crete caves

The Hidden Caves of Crete, Greece

Crete, a land of history, myth and natural beauty shows a rugged past in the ancient and spectacular caves hidden within the islands heritage. With approximately 2000 caves spread over the land, it is said that the caves bore many of the myths, legends and stories that came to shape Crete’s history.

Whatever you enjoy from your holiday, we would truly recommend viewing at least one of these stunning settings and embarking on the ancient legends of the picturesque island. Here is a quick look at some of the must-see caves and a little bit about the past regarding these natural sights.

Cave Sfakia – Asfendos

The cave of Asfendos is quite a small cavity in size, and is located near the village of Sfakia. With a maximum height of two metres and a length of 16 metres, it has no particular geological value, although cave paintings dating from the Neolithic Age (around 7500-8500 years BC) were discovered by researchers. The wall paintings show representations of various deer, antelope, ship, twig and bow and arrow-like imagery alongside abstract carvings and small engraved dots.

Cave Sfakia is one of the smallest caves that can be explored and you may have to virtually crawl as there is only one entrance measuring up to 60cms. To visit, you request the key from the couple who live in the only house in the area, and the cave is protected by an iron gate to stop trespassers.

Elephant Cave

The Elephant Cave is the only place in Greece where the bones of a single species of elephant were discovered. The beautiful underwater cave, situated in the Cape Drapano of Chania and is situated around 30kms from the city of Chania. The cave’s existence was not known until 1999 when a fisherman discovered its entrance – length of 10 metres and a height of 6.5 metres below the sea level.

In 2000, the cave was explored and opened to the public, however, it has revealed many important findings of archaeology interest, including; various animal bones and species of deer. Access is only possible by boat, and the entrance to the main hall is accessible after swimming 40metres in an underwater tunnel.

Its beautiful reddish and white stalagmites provide natural and impressive decors to be admired both under the water and on the surface. The Elephant Cave is the hot-spot for many diving trips, and has become a shelter of the Mediterranean seal (the rarest seal species in the world and one of the six most endangered species on the planet!)

Cave of Agia Sophia

The cave of Agia Sophia is one of the most impressive of the Cretan caves, and is actually the second largest cave in Crete, with a central hall of 20metres in height and a diameter of 70metres.

The cave of Agia Sophia is located just beyond the village of Topolia, just 47kms from the city of Chania, on the way to Elafonisi. After passing the tunnel, you will come across a small path leading to the entrance of the cave. Within the cave, the remarkable stalagmites and stalactites in the cave’s walls reach a size of 5metres and scientists have discovered various objects that show use by people of the Neolithic Period (beginning around 10,2000 BC)

Here at Freelance Villas, we are passionate about all things Cretan, and aim to provide high quality accommodation to complement the picturesque island and cultural experiences that Crete has to offer. For further information regarding our villas in Crete, please feel free to contact our friendly and helpful team on 01789 297705 or email us at