Skotino Cave

Cave in Hersonisos

Also known as Agia Paraskevi Cave, after the chapel built above it, Skotino is one of the largest caves in Crete and deliciously spooky to boot. A gaping arch gives way to a dark chamber as lofty as a Gothic cathedral and teeming with stalactites, stalagmites and massive limestone formations. Let your mind wander and you’ll make out all sorts of shapes (a bear, a dragon, a head) in the dim light.

Unless you have some spelunking experience and a flashlight, you probably shouldn’t venture beyond here, because the chamber drops another 15m and it gets eerily dark.

Skotino was first explored by Arthur Evans in 1933. Later excavations have unearthed vases, bone needles and figurines dating as far back as Minoan times, suggesting that the cave has had religious significance. To this day, pilgrims leave votives and offerings.

There's no admission fee, no guard and few (if any) visitors. In fact, the site has a long-abandoned feel. Wear sturdy shoes and mind your footing at all times.

The cave is near the village of Skotino, some 8km inland from Kato Gouves. About 1km past Skotino, look for the turn-off to the ‘Cave of Agia Paraskevi’ sign and drive another 2.3km to the cave entrance.