How to Visit Psychro Cave (The Zeus Cave) in Lasithi and the Nearby Area

GREECE - CRETE - PSYCHRO CAVE

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The landscape of Crete is about beautiful beaches, mountains, plateaus, and valleys. All over the island, impressive natural formations will certainly leave you in awe.

The caves of Crete are part of them. On Crete, you can visit Melidoni Cave, in Rethymno, Sfentoni Cave, in Zoniana, and the well-known Zeus or Psychro Cave, in the beautiful Lasithi plateau.

Check this guide to include the Cave of Zeus in your itinerary, or to visit during a day trip from the nearby city of Agios Nikolaos.


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Psychro Cave, Lasithi Plateau

psychro cave
Inside Zeus Cave (or Psychro Cave), Lasithi Plateau.

Known by the names Zeus Cave, Diktaion Andron, and Psychro Cave, the Cave of Zeus is located right in the heart of the Lasithi Plateau (sometimes also spelled Lassithi Plateau).

Zeus cave entrance.
The entrance.

General Information about the Psychro Cave in Crete

The cave stands at 1025 meters above sea level, and it covers an area of more than 2200 meters.

A comfortable staircase leads you down inside the cave while the whole paths and chambers have nice, suggestive lights that allow visitors to appreciate every detail inside the cave.

path to reach the Cave of Zeus.
The hike.

Hiking up to the entrance is not as easy as I expected (from any of the two entrances). It was fairly easy for the kids, a bit less for me.

The longer path takes about 25 to 30 minutes to complete, and it’s still steep, though not as much as the short path.

Despite having some trees and shade along the way, the hike up can prove exhausting in Summer, bring water.

Zeus Cave entrance
Staircase going down into Psychro.

How to Get to the Psychro Cave

The village of Psychro is towards the south of the plateau, at a height of about 828 m above sea level while the Psychro Cave is located a few meters higher, at 1025 meters.

How to reach the Psychro Cave from Agios Nikolaos

One of the best places to stay in Crete if you plan to visit the Psychro Cave is the nearby city of Agios Nikolaos, about 44 km (1 h.) from the Lasithi Plateau.

How to reach Zeus Cave from Heraklion

If you prefer to stay in the capital of Crete, Heraklion is about 59 km from Psychro (1 h. 20 min.).

Those looking for a place with better beaches not far from the cave nor the city can opt to stay in Malia or in Stalis.

How to reach Zeus Cave from Rethymnon and Chania

Reaching Psychro from Rethymnon and Chania will take you some more time on the road. A day trip from Rethymnon is feasible since it’s 136 km (2h. 15 min.) away.

However, those staying in Chania would be better off spending the night in the area so as to enjoy the visit with plenty of time. Chania is about 200 km from Psychro (about 3 hours).

Map of Diktaion Andron & Lasithi Plateau

psychro cave

Zeus Cave is on the northern slopes of Mount Dikti, in Psychro, one of the 18 villages of the Lasithi Plateau.

Psychro is famous for the Cave of Zeus, which stands above the village.

Prices, Opening Hours, and Other Details

Diktaion andron information

Entrance ticket: 6 €, free for students. The ticket is reduced in Winter (3 €).
Opening hours: Every day from 8 am to 6 pm in Summer. The site opens at 8.30 and closes at 3.30 pm in Winter.

To buy the ticket you need to hike up to the entrance, where the ticket booth is located.

It’s possible to access the cave via one of the two entrances. One of the two is shorter but much steeper. Otherwise, if you don’t feel like walking, there are donkeys and you can hire them for 10 € each way.

As you know this is a practice that we don’t support in most cases, but we are also aware that people with disabilities could only access the entrance of the cave this way.

The Psychro Cave is a popular touristic place in Crete, which is better visited during Fall and Spring to avoid the crowds as well as hiking up under the Cretan sun.

Signpost donkey path at Zeus Cave, Crete.
The sign describes the donkey’s path to the cave.
Stairs down to the cave
Staircase to descend inside the cave.

PRO TIP: We visited in early November, the weather was warm and pleasant, and there were no lines or crowds. The entrance to the cave has a reduced price during the period. In Winter the parking area is also free. In Summer the fee to park is about 3 €.
If you still haven’t made up your mind about renting a car and driving on Crete, read this!

About Psychro Cave, the Diktaion Andron

The Psychro Cave is an ancient Minoan site of worship. Local villagers discovered it at the end of the 1800s. During that period, there were several archaeological excavations going on in Crete.

Knossos, for example, was excavated at the same time. Therefore, it didn’t take long for Zeus Cave to attract the attention of many archaeologists.

The first excavations in Psychro brought to light a collection of ritual objects which led to the conclusion that the cave was a sacred site to the Minoans.

Psychro cave formations

As research continued over the years, archaeologists agree that, due to the importance of the artifacts in the chambers, the cave was probably one of Crete’s most important sites of worship.

Since those times, the Psychro Cave has been related to the ancient myth of Diktaion Andron (also Dikteon Antron).

Diktaion Andron was the place where Rhea, the mother of Zeus, hid to give birth to her son.

You might also want to read: Trip to Spinalonga Island, Crete: Super Useful Guide to Visit.

The Chambers and the Formations inside the Psychro Cave

The first place to be excavated was the Upper Cave. This complex has two distinct spaces, and is rather similar to a mountain shelter, with no stalactites.

Here, archaeologists discovered a temenos (a piece of land dedicated to a god or a sanctuary) and ruins of an altar.

Psychro cave. Crete

The Lower Cave is made of 5 more chambers and hosts a small lake in one of the extremes.

Here you can appreciate the stunning columns of stalactites and stalagmites. In this ancient place of worship, archaeologists found figures, tools, axes, and seals, probably offerings left by pilgrims and worshipers.

Cave of Zeus, Crete
Inside the cave.

Myth, Legends, and More…

Rhea, being very angry at her husband’s behaviour, fled to Crete while she was pregnant with Zeus and gave birth in a cave of Mount Dikti.

This is what reads on a sign at the entrance of the Cave of Zeus. And this is where the legend begins.

As I’ve mentioned before, Rhea found refuge inside the cave thus escaping from Kronos, who was known for devouring his offspring in fear of being overthrown.

Cave of Zeus, Crete.
Cave of Zeus.

The Kouretes were nine dancers who venerated Rhea. They would play the drums at the entrance of the cave.

By doing so, they prevented Kronos from hearing the cries of baby Zeus, thus protecting him from being killed.

Other legends, tell us about Zeus being raised in Idaeon Andron.

This important cave is on Mount Ida, near the village of Anogeia (Rethymnon). However, I’ve often heard locals say that, even if Zeus grew up in Mount Ida, he was definitely born in Mount Diki.

Zeus cave.

In any case, both caves remain important worship places dating back to the Minoan times… and, after all, it’s a myth!

Since we are talking about Zeus, the father of all gods and humans, we couldn’t be short of legends! Other myths state that Zeus brought Europa to this cave after he abducted her from Phoenicia.

psychro cave crete
The impressive roof of the cave.

No matter what legend we chose to believe (or not!), the Psychro Cave remains a must-visit place in the Lasithi Plateau.

And not just for its relevance in Greek mythology, but mostly because of its archaeological value and for being part of the most remote history of Crete.

Besides, like any other cave, Zeus Cave is also a remarkable natural habitat. It’s home to different species of birds and insects, as well as many species of bats from the Mediterranean.

You can organize a visit to Crete’s past by booking this tour with Get Your Guide.
This 12-hour day trip includes a visit to Knossos Minoan Palace as well as to the Cave of Zeus, all for a very convenient price. It includes pick-up service and it can be booked in English, French, German, and Russian.

Visit the Surrounding Area: Lasithi Plateau

These are some of the landmarks you should not miss in Lasithi…

Villages and Windmills

Lasithi Plateau, Crete.
psychro cave

If you visit the Psychro Cave, you’ve certainly planned to stop in some of the villages along the 23 km road that circles the Lasithi Plateau.

The drive up the plateau is one of the most scenic road trips you can enjoy in Crete.

One of the places worth a break before reaching the Cave of Zeus is Tzermiado. Walk around the alley and visit the central church and one of the several traditional cafés.

>> You might also be interested in reading about all the things you can do during a day trip to the Lasithi Plateau, other than visiting the Diktaion Andron.

psychro cave
Tzermiado village, Lasithi Plateau. A traditional kafenion

One more thing to do in the area is to stop at these massive giant mills close to the village of Kera.

The impressive tall structures date to the 1800s and were still in function until 1945. If you stop at Kera, pay a visit to the Kera Monastery or have lunch in the village taverna and kafenio.

Homo Sapiens Museum

windmills, sculptures, entrance to a museum, Crete

Next up, head to the Homo Sapiens Museum, in Ano Kera (45 km from Heraklion). This interactive museum is ideal to visit with children as it offers original entertainment for all the family.

Homo Sapiens Museum
Hours: From 9.00 to 8.00 from Monday to Saturday.
Entrance fee: 4 €.
Prices in the cafeteria tend to be high.

Old windmills made of Stone, Crete.

The museum proposes a trip in history back to the period of the caves.

It follows the evolution of man and the inventions of humanity during the centuries.

Calculate to spend at least one hour, more if your kids are really curious.

You might also want to read: Most Convenient and Pretty Airbnbs in Agios Nikolaos.

Aposelemis Dam

Aposelemis dam, Heraklion. Crete
Aposelemis dam, Heraklion.

Even if you are not interested in a visit to the Homo Sapien Museum, a stop at the entrance is worth the unique views of Aposelemis Dam, better-known for hosting at its bottom the sunken village of Sfendyli.

From here you can choose to drive all the way to Heraklion to see more traditional villages such as Krasi and the beautiful Mochos.

If you want to know more about the story of Sfendyli, check out this video by Giannis Psaroudakis.

© Giannis Psaroudakis

Krasi Village

Road between Kera and Krasi near the Lasithi plateau. Lush vegetation.
The gorgeous road to Krasi, just a few minutes away from Kera.

The village of Krasi is technically part of Heraklion and not the region of Lasithi. However, it’s just 10 minutes away from Kera, and the road to reach it has great views of the mountains and lush vegetation.

Krasi is 600 m above sea level.

Once there, it’s possible to visit the monumental plane in the main square of the village, an impressive perennial tree about 2500 years old.

psychro cave

Right in front of the tree, check the water fountains or Vryses, with clean drinking water flowing all year. Besides, in Krasi it’s also possible to see an Early Minoan Tomb.

The village has a place in Crete’s history since here was born Nikos Kazantzakisfirst wife. On the other hand, the famous Cretan author was known for spending his summers in the area.

His name and image can be seen on a ceramic decoration on top of one of the water fountains.

Other than that, and most importantly, the village hosts the House of Literature and the International Literary Translation Center.

psychro cave

A CURIOUS FACT: During the almost 300 years of Turkish domination in Crete, no Turks ever lived in Krasi!

Where to Eat the Lasithi Plateau

If you – just like us – leave the Psychro Cave tired and hungry, check the food (and stunning views) at Dictamus Taverna.

Cretan kalitsounia with honey.

This place is right across from the cave’s parking lot.

They serve traditional Greek dishes as well as the original Cretan paidakia (lamb chops), myzithra from Lasithi, and fresh juices.

For dessert we enjoyed hot pastries with local cheese and honey, fried in olive oil (kalitsounia).

The views of the plateau are worth a lunch here.

Where to Stay in Lasithi

psychro cave

There are different options if you want to extend your visit to the Lasithi Plateau and visit the nearby villages other than the Cave of Zeus.

When staying in the region, you can easily find very traditional Cretan stone houses, typical of the mountains.

Also, you can take full advantage of the relaxed atmosphere of the plateau. Here are some of the villages where you can choose to stay:

Tzermiado (20 min. – 10 km from Zeus Cave)

Lasithi Plateau Family House-Tzermiado-Dikti Hikes is perfect for family holidays, there are two bedrooms and a kitchen with every facility.
The best feature of the house is its terrace with a spectacular view of the plateau.
Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.

Argoulias is a traditional Cretan house made of stone, offering rooms and studios and a view of the Dikti mountains. Here you will be served the traditional Cretan breakfast too.
Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.

Agios Konstantinos (10 min. – 5 km from Zeus Cave)

Zeus House is a beautiful stone villa with a swimming pool in a huge garden. It’s ideal for families and not far from some very good local tavernas.
Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.

Vasilikata is a traditional stone house with a garden, a playground area dedicated to kids, as well as a grill.
Breakfast is served as well and it’s prepared with organic vegetables grown in their own orchard. Therefore, you get all the comforts of being at home, minus cooking breakfast every morning. This is one of the nicest places to stay in the area.
Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.

Agios Georgios (7 min. – 5 km from Zeus Cave)

Studios Maria Rea – Nothing beats the gorgeous atmosphere and traditional Cretan hospitality at this place. There’s also a taverna serving traditional dishes from Lasithi.
Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.

Alternatively, you can choose Agios Nikolaos as your main base to stay. Heraklion is not far either and it can be a good area to book accommodation.

Check More Caves in Crete

psychro cave
Cave of the Wisdom of God, or Cave of Agia Sophia, Chania region.

If you’re interested in knowing more about the Caves of Crete, check my article about the beach of Elafonisi.

Here there’s a special section dedicated to the Agia Sophia, a fantastic cave you can see in the region of Chania.

Instead, if you want to visit Melidoni or Sfentoni caves in Rethymnon. But also Cherontospilios cave in Heraklion, or the Cave of the Elephants in Chania, check this article I wrote for Greek Reporter.
There I describe 5 of the most beautiful caves of Crete.

Quick accommodation guide to Lasithi

Best hotels in Lasithi
Affordable:
Porto Maltese and Katia Apartment in town.
Mid-range: Ostria Apartments in Ammoudara or Villa Olga.
Luxury: Elounda Peninsula in Elounda and Miramare Resort in Agios.
Check also Rental Homes in Agios Nikolaos and Best Elounda Resorts.

Have you visited any cave in Crete?
Let me know in the comments below!

You might also want to read more:
Day Trip to Chrissi Island, Crete: Super Guide to Visit – A super guide to visit the small island south of Lasithi.
Unforgettable Day Trip to the Lasithi Plateau, Crete – A visitors guide to the area of the Lasithi Plateau.
The Most Amazing Things to Do in Agios Nikolaos, Crete – A guide to the best things to do in Agios.
Most Stunning Beaches in East Crete: Complete Insider’s Guide – A guide to the best beaches in Lasithi.
How to Visit Vai Palm Beach – Everything you need to know to plan a day trip to Vai Beach.

Pin this Guide to Visit the Psychro Cave, Lasithi For Your Next Trip to Crete!

Cave of Zeus, Crete

Get Ready for Crete!

RESOURCES TO BOOK YOUR TRIP:

Book your flight: I use Skyscanner to compare prices before booking a plane ticket.

Book your ferry: When ferries are more convenient than air travel, I use Ferryhopper.

Book your accommodation: I’ve tried many different platforms for accommodation, but none of them beats the advantages of Booking.com.

Book your car: The best way to find an affordable car to rent is to use a powerful search engine that compares all the rental companies in the market. I use Discover Cars.

Book your tours: Live unforgettable adventures and cultural experiences with Get Your Guide. For instance, you can Visit Elafonisi, discover Balos Beach, hike Samaria, or explore Knossos.

Don’t forget travel insurance: Things can go wrong at times, but travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. I recommend Safety Wing for peace of mind.

About the author of this blog:

Gabi Ancarola | The Tiny Book

Gabi Ancarola

Gabi has been living in Crete for the last five years. On the island, she juggles being a solo mom, hosting culinary tours in summer, translating, and freelance writing.
She’s written for Greek Reporter, published several travel guides about Greece, and had more glasses of frappe than any regular person would be able to handle.


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10 thoughts on “How to Visit Psychro Cave (The Zeus Cave) in Lasithi and the Nearby Area

  1. Sinjana Ghosh says:

    Wow, this is such a mysterious place to explore. It’s like traveling back to a different period of time. Even the other places near Zeus caves in Crete that you described are incredibly beautiful.

    • Gabi says:

      Thanks a lot, Sinjana! Yes, you’re right, both the cave and the area nearby are really worth a visit! Thanks for leaving your comment!

  2. Larch says:

    Zeus Cave looks amazing and I do love a good Greek Myth and there certainly seems to be a few myths around the caves. I haven’t been to Crete, but just added it to my list!

  3. abbie synan says:

    I absolutely loved Crete and this is making me want to go back!! Thanks for sharing such great tips, there is so much to explore on that island. PS, those pastries drizzled with honey look delicious 🙂

    • Gabi says:

      Hey! Thanks for reading and leaving a comment, there’s is indeed a lot to see in such a huge island (…and honestly? I still have to find someone who doesn’t want to come back!).
      PS: those pastries were the end of the world 🙂

  4. Elizabeth says:

    I didn’t even know there were so many caves in Crete. I like the idea of hiking to the cave. I agree that it is nice to have the option to ride a donkey if you need to and wouldn’t be able to visit otherwise. Looks like a fun place to visit with a lot of myths about the cave.

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