The Melissani cave lake is a spectacular underground lake in Kefalonia Greece, with an open ceiling that lights up its stunning blue water.
You can go into this ‘cave of the nymphs,’ as it’s called, and take a short paddleboat tour around the lake. It’s easily one of the best things to do in Kefalonia island!
If you visit Melissani cave at the right time of day, the ceiling lets in just enough light to make the water color go crazy, turning a transparent bright blue.
This travel guide will explain how to get to the Melissani lake, when is the best time to visit, current entrance fees, best tour packages, and everything else you need to know before you go!
Best Melissani Tours
If you’re looking for the best day tours on Kefalonia island, we recommend GetYourGuide!
They have high rated tours that visit many of the best sights like Melissani Lake, Antisamos Beach, and Assos Village. These tours usually include free hotel pickup and drop-off from most of the popular areas in Kefalonia.
We’ve used this company for lots of day tours and activities around the world, and they’re great! Highly recommended.
Melissani Cave Lake: What To Expect
Melissani cave is explored by paddleboat. You walk down a flight of stairs and through a narrow tunnel into the cave, and then hop onto a small boat with about a dozen other tourists and a local Greek boatman.
The boatman will circle the lake and take you to the back of the cave, where you can see impressive stalagmites and other sights. It’s a magnificent cave with a cool temperature, and the lake is up to 30 meters deep in some spots.
I would almost say this is a bucket list item that every world traveler needs to see, although the boat ride is a bit short and the lake is really dependent on the right lighting in order to look its best.
Because of its beauty, Melissani has become one of the most popular places to visit in Kefalonia, so you’ll usually have to queue to see it. During the high season months, the line to get in can take anywhere from 10 to 40 minutes.
Even though the boat ride itself is short (about 10 minutes), it’s loaded with good photo opportunities! If you’re lucky, you can sometimes see eels swimming around in the lake too.
It’s a great little adventure! I enjoyed it so much I actually got back in line and paid to tour the cave a second time, although for most people seeing it just one time will probably be enough.
Hours & Entrance Fees
During the summer months (May to October), the Melissani cave is open from 9 AM to 7 PM. During the winter months, the cave is only open on Thursdays and weekends, from 10 AM to 4 PM.
The entrance fee for the boat trips is 8 Euros per person for adults. Kids are half price. If you also plan to visit Drogarati Cave (which you should!), then there’s a combo ticket that includes both Melissani and Drogarati caves for only 10 Euros, which is a great deal.
These hours and ticket prices are current as of 2022, but they may change over time since this place is a popular tourist attraction.
Best Time To Visit Melissani Cave Lake
The color of the Melissani lake is stunning if you come at the right time of day.
Mid-day around 11 AM to 1 PM is the best time to see the cave, because that’s when the sun is highest in the sky, lighting up the colors of the lake. Unfortunately, that’s also the busiest time to visit, so be prepared to wait.
The biggest crowds are generally from noon to 1 PM, so you can avoid most of it by getting there before then. If you aren’t a photographer, it probably doesn’t matter too much when you visit. Honestly, the lake is impressive at any time of day as long as the sun is shining!
Can You Swim In Melissani Cave?
No, unfortunately you can’t swim in the Melissani cave. The only way to see the lake is by paddleboat. Maybe that’s a good thing, though, because it keeps the water clean.
If you’re looking for a good place to swim, check out Antisamos Beach near Sami!
Where Is Melissani Cave?
Melissani cave is located in central Kefalonia island, near the town of Sami.
Kefalonia is easy to reach from Athens, the capital of Greece, as well as nearby islands like Zakynthos. There are daily flights and ferries for reasonable prices.
If you’re looking for more information about how to get to Kefalonia island, you can find that in my complete travel guide for Kefalonia Greece.
How To Get To Melissani Cave Lake
Melissani cave is easy to reach on a paved road from the harbor town of Sami.
You can drive there yourself, or book a tour. It’s a 5 minute drive from Sami, or 40 minutes from the Argostoli area.
You can use the map below to direct you to the parking area for the cave.
History Of Melissani Cave
During ancient times, Melissani cave was inhabited and used as a place for worshipping the Greek god Pan and the nymph Melissanthi. According to Greek mythology, the nymph Melissanthi took her own life in the lake because Pan rejected her love.
The ceiling of the cave is believed to have collapsed during an earthquake, revealing the hidden lake inside. The cave was first explored by Ioannis Petrocheilos in 1951, and some artifacts related to Pan were found at that time, which you can now see at the Archeological Museum of Argostoli in Kefalonia.
The Melissani cave was opened to the public in 1963, and it’s become one of the most popular tourist attractions on the island of Cephalonia!
More Kefalonia Travel Tips
Thanks for looking! I hope you enjoyed this travel guide for the Melissani cave lake in Kefalonia, Greece.
Don’t forget to check out my complete Kefalonia Travel Guide for more information about this scenic island in the Ionian Sea!