Melanargia galathea has a wingspan of 46–56 mm. In these medium-sized butterflies the upper side of the wings is decorated with white and gray-black or dark brown markings, but it is always gray-black or dark brown checkered in the basal and distal areas. The underside is similar to the upper side but the drawings is light gray or light brown. On the underside of the hindwings is present a row of gray eye spots. The males and the females are quite similar, except that some females may have a yellowish nuance on the underside of the wings.