Melissani Cave: everything you need to know about the cave of Nymphs!

Pinterest image of Melissani Cave in Kefalonia, Greece with the text: "MELISSANI CAVE: Everything you need to know about the cave of the Nymphs!"

Melissani Cave: everything you need to know about the cave of Nymphs!

Melissani Cave is one of the most visited natural wonders in Greece with a beautiful underground lake rumoured to be the home of magical nymphs. It has enchanted visitors since it was rediscovered over 70 years ago and is a must-see when holidaying in Kefalonia. Here is everything you need to know about Melissani Cave!


WHAT is Melissani Cave?

Melissani Cave in an ancient cave in Kefalonia that has the most beautiful, crystal blue lake inside.

This rare natural phenomenon is a popular tourist spot in Kefalonia due to its rarity, beauty and mythology!

Melissani Lake with light shining through the opening in the cave roof with boats in the background

Why is it called, “Melissani” Cave?

Melissani Cave is named after the mythological nymph, Melissani. As in ancient times, the cave was used as a place of worship dedicated to the Greek god, Pan. He was god of the wild, shepherds and flocks, rustic music and gatherings.

It is said that Melissani ended her life by falling into the lake because Pan did not reciprocate her love.

It’s a rather morbid mythological tale I must say but take comfort in the fact that it’s thankfully just a myth!

Boats on Melissani Lake

what are Nymphs and why do they live in Melissani Cave?

Nymphs in Greek and Latin mythology are a sort of female spirit. They are different from other goddesses as they’re generally regarded as ‘divine spirits’ who animate nature and are depicted as beautiful young maidens who love to dance and sing.

Nymphs are typically associated with a particular location or landform such as Melissani Cave, where they’re said to hide on the islet at the back of the lake!

Back of Melissani Cave with light shining through the cave and on the lake

How was Melissani Cave formed?

Melissani Cave is actually a unique geological phenomenon. It was created by a dissolution of the rocks called ‘karstikopoiisi’. This is where water enters and erodes the jagged rocks and creates hollows.

The water in the lake comes from the springs underneath the cave.

Sides of Melissani Cave with shrubs and trees on the top by the opening

Why should I visit Melissani Cave – what makes it so special?

Melissani Cave is an awe-inspiring place! The fact that it was even found is a story in itself. Almost like a secret that Kefalonia was keeping.

My first impression of Melissani Cave was just, “WOW”. It is so perfectly crafted by nature.

The fact that Melissani Cave is naturally occurring is one of the most amazing things about it. Combine this with the mythology and history of the cave makes it an incredibly fascinating place to visit!

Melissani Lake with light shining through the opening in the cave roof with boats in the background

How was Melissani Cave found?

The cave itself has been around for thousands of years, but we’ll never know exactly when the cave was first discovered and used.

However, archeologists have found various artefacts that have shone a light on what the cave has been used for at around which time period.

A clay figurine and a disc depicting dancing nymphs were found in the cave decades ago. Which indicated that it was a place of worship to the Greek god, Pan.

Hundreds of years later in 1951, Melissani Cave was rediscovered by Speleontologist, Giannis Petrochilos.

Then in 1953 an earthquake caused parts of the roof to cave in, leading to more people discovering the underground lake.

Aerial view of Melissani Cave's opening with trees and shrubs around the opening

How do you get to Melissani Cave?

Melissani Cave is situated in the village of Karavomilos, between Sami and Agia Efimia.

From Kefalonia’s capital Argostoli, it’s only around a 40 minute drive. But if you’re not a confident driver, I wouldn’t recommend driving there yourself. The roads can be quite rough and not the easiest to navigate!

There is a bus you can take from Argostoli to Sami, which is about an hour and 20 minutes long. But it’s a long bus journey for such a short excursion!

Melissani Cave is quite small, so even with a boat ride, you’ll only be in there for about half an hour. Then you’ll have to wait for the bus back to Argostoli.

Instead, I would recommend visiting Melissani Cave as part of a Kefalonia Highlights Day Tour. You’ll be able to see other key sights on the island, including: Myrtos Beach, Fiscardo Village and Drogarati Cave, all within the same day without having to rent a car.

The day tour also includes a hotel transfer, which makes it even more convenient!

I’ve been asked about taxis to the cave before now. But honestly, it would cost you more in taxis than just going on a Kefalonia Highlights Day Tour.

Plus, you’ll get to see so much more of the island on the tour!

Melissani Cave road sign in Kefalonia

Can you swim in Melissani Cave?

As inviting as the clear, turqoise waters of Melissani Lake are, swimming is not allowed.

This may sound disappointing. But once you witness the entire cave sparkling with its ethereal beauty – you can understand how swimming in the lake would destroy the vibe!

So, instead of the sound of people splashing and shouting over each other, all you will hear when you visit Melissani Cave are paddle boats gently lapping through the water.

The silence is golden – trust me!

Bright blue water of Melissani Lake

What are the opening times?

From the beginning of May until the end of October (during high season) the caves are open from 9am until 7pm every day. 

However, during the low season, the caves only open on Thursdays and weekends from 10am to 4pm.

I would always check opening times on their website though, just to be sure when you get there because you don’t want to miss out!

Orange row boat in Melissani Cave

How much is the entrance fee to Melissani Cave?

To help with the cost of preserving and maintaining the cave, an admission fee of €7 for adults and €3 for children is charged upon entry.

I would also suggest taking some spare cash because you’ll want to tip your boatman, who will take you on a 15 minute journey around the cave.

You may even get serenaded with a song, Venice style! We got, “Just one Cornetto” – it was brilliant. 😂

Inside the dark entrance tunnel to Melissani Cave

When is the best time to visit?

The best time to visit Melissani Cave is when the sun is right overhead at midday because the sunlight hits the turquoise-blue water, creating a magical illusion that baths the entire cave in blue light.

Opening in the roof of Melissani Cave up close with shrubs and trees around the edge

Top 10 Facts about Melissani Cave

1) Melissani Cave was created by the dissolution of rocks called, ‘karstikopoiisi’. This is where water enters and erodes the jagged rocks and creates hollows.

2) Melissani Cave is described as one of the most significant places for tourists to visit in Greece.

3) The cave’s underground lake was discovered in 1951 by Speleontologist, Giannis Petrochilos.

4) The depth of the lake is 65 to 98 feet and is formed from water entering the cave through underground springs.

5) Myth has it that the cave was named after the nymph Melissani, as she ended her life by falling into the lake because the god, Pan did not reciprocate her love.

6) Test shows that the water in the cave comes from sinkholes at Katavothres.

7) Many artefacts were found during excavations of the cave’s islet in the 1960s that were dated from the 3rd and 4th century BC.

8) The cave is 118 feet high and 131 feet wide.

9) People tried to figure out for a long time where the seawater from the cave flowed, until in 1963 Austrian geologists found out by pouring dye into the water. Seawater which disappears into the ground, crosses the island underground and reappears after 14 days on the other side of the island. It flows through Melissani Lake at three and a half feet above sea level and from there it heads back into the sea.

10) A balcony was built on top of the cave for tourists to get a spectacular view of the inside from its collapsed roof.

Single boat on Melissani Lake


Are you going in search of nymphs in Melissani Cave during your trip to Kefalonia? 😉

Quick FYI guys – this post contains affiliate links to a tour I recommend. I will receive a small commission for purchases made through these links at no extra cost to you. Thanks so much for your support!

Similar Posts