A cave in Slovenian is Jama..(surprisingly easy for once).. to give you an idea of the scale and the incredible underground network of caves and rivers flowing under Green Slovenia, a local caver explained to us that you are only considered a good caver here if you have found 100 new caves!
Slovenia is blessed with over 15,000 discovered caves and many "show caves" to visit, each one completely unique and containing different natural underground treasures.
Each cave here is VERY DIFFERENT to the others.. it would be a big mistake to just do one of them and tick caves off your list as you have "done" a cave.. think about it.. You wouldn't just ignore Paris and New York cos you had "done" a Mega city by visiting London.. so if it helps, think about the amazing array of caves here in exactly the same way and go see as many as you can.. you WILL NOT be disappointed and don't forget, you just don't have caves like this at home.. Green Slovenia is the capital of the Karst!
There are 3 world famous caves close to Lipizzaner Lodge and dozens more close by..
The one you might have heard about is the local Postojna cave (10 mins away) and the most visited tourist cave in Europe, opened in the early 1800's and just 8km from Lipizzaner Lodge, so you could also bike or hike from here!
Kids can also discover the amazing baby dragons that inhabit these caves, (otherwise known by adults as "human fish"). There is also a Tree Rope park next to these caves where kids and big kids can monkey around in the forest.
But just down the road in the direction of the the coast is the really stunning and massive, Unesco protected Skocjan cave (22 mins away), with massive underground river and cliff vistas. Guests return from there in absolute awe at how overwhelmingly huge the deepest cavern is and it might remind you a Lord of the Rings film.
You get to walk over a bridge (a bit like an Indiana Jones film) that feels so high up inside the cavern, but is actually very deep underground.. all this with the mighty river thundering even deeper below you!
There are lots of different walks you can do in and around the Skocjan caves including two more cave tours and people often make the mistake of just doing the main tour and leaving. We absolutely recommend you also visit the local micro museums in the nearby Skocjan village and hike up to the Skocjan church where the views across the valley are stunning.. there is also a fantastic viewpoint with possibly the best vista in Green Slovenia )and that is saying something)!.. read more in stuff to do at the amazing Skocjan cave.
Krizna (Cross) Cave..
The last of the "big three" known caves is the Križna cave, translating as Cross cave (40 mins away), where you get much more of a "caver's experience", if you book early enough to do the uberamazing 4 hour underground adventure, wearing a caver's helmet, rubber boots & light and taking an boat ride to see the secret caverns in their full glory.
Most guests will do the standard hour or hour and a half tour, which is great and finishes with a boat ride, which you don't have to book for, you just turn up.. But if you only knew about the 4 hour tour.. and now you do..
We have done this 4 hour tour and it was absolutely amazing.. it is like going to a different world and the time just flies by as you paddle around an underground island, see one of only 6 massive stone cave mushrooms (a unique stalegtite formation) and a pirate ship in what can only be described as an silent underground paradise.
The Križna cave is one of the only caves in the world where a new calcium river is being forged by the water. It is strictly protected, so you have to follow exactly in the guide's footsteps and travel mainly by rubber boat and there are only 1,000 people for the 4 hour visits allowed per year.
At the end of this tour there are some amazing cascades where you can walk a little bit. Our strong advice is to book ahead! Here is the page where you can book a Krizna tour.
So we call those caves the "Big Three" as they are the 3 ones you are most likely to have read about, but it really is a tricky decision as to which cave to visit first, we can recommend which might be the best one for you & your family or friends and also suggest some other fantastic, but lesser known caves that you might prefer to visit.
There are Lots of other Fantastic Show Caves in Green Slovenia!
the Batcave under Predjama castle..
For example, there is a guided tour through the cave under the local Predjama castle (10 mins away). This cave is called the "Batcave", as during winter, it has the largest number of different bat species in any cave in the world.. But don't worry, in the summer only one tiny, non scary species remains and this is the only time of year when tours are permitted.
You get a helmet and during an hour or so of mild climbing and exploring.. you will be amazed as you suddenly pop up into the light above and to the side of the stunning castle.. kapow!
Many of our guests have said how much they enjoyed the Batcave as it gives you a more physical real cave exploring experience, so please try to factor this in to your Predjama castle visit.. Kids as young as 7 can do it by the way, so it is not so tough.
Just across the paper border near Trieste, Italy, you will find the correctly named Grotta Gigante (30 mins away), which is also one of the largest tourist caves in the world. There are 500 steps down into the gigantic cavern, hence the name! There is a modern visitor centre with really nice museum and plenty of free parking if you would like to visit a cave Italian style!
There are lots other very special local caves around here that are only open to the public on a Sunday OR at certain times during the summer OR by special appointment, so we have contacted and got to know some local guides who can take you inside.
Dimnice (Devil's Barbeque) Cave..
The entrance to the fantastic Dimnice cave is down a 40 metre spiral stone staircase that wraps itself around the top of the cve like a huge chimney.. mysterious smoke drifts up out from the cave all day during winter.. This cave is known by cavers as the most complete cave in the world.. it has almost everything.
Befroe the staircase was in place, the first Italian explorer shouted instructions up to the villagers as he was lowered down here by rope, but they ran away in fear the more he was lowered, as the echo of his voice became louder and louder the lower he went and they thought the devil had got him!
There are also 10 kinds of bat in this 8km long cave and a river all year round. We cannot recommend this cave experience enough, it is beautiful. You need to book a private tour with a friendly local expert caver and this costs much less than a well known other cave with a train inside, the choice is yours, so please ask us for details.
Not so far from the Dimnice cave you can drive to the coast and go up to the top of a sea cliff for a perfect view of the Gulf of Trieste and Italy, Slovenia & Croatia.. but not many people know that just 100 metres from Socerb castle there is also Sveta Jama, Saints Cave, (25 mins away) with Slovenia's only underground church and a wine cellar to delight visitors!
And there are lots and lots of caves concealed in the Karst countryside everywhere around Lipizzaner Lodge! We were thrilled to discover another interesting local cave, which can be visited on some of our recommended local walks and bike rides.
We were just riding past one day and saw some new signs in Slovenian for a "Neanderthal Cave", (10 mins away), so we checked it out and found a new tourist path with more signs in English giving good info about this hidden cave that we had walked, cycled and driven past so many times before, but just didnt know was there!
It's now easy to find and worth seeing where Neanderthal man sought safety from the cold and animals by lighting fires inside the entrance to the cave.
And if you don't fancy the crowds at Postojna cave then why not jump on one of our bikes and cycle for about an hour along a secret forest track to the wonderful Black cave, (Pivka cave) (10 mins away by car). This is actually at the other end of the massive Postojna cave and Partisans used it to sneak up on the Nazis and destroy their munitions dump in WW2 through a secret doorway!
The cave is called "black" as the smoke from thousands of years of people taking shelter at the mouth of the cave and lighting fires has blackened the walls to leave some fascinating shadows. This cave is only open in the summer, the group sizes are usually small, say 5-15 people, so you can hear and chat with the excellent guide and really get a feeling for some other of Slovenia's massive underground paradises.
This cave was used for a recent Sony smartphone Experia TV advert where the guy is playing the piano in a cave.. well this is the very cave..
And please don't get this far into our CAVE section and think for one drip off a stalagtite that we are mentioning the caves in any kind of order.. WE ARE NOT, ANY of these caves might be the perfect cave for you and this next one is the one that most guests have come back from and told us how amazing their experience was..
Planina Baby Dragon Cave..
The amazing Planina Baby Dragon cave, (15 mins away) is a really personal tour in a stunningly green location inside the only cave in Europe where 2 underground rivers crash into each other to form yet another unique part of the River of 7 Names.
The different shades of green around this cave will absolutely blow you away and tours take place only in the summer at 5pm every day.. but you might easily be the only people on the tour.. how good is that!
Recently the guides here at Planina have started to offer a boat trip inside the cave.. it is a little bit demanding and we had 2 German guests who did it and absolutely loved it, so watch this space!
the Rakov Skocjan Stone Arches..
This world class rock treasure was a cave.. it's just that a couple of million years ago the cave roof collapsed to leave a 3km long rock valley with two massive stunning arches (the old cave entrances) at each end and one more of the River of 7 Names through the middle!
In the next couple of million years a green paradise has grown over the rocks and it is one of the best examples of the Green Karst you can find..
This is yet another secret place (20 mins away) that our guests express surprise and disbelief at how amazing it is and we totally urge you to make time to go explore here.
Caves in the middle bit and the East..
About half of the Green Slovenia that is above ground is covered underground with Karst caves, rivers and other formations.. indeed they think there might be another 2 caves still to find even bigger than Postojna!
It is true that most show caves are in the south west close to Lipizzaner Lodge, but there are other areas of Karst around and here are two very special caves that you should consider as part of other possible day trips..
Pekel Jama, Hell Cave..
Hell cave has a menacing devil like natural formation over the entrance to the cave and is just off the motorway direction Maribor in the East!
The cave is hidden away in a forest, but it feels more like a green jungle it is so beautiful. Inside the cave there are so many different formations, a waterfall and the tour is a bit Indiana Jones.. but of xourse the rock is real!
We really enjoyed our visit here, it was just us on the tour with a wonderful guide and there is a cute forest cafe outside the cave.. if you are heading East, then seriously consider a stop here on the way!
Supernova Cave, Zupanova or Mayors cave..
When caves were the cutting edge rollercoasters of tourism and the Lipizzaner Lodge south part of Slovenia was part of Italy between the World Wars, Zupanova cave was the main tourist cave in old Yugoslavia!
You can see how the network of paths were built for the masses, but nowadays, this is another of the secret caves to put on your list if you don'tl like crowds!
It is located just outside Grosuplje, south east of Ljubljana and has an ice cave and some huge chambers as you go down and down and down! The really cool feature is there is another entrance, where the old mayor first abseiled down into the cave, (now there are steps as well), hence the name of the cave, but it is possible to still go down into the cave by rope! Now that is a cave entrance!
So there you have it.. very often our guests might arrive and announce their intention to go see "the cave".. we know exactly which cave they mean, but now you know why we always cheekily ask them.. "oh really, which cave"! and then the real underground adventures can begin.. happy caving!