21 Things To Know BEFORE Visiting Melissani Cave (Kefalonia)

Melissani Cave is one of the most visited natural wonders in Greece. Although it was only rediscovered 70 years ago, It was an important place for ancient people in the area. Its beauty, remote, untouched setting, and mythology attract visitors from all over the world. If you’re planning a trip to Kefalonia, then Melissani Cave should be on your itinerary. 

While you can’t do the usual activities like swimming or lounging here, visiting this place is a must because of its natural beauty. At first, we were hesitant about visiting, thinking it wouldn’t be much, but we decided to make it a part of our itinerary, and we were glad we did!

Not only did we get to see the beauty of Melissani Cave, but we also got to explore deeper into Kefalonia, and see the nearby Drogaratis Cave (one of the things to do in Kefalonia we would have never thought about!) Here is everything you need to know about Melissani Cave and the best ways to make the most out of your visit.

1. About Melissani Cave

Melissani Cave

Named after Melissani, a mythological nymph, Melissani Cave is an ancient cave in Kefalonia. In ancient times the cave was used as a site of worship for Pan, the Greek god of shepherds, flocks, wildlife, gatherings, and rustic music.

The cave is substantially large with two chambers and has a crystal turquoise-blue lake. All these traits of natural beauty and mythology make for an interesting attraction and you should take the time to go and visit this spot.

There is an opening on top of the cave that lets visitors peer down into it from a safe observation deck. The top opening of the cave is also surrounded by lush green trees, adding even more natural beauty to the area.

2. Melissani Cave’s Mythical Roots

Melissani Cave’s Mythical Roots

Mythology tells us that Melissani Cave is a place where nymphs live, hiding on a small islet inside the cave towards the back of the lake. In Greek mythology, nymphs are divine spirits that appear as beautiful women, dancing, singing, and tending to the natural beauty and life in the area where they live.

It doesn’t stop there though. Mythology also tells us that Melissani, one of the nymphs who dwelled in the cave, was in love with Pan, but that love was not mutual. In despair, Melissani threw herself into the lake and ended her life, which gave rise to the crystal blue color of the water that we see today.

After hearing the tale, I found it odd how a place as beautiful as Melissani Cave could be the setting of something so grim and unfortunate.

3. The Geology Of Melissani Cave

 The Geology Of Melissani Cave

While Mythology can be fun, it’s just as amazing to think about the scientific factors that led to the formation of Melissani Cave. 

The cave’s geology is unique, having been formed over centuries and millennia as water entered the cave and slowly eroded the rocks, creating the hollows of the cave seen today. The lake’s water comes from springs flowing underneath the cave, which explain why the water is so clean and pristine.

4. “Discovering” Melissani Cave

“Discovering” Melissani Cave

While credit for discovering Melissani Cave was given to the speleologist Giannis Petrochilos, who came across the cave in 1951, evidence points to ancient people using Melissani Cave for worship and rituals.

Then, in 1953, after an earthquake caused the roof of the cave to give way and the opening on top of the lake was formed, more people came to know about Melissani Cave and that’s when it became really popular.

We headed over to the observation deck to see inside the cave and the view was just incredible.

5. Artifacts Were Discovered In Melissani Cave

Artifacts Were Discovered In Melissani Cave

Archeologists who examined the cave after the discovery by Giannis Petrochilos found numerous artifacts, some stretching back to the time of Ancient Greece. Most notable are a disc with illustrations of dancing nymphs and a clay figurine.

Artifacts like these are what lead scientists to believe that the cave was once a place of worship for Pan.

6. How To Get To Melissani Cave

How To Get To Melissani Cave

Melissani Cave is located 40 minutes away from Argostoli, the Kefalonian capital. Driving there is an experience that should only be undertaken by experienced drivers since the roads can be a bit tricky, winding, and rough (if you aren’t used to driving in Greece, that is).

There’s also a bus service that runs from Argostoli to Sami that visitors can take. The bus takes a lot longer though, with an average time of 1 hour and 20 minutes. We typically recommend that any visitor to the Greek islands rent a car.

Considering the entire tour of the cave only takes 30 minutes at most, the bus ride could be considered too long a journey for such a short trip. However, don’t let that deter you and miss out on the natural beauty that Melissani Cave has to offer.

7. Opening Times

Opening Times

From May until the end of October, the timings are from 9 AM till 7 PM, Mondays to Sundays. From November to April, the cave is open only on Thursdays and weekends, from 10 AM to 4 PM. Be sure to check the official website before you go, just to be on the safe side.

8. When is the Best Time To Visit Melissani Cave?

You should try to visit Melissani Cave on a bright sunny day if possible. At midday, the sunlight directly hits the water of the lake, causing the entire cave to be covered in turquoise light.

The optimal times to explore are in the late morning and early afternoon, specifically between 11:30 AM and 2:00 PM. During this period, the sunlight filters through the cave roof opening, casting a mesmerizing glow on the underground lake. To enhance your experience, consider arriving a bit earlier to steer clear of the crowds that typically gather around noon and 1 PM.

We visited in September and had no lines when visiting the caves, though we’ve heard during July and August it’s possible to wait more than one hour! We always love visiting Greece in the shoulder season, because of this.

9. Entrance Fee To Melissani Cave

Entrance Fee To Melissani Cave

Adults pay €7 or $7.50 for admission, while children can enter for €3 or $3.50. An entrance fee is charged to contribute to the maintenance of the cave, which includes amenities such as the pier and boats. If you wish, you may tip your boat driver a euro or two.

It’s an option to buy a combo ticket for €10 that will also get you inside Drogaratis Cave, well worth it in my opinion, but a short drive away!

10. Exploring The Cave

Melissani Cave

While you can walk around the area and explore the surroundings, the best (and only) way of exploring the cave and the lake is by row boat. You don’t need to pay extra for this as it’s included in the admission fee.

The earlier you get there, the better, because chances are your boat will be the only one touring the cave at that time. When things pick up, 3 to 4 boats are simultaneously on the lake, and the increased activity compromises the experience. Each boat seats about seven people, so try to get a seat at the front for the incredible views you’ll get.

The ride takes about 15 minutes in total and will start by circling the open area. The guide will tell you a detailed history of the site before the boat goes into the covered area of the cave. Though in all honestly, our guide didn’t say much during our boat trip!

Things will start to get a bit darker here and you’ll be able to see the stalactites and stalagmites sticking out everywhere. As you leave the cave’s first chamber towards the second, you’ll cross a narrow passageway. It might seem like a tight squeeze but don’t worry; the guide will use ropes hanging along the wall of the cave to pull the boat through slowly.

After the second chamber, the boat will loop around and you’ll get the best view of the day; the sunlight beaming into the cave from the top opening.

11. You Might Be Serenaded On Your Boat Ride 

You Might Be Serenaded On Your Boat Ride 

Keep some cash on you when visiting the cave to tip the boatman and, if you’re lucky, you might get serenaded while enjoying your boat ride in Melissani Cave. Though we did not get serenaded like we were in Venice, and didn’t see any other boat being sung to either.

12. Swimming Inside Melissani Cave

While it may seem tempting, not every body of water is supposed to be used for swimming. The lake inside Melissani Cave is as beautiful as it is pristine, and the people who take care of the cave would like to keep it that way.

Many believe the lake’s shimmering look is because it has remained untouched and uncontaminated by any human intervention or interaction. That’s why swimming is strictly prohibited inside Melissani Cave.

13. You Could Make A Tour Out Of It 

You Could Make A Tour Out Of It 

Despite how beautiful and awe-inspiring Melissani Cave is, the truth is your visit there won’t take more than 30 minutes. You’ll have the rest of the day to yourself and, luckily, there are lots of options around for exploring.

In fact, many tourists opt to book a tour of Kefalonia, which will include Melissani Cave among other natural attractions in the area, such as Drogarati Cave and Fiskardo Village.

Also, this might sound surprising, but you could also end up finding a day tour to Kefalonia that will cost about the same as taking a taxi to Melissani Cave. A tour service would include transportation as well, along with visiting many other sights, which gives you a lot more value for money.

14. What To Bring With you

What To Bring With you to Melissani Cave

Bring lots of drinking water, because you’ll be walking around a lot and it can get hot in Kefalonia, so keep yourself hydrated. A pair of shoes that offer good grip is also a must since you’ll be stepping on rocks, grass, and dirt almost wherever you go.

Oh, and most importantly, don’t forget to bring your phone or camera! The pictures you’ll take here will not only be Instagram-worthy but will also be memories you cherish for a lifetime. For our entire visit here, I couldn’t stop clicking away with my phone.

15. Antisamos Beach Is A Stone’s Throwaway

Antisamos Beach
Antisamos Beach

Located close to Melissani Cave, Antisamos Beach is as pretty as any other beach you’ll find in Greece. We saw it from a distance and got a look at the umbrella-covered loungers spread across the entire beach.

The view and the loungers seemed very tempting, so we stopped for a few hours to take a dip and relax and enjoy a cold drink in the hot sun.

16. Things To Do In Sami

 Things To Do In Sami Kefalonia
Walking around Sami

Also close to Melissani Cave is Sami, a small picturesque port town with incredible natural beauty and a rich nautical history. After finishing our drink on Antisamos Beach, we decided to explore the town.

One attraction that caught our eye was the Nautical Museum of Sami. It’s a small, yellow-orange rectangle of a building, but inside are housed some of the most beautiful ship models I have ever seen in my life.

There are lots of other fun attractions in Sami as well, like the Port of Sami and the Odysseus Theme Park, but sadly we couldn’t get to all of them.

17. Restaurants Close To Melissani Cave

Luckily there are many restaurants near Melissani Cave, some less than half a mile away. But the one that stood out and where we headed ourselves was Deco Art Cuisine. This restaurant does Greek, Mediterranean, and seafood cuisine and the food is incredible.

The portion sizes were very good and you could taste the quality and freshness of the food with every bite. The restaurant is quite popular with locals and visitors alike.

18. Visit Myrtos Beach

Myrtos Beach - Things to do in Kefalonia-60

Myrtos Beach is a 20-minute drive away from Melissani Cave and, at first glance, it seems unreal. The beach is nestled at the bottom of a mountain in a curve and it could easily be the backdrop to an expensive Hollywood production.

We decided to end our day at Myrtos Beach and watched the sunset on the horizon. The scenery and the surroundings made for an incredible experience and a perfect way to end a day of exploring.

19. Other Attractions Close To Melissani Cave

Fteri Beach
Fteri Beach

We spent 10 days on Kefalonia, and we never got bored. There’s so much to do on this Ionian Island and plenty other attractions close to Melissani Cave that you could visit. These include Karavomilos Lake, Drogarati Cave, and Vouti Beach, among many others.

27 BEST Things To Do In Kefalonia

20. Is Melissani Cave Worth It?

Melissani Cave

In one word, YES! You should DEFINITELY visit Melissani Cave and explore the surrounding areas of Kefalonia. The scenery is incredible, and the natural beauty is some of the best we’ve ever seen in our travels around Greece. Plus, it is something different to do in Greece as it doesn’t involve laying on the beach soaking up tons of sunshine.

If you want to give this place the justice it deserves, you should have a full separate multi-day itinerary for Kefalonia to take in all its sights and attractions.

21. Consider Visiting Drongarati Cave

Drongarati Cave

The Drongarati Cave, another significant cavern on the island just a 10 minute drive away offers a captivating display of stalagmites and stalactites. Unearthed over three centuries ago, it served the Haliotat community and, akin to Melissani, was made accessible to the public in 1963.

Located just approximately 6 km away, reaching this remarkable cave involves a one-hour uphill walk or a brief 10-minute drive. For drivers, follow the signs for Chaliotata, and be sure to proceed at a leisurely pace, keeping an eye out for the right-hand turn indicated by a blue road sign directing you to Drongarati.

Transport Around Kefalonia

Our car rental on Kefalonia
Our car rental on Kefalonia
Get a Rental Car

Once in Greece, the best way to get around is with a rental car. This lets you get to all the destinations you want to get to on your own schedule. A manual rental car can go for €15 a day in the low season up to €35 a day in the higher seasons and will ensure you get to all the best places in Greece. Knowing how to drive a manual car will get you better prices in Europe. If you’re traveling as a group, it is worth your while to hire a car for your trip.

We traveled around Kefalonia and paid €25 a day in Kefalonia in September. These were pretty decent deals in my opinion! I generally like to check comparison sites so I can get the best prices.

When is the Best Time to Visit Kefalonia?

Fiskardo in September
High season (June-September)

Like most islants in Greece, the high season in Kefalonia runs from June to early-September. This is when you will find the best sunny weather, as noted above, but also crowds and high prices and the weather is HOT, especially in July and August, so you’ll want to be close to a pool or ocean. Hotel and car rental prices are at their highest during this time. We personally traveled to Kefalonia in the second and third week of September, and it was perfect! Although I think we could have found better deals had we pushed our trip to the last week of September.

Shoulder Season (April -May and Late Sept/October-November)

The weather in Greece is cooler during these months, some would consider it much more comfortable than prime summertime weather. It’s not as busy as the summertime, but you’ll still see plenty of travelers lingering about. Prices on accommodation and car rentals will drop during this time. The shoulder season is typically a fantastic time to visit Greece.

Low Season (Late November- early April)

The temperatures are cooler during the low season in Greece. You’ll still see plenty of sunny days but also many overcast days and little to no sunbathing. It’s too cold to take a dip in the water, but you can still enjoy the beaches with some clothes on to keep warm in the breeze. The upside is you’ll find low prices and low numbers of tourists. The bad side is many businesses close for the season and the vibe is not what you might expect out of a trip to Greece.

The Best Time to Visit Greece

What to Pack for Kefalonia?

What to Pack for Kefalonia?

We have an entire packing list for Greek travel! Whether you are just visiting Kefalonia, or have plans to hit up Zakynthos, Ithaca, Corfu, and delve deep into the Ionians, this packing list is for you!

Plan For Your Trip

About Natasha Alden

Natasha is the co-founder of The World Pursuit. She is an expert in travel, budgeting, and finding unique experiences. She loves to be outside, hiking in the mountains, playing in the snow on her snowboard, and biking. She has been traveling for over 10 years, across 7 continents, experiencing unique cultures, new food, and meeting fantastic people. She strives to make travel planning and traveling easier for all. Her advice about international travel, outdoor sports, and African safari has been featured on Lonely Planet, Business Insider, and Reader’s Digest.

Learn more about Natasha Alden on The World Pursuit About Us Page.