A beautiful, twinkly underground world steeped in myth, Melissani Cave represents everything that's unforgettable about the Ionian islands. It’s said to have been a sanctuary of Pan – god of the wild and companion of the nymphs – making it one of the most sacred, and popular, spots on Kefalonia.

Despite its significance in ancient times, the cave was largely overlooked for hundreds of years. It was in 1951 that speleologist – that's cave explorer to you and me – Giannis Petrochilos stumbled upon it, bringing it back to the world's attention.

The striking two-chambered grotto is 3.5km long, 40m wide and 36m high, and opens out onto a spectacular interior lake. These days, you can take a boat ride from nearby Karavomilos to experience the azure lake first-hand.

What lies within

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Tourists can boat into the lake inside Melissani Cave / Image: Adobe Stock

The lake also has an islet where a sanctuary of renowned goat-horned lothario Pan was discovered with items including a clay figure of the mischievous god and a plate depicting the procession of nymphs.

When visiting Melissani Cave try and be somewhat respectful – the name Melissani references one unhappy nymph who drowned herself here when Pan rudely refused to return her affections.  

Ancient Greeks, eh? Loved a bit of tragedy.