Try imagining this…
It might sound like something out of a fantasy tale, but it’s perfectly real!
You are walking deep into the subterranean such that your eyes cannot figure out the solid bottom of the place hidden with pitch-black darkness.
Suddenly you can hear a river roaring and crashing over the rocks…
Slowly the lights of the chambers dim as you turn back while walking deeper and deeper and deeper…
Welcome to the Skocjan Caves, which is popularly known as the Underground Canyon or the Silent Cave, located in Slovenia!
This remarkable cave system is architected by the Reka River as underground chambers of up to 6 kilometres long.
You can explore captivating underground passageways, bottomless chasms, waterfalls, subterranean lakes, and caves here.
So, get ready to jaw-drop as we tread the depths of the Škocjan caves through this post that will surely knit your wanderlust to the place!
1. Why Must You Visit the Skocjan Caves?
Trust me. You might regret asking me this question if you are actually standing there inside the cave!
Among the many karst caves worldwide, the Skocjan Caves are an extraordinary natural heritage with its enormous subterranean Canyon.
Every twist and turn have something new to explore, discover and enjoy.
You can troll the caves choosing one of the three options. But I recommend you try everything to get the best experience!
- A Guided tour through the underground canyon
- Following the Reka River underground
- A circular walk along the surface, following the Škocjan Education Trail
If you are like me, the thought of going into the cave for the first time might not seem that exciting.
After all, most of the caves are usually the same with their small, tight, damp, dark environment and… well, kinda boring?
But not with this one, as these Caves will actually blow your mind leaving you wireless, breathless and completely flabbergasted!
Each cavern is of colossal proportions making it hard to believe that you are in reality. Though you can explore a few caverns, a glimpse of the stalactites and stalagmites, numerous waterfalls in there are mind-boggling.
The case worsens if you stroll the lean passage elevated above the canyon, where the river runs deep below the gigantic canyons.
You will seriously feel like you are getting enraptured into Toelkin’s Lord of the Rings to experience the battle of Gandalf and the Balrog. The caves are that huge!
Slovenia does ace numerous places like the Postojna Caves and the Predjama Castle up its sleeve.
But the magnificence of Škocjan Caves is tough to defeat.
Upon entering the caves, you can get an otherworldly (the best word I can call the caves) experience.
So, it’s not a wonder that Unesco declared Škocjan a World Heritage site in 1986. It completely deserves this title for its most impressive features!
Still sceptical about what I mean, click here to take a virtual tour of the caves!
2. Where are these Caves Located?
You can find the caves situated exactly in the Southwest part of Slovenia, quite far away from the sea.
The cave’s entrance and visitor centre are in the Matavun village, away from the highways linking Ljubljana and Koper.
And Ljubljana is Slovenia’s capital, and it is just 80 kilometres away from the Skocjan Caves.
On the other hand, the Slovenian coast’s central city Koper is 35 km away.
You can check out the exact location here on Google Maps!
Address: Javni zavod Park Skocjanske jame Skocjan 2 SI-6215 Divaca
GPS coordinates: 45 ° 39 ′ 47.4048 ”N 13 ° 59 ′ 21.5556” E
Geographical coordinates: 45.663168, 13.989321
3. The Skocjan Caves Slovenia History
Now that you have been provided with a glimpse of the place, it’s time to get deeper back in time to know the evolution of the place.
So, have a look!
3.1 Formation of the Caves
Being a renowned example of the Karst formation, the evolution of the Škocjan Caves in Slovenia dates back millions of years ago, when the Reka River carved out the caves.
Tectonic deformation and rock stratification are the significant influences that have formed and spatially distributed the passages within the caves.
According to archaeological evidence, human presence within and around the caves has been recorded for 10,000 years. This includes the Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze, Iron Ages, and even the Middle Ages.
However, the caves were likely used by ancients for shelter. But there is no supporting science to prove it.
It is as though the Caves might have been a perfect den for a dragon.
3.2 Discovery of the Caves
It is estimated that people existed in the caves around 3,000 – 1,700 B.C.
To prove it, human skeletons have been excavated in the Tominčeva Cave along with animal bones, ceramics etc.
The written sources of the existence of the caves date back to the 2nd century B.C. It was in the era of Antiquity that Poseidonius of Apamea (135 B.C. – 50 B.C.) described the place;
The Timava River flows from the mountains, falls into an abyss (i.e. the Škocjan Caves) and then, after flowing about 130 stadia underground, springs beside the sea.
Since the end of the 1800s and throughout the 19th century, the caves have been extensively explored.
Finally, on 1 January 1819, a visitors’ book was presented. This date is undoubtedly assumed as the beginning of contemporary tourism in the Caves.
3.3 Exploring the Caves
The official document of 1819 records the first exploration of the caves. It was an official report to the District Office in Sežana, in which an anonymous writer described the Škocjan Caves.
But we already know that Poseidonius of Apamea, a politician and traveller, had pinned the caves in his published maps.
Apart from this, informal explorations were happening during the 18th century by French painters like Louis-François Cassas, whose paintings showcased the cave’s interiors and the Big Collapse Doline.
However, after 20 years, Jakob Svetina, Triest’s expert plumber, explored the river and tried to figure out how to tap water from the caves for the Trieste waterworks.
Later in the middle of the 19th century, Idrija miners recorded journeying deep into the caves up to 1476 feet (450 m) in 1851.
Finally, word spread throughout the continent about the caves and speleologists from across the continent were attracted to visit the Caves.
The local men became excellent guides to many tourists in 1904 when the Silent Cave was opened, and even today, this is where the Skocjan Caves Slovenia tours begin.
But few were enthusiastic about visiting it because it was a dark sleeve without running water.
That’s why in 1938, from Globočak Valley, a tunnel was dug to provide easy access to visitors. And electric lighting was installed in the caves in 1958 to keep it open for visitors.
Check here for deeper insights into the cave’s exploration and recent discovery!
4. How to Reach Skocjan Caverns?
You can reach the cave from Divača town in Southwest Slovenia, just 4km away. For that, you need to start your journey from the capital city of Slovenia, Ljubljana.
It can be reached by an hour’s drive, public transport, or shuttles. From Divača, you can easily walk up to the caves on the well-maintained footpaths and signages.
Otherwise, if you wish to travel with a proper plan, then try organised tours to the place.
In case you wish to travel on your own, check here!
Insider tip: For those travelling by car, you can park them in the space provided by the visitor centre.
5. At the Caves
Congratulations on making it thus far after fueling up your wanderlust!
Now it’s time to learn vital information to access the caves. So, here we go!
5.1 The Skocjan Caves Slovenia Opening Times
Only guided tours are allowed inside the caves. Most tours are led by tour guides from the Skocjan Caves Regional Park in groups.
The Skocjan Caves’ opening hours are usually not constant. It depends upon the number of visitors. During peak hours between June and September, touring happens hourly.
So, here’s how time works at the caves;
- November to March: 10:00 to 13:00
- April, May, October: 10:00, 13:00, 15:30
- June, July, August, and September: 10:00 to 17:00 every hour
5.2 The Skocjan Caves Slovenia Tickets
When it comes to buying Skocjan Caves tickets, it’s highly recommended that you visit the official website to purchase them.
Book them well in advance to ensure you have a spot on the group tour.
Here is the price range for various age groups;
- Adults: 24.00 EUR
- Seniors: 18.00 EUR
- Students: 18.00 EUR
- Children: 12.50 EUR (Up to17.99 years)
- Children: 0.00 EUR (Up to 5.99 years)
You can cancel the tickets 24 hours before the experience to get a refund.
Learn more about the cancellation policy here!
Insider tip: During the off-season, the entrance fee to the Caves is lower.
6. Additional Information You Must be Aware
The tour, guided by rangers within the caves, takes up to 1.5 hours, starting from the visitor centre. Depending on the trial you have chosen to explore, it might take a bit longer to get back to the visitor centre.
But trust me, once you have entered and got the taste of adventure in your veins, you might as well wish to explore its depths!
If you have any luggage, you can store it in the locker at the visitor centre right behind the ticket desks.
Besides that, the visitor centre also has a souvenir shop, a restaurant and tourist information.
Ensure to follow the guidelines provided by your guide at the beginning of the tour.
And taking photographs inside the main caves is forbidden, according to UNESCO.
The flash from the camera or the phone might affect the minerals deposited on the cave walls.
There are restricted places to take photographs, though. So, don’t you worry!
Ultimately for safety reasons, pets are NOT ALLOWED inside the caves.
7. Best Clothing to Beat the Cold Caves
The caves within are generally cold throughout the year, with temperatures dropping to -12C.
So, if you are visiting during the summer, wear a sweater, full-length pants and socks with proper footwear like sports shoes. It might be hot outside the cave, though.
During winter, don’t forget to bring a coat!
8. Best Time to Tour the Caves
It is totally up to you to decide!
The place usually has lots of visitors during summer between June and September. This is the time even the ticket price shoots up.
So, if you want to explore the bosom of nature alone and simultaneously save a few bucks go ahead during the off-season!
9. Things to Add to Your Backpack
- A bottle of water to keep you hydrated
- An umbrella if the weather is rainy
- An extra jacket or a sweater in case you feel cold
- Minor snacks — but DO NOT EAT inside the cave
- A camera — it’s not allowed in the main cave, but not elsewhere
- Sunscreen for summer visits
Looking for hotels to stay in Slovenia? Click here!
10. Why Can’t You Take Photographs Inside the Caves?
Till now, I guess this denial might be probing your mind leaving you doubtful about visiting the caves. But there is a valid reason as to why it was implemented.
First, allowing to take photographs might make the tours longer as people would spread all over the cave and stop often.
Secondly, as a result of this, the lights installed in the caves will have to be turned on for a longer time.
Now the real consequence of turning on the lights of the caves is this;
It results in the increased development of lampenflora, a variety of plant that thrives on light.
As this species increases, it eats up all the natural limestone formations and depletes the natural outlook of the caves.
This threat is found in the cave, and rangers try their best to lower its proliferation.
So, as tempting as it might look to break this rule, I urge you to follow the rules to do your part to preserve this untouched beauty for the future.
But if you are keen on taking a photograph, try getting special permission from the Slovenian Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning.
Your approval request takes a few months to process, and it’s a chance that your request might be accepted if you have a valid reason.
11. Exiting the Beautiful Abyss
Doubtless, to say more than reading the article, I wish you could actually go there to explore the caves. They are indeed a one-of-a-kind gem landscape of Slovenia.
Trust me. You will jaw drop from start to end on your tour inside the caves.
And as always, be sure to bring back only memories!
Thanks for stopping by…
Have a mind-blowing trip ahead!
If you have any further questions or comments bubbling, dump them below.
I’ve penned several travel articles about remote places that might interest you if you are a keen globetrotter.
So, feel free to explore our website here!