The largest of the Ionian Islands, Cephalonia is filled with rolling mountains, seaside cliffs, unique geological formations and small villages. One of our unique shore excursions, Lake Melissani, Meze & Ouzo (available from Argostoli, Cephalonia) gives you the perfect taste of this gorgeous Greek island.

Cephalonia drive 2Departing from the pier for Lake Melissani, the drive offers stunning views of the sea and the rugged landscape. Continuing towards the eastern edge of the island, the roads wind through dry, mountainous terrain and the ever-changing views sweep from sheer cliffs and rocky outcroppings to green valleys and tiny fringes of beach that slope into the perfectly blue Ionian Sea.

Cephalonia has long been renowned for its many unusual geological formations and one of its most notable is beautiful Lake Melissani, a subterranean sea lake created thousands of years ago. Upon arrival to the lake, you’ll enter a tunnel and immediately see the stunning aquamarine water sparkling in the sunlight ahead. Notably, the water is a mix of saltwater from the Ionian Sea and freshwater that originated in Argostoli and then flowed across the island to reach this lake.

Entering the lake by small boat, you’ll notice the jagged walls rise steeply, causing every sound to echo – even the slight paddling of water by the oars. Dramatic stalactites hang from the ceiling, and the only light streams down from one hundred feet above, imbuing the cavern-like interior with a soft glow that’s magical.

Also known as the Cave of Nymphs, Melissani Lake was named after Melissanthi, a nymph from Greek mythology who drowned herself because the God Pan didn’t reciprocate her love. First explored in 1951, the lake was the site of important Minoan relics, including a clay figure of Pan and clay plates depicting nymphs, which are now on display in the Archaeological Museum of Argostoli.

Melissani - oar Melissani tunnel Cephalonia seaside restaurant

After a refreshing boat tour of the lake, you’ll stop at a picturesque waterfront restaurant in the village of Sami to enjoy traditional meze, a selection of small dishes that may include calamari, hummus, cheese pie and meat balls. There’s also ouzo, the classic licorice-flavored Greek liqueur or perhaps a refreshing glass of crisp white wine. After a memorable afternoon, now it’s time to simply sit back, relax and take in it all in, the gorgeous Ionian sea stretching out before you.

Spend an unforgettable day on Cephalonia and visit Lake Melissani this fall:

Riviera’s Roman Pathways voyage, departing October 23
Riviera’s Isles & Empires voyage, departing October 30

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