Slovenia Caves: 20 Natural Wonders You Gotta See
The natural wonders of Slovenia extend beyond the countryside and mountain scenery, to deep underground caves. Slovenia boasts a staggering 8000 caves. However only 20 of these are open to visitors to explore. Why? Because the others are too difficult to explore, unsafe, or not completely excavated generally, but the 20 which are open certainly offer a fascinating glimpse of what lies beneath terra firma.
Postojna and Skocjan Caves are without a doubt the most popular and most visited, but the others are certainly worth checking out too. Let’s look a little further at 20 of the best Slovenian caves to visit.
Probably the most famous and certainly the most visited cave in Slovenia, Postojna Cave was first referred to in the 17th century. However, the first tourists visiting the cave commenced in 1819. The cave became known as the first tourist cave attraction containing electric lighting, before rails were put in place for visitors to really explore the depths of the cave, with a gas locomotive train being the ideal way to travel. The caves are home to some indigenous species, such as the olm, which you can see from some in-cave aquariums along the way. The concert hall inside the cave offers fantastic acoustics, and can fit around 10,000 people inside! On top of this you will visit Big Mountain Hall, and Tube Hall, and many fascinating stalactites and stalagmites.
Hell Cave (Pekel Cave)
This Karst cave contains many interesting and diverse stalagmites and stalactites, as well as a four-metre high waterfall, the highest underground waterfall in the country. Located in the Ponikovski region, the cave was given its name because the main entrance is said to look a little bit like the Devil. The cave itself has two floors, with the lower floor home to countless small lakes, and the upper floor where you’ll find waterfalls. To get to the cave, you walk through a very picturesque forest trail, which is an experience in itself.
This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which certainly gives it some visiting clout! Located in the Karst region of the country, this is one of the largest canyons located underground in the world and has areas of stunning natural beauty with its own ecosystem. At around 6200m long, the caves include the Reka River, which disappears under ground at the entrance of the caves themselves. Inside the caves, you will find Martel’s Chamber, which is one of the largest underground chambers on the continent, at around 2.2 million cubic meters. You can easily explore the caves on foot, although be aware that this is one of the most popular attractions in the country, so there may be crowds from time to time. The first section of the caves themselves, Marinic Cave and Mahorcic Cave are popular, with Big Collapse Doline, an underground canyon, also very well visited.
Cross Cave (Cold Cave)
Discovered back in 1832, this cave is located in the Loz Valley, which is certainly worth a visit in its own right! The cave itself gets its name from the Holy Cross Church in nearby Podloz and has 45 subterranean lakes which all sparkle various hues of emerald green. Packed with nature, with around 45 species, this is a big name in the nature world and a great cave to visit for the environmental purists. There are two passages through the cave, basically and easy one and a hard one, with most people choosing the easier option – Pisani Rov, traveling by small boat.
Dimnice Jama (Smoke Cave)
This is one of the newer caves you can visit, and is open every Sunday for tours. The cave is known widely as Smoke Cave because of the fog which seems to float up from the cave during the winter months. There is a long winding path which leads to the cave and a spiral staircase which is quite amazing. You need to venture down around 39 meters to the entrance before you are into a large hallway with large chambers, including one called Dancing Hall.
Mayor’s Cave (Zupanova Jama)
In the Grosuplje area of central Slovenia, is where you’ll find this cool cave. Discovered back in 1926, the cave itself is made up of seven different halls which are all accessible by foot quite easily. There are some spectacular stalactite and stalagmite formations, in various colors, including ice stalactites during the winter months. The waters throughout the caves are also crystal clear, with various forms of wildlife calling the cave home. Visiting the cave is somewhat restricted to just weekends and bank holidays and by appointment only. The tour lasts around one hour, so be sure to arrange this one ahead of time, to avoid disappointment.
Ledena Jama Cave
This cave is a special one and is also known as the Great Ice Cave. Why? Because it is full of ice! Located in the Trnovo Forest, this cave isn’t for novice cave visitors, as the lighting isn’t great, but it does have the bonus of being free to enter. The cold air is trapped inside from winter, even through the summer months, which means the ice stays inside no matter the time of year. You will find a lot of flora and fauna here, despite the cold temperatures, in particular on the western wall of the cave. The area around the cave is a protected nature reserve.
Crna Jama Cave
Just 3km from Postojna, located in the lush green countryside you will find Crna Jama. This cave is open for tours between June to September daily and joins up further down the line with the primary Postojna cave system. The River Pivka runs through the cave, and you will head down to the bottom of a steep drop into the huge cave passage itself. The path then follows the river through the cave, before it arrives at a very narrow passage, heading up another tunnel. The cave is also known as Black Cave, because of the color of the speleothems found inside. We should mention that there aren’t many chambers to this cave, rather being one large hallway.
Predjama Castle Cave
Visiting the beautiful Predjama Castle itself might be enough for some, but head underground and check out the mystery of the cave while you’re there. The Lokva stream has formed this cave, and you can see signatures of visitors dating back to the 15th century inscribed into the main entrance on the second floor of the cave. More experienced cavers can explore the Western Passage, which has narrow areas. However, other visitors can easily view the first and second levels with ease, namely Erazem’s Gap and Fizenca, as well as Stable, and Names Passage, where you will see those signatures we just mentioned.
Zelnjske Jame Caves
Located near Kocevje you will find the Zelnjske Jame Caves, which are easily accessible for all as they are as they are not very deep. While this isn’t one of the most visited cave systems in the country, it is quieter, and that means you can explore the cave on your own. Of course, there are countless beautiful stalactites and stalagmites to explore, and the vast underground chambers offer a unique glimpse into the subterranean world.
Planinska Jama Cave
In the Postojna region, you will find many caves. However, this one is located underneath a very high limestone cliff, which gives it a rather mysterious feel when you see the entrance. Open from April until the end of September; visitors can see the old ruins of a watermill, in the flow of the Unica River. The cave is one long tunnel, packed with eerie sights to enjoy. This isn’t one of the most visited caves in the region, so that means you’re unlikely to run into huge crowds, also meaning more space.
In the Postojna region, you will find Pivka Cave, through which the River Pivka flows. You can visit all passages which the river flows through, which is unusual in itself. The gentle flowing water is home to many different types of organism, and the cave is actually quite light and airy, without feeling at all oppressive, which is one of the main attractions. Visits in May, June, and September need to be pre-arranged, however during July and August there are two daily tours on offer.
From Pivka Cave you then enter into another cave system, namely Black Cave, A man-made tunnel links the two, however, this particular cave sparkles with thousands of tiny glowing crystals. You probably won’t be able to quite capture this spectacle on a camera; such is its wonder, but seeing it for yourself is a great memory to have. You can easily visit both Pivka and Black Caves during the same day.
The largest of the Karst caves in the Dolenjska Region is the easily accessible Kostanjevica Cave, and here you will also find smaller caves, potholes, swallow holes and springs too.
Krizna Jama Cave
Located on the eastern banks of the Cerknica Lake in the Grahovo region you will find Krizna Jama Cave, famous for the excavated bones of the now extinct cave bear. The cave is around 8km long, and you will find beautiful stalactites throughout its length, as well as around 50 lakes running along the cave network. You can tour the caves with a guide, which takes around an hour, however, if you want to enjoy a boat tour of the lake we highly recommend that as well. You need to book your visit well in advance and note that boat trips need larger groups to fill the itinerary.
Located in Mezica, this is actually an old lead and zinc mine but is now open during the summer months for experienced cavers to explore. Be aware that the light isn’t so fantastic, so be equipped before you visit, however, there are guided tours to take you through a section of the old mine via a train tour, and you are given a yellow jacket and headlamp to help with the visibility issue. There are many mineral deposits around, namely wulfenite, and this sparkles in the light. This is an interesting and very historic cave to visit.
Jama Vilenica Cave
Located close to Sezana, this cave is open from May to October, and you need to be part of a group of ten or more to take the guided tour. The cave is made out of Cretaceous limestone and is well lit, allowing visitors to really enjoy the beautiful stalactites and stalagmites. The first tour of the cave dates back as far as 1633, making it one of the oldest on record, allowing visitors to check out the beautifully named Hall of Fairies, where you can stand on a balcony and view the amazing sights before you. The path around the cave is long and not too difficult to walk. However, proper footwear is recommended.
Antonijev Rov Cave
Located in Idrija, very close to the capital, this is a very easy cave to reach, therefore making it accessible to more visitors, while also being one of the few caves which have tours available all year around. You will be able to explore and underground chapel, large chambers, and also in the knowledge that you are in the world’s second largest mine of mercury, found to be high in red cinnabar ore. You enjoy a tour of the mine with a lot of information about geology, before being equipped with a helmet and overcoat to really get exploring. You will be able to see old mining tools too, before heading to the Chapel of the Holy Trinity, dating back to the 18th century.
Sveta Jama Cave (Saint Cave)
If you are visiting Castle Socerb, near Koper, be sure to check out this cave, also known as Saint Cave. Tours are available every Sunday afternoon, and the cave is quite well lit. In the entrance hall, you will find an underground church, and it is said that Saint Servolus dwelled in the cave, giving it its name, Saint Cave. The cave is set on the top of a hill, before disappearing deep underground rather steeply at one point. There are stairs which lead into the largest chamber, and you will see the church with a small basin for holy water and an altar. It’s worth noting that this cave is a rather chilly one, trapping the cold air inside, so do dress appropriately.
Jama Pod Babjim Zobom Cave
Located close to Bled, this is a great area to visit if you are staying in the town itself. The cave is open from May to September and is equipped with electric lights making visibility quite good. This is quite a small cave compared to some of the others we have talked about, and it is located at the bottom of the Julian Alps, giving it a truly wonderful setting. There are many calcite crystals along the walls, and speleothems to check out. The pathway is very easy to walk along, and there are two levels to discover.
Are you ready to head underground to a cave in Slovenia?