Exploring the caves in Greece is a must for anyone interested in geological wonders. These natural formations are hollow spaces inside the earth that were formed by the effects of earthquakes and water erosion on rocks. Inside the caves, you can see amazing shapes of stalactites and stalagmites that were carved by water over time. In ancient times, people used to live in these caves and later used them for worship. Greece has more than 8,500 caves that have been recorded, but only a few of them are open to visitors. We have selected five of the most beautiful ones for you.
Koutouki Cave is the largest, most famous, and probably the most beautiful cave in Attica. It is located at an altitude of 510 m on the eastern outskirts of the massif of Hymettus in Paiania, 35 km from Athens. The cave was discovered accidentally in 1926 and its interior was explored two years later. Its mapping came several years later, in 1954 by speleologists Ioannis and Anna Petrocheilou. The cave was created due to the high solubility of limestones in rainwater. The very rich stone decoration of the cave made Koutouki a tourist attraction in the early 60s by the Greek National Tourism Organization.
The unique hall of the cave measures about 60X60 meters and is divided into smaller ones. There are many varieties of stalactite formations with the atmosphere inside the cave being particularly evocative. Indeed, this diversity of stalactites has given imaginative names to smaller halls such as “Olympic Torch”, “Altars”, “Corals”, “Harmonium”, and “Red Waterfall”. The vertical height of the cave is 38.5m and the length of runways is 350m. The temperature inside is 17oC. The visit is made by an artificial entrance built to facilitate access.
Caves in Greece - Cave of the Lakes
The Cave of the Lakes is located near the village Kastria of the Municipality of Lefkasi, Achaia, on the provincial road of Patras - Kalavryta - Kleitoria - Tripoli. Its distance from Kalavryta is 17 km and from Kleitoria 9 km. It is considered one of the most beautiful caves in Greece and is an extremely impressive and rare creation of nature. The visitor wanders through labyrinthine corridors and mysterious galleries and observes strange stalactite formations up close. Along the 2 km route inside the cave, one encounters 13 successive lakes at different altitudes -and on three different floors- separated by dams made of stalactite material.
These lakes make the cave unique of its kind in the world. The visitor enters through an artificial tunnel and ends up directly on the second floor with the crossing of the lakes through artificial bridges. The exploited length of the cave amounts to 500 m while its total length is 1,980 meters.
If you’re interested in hiking, you can plan a walk in Zachlorou, a village in Peloponnese with the only route in Greece.
Caves in Greece - Perama Cave
Perama Cave is located in Ioannina, just 5 kilometers from the city center on the road to Metsovo and on the hill Goritsa. At its feet is Lake Pamvotis. It is the largest cave in Greece with 4.8 acres and ranks 6th in the length of corridors with 1,700 meters. The indoor temperature is 18°C while the humidity reaches 100%. Its total area is 14,800 sq.m. It dates back to about 1,500,000 years from the time when Pamvotis covered the entire basin of the city of Ioannina and Goritsa Hill was an islet. In fact, during World War II, the inhabitants of Perama found refuge here.
Its systematic exploration and mapping began by Ioannis and Anna Petrocheilou (founders of the Hellenic Speleological Society). It is a limestone cave and has 19 species of stalactites and stalagmites. In its bowels lie many successive halls and corridors “adorned” with dense stalactites and stalagmites but also impressive columns in beautiful complexes.
If you’re interested in discovering picturesque villages, it’s worth visiting Kapesovo in Ioannina where most residents have ancient names.
Caves in Greece - Cave of Aggitis Springs
The Cave of Aggitis Springs is located in the prefecture of Drama (25km from the city) in the municipality of Prosotsani, near the village Kokkinogeia, in an area full of plane trees. Its peculiarity and rarity is that the cave is crossed by a river (Aggitis). It is the largest river cave in the world and one of the most important sights of Eastern Macedonia. This is the second longest cave in the country after that of Diros. Its length is 13 km and has been explored at a depth of 8.5 km by a team of French speleologists.
Visitors move in an artificial corridor above the river, opposite the flow of water, watching the natural decoration in the Cave which is dominated by white and red stalactites of various forms. Accessible is 2.5 km but the first 500 meters can be visited. The constant temperature is 17°C. The exit from the cave is very impressive and is made through a small arched opening at the base of our small room (called the wheel room). The hall has a diameter of 40 meters and a height of 15 meters. Exiting the cave you will see the exit of the river in an idyllic green landscape where you can rest and admire the wonderful natural landscape.
In this wider area, archaeological excavations brought to light important paleolithic and paleontological findings. One of the very important findings is a mammoth tusk which is now kept in the Archaeological Museum of Drama.
If you’re interested in exploring more places in Drama, you can check out 10+1 stops in one of the most historic cities in Greece.
Caves in Greece - Holy Galas Cave
The Cave of Agio Galas is located on the beautiful island of Chios and was mapped in 1969. It is located at the northwestern tip of the island in the homonymous village that is sixty-five (65) kilometers from the city. The route itself to the village is magnificent. In fact, the village is built on the rock where the cave system is opened. It is a cave with special morphology and great archaeological importance.
The visitor passes through chambers and apartments full of impressive stalactite complexes which are revealed in spacious halls and labyrinthine chambers with balconies, windows, bridges, and burrows. There is also a legend about the cave.
It tells the story of a leper exiled by her father, the daughter of a Byzantine emperor, who was cured by drinking the milky liquid (“Holy Milk”) that dripped inside the cave. When after three years the King repented and sent her back, his envoys found her healed.
If you’re interested in exploring more places in Chios, you can visit Mesta, a unique castle in Greece. The experience will be unforgettable!"
Did you know?
Caves in Greek mythology were identified with Tartarus who was a minor deity of the underworld, son of Pluto or Aether or Chaos and Gaia. Tartarus, however, seems to be at the same time a mythical place, called the same name, Tartarus. In Tartarus, according to ancient beliefs, the bad guys were tortured after their death. Homer mentions many persons who were sent to this place for their “living” crimes such as Tityon, Tantalus, and Sisyphus. The ancients believed that the entrances to Tartarus were the caves.
The belief that caves were entrances to Tartarus was so strong that it was even mentioned in ancient literature. For example, in the Odyssey, Homer describes how Odysseus and his men enter the cave of Polyphemus and are trapped there by the Cyclops.