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Visiting Skocjan Caves is a highlight of a trip to Slovenia. The colossal underground system is located near the town of Divaca, southwest of Ljubljana near the Italian border in the Inner Carinola Region.
The caves are open to visitors for guided tours – but the remoteness makes getting there a bit of a challenge. No worries; we are sharing the prime options for how to plan a visit to Skocjan Cave – including how to get there and what to see.
Skocjan Caves, Slovenia
Slovenia is all about diverse, natural landscapes – there are soaring mountains, deep valleys, crystal-clear lakes and a short-but-stunning coastline. As magnificent as the above-ground scenery in Slovenia is there is something even more extraordinary hidden below the surface: Slovenia Caves.
To be accurate, more than 11,000 caves have been discovered in Slovenia – and Škocjan Caves is one of the best. The massive subterranean space features the largest underground canyon in the world. Exploring the eroded interior of Skocjan Caves and Park – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – is one of the best things to do while visiting Slovenia!
Planning a Trip to Skocjan Caves and Divaca
Many Slovenia travelers use Ljubljana as a base and take day trips to discover more of the country. From the capital, it’s about 46 miles (75km) to the Divaca caves. Those visiting Skocjan Caves from Ljubljana can get there by car, tour, bus, or train.
How To Visit Skocjan Caves from Ljubljana by Car
Travelers with a car will find that it is rather simple to plan a visit to Skocjan Caves, Slovenia. There is a parking lot at the cave – and driving allows for the most flexibility in your trip plan.
Organized Day Trip to Skocjan Caves
Taking one of the highly rated Skocjan Cave tours on a Ljubljana Day Trip is the easiest way to see the area…but not necessarily the cheapest. One of the benefits of joining an organized tour is that most day trips include additional regional attractions. We feature some of the best Ljubljana Skocjan Caves tours later in the article.
Public Transportation to Skocjan
Using public transit – either train or bus – is the most economical way to get to Skocjan Cave. However, it’s not exactly straightforward, as the both the bus station and train station are located in Divaca, which is about 2 miles from Skocjan.
For our Skocjan Caves trip, we opted to use the scheduled bus. We were already traveling by bus from Ljubljana to Piran – and decided to make a 24-hour stop in Divaca to see the famous natural wonder. The short stopover allowed ample time to visit Skocjan Caves and discover more sights around Divaca.
Visiting Skocjan Caves Park (Park Škocjanske Jame)
The only way to visit Skocjan Caves is on a guided tour. Travelers who opt to visit on their own – rather than on an organized tour from Ljubljana – will still need to buy tickets at the Skocjan Caves ticket office.
However, it is also possible to buy Skocjan Caves tickets in advance online – which we highly recommend during the busy summer season. The most current information about opening hours and the Skocjan Cave price can be found on their official website.
What To Expect on a Skocjan Caves Tour
The guided route through the expansive cave offers a fascinating look at the underground space. We are sharing a few of the highlights so that fellow travelers know what to expect.
Stalagmites and Stalactites
In the first part of the natural cave, a winding path leads visitors through small chambers that are filled with stalagmites and stalactites. The rock formations developed over a period of thousands of years as water dripped through the cracks leaving behind minerals.
The largest stalagmite in Skocjan Cave, appropriately called Giant, rises 165 feet from the cave floor in the Silent Cave. Certain ‘rooms’, however, are void of any rock formations, as 12,000 years ago the ceiling collapsed and new stalagmites and stalactites have yet to form.
Tour groups then move into the second area, called Murmuring Cave, because the sound of rushing can be heard below. Dim lighting allows visitors to see the enormity of the subterranean space – nearly 500 feet tall, 400 feet wide and almost 1000 feet long.
During our tour, a thin fog had settled at the bottom of the cave, just above the water. Along the rock walls below us, we could see remnants of previous footpaths and a lower bridge that was washed out by a flood in 1965. Giant tree trunks and thick branches oddly clustered together in elevated coves. The debris had been brought in with recent flooding and left behind when the water receded.
The famous Cerkvenikov Most, a narrow bridge built in the 1930s, stands 165 feet above the cave floor. It’s not for the faint of heart! When crossing the bridge, visitors can feel the rush of warm, humid air rising from the river and bats will likely be circling overhead. In the dim light, guests can just make out the depth of the cavernous space and unusual rock formations sculpted by nature.
The Pools at Skocjan Cave
We were also intrigued by the naturally formed ‘pools’. The natural rock basins are incredibly intricate and it’s bewildering that something so artistic occurs naturally. The pools – or bowls – fill with water a few times a year during heavy rain. As the water spills over the edge, minerals are deposited, which continuously adds to the depth of each pool.
Skocjan Cave Tunnel Exit
At the end of the cave tour, visitors are greeted by bright sunshine at the natural opening near the bottom of the sinkhole. This marks the main opening of the cave and the end of the guided tour. It is also the only place within the cave that photos are permitted.
Big and Little Collapse Doline
Explorers have two options for the return to the top of Skocjan. Either take an elevator or follow the path through the outdoor park and then hike up the stairs. We opted to navigate our way through nature and were very pleased that we did!
The area is marked by two previous cave collapses – called the Big Collapse Doline and the Little Collapse Doline. A path through the area takes visitors over a natural bridge and to a few waterfalls. We certainly believe it is worth discovering this section before making the trek up to the top.
Skocjan Caves Tour Tips
- Touring the inside and outside of Skocjan takes about 3 hours and covers a length of nearly 3 miles.
- No photos of any kind are allowed inside the cave. Don’t fret, just enjoy the experience! Visitors are permitted to take photos at the cave entrance and in the outdoor landscapes – so be sure to still bring along your best travel camera!
- Stick to the front of the group if you’d like to listen to details about Skocjan. Due to the enormity of the space, it can be difficult to hear from the back.
- A light jacket is recommended, as the cave can feel quite cool. Additionally, wear durable travel shoes – it’s very dark and uneven inside the cave.
- It’s best to use a travel day pack to keep your items secure and organized while touring Skocjan Caves.
Understand Skocjan Caves History
Before visiting the caves at Skocjan Park, it helps to have a basic understanding of how they developed. The tour guide will explain the natural phenomenon in more detail.
The caves and sinkholes at Skocjan were created millions of years ago by the rushing Reka River. It still streams through part of the cave today. The river, which moves from east to west, flows above ground until it reaches Velika Dolina. From there, it then flows 25 miles underground toward Trieste, Italy and resurfaces near the coast!
The cave was discovered in the mid-1800s by explorers who entered the cave in boats. However, in the darkness they couldn’t see just how vast it was. Unlike the early explorers, today’s visitors enter through a narrow tunnel that was man-made in 1933.
More Things To Do at Skocjan Caves, Slovenia
While taking a guided tour through the UNESCO Slovenia Cave is the highlight of the trip, there are a few more Skocjan Caves things to do!
Stefanija Viewpoint via Škocjan Education Trail
The Skocjan Park Education Trail is a looping mile and a quarter long trail that encircles the collapsed Velika Dolina and Mala Dolina from above. Along the route, viewing platforms allow visitors to look down onto the karst landscape.
The best look is from Stefanija Viewpoint. It provides sweeping views across the massive sinkhole. The collapsed terrain looks rugged and torn. Across the sunken land, it’s possible to see the village of Skocjan and the rising bell tower of the Church of St. Cantianius.
There is no entry fee for the Skocjan Education Trail. It is one of the places at Skocjan that is free to visit!
The on-site Skocjan Caves restaurant, Ambrožič, is a good place to grab a bite to eat or simply to relax after exploring the park. The menu features delicious soups, meat platters and burgers. Plus, they make their own homemade beer. During our visit, they had beer soup on the menu – and it was absolutely delicious!
Things To Do near Skocjan Caves and Divaca
Those who want to explore the area around Skocjan Caves can seek out a few of the region’s historic sights and attractions in and around Divaca.
St. Helena Church
The St. Helena Church sits in the tiny village of Gradisce pri Divaci, population 17. The modest structure has a single bell in the bell-gable that rises from the front facade. The exterior is quite plain, but the interior is decorated with exceptional frescoes that date to the 15th century.
Rumor has it the locked door can be opened with the key that is kept at House #1. The trick is that you have to find House #1…which we didn’t.
The Divaca Airport most likely only elicits excitement from two kinds of people: history buffs and airplane geeks. The Divaca Airport was built in 1916 as a bomber base during World War I – and is only one of two airports which were built for the Battles of Soca that is still in use.
Divaca is a small town – it only takes 10 minutes to walk from one end to the other. Even in the late summer, the town of 1,333 residents is quiet – as we guessed it probably is most of the year. That said, it does have a few sights worth seeing!
The Museum of Slovenian Film Actors is housed in a traditional homestead. The collection includes tributes to hundreds of Slovenian actors, but features an exhibit on Ita Rina. Born in Divaca in 1907, Rina was Slovenia’s most famous silent film star.
The Church of St. Anthony the Hermit is a parish church. It’s somewhat dilapidated (but in a charming, small town way) and was built in 1603.
At the Divaca train station visitors can see an old steam locomotive. It sits outside the station in dedication to the importance of the railway that, in 1857, connected Divaca to Ljubljana, Trieste and Vienna.
Travel Tips for Skocjan Caves and Divaca
Now that you know what to do at Skocjan Caves and things to see in Divaca, we have some essential advice that will help you plan your trip!
Organized Skocjan Caves Tour from Ljubljana
Booking a tour can be a fun and hassle-free way to see Skocjan Caves. Plus, an organized Skocjan Caves day trip from Ljubljana usually includes at least one additional stop in western Slovenia.
One of the best Ljubljana caves tour allows visitors to take in 3 attractions: Skocjan Caves, Lipizzan Horses and coastal Piran. This small-group excursion is an excellent way to see the beauty of Slovenia. Check prices and availability!
Getting To Skocjan Caves by Bus or Train
We have already outlined the options how to get to Skocjan Caves from Ljubljana, but we have a few more tips that we want to share about taking public transportation.
Ljubljana to Divaca Bus Station or Train Station
Those making the trip by train or bus from Ljubljana to Skocjan Caves will need to travel to Divaca. Bus times vary by route, but can be as quick as 1.5 hours. The train takes about an hour and 45 minutes. From Divaca, there is a walking path to the caves and taxis are also available.
It is possible to complete a day trip from Ljubljana to Skocjan Caves by bus or train. However, you will need to plan for your arrival to align with the Skocjan Cave Tour Schedule. Check Ljubljana to Divaca bus frequencies online or at the station in Ljubljana for the most up-to-date info.
Skocjan Caves and Divaca Stopover
On our trip, we preferred to spend one day at Skocjan Caves and Divaca – making the stop enroute from Ljubljana to Piran. While this would have seemed easy with a car, we prefer not to drive. Renting Cars can be expensive and driving in a foreign countries stressful.
In the end, our 24 hours in Divaca worked fabulously. We utilized the affordable Ljubljana bus, saw the best caves in Slovenia and spent the night in a very comfortable Skocjan Caves Hotel!
Getting to Skocjan Caves from Divaca
Travelers who take the bus or train to Divaca will find that there are a few different ways to get to Skocjan Caves from town. Visitors can walk, bike or book a taxi. A cab ride to Skocjan Caves can be booked with the Toyota Go App, but only Monday – Friday. Note that there used to be a summertime Skocjan Caves Shuttle Bus, but is no longer operating.
Path to Skocjan Caves
Whether walking or biking, the Skocjan Caves path from Divaca is the best route. The trail is about 2 miles long and takes roughly 35 minute on foot. For our journey, we borrowed mountain bikes from our hotel and pedaled to the caves. On two wheels, we could easily explore more of the karst caves Slovenia region!
We designed a route to Skocjan Park that included seeing the airport, colorful bee boxes, and St. Helena Church. We also enjoyed tremendous views overlooking the area before arriving for our Skocjan Caves Tour.
Biking and Walking to Skocjan Caves from Divaca
It’s best to look at a map (or have it saved on a mobile device) prior to heading out on the trek. Parts of the trail are poorly signed.
Where To Stay in Divaca, Slovenia
The choice of Skocjan Caves accommodation is fairly limited. Since we wanted to be close to the bus station, we opted to stay at Hotel Malovec – and we were not disappointed!
Hotel Malovec in Divaca, Slovenia
For a rather modest settlement, Hotel Malovec stands out. The large, modern property sits proudly in the middle of town, across from a shaded park and near the school. It is located just a short 5-minute walk from the Divaca bus station.
Inside, the hotel is bright and airy. Even though we were early, a room was ready for us when we arrived. Our comfortable room featured double doors that led out to a spacious, private patio.
As a bonus, an exceptional included breakfast goes well beyond coffee and croissants. Fresh-baked bread, in-season produce, hard-boiled eggs, a variety of cured meats and an assortment of creamy cheeses covered the tables.
We felt that this hotel was ideal for exploring Divaca and Skocjan Caves – and it is especially convenient for travelers making a stopover between Piran and Ljubljana or other destinations in Slovenia.
Skocjan Caves or Postojna Caves?
Slovenia tourist are often faced with deciding whether to visit Postojna or Skocjan Caves – and we know it is not an easy choice! As we have toured both of the famous Slovenia caves, we are offering some insight.
Skocjan Caves is a truly natural wonder. The cave environment is protected and the landscape is absolutely impressive. However, getting to Skocjan Cave takes a little more effort without a car.
Postojna Caves, which are much closer to Ljubljana, are fairly simple reach. Plus, the day trip is easily combined with the nearby Predjama Castle. Visiting Postojna, however, is a much more commercialized tourist experience and some of the nature is lost to that. Use our Guide to Postojna Caves to help make your decision, or if you have time, visit both!
Slovenia Travel Guides
- What To See in Ljubljana
- Best Day Trips from Ljubljana
- One Day in Ljubljana
- What To Do in Lake Bled, Lake Bohinj and Coastal Piran
- Visiting Historic Kranj, Marvelous Maribor and the Celje Castle
- Slovenia off the Beaten Path: Bela Krajina and Skofja Loka
Organize Your Slovenia Trip
As you begin to make plans and reservations for your trip to Slovenia, don’t forget about insurance. If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip to Slovenia, check the rates and coverage at World Nomads.
Staying on top of the details of your trip is essential. Use our Printable Travel Planner to ensure your trip is organized!
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