The Cave of Euripides / Salamina
Located on the southern part of the island, between Peristeria and Kolones, the cave offers a clear view of the pine forest and the sea. During the Neolithic period (5300-4300 BC) it functioned as a sanctuary, while in Mycenaean times it was used for burials. It is best known for its use in the Classical era, when it served as a “poetic workshop” for the dramatic poet Euripides, who was said to have retreated here to write his plays.
Using your GPS, you can get pretty close by car; a 20-minute hike of medium difficulty from the parking area, taking you past the sanctuary of Dionysus.
Unofficial archaeological site, free entry.
Diros Cave / Laconia
Diros Cave needs no introduction: with its white stalactites and stalagmites, curtains and crystals, it is the best-known cave in Greece. Located on the west coast of the peninsula of Laconia in the Peloponnese, its existence has been known since the 1900s, though it wasn’t fully explored until 1949, by the founders of the Hellenic Speleological Society, Giannis and Anna Petrochilou.
It began forming when sea levels were a lot lower; today, the sea water in the cave reaches depths of 80 meters. At present, due to coronavirus measures and ongoing conservation work (lighting and cleaning), only a small section of it can be visited, approximately 300 meters by boat and 300 meters on foot.
Tel. (+30) 27330.522.22, www.diros-caves.gr, daily 09:00-16:30, entry €10.
Alistrati Cave / Serres
Anyone who has vacationed in northern Greece will have heard of this cave, as it’s one of the top tourist attractions in the region. The Alistrati Cave has 3 kilometers of interior routes, of which a kilometer is accessible (for wheelchair users as well). The cave has stalactites, stalagmites and other, more complex, formations. Its ecosystem is home to a microorganism, unique to the location, that has been named Alistratia beroni after the cave.
One of the newest innovations introduced here is Persephone, a robot guide that guides visitors across the first 15 meters of the cave (always accompanied by a human). Persephone speaks 33 languages, including Ancient Greek!
Tel. (+30) 23240.820.45, alistraticave.gr, open daily 09:00-18:00, entry €8.
Diktaean Cave / Lasithi
The Diktaean Cave is the pride of Lasithi, a cave of enormous symbolic importance as, according to classical Greek mythology, it was here that Rhea took refuge to give birth to the god Zeus, who was brought up by the goat Amaltheia. Also known as the Psychro Cave, it’s located near the village of Psychro on the Lasithi plateau on the island of Crete, at an elevation of 1,025 meters on the northern slopes of the Dikti range.
The cave is inextricably connected with the religious practices of the ancient Cretans, and was used as a place of pilgrimage, with worshippers leaving offerings and worshipping the stalactites and stalagmites, which resemble idols. The entrance is a 15-minute uphill walk from the parking area.
Tel. (+30) 697.796.2684, open daily 08:00-18:45, entry €6.
Kastania Cave / Laconia
One of the best excursions to take if you are vacationing at or near Elafonisos or Neapoli is to the Kastania Cave in southeastern part of Laconia. The cave’s interior measures 1,500 square meters, of which 500 square meters are accessible to visitors. The cave is formed of limestone rocks aged 145-195 million years, and contains flat stalagmites, helictites and other rare formations, while it’s also home to dolichopoda, cave-dwelling crickets 25-40 millimeters long.
To get a first impression of the space, you can visit the website which offers a virtual tour, taking you step by step into the depths of this impressive natural monument.
Tel. (+30) 698.655.5444, www.kastaniacave.gr, open daily 10:00-18:00, entry €7.