The Corycian Cave (Korýkio Ándro) plays a significant part in Delphi mythology, since it was sacred to Pan and the nymphs, and they were the presiding deities of the oracle during winter, when Apollo abandoned the spot.

Allow a full day for this outing (4hr for ascent to cave, 3hr 30min back to Dhelfí – consult The Mountains of Greece), and take ample food. To reach the trailhead follow signposting up through Dhelfí village to the Museum of Delphic Festivals. Continue climbing from here to the highest point of the fence enclosing the sanctuary ruins. Where the track ends at a gate, take a trail on your left, initially marked by a black-and-yellow rectangle on a white background; these, repeated regularly, indicate the trail is part of the E4 European long-distance route.

Initially steep, the way soon flattens out on a grassy knoll overlooking the stadium, and continues along a ridge. Soon after, you join an ancient cobbled trail coming from inside the fenced precinct – the Kakí Skála, which zigzags up the slope above you in broad arcs. The path ends an hour-plus above the village, at the top of the Phaedriades cliffs. From one of several nearby rock pinnacles those guilty of sacrilege in ancient times were thrown to their deaths – a custom perhaps giving rise to the name Kakí Skála or “Evil Stairway”.

E4 markers remain visible in the valley ahead of you as the principal route becomes a gravel track bearing northeast; ignore this and follow instead a metal sign pointing toward the cave, taking the right fork near the Krokí spring and watering troughs, with a complex of summer cottages on your right. This track, now intermittently paved, passes a picnic ground and a chapel of Ayía Paraskeví within fifteen minutes. Continue for some forty minutes beyond the chapel, heading gently downhill and passing another sign for the cave, until you emerge from the fir woods (2hr 40min from Dhelfí) with a view east and ahead to the rounded mass of the Yerondóvrahos peak (2367m) of the Parnassós massif.

Another fifteen minutes bring you to a second chapel (of Ayía Triádha) on the left, with a spring and picnic ground. To the left rises a steep ridge, site of the ancient Corycian cave. Persevere along the road for five more minutes to where a white bilingual sign indicates a newer path, marked by orange paint splodges and red-triangle signs. After forty minutes’ climb on this, you meet another dirt road; turn left and follow it five minutes more to the end, just below the conspicuous cave mouth at an altitude of 1370m.

In ancient times, the cave was the site of orgiastic rites in November, when women, acting as nymphs, made the long hike up from Delphi on the Kakí Skála by torchlight. If you look carefully with a torch you can find ancient inscriptions near the entrance; without artificial light you can’t see more than 100m into the chilly, forbidding cavern. By the entrance you’ll also notice a rock with a man-made circular indentation – possibly an ancient altar for libations.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Greece features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

11 tips for travelling in Greece

11 tips for travelling in Greece

Although the news has been full of negative stories about the financial and immigrant crises which have engulfed Greece in recent years, there are still many r…

02 May 2017 • Nick Edwards insert_drive_file Article
A divided island: a journey through time in Cyprus

A divided island: a journey through time in Cyprus

Cyprus has been a divided nation for over 40 years, but fresh reunification talks have offered hope of a united future. As Cyprus prepares to make history aga…

26 Apr 2017 • Darren Loucaides local_activity Special feature
24 breaks for bookworms

24 breaks for bookworms

1. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas In 1971, fuelled by a cornucopia of drugs, Hunter S. Thompson set off for Las Vegas on his “savage journey to the heart of …

02 Mar 2017 • Eleanor Aldridge camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month