Inside The Most Amazing Greek Caves
By Ellie Ross
Greece has more than just beautiful beaches to visit. How about diving into a sea cave? Or exploring one of its grottos on terra firma? There are more than 8,500 caves in Greece, offering plenty of opportunities to see the country’s nature at its finest. Some of the geological formations were used as shelters for primeval man, others as places of worship - but all will leave you feeling you’ve just experienced something truly magical.
Blue caves, Zakynthos
IMAGE: Getty, Creative #: 565294069
Take a boat trip to the island’s famous Blue Caves, so-called because of their stunning turquoise water. Located just below the lighthouse at Cape Skinari in the north, they were discovered by Antonio Komouto in 1897 - and are something to behold even today. The glass-bottomed boats go right inside the caves and give you a great view of the marine life below. Feeling adventurous? Try snorkelling or swimming with turtles.
Cave Of Papanikolis, Lefkada
Said to have been a hideaway for a Greek navy submarine during the Second World War, the Cave of Papanikolis is located 12 nautical miles from Lefkada, and is reached by a 45-minute boat ride from Nidri. You can dive in and swim right into the cave’s mouth, on to a small shingle beach. When bad weather rolled in, sailors would drop anchor inside it to protect their ships - and the vast cavern could easily accommodate even the larger vessels.
Milk (Or Ouzo), Koufonisia
Located in the island group of Koufonisia, near the beach of Pori, this cavity is filled with chalky white seawater, earning its nickname Milk, or Ouzo. Rising from the water next to the cave is a rock shaped like a lion. The water’s white colour comes from the dust of calcium that falls from the rock.
Alistrati Cave, Serres (Macedonia)
Greek caves aren’t restricted to the sea - step inside this low-lit chamber dripping with stalagmites and stalactites. Located 6km from Alistrati’s town, it has 3km of passages, 1km of which you can visit. Considered one of the most beautiful caves in Europe, it was known only to locals until around 1975. Now tourists seek out its impressive rock formations, including red stalagmites, known as ‘the flames’.
The Drogarati Cave, Kefalonia
It was an earthquake that led to the discovery of this epic cave, some 300 years ago. The tremors caused a collapse that revealed the entrance to the cavern, which has been open to the public since 1963. Within, you’ll discover remarkable formations of stalactites and stalagmites, and it is thought that this cave is some 150 million years old.
The Cave Of Melissani, Kefalonia
Situated just outside Sami, this cave is named after a nymph who is said to have drowned herself here because the god Pan did not return her affections. It consists of two lake-filled chambers - one which has a collapsed roof that lets sunlight spill in - and is surrounded by trees. Take a ride on a small boat through the cave and be sure to time your trip for midday, when the light illuminates the incredible blues of the water.
The Cave Of Pythagoras, Samos
Visit this spot and you’re bound to feel more intelligent. It’s where mathematician and philosopher Pythagoras hid when the tyrant of Samos, Polycrates, was chasing after him. Located on the eastern side of Mount Kerkis, the highest mountain of the Aegean, around 3km from Votsalakia beach, it is remote and difficult to access. There are actually two caves - and it is thought that Pythagoras lived in one and used the other for teaching.
Diros Caves, Laconia
A shelter, dwelling, storage and place of worship were just some of the former uses of the Alepotripa and Vlichada caves, located in Pirgos Diros. The entrance is a few meters above the sea and you can walk down a stairway to an underground lake where there are boats waiting. A guide uses poles to journey through the caverns and tunnels, which are eerily lit and adorned with stalactites and stalagmites. Many of the Paleolithic and Neolithic artifacts found here are in display in the museum, and suggest that the caves were one of the earliest inhabited places in Greece.
Feeling the wanderlust? See more beautiful things from Greece here.