Jama (ya-ma) means hole, cave or pit in Slovenian. Slovenia is gorgeous above ground and awe-inspiring below the ground. It is home to over 13,000 known karst caves (formed from the breaking down of soluble rocks due to underground drainage systems and sinkholes), which are millions of years old. There could be many more below the surface. Who knows? But for simplicity’s things, here are five (5) “must-see” caves in Slovenia.
1. Postojna Cave – Located in Southwestern Slovenia near Postojna, Slovenia
Over 39 million visitors have explored Postojna Cave for over the last 200 years. The cave is home to baby dragons, also known as Olms, and Brilliant, a 16.4 foot stalagmite – the symbol of the Postjna Cave and Slovenia karst.
There is an optional train tour through the cave. Tours are given in four different languages including English, Slovenian, Italian and German. Impressively, all visitors can explore the cave, even the mobility impaired. The temperature in the cave remains at a constant 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) so be sure to bring a jacket. Tickets are required to tour the cave and can be found here.
2. Skocjan Caves or Skocjanske Jame – Located near Skocjan, Slovenia
The Skojan Cave was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986 as the largest subterranean canyon in Europe. It welcomes over 100,000 visitors per year. There is an iconic bridge that is sure to bring an adrenaline rush named Cerkvenik Bridge; it is over 150 feet (47 meters) above the Reka River which runs below.
The cave itself is over 20,000 feet (6,200 meters) in length. Not all parts of the cave are open to visitors but some of the most incredible parts are. These highlights include the Giant, Organ Hall, Great Hall, and Rimstone Pool’s Hall features. The Skojan Cave is home to 26 waterfalls, various species of bats, salamanders, beetles and crustaceans.
Tickets are also required to tour the Skocjan Cave. It is recommended that tickets are bought 3 days in advance. You can buy tickets here.
3. – Located in (Central/Northern) Lokev, Slovenia
The Vilenica Cave is approximately 4,300 feet in length (1,300 m). The Row of Gateways, Red Hall and Fairy Hall are notable formations in the cave. Vilenica Cave was the first “go-to” tourist cave in Europe and did quite well until the Postojna Caverose in popularity. However, Vilenica’s timeless beauty and karst structures still stand strong. Tickets are required to enter the cave and should be bought in advance here.
4. Predjama Castle Cave – Located just 9 km from the Postojna Cave
The Predjama Castle sits right in the mouth of the Predjama Cave as a nearly unconquerable gothic fortress. Evidence indicates that this cave was inhabited as early as the Stone Ages and certainly in the Roman times. It is the second largest Slovenian show cave (right after the Postojna Cave), is 8.6 miles (14 km) long, and nearly 4 floors tall!
This cave is unique in that there is no electric lighting like the Postojna Cave and is only open from May through September to protect the various bats as they hibernate during the winter months. The Wind Tunnel is quite the experience – the whole cave is considering that flashlights light the way and little critters move about in the darkness. Tickets for this cave also need to be bought in advance here and can be combined with Postojna Cave adventure tickets as well.
P.S. The castle itself looks like a delightful adventure you may enjoy.
5. Hell Cave or Jama Pekel, near Zalog pro Sempetru, Slovenia (Northern Slovenia)
This cave gets its name from the mist that rises out of the cave during the winter and the shape of the opening, as perceived by the creative as a devil’s head. The cave is a constant 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) which is cool in summer but warm in winter – hence the fact that mist rises out of the cave in the cold months! The karst features seem creepy and erie – a perception undoubtedly influenced by the name of the cave. However, it is also awe-inspiring with a Great “stalacpipe” organ, natural bridge and a waterfall that measures over 13 feet (4 meters) tall! Tour last about an hour – a highlight is a moment with no light – absolute darkness! Like other Slovenian caves, tickets are required and tour dates vary throughout the year. More details can be found here.
There you have it! Five (5) must-see caves in Slovenia. We hope you get the chance to visit one, if not all of the caves. At least come visit Slovenia with us in the Julian Alps. Visiting the caves will give you insights as to how caves are made and a greater sense of wonder and amazement for the natural world. Happy caving!