With one day, you can easily visit two of Slovenia’s most unique destinations, the Škocjan Caves and Predjama Castle. Be amazed as you tour the enormous, subterranean world of the Škocjan Caves. Then visit Predjama Castle, the largest cave castle in the world.
The Škocjan Caves truly are amazing. I’ve never been “wowed” by a visit to a cave until I saw this place. These caves are massive, the history is fascinating, and even walking the trails can be thrilling. The Škocjan Caves are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the largest underground canyons in the world.
Tour your second cave of the day with a visit to Predjama Castle. This medieval castle was built in the mouth of another impressive, yet smaller cave.
Whether you are road tripping through Slovenia or have plans take a day trip from Ljubljana, learn how to visit Škocjan Caves and Predjama Castle in one day.
Day Trip to Škocjan Caves and Predjama Castle
Getting Around Slovenia
The best way to do this is on a road trip. The public transportation network in this part of Slovenia is very underdeveloped.
It’s almost impossible to visit both places in one day with public transportation. From Ljubljana, you can take a train to Divaca, the town next to the Škocjan Caves, but then you will need to walk 3 km (35 minutes) to get to the caves. As far as I know, there are no public transportation options that connect the Škocjan Caves with Predjama Castle.
With a rental car, you have a lot more freedom and flexibility. Plus, you can use the car to visit places like Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj and to drive the Vršič Pass.
You can visit the Škocjan Caves and Predjama Castle in either order, but I am starting with the Škocjan Caves because that is what we did. Our day started on the Istrian Peninsula in Croatia. In the early morning, we checked out of our hotel near Porec and drove an hour and a half to get to the Škocjan Caves.
From Piran, it is a 45-minute drive and from Ljubljana it is a one hour drive.
Choosing a Tour
There are three options to tour the Škocjan Caves.
The main caves can only be visited on a tour. Called “Through the Underground Canyon” on the Škocjan Caves website, the main tour takes about 2 hours. On this tour, you will walk 3 km.
Cost: The price of this tour ranges from 16 to 20 euros depending on the season (prices are higher in July and August and cheapest during the winter months).
If you want to explore the area further, you can add on the tour where you follow the Reka River underground. This adds another 1.5 km of walking and it takes 1.5 hours to do this tour.
Cost: €12.5 for adults; €24 for a combo ticket with the underground canyon tour
Finally, on your own or with a guide (€6 for a guided tour), you can walk the Škocjan Education Trail and learn more about the geology and cultural heritage of this region.
We only did the tour through the underground canyon. About half of the people in our tour group continued on with the tour along the Reka River. We were just anxious to get to lovely Ljubljana, a city I was very excited to visit.
Touring the Underground Caves
The first tour of the day is at 10 am. During the summer months, from June through September, tours are offered hourly. During the remainder of the year, only three to four tour times are offered per day. Get the updated schedule here.
If you want to take the 10 am tour, I recommend getting to the visitor center 15 to 30 minutes before opening time. Lines can be long, especially in the summer months.
At 10 am, you will walk as a very large group to the cave entrance. This walk takes about 15 minutes and it is mostly downhill.
Since our group was so large, we were split into five separate groups. Group one was allowed to enter right away, and then each subsequent group was permitted to enter about 5 to 10 minutes later. If you are in one of the last groups, you will spend quite a bit of time waiting at the cave entrance.
Entrance into the Škocjan Caves.
In the Škocjan Caves
It’s a very chilly 12°C inside the Škocjan Caves, welcome relief during the hot summer months. Make sure you bring a jacket!
For an hour and a half, your guide will lead you through the caves, sharing historical and scientific facts. It is an overall downhill walk through the cave.
You will see enormous stalactites and stalagmites, Europe’s largest underground canyon, and the Reka River running through the base of the cave. Along the way, you will walk on trails that hug the side of the cave walls and walk across a narrow bridge that sits 50 meters over the Reka River.
The tour of the cave ends at the natural opening of the cave. This is only place on the tour where you are permitted to take photographs.
From here, you can take an elevator (quick and easy) or walk past several more caves and up the steps (more scenic but also more strenuous) to get back to the visitor center. Or, continue with a tour of the Reka River.
On the walk back to the Visitor Center you will see more caves and an underground waterfall.
At the visitor center, there is a restaurant that serves a variety of food, and it’s surprisingly good. We ate here before moving on, but you could also grab a bite to eat in one of the nearby towns.
From the Škocjan Caves, it is a 30-minute drive to get to Predjama Castle.
A visit here is relatively quick. You pay your entrance fee and then you tour the castle at your leisure with the provided audio guide. I highly recommend the audio guide because you would wander through the rooms without knowing what you are seeing. Plus, you learn several interesting facts as you go.
The audio guide tour takes roughly one hour.
Inside Predjama Castle
View from Predjama Castle
During the summer months, you have the option to add on a tour of the cave under Predjama Castle. This tour takes 45 minutes. Learn more here.
During our visit at the end of July, there was no line for tickets or audio guides, however, it was a bit crowded inside of the castle. The rooms inside of the castle are small and there can be a short wait to walk up and down the various staircases inside of the castle. But once again, it’s cool inside of the castle, welcome relief during the summer months.
Cost: €14.90; book your tickets online and save 10% (and avoid ticket lines)
Hours: May through September 9 am to 6 pm; October through April 10 am to 4 pm; click here for the full schedule
It takes one hour to drive from Predjama Castle to Ljubljana.
Škocjan Caves vs. Postojna Caves
We only had the time (and the desire) to visit one cave while in Slovenia. We chose the Škocjan Caves for its reputation as being less touristy and its UNESCO World Heritage status. Since we did not visit Postojna Caves, I cannot comment on how good they are. But I can tell you that we were amazed by the Škocjan Caves and we don’t feel like we missed out on anything by skipping Postojna Caves.
The Postojna Caves are more popular and more touristy than the Škocjan Caves. There is more online marketing and more advertising in and around Ljubljana for the Postojna Caves. It’s also better connected to Ljubljana by public transportation, so it’s easier to include on a day trip from Ljubljana. But easier doesn’t mean it’s better.
On the way to Predjama Castle, we drove past the numerous ads for Postojna Caves and its mega-sized parking lot. The parking lot is huge! And in July, it was filled with cars. I can’t imagine the number of people that tour this cave per hour during the busy summer months.
There are a lot of gimmicks to attract people to the Postojna Caves, such as a 3.7 km trip on an underground railroad and Murano glass chandeliers hanging in the cave. The Postojna Caves may feel more like a Disneyland experience than an underground cave visit.
If you want a more authentic cave experience, and want to share the experience with fewer visitors, we recommend the Škocjan Caves.
Are you planning a trip to Slovenia? Comment below if you have any questions.
More Information for Your Trip to Slovenia:
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- Lake Bohinj Travel Guide: Itineraries for 1, 2 and 3 Days
- Hiking the Julian Alps of Slovenia: Vrsic Pass to Sleme and Slemenova Spica
- The Ultimate Guide to Visiting Vintgar Gorge
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