 1953 caused widespread damage requiring the rebuilding of many villages and towns. Only two buildings in Zakynthos town, the island's capital, survived and the entire town has been rebuilt. Two additional earthquakes, in 2003 and 2006, also caused damage and resulted in wildfires. Since then, the island has adapted strict building standards (as in all of Greece) applying to all construction, including building materials of reenforced steel as dictated by the government.