The Glyfada (or Vlychada) Cave in Diros is probably the most significant natural site in Greece and one of the most beautiful sea caves in the world. It is located on the west coast of the Laconian peninsula, on the southeastern part of the Peloponnese. Hidden in the depths of earth, this spectacular cave is rich in history and captivating beauty and takes visitors back to the Neolithic period. The Diros Caves as it is widely known, is a complex of three caves; Vlychada, Alepotrypa and Katafygi. The known part of the caves covers an area of around 33.000 square meters of which only half has been explored.
Its existence was known to the locals since around 1900, but exploration started in 1949 when the founders of the Hellenic Speleological Society, Ioannis and Anna Petrochilos, were the first to conduct a systematic exploration. By 1960, 1,600 meters had been explored and mapped. Today this number has been increased to 14,700 meters. The cave began to form hundreds of thousands of years ago. The stalactites and stalagmites that are now under water were formed when the surface of the sea was far below its current level. The water inside the cave is brackish with a temperature of 14 °C, and the air temperature ranges from 16 to 19 °C. The water that penetrates into the cracks of the limestone rock and dissolves it, creates the decoration of the cave literally drop by drop. The stalactites and stalagmites are in many cases merged into each other, forming columns. The maximum depth of the cave is 80 meters and stalagmites have been found at a depth of 71 meters.
Its natural entrance has a diameter of only half a meter and is a few meters above the sea. In earlier times the cave had other entrances that were gradually closed. Inside this natural and historical monument, the largest deposit of hippopotamus bones in Europe have been found, as well as ceramics that are indicative of human presence. Significant anthropological findings from the Neolithic era were also discovered in the adjacent Alepotrypa Cave. Many of these are now exhibited at the museum next to the cave’s entrance.
The cave opened to visitors in 1967, after the Greek Organization of Tourism had completed the necessary works that had begun six years earlier. Visitors can go through dry and wet areas with a plethora of arcades and chambers. The tourist tour is 1,500 meters in length and lasts about 25 minutes. It follows a circular route and the wet area takes place solely by boat. Each boat has a guide and visitors are given life-vests. The guide uses poles to journey through the caverns and tunnels, which are eerily lit and adorned with stalagmites and stalactites. It is strictly forbidden to detach any stones or rocks from the cave. Any such action will be prosecuted. Caves are important monuments of Greek culture and heritage, so please help us to protect them.
The cave is located one hour from Gythion and 15 minutes from Areopolis. It is open to the public and offers organized tours. Diros Cave is an ideal destination for a day trip from the nearby areas and can be combined with a lazy day on the beach. The site has a refreshment shop and a shop for souvenirs and gifts. It does get busy especially in peak season, so try to get there early in the morning.